Writing/Design

Congratulations to our 2014 Writing and Design winners!

The awards party is on hiatus. Certificates will be mailed to the winners’ newsrooms.

Questions: theazpressclub@gmail.com.

VIRG HILL ARIZONA JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR

Judges:

– Alberto Arce, a reporter with The Associated Press, won the Association of News Editor’s Batten Medal,  for coverage from violence-torn Honduras that judges called “fearless but not reckless.”

– Greg Borowski, assistant managing editor for projects and investigations at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has overseen projects that have won the Pulitzer Prize, the Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Reporting, the George Polk Award, the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism, the Barlett & Steele Awards and Investigative Reporters and Editors medals.

– Dave Butler is editor of the San Jose Mercury News and the Bay Area News Group, and executive vice president and editor-in-chief of Digital First Media.

2014 Virg Hill Journalist of the Year: Daniel Gonzalez, Arizona Republic

“Daniel Gonzales knows how to tell a good story and how to stick with it,” wrote Dave Butler, editor of the San Jose Mercury News. His stories on migrant children were poignant and compelling. He clearly identifies with his subjects and knows how to tell their personal stories. The superb photography by others that accompanied many of his stories made the subjects real people — not just subjects to read about.” Judge Greg Borowski, investigations editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel praised Gonzalez’ “exceptional reporting and writing. The work was distinguished by the depth of knowledge, the effort behind the reporting and clear writing. An ambitious effort that showed great range. Any paper would be proud to have these stories on its pages. A narrow first place in an outstanding field.”

First runner-up: Dennis Wagner, Arizona Republic

“Dennis Wagner has his teeth into the VA scandal in Arizona and simply won’t let go,” wrote Dave Butler, editor of the San Jose Mercury News. “He owns it. Passion and intensity show through in every story, as they do with the other finalists in this competition.” Greg Borowski, investigations editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, called Wagner’s contest portfolio “a very strong second. His work stands up well against national outlets that ended up pursing the same issues. This was a case where a reporter had a tiger by the tail — and rode it well.”

Second runner-up: Emily Bregel, Arizona Daily Star

“Emily Bregel must be a bulldog of a reporter,” wrote Dave Butler, editor of the San Jose Mercury News. “She clearly wants to stand up for the poor and help see that the wrongs are addressed. Her range of topics — from crumbling trailer parks to foster kids pumped up on psychtropic drugs at alarming rates to keep them under control — was impressive. Bregel is “clearly a strong reporter who is willing to dig for a story,” wrote Greg Borowski, investigations editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The mobile homes investigation was sharp, fresh and scrappy. It tackled an important local topic — undoubtedly one of those problems that long was hidden in plain view. Lots of reporters tend to miss these stories. Emily didn’t.”

 

ARIZONA COMMUNITY JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR

Judges

– The investigative work of community journalist Matt Hongoltz-Hetling of the Valley News in New Hampshire has led to federal reforms of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 housing program, as well as an overhaul of the way that the program is administered in Maine. A Pulitzer finalist, he has been recognized with national, regional and state awards.

– Brett J. Blackledge, investigations editor at The Naples Daily News in Florida, won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for a series on alleged nepotism and cronyism in Alabama’s two-year college system.

­­­- Rebecca Davis O’Brien, who covers courts and criminal justice for The Wall Street Journal, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting in 2014 while a reporter for The Record in Bergen County, N.J.

Arizona Community Journalist of the Year: Curt Prendergast, Nogales International

Judges’ comments:

From Brett Blackledge of the Naples Daily News: “Curt offered a wide variety of compelling coverage throughout the year, but most notably managed to offer strong watchdog coverage as well. His stories on water meters, racketeering funds and tax auctions are impressive for a reporter who is juggling so many other assignments.”

From Matt Hongoltz-Hetling of the Valley News: “Every story in his packet showcased his own distinctive voice, and a mastery of the topic at hand. Curt is a reporter who always finds that number, and that person, to show why a story is relevant.”

From Rebecca Davis O’Brien of the Wall Street Journal: “Prendergast’s clear, thoughtful, and thorough reporting from Santa Cruz provides a vivid sense of life on the U.S./Mexico border and the issues facing citizens and officials on both sides. His stories are balanced and straightforward, often infused with surprising life – tax auctions and water-use meters become compelling, while stories about cross-border assaults and deportation are refreshingly sober.”

First runner-up: Sarah Ruf, Maricopa Monitor

Judges’ comments

From Rebecca Davis O’Brien of the Wall Street Journal: “Ruf is a promising and versatile reporter whose ambitious and wide-ranging work often goes beyond what might be expected. Her stories are never perfunctory. Rather, she breathes life into everything she covers, and she seems to cover just about everything: a mismanaged court, a toddler’s death that tears a family apart, anti-immigration protests, home birth.”

From Matt Hongoltz-Hetling of the Valley News: “Sarah displays an unusual talent for plugging the reader into the story, making me care about things I never thought I would care about. By bringing her A game to countless spot news stories, the body of her work collectively paints a rich portrait of her community.”

From Brett Blackledge of the Naples Daily News: “Sara has a nice writing style, and easily produces stories from a variety of coverage areas, including community, business and hard news.”

Second runner-up: Hillary Davis, Inside Tucson Business

From Rebecca Davis O’Brien of the Wall Street Journal: “Davis’ work offers a thorough and engaging look at Tucson’s economic scene, from a well-research report on a bankruptcy hoax to ongoing coverage of the skills gap in local businesses. What could be a niche publication instead offers a broad look at life in Tucson: affordable housing, the shopping habits of Mexican nationals, arguments over large-scale development.”

From Matt Hongoltz-Hetling of the Valley News: “I appreciated the way Hillary explained business trends in an accessible, interesting way that included just the right mix of background statistics to get her point across without losing us.”

 

ARIZONA DESIGNER OF THE YEAR

Judge: Josh Crutchmer is design and graphics editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His work as a designer and art director has been honored by the Society for News Design, Pictures of the Year International and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is SND’s print competition committee chair and judged that competition in 2013. Previously, he worked at The Buffalo News, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Omaha World-Herald, among other places.

Arizona Designer of the Year: Rachel Van Blankenship, Arizona Republic

“This designer’s creativity, range and versatility stand out among all entrants. Whether designing a summer Travel series that requires high-end art direction or a one-off Home cover that requires an on-the-fly solution, this designer did it at a high level each time, all the while giving purpose to type and aiming at readibility.”

First runner-up: Rick Konopka, Arizona Republic

“Viewpoints is a section that can easily become tiresome or stale without fresh ideas on a near-constant basis, and this designer delivers. Consistent powerful lead images and consistent restraint in typography lend a powerful feel to the body of work.”

Second runner-up: Peter M. Storch, Phoenix New Times

“The creative range of this designer stands out. From the deft touches throughout the complicated ‘Best of Phoenix’ issue to one-offs like Space Invader and Walking Dead, this designer was up to the task each time, building pages around dramatic, impactful imagery.”

 

SPANISH-LANGUAGE PUBLICATIONS

A1. Spanish-language news reporting

Judge: Rafael Prieto Zartha is editorial director of Qué Pasa-Mi Gente in Charlotte, N.C. Under his leadership, the newspaper won the the National Association of Hispanic Publications’ 2013 José Martí Golden Award for best U.S. Spanish-language weekly.

First place

Beatriz Limón, La Voz Arizona: “Unos segundos que cambian la vida”

“The tragic death of a 3-year-old Hispanic girl is the starting point to portray how critical the problem of pool drowning among children in Arizona is. Not only does the author provide a heartbreaking human story, but she gives a comprehensive perspective, facts, statistics, preventive measures and regulations about the phenomenon.”

Second place

Beatriz Limón, La Voz Arizona: “Esperanza tras las rejas”

“The human crisis of thousands of minors emigrating from Central America and arriving unaccompanied on the southern border is exposed in the article. The detrimental situation in a detention center in Nogales is depicted in a dramatic and impressive account by first-hand experience from the writer.”

Third place

Liliana López and Perla Trevizo, La Estrella de Tucson: contamination of the Rio Sonora

“The terrible occurrence of a polluted dam breakage warns of the fatal consequences of copper mining for both the environment and human life in Sonora and the latent danger for Arizona.  The article provides background information, previous incidents which affected both sides of the border, interviews and current factual information on the latest episode.”

 

A2. Spanish-language feature reporting

Judge: Rafael Prieto Zartha is editorial director of Qué Pasa-Mi Gente in Charlotte, N.C. Under his leadership, the newspaper won the the National Association of Hispanic Publications’ 2013 José Martí Golden Award for best U.S. Spanish-language weekly.

