New Times founder and executive editor Michael Lacey has been honored with the Arizona Press Club's Distinguished Service Award. The lifetime accolade was given for Lacey's 38 years as a writer, editor, and newspaper owner in Arizona. It's one of two national and 19 state awards that New Times has earned for its journalism in 2007.
Lacey, with New Times co-founder Jim Larkin, also won the John Kolbe Politics and Government Reporting Award from the state press club for "Breathtaking Abuse of the Constitution" (October 18, 2007). Lacey and Larkin were jailed for several hours by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio after they revealed abusive grand jury subpoenas against New Times and its readers in the article.
Their two awards were among 17 that New Times won in the press club competition — six of them first-places.
Arizona Press Club awards
New Times responded to the incarcerations with a series of stories late last year titled "Target Practice" detailing how Arpaio and County Attorney Andrew Thomas have habitually abridged the constitutional rights of those opposing their policies. The list of enemies has included jail inmates, Mexican immigrants, political opponents, supporters of political opponents, and members of the press.
The "Target Practice" series has earned national and regional recognition, including the Maggie Award for Best Public Service Series, given by the Western Publications Association and the Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism. Lacey and staff writers Paul Rubin and Megan Irwin accepted the Payne from the University of Oregon in Eugene on May 8. The honor is bestowed annually on journalists who "encourage public trust in the media by courageously practicing the highest standards of the profession in the face of political or economic pressures."
In addition, "Target Practice" was named a finalist for the prestigious Scripps Howard Distinguished Service to the First Amendment award, and one of the project's six cover stories, "Inhumanity Has a Price" (John Dickerson, December 20, 2007), was named a finalist in the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists (the winner to be announced June 4).
At the Arizona Press Club awards banquet at the Heard Museum on May 10, staff writer Ray Stern won the coveted Don Bolles Investigative Reporting Award for "What Happened in Vegas . . ." (May 31, 2007), an intensive look at the questionable dealings of a large national identify-theft-prevention company (headquartered in Phoenix) and the unsavory antics of its owner.
Columnist Sarah Fenske was first runner-up for the top prize in Arizona journalism, Virg Hill Journalist of the Year. It was the second time she was first runner-up for this award in the past three years. The Virg Hill winner was Brady McCombs, the Arizona Daily Star's border and immigration reporter.
Fenske also won first place in the News Column Writing category and second place in Features Column Writing.
Staff writer Megan Irwin took two first-place awards in the press club contest. Her story "A Cancer on ASU" (January 18, 2007) won in Science Reporting, and her "Redemption Song" article (March 1, 2007) won in Children, Families and Seniors Issues Reporting.
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New Times swept Arts Writing or Criticism, with music scribe Serene Dominic taking first place for his "Back on the Sun" story (July 12, 2007). Staffer Lilia Menconi won second place for "Cause Celeb" (February 8, 2007) and music editor Niki D'Andrea won third for "Beyond Blonde" (December 13, 2007).
Other New Times journalists winning press club awards for stories, headlines, or photographs were Michele Laudig, Clay McNear, Giulio Sciorio, Robrt L. Pela and John Dickerson. A full list of the press club's honorees can be found at www.azpressclub.org.
In addition to their press club awards for 2007, Lacey and Larkin were named Civil Libertarians of the Year by the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union ("New Times founders honored," April 3), and received the President's Award from the Valley chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists ("Lacey, Larkin Receive Award," April 10).