New Times Wins Arizona Press Club Awards

Phoenix New Times writers won top honors for column writing and blogging at the Arizona Press Club's annual awards banquet, held Saturday at Arizona State University's Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix.

In all, New Times brought home seven first-place awards.

Sarah Fenske won the Don Schellie Award for feature column writing.

"These columns show fearlessness in skewering political and other ne'er-do-wells and are backed by meticulous reporting . . . in a compelling, polished and personal writing style," the Schellie Award judge wrote.

Fenske also took second place in growth and development reporting and second in business enterprise reporting.

"Feathered Bastard," written by Stephen Lemons, took the top award for blogging.

"Stephen Lemons tackled some tough topics with both reporting and commentary," the judge wrote. "He incorporated a YouTube video in one entry and included links more generously than others."

Two former New Times staff writers took high honors. John Dickerson placed first in three categories — public safety, growth and development, and sports enterprise reporting. He was runner-up for the Press Club's top investigative reporting honor, the Don Bolles Award, for his series "Prescription for Disaster," which detailed problems in the way Arizona monitors doctors. Megan Irwin took both first and second place in the children, families, and senior reporting category.

Arts writer Kathleen Vanesian placed first in arts criticism and food critic Michele Laudig placed second in food criticism. Calendar editor Clay McNear took second place in feature headline writing. Clubs editor Benjamin Leatherman placed second in sports enterprise, and art director Peter Storch placed second for newspaper tabloid cover design. Staff writer Paul Rubin took third in public safety and received an honorable mention for health reporting. Managing Editor Amy Silverman placed third in the John Kolbe Award for politics and government reporting for her reporting on John McCain, and took third in the personality profile category. "Green Fatigue," a project about the challenges of the green movement, placed third in project reporting; contributors included Fenske, Dickerson, Irwin and Silverman, as well as Ray Stern, Robrt L. Pela, and Steve Jansen.

In regional and national contest news, Dickerson was a finalist twice in the Investigative Reporters and Editors annual contest, for both his "Prescription for Disaster" series and also for his reporting on poor conditions in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails. The medical series was also a finalist for a Maggie Award from the Western Publishers Association; Silverman was a finalist for two Maggies — for a story about McCain and a column about Sarah Palin. The paper as a whole was also a Maggie finalist in the best consumer tabloid category.

"Green Fatigue" placed second in the Best of the West journalism contest. Dickerson placed third in the growth and development category, for his coverage of late mortgage broker Scott Coles.

In contests where the winners have yet to be announced, Fenske is a finalist for the National Association of Black Journalists' contest and The MOLLY Award (named in honor of the late journalist Molly Ivins) for her columns about Bryant Wilkerson, who was all but acquitted this year on charges that he caused a fatal traffic accident. Wilkerson is black; the woman who arguably caused the accident — and emerged virtually unscathed, legally — is not.

Fenske (column writing), Dickerson (investigative reporting) and Silverman (election coverage) are also finalists in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies contest; Storch and assistant art director Jasmine Hobeheidar are finalists in that contest's editorial layout category.

Dickerson's "Prescription for Disaster" is also a finalist for a Livingston Award, an honor that recognizes excellence among journalists 34 and under.

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