First place

Luis F. Carrasco, La Estrella de Tucson: “Les ayudan a volver  a empezar”

“A beautiful chronicle of how the disabled community is being positively impacted by an organization that provides prostheses to those who cannot afford them. The generosity of the organization and the volunteers changes the lives of the benefited and their families.”

Second place

Liiana López, La Estrella de Tucson: “Yasel, el arte de emigrar y crear”

“The article narrates the difficulties of assimilation for a Cuban artist who resides in Arizona after entering from the Mexican border. Moreover, it provides an insight into his personal realization of the sociopolitical problems in both Latin America and the U.S.”

Third place

Beatriz Limón, La Voz Arizona: “Detonante económico”

“The spirit of entrepreneurship within the immigrant population in Arizona is described in the article as it illustrates the essence of the Hispanic culture, and its strong desires for the American dream. “

 

A3. Spanish-language commentary/analysis

Judge: Rafael Prieto Zartha is editorial director of Qué Pasa-Mi Gente in Charlotte, N.C. Under his leadership, the newspaper won the the National Association of Hispanic Publications’ 2013 José Martí Golden Award for best U.S. Spanish-language weekly.

First place

Ernesto Portillo Jr., La Estrella de Tucson: “La generosidad de nuestro pueblo”

The column criticizes the strong sentiment of racism in some parts of the country faced with the coming of the immigrant children, natives of Central America. However, it energizes and sheds light on the actions communities have taken in Tucson to help the minors who seek to live up to the idea of a nation of immigrants.”

No other awards given.

 

COMMUNITY REPORTING

B1. Community investigative reporting

Bill Church is executive editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which Editor and Publisher magazine named to its 2015 “10 That Do It Right” list and APME named an Innovator of the Year Finalist in 2014. He is a two-time Pulitzer jurist.

First place

Gary Grado, Arizona Capitol Times: “2 child welfare investigators fired over resumes”

“For reporting that raised questions about whether credentials of two fired investigators had been checked when they were hired. The revelation was the latest in public concerns over the performance of Arizona’s Office of Child Welfare Investigations.”

Second place

Alastair Lee Bitsoi, Navajo Times: “Chapter alleges corruption at medical center”

“For a detailed assessment of expense reports showing lavish spending for board meetings and questionable gift purchases at a medical center.”

Third place

Eric Betz, Arizona Daily Sun: “’Whisper’ stops get costly in Coconino County”

“For a two-part series showing the unintended consequences of ‘whisper stops,’ where local law enforcement cooperating with DEA agents use traffic stops to disguise potential drug busts.”

 

B2. Community public service journalism

Judge: Sandra Peddit, an investigative reporter at Newsday, was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service her part in exposing shootings, beatings and other concealed misconduct by some Long Island police officers, leading to the formation of a grand jury and an official review of police accountability

First place

Sarah Ruf, Maricopa Monitor: Rise & Sine Exceptional Services LLC 

“Ruf’s stories about a now-closed private school for children with special needs are well-written and include in-depth reporting. Ruf pulled Vermont court records, conducted revealing interviews with former employees and checked social media postings. The stories had impact – parents stopped sending their children to the school – and provided a public service to the community.”

Second place

Ben Giles, Jeremy Duda and Luige del Puerto, Arizona Capitol Times, Outside spending, dark money fuel attack ads in race for Arizona governor and Outside spending drives secretary of state races

“The reporters dug through campaign finance filings for the Arizona Capitol Times to find out who was behind attack ads in the races for governor and secretary of state, providing important context for readers.”

Third place

Andrew Paxton, Aztec Press

“Paxton’s coverage of Pima Community College is wide-ranging and balanced. By reporting both the good and bad news about the community college, he provided readers with valuable insight into an important community institution.”

 

B3. Community breaking news

Judge: Julie Westfall is editor of the Real-Time News Desk at the Los Angeles Times. Previously, she worked in digital breaking-news editing roles at Digital First Media in New York City, NPR-affiliate KPCC in Los Angeles and the regional news startup TBD.com in Washington, D.C.

First place

Bill Donovan, Navajo Times: “Last of original code talker passes away”

“Thorough, well-written obituary that explores in detail the life of a significant figure in the community.”

Second place

Sarah Ruf, Maricopa Monitor: “Man stabbed to death south of town”

“Detailed, personal look into a violent crime tells readers why they should care.”

Third place

Staff, Arizona Daily Sun: “Slide fire grows to 450 acres, 100 structures threatened”

“Solid digital breaking news coverage that tells readers what they need to know with regular updates.”

 

B4. Community public safety reporting

Judge: Taylor Dungjen, a reporter at The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, won the 2014 Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism award from APME for “Gangs of Toledo,” which mapped the city’s gang territories after the city’s mayor and police department refused to reveal the information.

First place

Adam Gaub, Maricopa Monitor: “December shooting reports contradict original account”

“A great example of looking beyond the ‘official’ story to find the truth, holding officials accountable; something tells me the sheriff’s office would think twice before giving them false information again. Well done!

Second place

Jonathan Clark, Nogales International: Mexican murder case

“Compelling series of stories about a case that could have easily been dismissed as brief material. The focus on the families, the human element of the case, brings it home for readers.”

Third place

Murphy J. Woodhouse, Nogales International: “Drivers rarely charged, in large pot busts”

“Certainly surprising, to this Midwestern reporter, the difficulty law enforcement has in finding and successfully prosecuting those involved — knowingly or not — in drug smuggling.”

 

B5. Community politics and government reporting

Judge: Ayan Mittra is managing editor of the Texas Tribune, which won IRE’s Gannett Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism for its “Spotlight on the Texas Legislature,” a live stream of the House and Senate proceedings combined with relentless, constantly updated watchdog reporting.

First place

Luige A. del Puerto, Arizona Capitol Times: “Arizona faces $1 billion deficit by next fiscal year” and “What Arizona comeback?”

“These two stories do a fantastic job of painting the real picture of the economic challenges facing the state. It lays out the state’s predicament, explaining in solid detail how the state got to this point. And it uses a meeting of policymakers to present the few options available to the state to fix the problem. It’s not enough to list the options, and these stories make it clear the implications of each decision. This is a great job of going beyond the rhetoric to help its audience be able to make some tough choices.”

Second place

Hank Stephenson and Ben Giles, Arizona Capitol Times: “When moderates attack”

“This could have been a straightforward story about a campaign debate. But the reporters took the extra step of providing great context on the internal debate for the Republican Party — particularly in how it’s taking shape in Arizona. It really captures the arguments over the most divisive issues in the state, and it really details the divide in various legislative districts.”

Third place

Jeremy Duda, Arizona Capitol Times: “Former Horne staffer alleges rampant election law violations in AG’s office”

“This story really captured an apparent abuse of office. It’s not enough to just say that this allegedly happened, but the writer takes the time to capture the details of his interview with this former employee. It also gave a clear chance to the people accused of wrongdoing to counter the claims and question the motive, so it’s a clearly balanced piece that shows a major tax-funded office in apparent dysfunction.”

 

B6. Community health reporting

Judge: Ellen Gabler, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, was part of a team that won ASNE’s non-deadline reporting award for “‘Deadly Delays,’ which revealed the breakdown of blood-screening programs designed to discover, and then treat, ailments in newborns.

First place

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa, Arizona Daily Sun: “40 hours in Obamacare limbo”

“The reporter gave an interesting and fair look at one man’s struggle to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The story gave readers a clear look at challenges faced by many people across the country.”

Second place

Gary Grado, Arizona Capitol Times: “Battling cancer, former lawmaker advocates for ‘Right to Try’ measure”

“Reporter Gary Grado’s article about the “Right to Try” measure immediately draws in the reader with the compelling and surprising story of Laura Knaperek. A clearly-written and engaging account.”  

No third place. 

 

B7. Community environmental/science reporting

Judge: Rob Davis reports on the environment for The Oregonian’s investigations team. He previously was an investigative reporter covering the environment for Voice of San Diego and also has also written for The New York Times.

First place

Megan Kimble, Edible Baja Arizona: “The fish in our foodshed”

“This is a comprehensive and thoughtful look at a serious problem. What I like about the writer’s approach is that she identifies the problem from inside – without being preachy or sanctimonious. The writer’s eye for detail shows through not just in her copy but her photographs, too. The story expertly diagnoses a tragedy of the commons and what can be done to fix it.”

Second place

Eric Betz, Arizona Daily Sun: “Slotted for controversy: The fire in Illusions Canyon”

“This rolling accountability story is a fantastic example of hard-hitting accountability reporting written with commanding authority. The writer so thoroughly reports the issue that he’s able to cut through the excuses and lies and tell readers exactly what they want to know: What really happened to carelessly damage a valued natural resource.”

Third place

Luige del Puerto, Arizona Capital Times: “Giant ‘Haboob’ dust storms cause EPA to relent on Arizona anti-pollution plan”

“This story is a wonderful teachable example of how to write about regulation for a broad readership. The writer avoids jargon or presuming the reader knows about the issue already. Rather, he gives a lucid explanation filled with lively imagery of an important and consequential statewide issue and invests in keeping the reader along for the ride.”

 

B8. Community social issues reporting  

Judge: Megan Twohey, an investigative reporter for Reuters based in New York, was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting last year for her series on the re-homing of adopted children. The series prompted new laws and other safeguards for children. Before joining Reuters, she worked at the Chicago Tribune, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Moscow Times and National Journal.

First place

Megan Kimble, Edible Baja Arizona: “Shortening the line”

“For putting a face on food insecurity in Southern Arizona while highlighting the people and initiatives that make the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona one of the most innovative food banks in the country.”

Second place

Michelle McManimon, Arizona Daily Sun: “License to wed”

“For stories on the individuals who fought for and embraced marriage equality in Arizona.”

No third place.

 

B9. Community education reporting

Judge: Gary Stern, reader engagement editor with The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y., is a longtime education reporter who won first prize in investigative reporting from the Education Writers Association in 2012 and the Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism from Associated Press Media Editors in 2013.

First place

David J. Del Grande, Aztec Press (Pima Community College): adjunct professors investigation

“Del Grande did a terrific job highlighting a major issue in higher education that has been widely overlooked by the national media: the growing reliance by colleges on poorly paid adjunct professors. He made a convincing case that adjuncts are being taken advantage of and that their growing numbers are producing college faculties that are less tied to their campuses and students. His work included some telling comments from adjuncts about their plight.”

Second place

Staff, Arizona Daily Sun: coverage of presidential change at NAU

“Wilson gave readers a sweeping look at the meaning of the presidential change at Northern Arizona University. He covered former President John Haeger’s accomplishments in detail, including context such as the impact of federal stimulus money, and introduced the challenges facing new President Rita Cheng. Wilson presented a nice portrait of Cheng, professionally and personally, for readers curious about the college’s new leader.”

Third place

Gary Grado, Arizona Capitol Times: Arizona’s shortage of experienced teachers

“Grado forcefully explained the seriousness of Arizona’s teacher shortage, focusing on the likelihood that it will get worse. He helped readers understand that a combination of obvious problems (a lack of pay raises) and less obvious ones (the time it takes to input student data to meet requirements) are driving veteran teachers from their classrooms.”

 

B10. Community immigration reporting

Judge: Steve Clow, state editor for the Los Angeles Times, supervises coverage of immigration and homelessness, as well as the paper’s state correspondents. He helped run the Times’ 2012 presidential campaign coverage and was the primary editor on “Product of Mexico,” the paper’s 2014 investigation of the mistreatment of farm workers in Mexico.

First place

Curt Prendergast, Jonathan Clark and Joseph Trevino, Nogales International: “Central American minors flood into BP’s Nogales Station”

“The newspaper energetically demonstrated its commitment to covering a major story in its back yard, the arrival of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Mexico and other parts of Latin America. The articles in this entry covered the breaking news of the arrivals and the government’s attempt to handle and process them, as well as the human side.”

Second place

Murphy J. Woodhouse, Nogales International: “ Unaccompanied Mexican kids find open arms at Sonora shelter”

“Murphy wrote (and photographed) a sober, balanced account of life for unaccompanied minors when they land at the placement center in Nogales. The story was a smart blend of data and anecdotal material.”

Third place

Sarah Ruf and Brian Wright, Maricopa Monitor : “On the front lines”

“The reporters offer a vivid portrait of life along the border, with some great details, such as the ‘carpet booties’ worn by migrants hoping to conceal their footprints by sewing carpet on the bottom of homemade slippers.”

 

B11. Community business reporting

Judge: Michael Grabell covers economic and labor issues for ProPublica, where has produced stories for the New York Times, USA Today, NPR and the CBS Evening News. His investigation into the growth of temp work won the 2014 Barlett & Steele business journalism ward and the American Society of News Editors award for writing on diversity. He is the author of “Money Well Spent?,” a book about President Obama’s stimulus package and his efforts to revive the economy from the Great Recession.

First place

Jeremy Duda, Arizona Capitol Times, Bumpy ride: Turmoil in housing industry translates into a tepid state economy

“This is watchdog reporting at its best. Duda showed the potential risks of corporate tax incentives and government loans to questionable local projects. Judges were also impressed by his coverage of the business angle of the governor’s race.”

Second place

Luige Del Puerto, Arizona Capitol Times, Legal threat helps derail Commerce Authority loan to railroad

“Many reporters have attempted to explain why Arizona’s economy remains lackluster five years after the end of the Great Recession. Del Puerto provided perceptive analysis supported by interviews and data. Another story that caught the judges’ eyes highlighted the threat to local companies as Arizona Public Service entered the solar energy market.”

Third place

Hayley Ringle, Phoenix Business Journal: Coverage of the Race for Higher Internet Speeds

“In a series of stories, Ringle explained why the demand for higher Internet speeds is critical for the region’s economic development. In the opening to her first story, she very quickly brought home an otherwise technical story by highlighting the potential for a genomics research institute, a growing web-hosting firm, and a local school district.”

 

B12. Community sports reporting

Judge: John Cherwa, deputy sports editor of the Los Angeles Times, also has been sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and Tribune Company Sports Coordinator. He has been bureau chief for every Olympics since 2000.

First place

Jason P. Skoda, Ahwatukee Foothill News: “Positive disposition defines MP Coach Carter instead of a wheelchair”

“A perfect lede capturing what everyone was thinking but no one was saying made this story about a Mountain Pointe coach a great read. The story unfolds with great pacing and answers all the questions before they are even asked.”

Second place

Brad Allis, The Explorer: “Running the marathon — Doucet beats anorexia, wins state championship”

“This story of a champion runner’s battle with anorexia avoids the overwriting and darkness that often follows telling this story. Its simple declarative style presents the facts in a way that not only tells the story but is informative as well.”

Third place

Robert Charette, Sierra Vista Herald: “Because it’s the hardest,” “Haymore grits Buena” and “Daydream believers”

“This collection of stories shows range and a sharp attention to detail.”

 

B13. Community column writing

Judge: Patt Morrison, a longtime writer and columnist for the Los Angeles Times, has shared two Pulitzer Prizes, and won six Emmys and the Los Angeles Press Club’s lifetime achievement award. Her book “Rio LA, Tales from the Los Angeles River,” was a bestseller praised by Joan Didion and Ray Bradbury. Pink’s, the legendary Hollywood hot dog stand, named its vegetarian hot dog “the Patt Morrison dog.”

First place

Matt Hickman, Sierra Vista Herald

“The hallmark of a good storyteller is that he or she can ensnare you into caring about something that you didn’t give a rodent’s patootie about before. Matt Hickman does that, whether it’s a column about college basketball that manages to braid in elements of grand opera and enlarged prostates, or a column about red-light cameras that nimbly takes the reader from his personal cop beefs to the merits and demerits of a red-light camera ballot measure. I look forward to reading about Tiger Woods and Sophoclean tragedy!”

Second place

Bill Coates, Casa Grande Dispatch

“Sometimes the power of the press has to do with exposing abuses in high places, with grand juries and unnamed sources. Sometimes, it has to do with revealing the way most of us live life every day: thinking about our kids, our work, homes and neighbors. Bill Coates uses that power to tell memorable stories about people who might be regarded – might regard themselves – as powerless. One is an 89-year-old security guard, a World War II veteran who got chewed out by General George Patton and, in later years, ripped off by stateside chiselers. One line summed up the circumstances of another man, a half-blind homeless fellow: ‘TV detectives wear stubble because it looks cool. Payne just doesn’t get a chance to shave every day …’ We may never meet his subjects, but thanks to Coates, we know them.”

Third place

Adam Gaub, Maricopa Monitor

“No one would accuse Adam Gaub of pulling his punches about some of the high and mighty, by taking Republican Party honchos to the woodshed, writing about party leaders ‘standing quietly by while morally and mentally deficient candidates come into power.’ He called out a fear-mongering local sheriff as ‘a one-trick pony’ who, if he wants to rise in office, ‘needs people to be scared…needs people to need him.’ Readers need a name, a face and a voice to be able to help them shape their own arguments, agree or disagree, and Adam Gaub provides that.”

 

B14. Community editorial writing

Judge: Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for commentary for his columns on the financial crisis facing his hometown, which judges said were written with passion and a stirring sense of place, sparing no one in their critique.

First place

Jonathan Clark, Nogales International

No second or third place awards.

 

B15. Community personality profile

Judges: Scott Farwell, a senior enterprise reporter at The Dallas Morning News, was a 2014 finalist for The Pulitzer Prize in featuring writing for his story about a young woman’s struggle to live a normal life after years of ghastly child abuse, an examination of human resilience in the face of depravity. Avi Selk has covered schools, crime and currently reports on city government for the Morning News.

First place

Hank Stephenson, Arizona Capitol Times: “A man with a plan — David Gowan defies the odds to become speaker of the House “

“With vivid anecdotes and top-notch political reporting, Hank Stephenson shows us how a ‘quiet magazine distributor and karate teacher’ made his way from a rented trailer to the top of the statehouse.”

Second place

Gillian Drummond, 3 Story Magazine: “Imagine all the people”

“There’s much to like in this little story. The tone comes off as slightly farciful, which is perfect in a profile of an artist who specializes in exaggerated characters. Good voice and vivid writing.”

Third place

David Mendez, Tucson Weekly: “King of belts”

“We had no idea that an obscure graduate of carnival sideshow acts went on to invent the ‘giant, jewel-encrusted belts’ that are now emblematic of wrestling. We were delighted to be educated through David Mendez’s colorful, conversational tale of pioneer grappler Reggie Parks.”

 

B16. Community human interest writing

Judge: Brendan McCarthy has run the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting newsroom since its inception. He is a veteran newspaper and television investigative reporter who was a 2009 Pulitzer Prize finalist and has won a George Polk Award and a regional Emmy award, among other honors.

First place

Murphy J. Woodhouse, Nogales International: “Border busker takes edge off long crossings”

“Engaging story, Great details, vivid portrait of a unique member of the community.”

Second place

Bill Hess, Sierra Vista Herald: “Focus on Dorothy Dietz”

“Strong sense of place, nice writing in a well-presented package.”

Third place

Cindy Yurth, Navajo Times: “Gunshooter, the orphans and the killing of the bat”

“Well-told story chock full of history and detail.”

 

B17. Community short-form writing

Judge: Tim Harrower has been an editor, designer and columnist at newspapers large (The Oregonian), midsized (The Rochester Times-Union) and small (the Times weeklies in Beaverton, Ore.).  His “Inside Reporting” is the most widely used newswriting textbook in the country. He hosts journalism workshops, noodles around with multimedia and composes music at his dog-and-frog ranch deep in the Oregon woods.

First place

Jimmy Magahern, Phoenix Magazine: “Dr. Do-It-All”

“Some terrific quotes, some compassionate vets, some ailing pets — together, they blend into a well-written story that local readers (especially pet-owners) would find useful and entertaining.”

Second place

Craig S. Baker, Arizona Jewish Post: “TSO to host world-class Israeli violinist, rare instrument”

“A well-crafted concert preview, with a compelling storyline that makes the violinist’s biography an enjoyable read.”

Third place

Ben Giles, Arizona Capitol Times: “Cajero Bedford tells gay colleague to ‘act more gay’”

“Behind-the-scenes political arguments don’t always translate into print, but here, the reporter recaps events clearly and concisely, without taking sides.”

 

B18. Community arts criticism

Judge: Inga Saffron, architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism and has been a finalist three times since 2004. Her writing has appeared in the New Republic, Metropolis, Dwell Landscape Architecture Magazine, Texas Architecture and the Architects Newspaper.

First place

Iris J. Arnesen, The Opera Glass

“These are very impressive deep dives into local theater and opera productions. The essay on ‘Venus in Fur’ was especially notable for its insights and the connections it made to classical Greek literature.”

Second place  

Lynn Trimble, Raising Arizona Kids

“Nice, breezy movie reviews that go beyond mere plot summaries.”

No third place

 

B19. Community arts reporting

Judge: Jase Peeples, entertainment editor for The Advocate, was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club. In addition to The Advocate, he is also a contributor for Out, Plus magazine and Out Traveler.

First place

Daniel Dullum, Florence Reminder & Blade-Tribune: “Vee-licious musical journey”

“Dullum superbly balances Bobby Vee’s impact as an artist with his family’s struggle to process his declining health and their journey to add one last volume to the legacy of a music icon. The result is a heartwarming story that highlights the power of family, determination, and an indomitable spirit.”

Second place

Shondiin Silversmith, Navajo Times: “Dine youth showcase talent at 41st annual song and dance festival”

“A well-written story that examines the positive impact competition can have on a community while simultaneously passing cultural traditions to a new generation vital to maintaining a community’s unique identity. Silversmith manages to not only intrigue us with this story, but feel like we have a front row seat to the main event.”

Third place

Cindy Yurth, Navajo Times: “The sweet taste of failure: DC world record frybread attempt falls apart”

“A fast-paced tale of teamwork that inspires the reader to root a group all the while knowing the inevitable outcome, and reminds us that even in the face of failure, it’s the experience that enriches us most.”

 

B20. Community opinion blog

No award given.

 

B21. Community news blog

Judge: Jessica Pearce Rotondi is senior lifestyle blog editor at The Huffington Post.

First place

Lynn Trimble, Raising Arizona Kids

 

B22. Community features blog

No award given.

B24. Community news headline writing

Judge: Rich Mills, a copy editor at the Omaha World-Herald since 1987, has won two ACES “Headline Writer of the Year” plaques. He was robbed this year.

First place

Tom Spratt, Arizona Capitol Times

“’Elephant on the roof’ perfectly encapsulates the story of the big-dog utility getting into the rooftop solar game. ‘Deja veto …’ is an effective little play that I don’t remember seeing before.”

Second place

Adam Gaub, Maricopa Monitor

“’Spit mask spat may push back trial’ … The staccato delivery recalled headlines of yore, and I really wanted to find out what this spit spat was all about. Effort to ‘wipe away immediate need with diaper drive’ was also a nice turn of phrase.”

Third place

Bill Coates, Casa Grande Dispatch

“’When my money talks, it draws the wrong crowd’ is a pretty irresistible invitation to read a column. (And the column, also by Coates, delivered.)

 

B25. Community feature headline writing

Judge: Jim Webster, a multiplatform editor at The Washington Post, has won the ACES national headline-writing contest in 2013, 2008 and 2003, and was part of The Post’s winning staff entry in 2014. He is also the co-author, with chef Mario Batali, of “America: Farm to Table.”

First place

Glenn Gullickson, Echo Magazine

“It’s always great when a headline mixes a sense of the familiar with a slight twist for a surprise. ‘Extra-curricular’ gives a solid double meaning, cleverly alluding to the subject’s role on the high school-based television show in referencing his local appearance.”

No second or third place.

 

STATEWIDE WRITING

C1. The Don Bolles Award for Investigative Reporting

Bill Church is executive editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which Editor and Publisher magazine named to its 2015 “10 That Do It Right” list and APME named an Innovator of the Year Finalist in 2014. He is a two-time Pulitzer jurist.

First place

Dennis Wagner, Arizona Republic:   Phoenix VA Health Care System

“Dennis Wagner’s tenacious investigation of the Phoenix VA hospital’s failures developed into a national debate that ultimately led to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation. This was investigative work that turned out to be locally poignant and nationally significant.”

Second place

Alexis Huicochea, Arizona Daily Star: “Consultant has ties to new Tucson superintendent

“Alexis Huicochea’s investigation showed irrefutable connections between an out-of-state consultant and Tucson’s new superintendent. Despite resistance from the superintendent, the reporting led to the school district tightening procedures with contractors.”

Third place

Craig Harris, Arizona Republic: Arizona pension abuses

“Craig Harris’ thorough and persistent reporting on Arizona’s public pensions is leading to new discussions and renewed reform efforts.”

 

C2. Statewide public service journalism  

Judge: Sandra Peddit, an investigative reporter at Newsday, was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service her part in exposing shootings, beatings and other concealed misconduct by some Long Island police officers, leading to the formation of a grand jury and an official review of police accountability.

First place

Shaun McKinnon and Pat Shannahan, Arizona Republic: “The USS Arizona Project

“McKinnon and Shannahan effectively memorialized a single day that shook the world. They took care to recreate the attack on Pearl Harbor with vivid photos from 1941 and today, as well as through compelling personal profiles of the surviving veterans. The stories are well-written and provide distinct perspectives on the attack and its aftermath. It is a powerful package.”

Second place

Rebekah L. Sanders, Arizona Republic: “Spending soars as outside groups seek influence”

“Sanders’ analysis of campaign spending simplifies a complex world, giving readers valuable insight into what really drives political campaigns.”

 

C3. Statewide breaking news

Judge: Julie Westfall is real-time news editor for the Los Angeles Times.

First place

Becky Pallack, Arizona Daily Star: “AZ congressional candidate says mass shooters are Democrats

“Reporter recognized news, published it as soon as possible with multimedia, and followed up with updates.”

No other awards given.

 

C4. Statewide public safety reporting  

Judge: Taylor Dungjen, a reporter at The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, won the 2014 Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism award from APME for “Gangs of Toledo,” which mapped the city’s gang territories after the city’s mayor and police department refused to reveal the information.

First place

Robrt L. Pela, Phoenix New Times: “Ruthless

“What a story! Compelling writing and organization make this piece a breeze to get through; I wanted to know more about the entire case — it’s so bizarre!”

Second place

Paul Giblin, Arizona Republic: “Heroin’s secret journey

“An interesting look from the law-enforcement lens at the lengths officers go to to find heroin crossing the U.S. border. Great, fascinating read.”

Third place

Michael Kiefer, Bob Ortega and Mariana Dale, Arizona Republic: “Botched execution

“Well thought-out breaking news coverage from a team of reporters, including one who became a witness.”

 

C5. Statewide John Kolbe Politics and Government Reporting Award

First place

Paul Giblin, Arizona Republic: “Scandal at the VA

This series is a testament to the importance of investigative journalism. Despite reports from the VA that they were addressing concerns about their organization, they were not meeting their mission. This series exposed how lacking their efforts were – and the human cost. There was clear impact with the president and others saying action would be taken. The series also shined a light on the VA’s apparent efforts to suppressing the number of veterans eligible for treatment for Gulf War-related illnesses. Who knows if this would have been uncovered without the Republic’s reporting. Thanks to this in-depth series, real change can happen in a body that is entrusted to take care of so many American heroes.”

Second place

Rebekah L. Sanders, Arizona Republic: “A House divided

“What a great way to localize a growing national issue. With the way the Republic broke down the state’s congressional delegation, readers learned much more about their elected representatives, what they’re up against and why there’s so much dysfunction in Washington. This isn’t about pointing fingers, but showing how conflicting agendas and the inability to find common ground are taking a toll on government and its ability to address the nation’s needs.”

Third place

Stephen Lemons, Phoenix New Times: “The walking dead

“What a great deep dive into some sordid details surrounding actions by the AG and his office. And the masterful writing creates a quality narrative that keeps you in while going through all the layers of this case. This story puts you in the middle of the case, and it gives a three-dimensional look at the players.”

 

C6. Statewide health reporting   

Judge: Ellen Gabler, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, was part of a team that won ASNE’s non-deadline reporting award for “‘Deadly Delays,’ which revealed the breakdown of blood-screening programs designed to discover, and then treat, ailments in newborns.

First place

Karina Bland, Arizona Republic: “A good heart

“Karina Bland tells an engaging and suspenseful tale that make you want to keep reading. Her deep reporting comes through in a well-written article about a boy receiving a new heart, and another family losing a loved one.”

Second place

Stephanie Innes, Arizona Daily Star: “Dispute with top surgeon

“In a tough-to-report story, Stephanie Innes kept digging to find out why one of Tucson’s top surgeon had been fired. The issue is undoubtedly something the hospital would have preferred to have kept hidden, but Innes’ dogged and fair reporting helped bring it to light.”

Third place

Emily Bregel, Arizona Daily Star: “Arizona heightens oversight of medications for foster children

“Reporter Emily Bregel did her state a great service by reporting on the high amount of psychotropic drugs given to foster children, while most importantly publicizing the state’s decision to refuse to provide updated prescribing data for a more recent look at the issue. Bregel wrote about the state’s refusal, explaining clearly and fairly her negotiations and the state’s reasons for denial.”

 

C7. Statewide environmental/science reporting  

Judge: Rob Davis reports on the environment for The Oregonian’s investigations team. He previously was an investigative reporter covering the environment for Voice of San Diego and also has also written for The New York Times.

First place

David Wallace and Brandon Loomis, Arizona Republic: Navajo ghost mines 

“This is what journalism is all about. A series that so outrageous that it makes the reader want to reach through the page to shout at the people responsible for creating the mess and tell them to fix it. This is investigative reporting on the environment at its absolute finest.”

Second place

Ray Stern, Phoenix New Times: Camelback Mountain

“Stern first sounds a clarion and prescient warning about the risks of hiking a popular trail outside Phoenix. Then when disaster strikes, he pivots and attacks the issue from the other side, exposing flaws in the response community’s readiness and rescue efforts. A fine effort filled with narrative, writerly flourishes.”

Third place

Tony Davis, Arizona Daily Star: Declining water supply

In a dry state so dependent on tenuous water rights, Davis does what a reporter covering water can do best: Expose waste and explain its consequences. In one instance, he finds water use so high that an HOA president is left nearly speechless. Readers are, too. Absolutely essential and thoughtful work on what may be the most important topic of its time in the West.

 

C8. Statewide social issues reporting

Judge: Megan Twohey, an investigative reporter for Reuters based in New York, was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting last year for her series on the re-homing of adopted children. The series prompted new laws and other safeguards for children. Before joining Reuters, she worked at the Chicago Tribune, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Moscow Times and National Journal.

First place

Craig Harris, Arizona Republic: “Mental-health funding — a bitter pill

“For exposing funding disparities, executive perks and bureaucratic waste that came as services to struggling families were cut.”

Second place

Ashley Cusick, Phoenix New Times: “Violently ill

“For highlighting the unique dangers families with violent children face and the lack of services for them.”

Third place

Megan Kimble, Edible Baja Arizona:  “Shortening the line

“For putting a face on food insecurity in Southern Arizona while highlighting the people and initiatives that make the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona one of the most innovative food banks in the country.”

 

C9. Statewide education reporting   

Judge: Gary Stern, reader engagement editor with The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y., is a longtime education reporter who won first prize in investigative reporting from the Education Writers Association in 2012 and the Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism from Associated Press Media Editors in 2013.

First place

Amy Silverman, Phoenix New Times: “The new segregation

“Silverman wrote a powerful, first-person account of how Arizona’s growing network of charter schools are avoiding enrollment of special-education students, producing a new form of segregation. Her piece was an extensively researched and aggressively reported narrative that lays bare a fundamental problem with the entire direction of public education in Arizona. It’s almost unfair to compare other articles to Silverman’s, since she was driven by both journalistic and maternal impulses. Silverman was trying to find an appropriate school for her own daughter. Compelling from start to finish.”

Second place

Anne Ryman, Arizona Republic: “Few convictions in ASU sexual assaults

“How colleges deal with sexual assaults on campus is one of the hottest issues in higher education, and Ryman did a terrific job of explaining the crisis through the stories of two female students at ASU. Her piece helped readers understand the complex nature of sexual assault on campus, where the victim and assailant often meet at parties or frat houses. She also helped readers understand how difficult in can be for college authorities to investigate cases and help convict assailants. Ryman forced ASU to fully explain how it deals with accusations of assault, so students and their parents know what to expect and demand.”

Third place

Mary Beth Faller, Arizona Republic: “Failure to address 2011 hacking tied to ‘13 breach

“Faller extensively covered a massive computer breach at Maricopa Community College, holding college officials accountable at several levels. She reported on the college’s internal moves and withholding of information. But most important, she uncovered an earlier security breach that was never fully addressed by the college. Her aggressive reporting and clear writing on a complex subject was a major service to readers and the college community.”

 

C10. Statewide immigration reporting

Judge: Steve Clow, state editor for the Los Angeles Times, supervises coverage of immigration and homelessness, as well as the paper’s state correspondents. He helped run the Times’ 2012 presidential campaign coverage and was the primary editor on “Product of Mexico,” the paper’s 2014 investigation of the mistreatment of farm workers in Mexico.

First place

Bob Ortega, Rob O’Dell, Arizona Republic: “46 people killed 0 agents held accountable” and related stories

“The reporters extended their tough-minded accountability journalism from 2013 with important follow-up work in the contest year of 2014 that led to change within the U.S. Border Patrol. The agency tightened use-of-force rules in the wake of their reporting, and was forced to disclose the name of an agent involved in a fatal shooting after the Republic fought the matter in court.”

Second place

Daniel Gonzalez and Bob Ortega, Arizona Republic: “Pipeline of children: Flood of humanity”

“The Republic sought to get beyond the headlines and take a true deep dive into the 2014 surge of unaccompanied minors crossing in the United States from Mexico and other countries in Latin America. Reporters were dispatched to Mexico and Texas to chronicle this ‘flood of humanity’ and help readers understand the reasons behind it with depth, clarity and readability. An ambitious, impressive report on a topic of international interest and significance.”

Third place

Perla Trevizo, Carli Brosseau and Britain Eakin, Arizona Daily Star: “Lax record-keeping blurs SB 1070’s impact

“Making extensive use of data analysis, the reporters explored in great depth the impact of Arizona’s controversial SB1070, which requires authorities to check the immigration status of anyone they stop if they suspect the person may be in the country illegally. They found that record-keeping related to the law is so shoddy that it is almost impossible to determine whether they are violating the civil rights of those they question.”

C11. Statewide business reporting  

First place

Perla Trevizo, Arizona Daily Star, “Livelihoods washed away

“Through beautiful and at times haunting prose, Trevizo tells the story of the hidden disaster that befell a town following a toxic copper mine spill just over the Mexican border. Her story showed the interconnectedness of the region and humanized what is essentially an investigation into corporate responsibility.

Second place

Robert Anglen, Arizona Republic: “Follow the threads from bin to store

“Anglen exposed the profiteering off a little-noticed object in our daily lives – the clothing-donation bins that have seemingly popped up in every shopping center and purport to support charities. Through public records, he showed that the bins in fact are a pipeline to for-profit stores and to the profitable secondhand-clothing market overseas.”

Third place

Paul Giblin, Arizona Republic: “Winging it — F-35 behind schedule, over budget

“Giblin showed how a weapons system to be stationed at a nearby Air Force base had gone years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. Through a combination of investigative and explanatory reporting, he documented the costs to taxpayers and the aircraft’s potential to redefine modern warfare.”

 

C12. Statewide sports reporting  

Judge: John Cherwa, deputy sports editor of the Los Angeles Times, also has been sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and Tribune Company Sports Coordinator. He has been bureau chief for every Olympics since 2000.

First place

Jon Gold and Becky Pallack, Arizona Daily Star: “Should college athletes be paid?

“This in-depth look at paying college athletes took a very complicated topic and presented it in an accessible easy-to-understand way. The depth of reporting and variety of sources made this a must read on a topic that isn’t going away.”

Second place

Jon Gold, Arizona Daily Star: “Main Street USA lives on the border,” “Small town gets big boost from gigantic lineman” and “East-side rivalry all-consuming

“This collection of stories about high schools shows how there are great stories to tell in everybody’s backyard. The writer had smart, engaging ledes and then took the writing down conversations paths that made you keep going.”

Third place

Jason P. Skoda, Ahwatukee Foothill News: “Positive disposition defines MP Coach Carter instead of a wheelchair

“A perfect lede capturing what everyone was thinking but no one was saying made this story about a Mountain Pointe coach a great read. The story unfolds with great pacing and answers all the questions before they are even asked.”

C13. Statewide column writing  

Judge: Patt Morrison, a longtime writer and columnist for the Los Angeles Times, has shared two Pulitzer Prizes, and won six Emmys and the Los Angeles Press Club’s lifetime achievement award. Her book “Rio LA, Tales from the Los Angeles River,” was a bestseller praised by Joan Didion and Ray Bradbury. Pink’s, the legendary Hollywood hot dog stand, named its vegetarian hot dog “the Patt Morrison dog.”

First place

Tim Steller, Arizona Daily Star

“Tim Steller writes in a way that dares you, just dares you, to turn the page. The paradox of a cheerful balloon left at a memorial of a child who starved to death, and the blow-by-blow details of a system that somehow let it happen. The legal quandary of a truck driver who shot and killed the man screaming at him from the next car – a man who didn’t even have a gun – and, under ‘stand your ground,’ was acquitted of murder charges. This is the way readers really come to understand and then change law and public policy: by how it affects people, one case, one life at a time.”

Second place

Stephen Lemons, Phoenix New Times

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if movers and shakers in the Valley of the Sun open each issue of the Phoenix New Times with trepidation whenever Stephen Lemons decides to take a long, close look at them. In the saga of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the reportorial gift who keeps on giving, Lemons dismantles and scrutinizes the Arpaio spin machine, whose cast includes an alleged big-time hoodwinker. And Lemons’ deep reporting lays out the state attorney general, a Harvard man, up to his neck in a paper trail showing his taxpayer-paid staff assigned to work on his reelection campaign, which, several months after the story, came to naught.”

Third place

Karina Bland, The Arizona Republic

“I’ve said many times that the Louvre of newspaper writers is the refrigerator door. Something that’s good enough to post in a place where everyone sees it – at home, at work – is very good indeed. Karina Bland’s columns fall in that category: home truths about home matters that become everyone’s truths and everyone’s homes. One column takes us step-by-step through that most abject parental dread, as she reads and reacts to, along with the reader, a Facebook post that began with another mother’s account of her son’s birthday, and descended sentence by sentence into the news that that teenaged son just shot himself to death while on drugs. Another writer might have left it at reflections on her own parenting skills, but Karina went to the boy’s memorial service, to make his story into everyone’s. And the abstractions of the ALS ice bucket challenge were real for her, and for her readers when a close friend’s husband was diagnosed with the disease.”

 

C14. Statewide editorial writing

Judge: Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press, won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for commentary for his columns on the financial crisis facing his hometown, which judges said were written with passion and a stirring sense of place, sparing no one in their critique.

First place

Jonathan Clark, Nogales International

No second or third place awards.

 

C15. Statewide personality profile    

Judges: Scott Farwell, a senior enterprise reporter at The Dallas Morning News, was a 2014 finalist for The Pulitzer Prize in featuring writing for his story about a young woman’s struggle to live a normal life after years of ghastly child abuse, an examination of human resilience in the face of depravity. Avi Selk has covered schools, crime and currently reports on city government for the Morning News.

First place

Scott Craven, Arizona Republic: “Bugler plays solemn notes of soldiers’ final farewells

“Scott Craven cleverly weaves together portraits of a taps bugler, his instrument and the military tradition they both serve. The bugle, he writes, is ‘utilitarian rather than elegant, dutiful rather than graceful,’ yet capable of producing exquisite art. So too, we learn through Scott’s story, is the bugler.”

Second place

Dianna Nanez, Arizona Republic: “10 years later, Marie Tillman at peace

“Fascinating insight into a national story. Easy to read. Enjoyed the scene-setting and the bits of internal dialogue. Personality profiles often aspire, and fail, to help readers understand how people put the world together in their head. It’s not easy, but Nanez pulled it off with aplomb. Bravo.”

Third place

Connie Cone Sexton, Arizona Republic: “Phoenix’s tree guru

“This is an example of how in-depth reporting and writing can elevate a story. Sexton approached this profile with a seasoned reporter’s eye, offering details that really revealed the character of a mid-level city bureaucrat. Solid enterprise in a competitive category.”

 

C16. Statewide human interest writing   

Judge: Brendan McCarthy has run the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting newsroom since its inception. He is a veteran newspaper and television investigative reporter who was a 2009 Pulitzer Prize finalist and has won a George Polk Award and a regional Emmy award, among other honors.

First place

Amy B. Wang, Arizona Republic: “We had 3 minutes to save their lives

“This was an incredibly gripping story from beginning to end. Strong structure and stellar writing.”

Second place

Karina Bland, Arizona Republic: “Can a single memento define the life of a 9/11 victim?

“A fresh approach to a past event. An evocative story told in a heartfelt, respectful manner.”

Third place

Parker Leavitt, Arizona Republic: “Mesa storm brings flood of heartbreak for families

An in-depth portrait of the struggle to rebuild a community. Well-told. Great use of details.”

 

C17. Statewide short-form writing

Judge: Tim Harrower has been an editor, designer and columnist at newspapers large (The Oregonian), midsized (The Rochester Times-Union) and small (the Times weeklies in Beaverton, Ore.).  His “Inside Reporting” is the most widely used newswriting textbook in the country. He hosts journalism workshops, noodles around with multimedia and composes music at his dog-and-frog ranch deep in the Oregon woods.

First place

Amy B. Wang, Arizona Republic: “Camelback Santa delights Phoenix hikers

“A fun story about a charming local character. Great quotes, friendly tone — just the right touch for a holiday profile.”

Second place

Tom Beal, Arizona Daily Star: “Tucson in 100 Objects: The Santa Cruz River

“An exercise in sparse, almost poetic description: fact-filled, but an easy read nonetheless.”

Third place

Amy B. Wang, Arizona Republic: “Mesa RV park lands on new Modest Mouse album cover

“Quirky local color, with an appealing tongue-in-cheek tone (and a good ear for catchy quotes).”

 

C18. Statewide arts criticism

Judge: Inga Saffron, architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism and has been a finalist three times since 2004. Her writing has appeared in the New Republic, Metropolis, Dwell Landscape Architecture Magazine, Texas Architecture and the Architects Newspaper.

First place

Zachary Fowle, Phoenix New Times

“These humorous, engaging essays on beer are the work of a mature writer with a strong, confident voice. He is able to communicate his deep knowledge of his subject in clear, entertaining prose. I learned a lot.”

Second place (tie)

David Accomazzo, Phoenix New Times

“These stylish reviews of pop concerts display a strong knowledge of the subject and go beyond the genre’s celebrity worship. The writer does a good job of putting the performer and performance in context.”

And

Iris Arnesen, The Opera Glass

“These are very impressive deep dives into local theater and opera productions. The essay on ‘Venus in Fur’ was notable for its insights and the connections it made to classical Greek literature.”

 

C19. Statewide arts reporting

Judge: Jase Peeples, entertainment editor for The Advocate, was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club. In addition to The Advocate, he is also a contributor for Out, Plus magazine and Out Traveler.

First place

Ed Masley, Arizona Republic: “The big time

“Masley highlights an often overlooked aspect of the Supremes’ legacy, going beyond the glamour and glitter of polished performers and chart-topping hits to highlight the ways artists change a population’s world view, and the symbiotic relationship between pop culture and politics.”

Second place

Cathalena E. Burch, Arizona Daily Star: “Hungrily awaited pizzeria could be a game changer

“Burch delivers a superbly nuanced portrait, providing the reader with an intriguing peek into the creative process of a master craftsman at his peak. Expertly told, with a healthy dose of delicious details make this more than a great read – it’s a delicacy.”

Third place

Daniel Dullum, Florence Reminder & Blade-Tribune: “Vee-licious musical journey

“Dullum superbly balances Bobby Vee’s impact as an artist with his family’s struggle to process his declining health and their journey to add one last volume to the legacy of a music icon. The result is a heartwarming story that highlights the power of family, determination, and an indomitable spirit.”

 

C20. Statewide opinion blog  

Judge: Heather “Digby” Parton and her blog, Hullabaloo, won the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis, which honors excellence in journalism in service of the common good.

First place

Stephen Lemons, Phoenix New Times

“Lemons is a blogger’s blogger, writing with a strong point of view but very well sourced and well written.”

Second place

Ray Stern, Phoenix New Times

C21. Statewide news blog

Judge: Uriah Kiser, an entrepreneurial journalist whose worked in television and newspapers, launched PotomacLocal.com in 2010 to cover his hometown. The Virginia Press Association named it the state’s best online-only news website.

First place

Ray Stern, Phoenix New Times

“Told a good story with multiple sources and images. Connected well with the reader.”

Second place

Stephen Lemons, Phoenix New Times

“Great use of multimedia. Writer has a clear grip on his beat.”

 

C22. Statewide features blog   

Judge: Jessica Pearce Rotondi is senior lifestyle blog editor at The Huffington Post.

First place

Staff, Phoenix New Times: “Up on The Sun

“Up On the Sun stands out from the crowd for its deep-dive coverage of all aspects of the local music scene. Benjamin Leatherman’s profile of Deon Doughty’s paintings of area musicians captures Phoenix’s musical present and past in a thoughtful, intimate way, while his post exploring the potential of 10 vacant buildings to be transformed into cultural venues shows imagination for its future. Troy Farah’s playful plea ‘Hey Phoenix – You Need to Start Dancing at Concerts’ and the hard news reporting of David Accomazzo round out a talented roster of bloggers who keep their readership informed and, more critically, entertained.”

Second place

Staff, Phoenix New Times: “Chow Bella

“After reading Chow Bella from New York City, I wanted to hope on a plane to Phoenix and take in the cuisine bloggers Heather Hock, Eric Schaefer, and Zaida Dedolph bring to life. Even non-residents can appreciate the accessible, well-researched history of tequila in Hoch’s ‘The Truth About Your Arizona Tequila.’ Sampling espresso alongside Dedolph on her tour of metro Phoenix espresso blends was pure pleasure; her tasting notes and descriptions are evocative and rich without being pretentious. Schaefer’s journey to the San Diego Bay Restaurant mixes excellent food writing with a down-to-earth practicality. Chow Bella proves food writing can, and should, be enjoyed by all.”

Third place: No award.

 

C24. Statewide news headline writing   

Judge: Rich Mills, a copy editor at the Omaha World-Herald since 1987, has won two ACES “Headline Writer of the Year” plaques. He was robbed this year.

First place

Dave Ord, Arizona Daily Star

“’A hard one to swallow’ captures the disappointment of the Arizona fan base and works perfectly with the picture of two players with hands in

their mouths. ‘The Ducks stop here’ was a natural on Arizona’s upset of unbeaten Oregon. ‘The chill of victory’ on Arizona’s football win on a cold day in Salt Lake City was aptly supported by the subhead: ‘UA puts freeze on Utes …’

Second place

Tom Spratt, Arizona Capitol Times

“’Elephant on the roof’ perfectly encapsulates the story of the big-dog utility getting into the rooftop solar game. ‘Deja veto …’ is an effective little play that I don’t remember seeing before.”

Third place: No award.

 

C25. Statewide feature headline writing

No award

 

 STATEWIDE/COMMUNITY DESIGN

D1. Community front page layout/design

Judge: Josh Crutchmer is design and graphics editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His work as a designer and art director has been honored by the Society for News Design, Pictures of the Year International and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is SND’s print competition committee chair and judged that competition in 2013. Previously, he worked at The Buffalo News, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Omaha World-Herald, among other places.

First place

Gabe Turner, Arizona Capitol Times: “Losing faith”

“A captivating, smart illustration that packs a lot of information into its imagery and a simple layout make this page effective, and the headline allows the reader to get right to the point of the package immediately.”

Second place

Jan LaVally, Sierra Vista Herald: “The expressionist”

“Smart play of a very strong lead image carries this page. The illustrative touches to the typography didn’t overpower the image and the restrained use of color allows the lead image to stand out.”

Third place

Brandon Hays, Inside Tucson Business: “Small business anchors local, US economy”

“This page ranked in the top three because of the combination of a storytelling lead visual with information. Many entries in this category simply did not supplement lead illustrations with important information and this one did.”

 

D2. Community non-deadline layout/design

Judge: Josh Crutchmer is design and graphics editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His work as a designer and art director has been honored by the Society for News Design, Pictures of the Year International and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is SND’s print competition committee chair and judged that competition in 2013. Previously, he worked at The Buffalo News, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Omaha World-Herald, among other places.

First place

Gabe Turner, Arizona Capitol Times: “Education”

“Building this page around a single illustration requires it to be both easy on the eye and informative enough to get the point across, and this page stands out for doing both. The interplay of mental elements like puzzle pieces and question marks with the gears is a crucial touch that the illustrator did not overdo.”

Second place

Bethany Strunk, Sierra Vista Herald: “Celebrate liberty”

“High marks for this page for interactivity. Asking the readers to cut out and use parts of the page is a simple gesture that I wish we saw more of, particularly among small papers.”

Third place

Gabe Turner, Arizona Capitol Times: “Going green”

“The illustration and headline combination set the tone for the entire edition, and they work well together. Smart touches by the illustrator in not over-using the color green also helped make this cover work.”

 

D3. Statewide page one layout/design

Judge: Josh Crutchmer is design and graphics editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His work as a designer and art director has been honored by the Society for News Design, Pictures of the Year International and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is SND’s print competition committee chair and judged that competition in 2013. Previously, he worked at The Buffalo News, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Omaha World-Herald, among other places.

First place

Tricia Reinhold, Arizona Republic: “Yarnell Hill Fire — One year later”

“This page is over-the-top bold with a powerful lead image, but what made the page work was sweating the details. The image holds up over 12 columns. The reverse type on white is very readable, and the mug shots and names are played in such a way that readers are reminded of the full magnitude of the fire’s anniversary.”

Second place

Maria Camou, Arizona Daily Star: “Gay marriages begin”

“Credit the editors and designer for having the guts and proper news judgment to play this lead image across the entire front, knowing that not every reader would be happy with it. This page can be held up as a benchmark for how to play breaking news in Arizona in 2015.”

Third place

Courtney Kan, Arizona Republic: “46 border deaths, 0 agents disciplined”

“The lead image is striking but what makes this page work as a whole is the restraint in typography, color and white space. The designer took the time to ensure that the colors used elsewhere complemented those in the main image, and keeping the type to a manageable size was very important to the tone of the centerpiece.”

D4. Statewide non-deadline layout/design

Judge: Josh Crutchmer is design and graphics editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His work as a designer and art director has been honored by the Society for News Design, Pictures of the Year International and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is SND’s print competition committee chair and judged that competition in 2013. Previously, he worked at The Buffalo News, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Omaha World-Herald, among other places.

First place

Luis Solano, La Voz Arizona: “Clasico de Clasicos”

“Generally, most of the winners this year are pages that did not lead with Photoshopped visuals, but this is an exception. The technical proficiency of the lead illustration combined with the very smart choices of background visuals work very well, and the headline furthers the impact.”

Second place

Rick Konopka, The Arizona Republic: “Stop”

“The lead visual and typography are both very powerful, and this is an effective way to broach the topic of domestic abuse on an opinion front. When you factor in the typography and photo choices outside of the centerpiece, I think the page gets held back a bit, but on the strength of the centerpiece, it’s safely in the top three.”

Third place

Rachel Van Blankenship, The Arizona Republic: “Go play outside”

“The designer had fun with this package, and that’s what the package is telling the reader to do. Nothing wrong with that at all. The color and typography touches help this page have maybe more visual impact than the sum of its parts.”

 

D5. Statewide tabloid/magazine cover design

Judge: Josh Crutchmer is design and graphics editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His work as a designer and art director has been honored by the Society for News Design, Pictures of the Year International and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is SND’s print competition committee chair and judged that competition in 2013. Previously, he worked at The Buffalo News, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Omaha World-Herald, among other places.

First place

Peter M. Storch and Andrew J. Nilsen, Phoenix New Times: “Down the chimney with ease”

Everything about this cover works, down to the smallest detail. The illustration itself is clever, but having the foresight to add in bitmapped eyes and binary code take it over the top. The headline is both designed and written in such a way that you ‘get’ this cover instantly.”

Second place

Jeremie Lederman, Arizona Capitol Times: “Session wrap 2014”

“This approach — a comic or Mad Magazine style — has been done to death, so if you are going to do it, make sure your execution is high-end, and that’s what this page has. Making this illustration work took news judgment and editing as well as tons of research by the illustrator, and it came together perfectly.”

Third place

Brandon Hays, Tucson Weekly: “Fall arts preview”

“This page isn’t without its flaws, but the lead visual certainly workd. It’s a unique approach to an annual topic. The skeleton and general ‘wild west’ feel to the illustration make this fall arts preview VERY Arizona, and that helps set it apart.”

 

D6. Statewide multi-page design

Judge: Josh Crutchmer is design and graphics editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His work as a designer and art director has been honored by the Society for News Design, Pictures of the Year International and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is SND’s print competition committee chair and judged that competition in 2013. Previously, he worked at The Buffalo News, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Omaha World-Herald, among other places.

First place

Staff, Phoenix New Times: “Best of Phoenix”

“If you are going to do a themed special section, there are two things you must do visually. The first is to completely sell out for the theme. Commit to it and do not waver. The second is, do not let the theme overpower the content. From cover to cover, the typography and illustrations do nothing but enhance the content they are built around.”

Second place

Staff, The Arizona Republic: “Mightiest ship at sea”

“The paper dedicated an exceptional amount of space for a very important enterprise project: Before long, there will be no living ties to World War II. Playing this project consistent across-the-board in size, type and use of black and white and spot color, is of incredible value to readers, especially on this topic.”

Third place

Bethany Strunk, Sierra Vista Herald: “Amor incondicional”

“Possibly the most pleasant surprise of this entire competition was this package. Devoting this much space to allow photography and typography to supplement a very powerful long-form read is an outstanding decision. It is in storytelling where newspapers should be devoting resources and space, and this gets there.”

 

D7. Statewide illustration, drawn

Judge: Josh Crutchmer is design and graphics editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His work as a designer and art director has been honored by the Society for News Design, Pictures of the Year International and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is SND’s print competition committee chair and judged that competition in 2013. Previously, he worked at The Buffalo News, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Omaha World-Herald, among other places.

First place

Peter M. Storch and Graham Smith, Phoenix New Times: “Officer friendly”

“What sets this illustration apart is its impact. The use of red makes this very powerful and plays directly to the most extreme possible perception of police officers readers can have, which is the perception the story explores. It is timely and powerful.”

Second place

Peter M. Storch and Scott Bakal, Phoenix New Times: “Violently ill”

“The imagery is haunting, but so is the topic at hand. This is a very complicated illustration that, if one were to study it long enough, they could see a confused child, a scared child, a rebel or one crying out for help, and that’s really what’s at the heart of child violence — it can have countless roots.”

Third place

Chiara Bautista, Arizona Daily Star: “Tucson Festival of Books”

“The complexity of this illustration helps it rise out of a crowded field of good work. Building the birds out of letters was executed at such a level that it didn’t feel like a gimmick for a second. The restrained use of warm colors helps hold everything together and makes for a fun presentation.”

 

D8. Statewide illustration, photo-based

Judge: Josh Crutchmer is design and graphics editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His work as a designer and art director has been honored by the Society for News Design, Pictures of the Year International and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is SND’s print competition committee chair and judged that competition in 2013. Previously, he worked at The Buffalo News, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Omaha World-Herald, among other places.

First place

Rachel Van Blankenship, Arizona Republic: “Rhythm and freebies”

“What I like about this is that it wasn’t overdone. Yes, it’s Photoshopped, but it’s done with great restraint. The keys to the image are the record and Nashville, and that’s all you need. The old orange background is a subtle finishing touch, allowing the designer to work the type the same way it’s done on old vinyls.”

Second place

Peter M. Storch and Andrew Pielage, Phoenix New Times: “Billy’s bud”

“Once you read the headline and story and get what this story is about, you can appreciate the illustration. It looks like a villain in a sci-fi movie, but it’s right on point to the story of Billy Hayes. The background color and haunting lighting only serve to bring out the tone.”

Third place

Rachel Van Blankenship, Arizona Republic: “Do industrial yourself”

“Committing to the use of tools as the typography is what helped this entry rise above most of the rest. The tools work as the lead images, but finding enough to then spell out ‘do industrial yourself’ as a secondary image required research and a deft illustrative touch.”

 

COLLEGE DIVISION (PUBLISHED IN COLLEGE NEWSPAPERS OR NEWS WEBSITES)

E1. College news reporting  

Judge: Sara Libby, managing editor of the non-profit investigative news outlet Voice of San Diego, worked previously as an editor for POLITICO and TPM. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, CityLab, Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post.

First place

Emily Mahoney, The State Press: “Dream deferred: ASU facilities wither without maintenance funding”

“This reporter accomplished something that’s not easy – she took a subject as dry and bureaucratic as maintenance funding, and she made it readable, compelling and put the consequences in clear terms. The photos and multimedia components complemented the package well, and she also went above and beyond by putting her own school’s issues in context, both statewide and nationwide.”

Second place

Shelby Slade, The State Press: “The new frontier — Advocates seek change in tuition rates for Dreamers”

“I’m always wary of college journalists trying to capture big, national issues – their work can easily get too sprawling and unfocused. But this was executed very well, precisely because the writer chose a couple students as examples to focus on, and stuck to their stories. The complexities of the law were explained clearly and simply. It was written and edited very smartly – it got into the meat of the politics at play, but managed to do so in a reasonable amount of space.

Third place

Emily Mahoney, The State Press: “We the Police — the relationship between Tempe and its protectors”

“The reporter was able to identify and explain many layers of tension in this story: tension between the community and the university, tension between campus police and the city police department and the larger national tensions between communities and police that make this story timely and relevant. She gives a fair and exhaustive airing to many different perspectives.”

  

E2. College features reporting

Judge: Dave Burdick is, among other things, the editor of entertainment and consumer news at the Denver Post.

First place

Patrick O’Connor, Arizona Sonora News Service (University of Arizona): “Research keys on building stockpiles of organs”

“Patrick wrote a nice lede, followed up with vivid descriptions of both and scientific interest in a profile that justified its existence, which seems rare in college journalism. The writing is clear and confident, but not cocky. This wouldn’t have needed much work to appear in a regional newspaper. Very well done.”

Second place

Sarah Jarvis, Downtown Devil (Arizona State University): “A nonprofit group leaves humanitarian aid along immigrant trails”

“Sarah’s subject is interesting and she covers it with restraint, writing to a reasonable length where many students would have gone long. No doubt that helped her choose the quotes and facts that rose to the top. The lede sets the scene and puts the reader right in the desert. Nice work.”

Third place

Sean Logan, The State Press: “Help from above: ‘Flying Sams’ bring clinic to Mexican communities”

“Sean got some good characters to tell this story and even got to be with some of them in an interesting moment. That’s not the easiest thing on a college schedule. It shows that he took some time to get what he needed to make this story work.”

 

E3. College sports reporting  

Judge: Kristen Davis is high school sports manager at the Northeast Ohio Media Group, which represents The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com. She previously worked as a sports reporter and high school sports editor at the Arizona Daily Star.

First place

Bethany Reed, Thomas Mitchell and Morgan Chan, Cronkite News (Arizona State University): “Kush, Wulk, Winkles helped elevate ASU athletics to national prominence”

Second place

Justin Emerson, The State Press (Arizona State University): “Bottom of the ninth – Packard Stadium shuts its doors after 40 years”

Third place

Benjamin Margiott, The State Press: “Bump, set, sand – Sand volleyball to begin 1st season in school history”