New Times and the Arizona Republic each brought home 27 awards in the reporting and writing categories, with New Times racking up 12 firsts and the Republic nine. The Tribune won 14 awards in these categories, including three firsts.
The Republic's Michael Chow was named the state's Photographer of the Year, while Anne Ryman won Community Journalist of the Year honors for her work at the Paradise Valley Independent. Hugh Harrelson, former publisher of Arizona Highways, was given the club's Distinguished Service Award posthumously.
New Times writers have won the Virg Hill Journalist of the Year award 10 times, more than any other publication; the Republic has won eight. Rubin, 47, also won the trophy in 1986. He has been a finalist for the award five times. Of current staff writers, John Dougherty has won the award three times, Terry Greene Sterling twice and Tony Ortega once.
Rubin's eclectic 1997 portfolio included stories about the murder of socialite Jeanne Tovrea; a prominent attorney who manipulated police investigations of a relative; a paralegal whose bankruptcy operation caused people to lose homes and cars; a budding young gospel musician; a man who spent nearly 40 years in a mental institution, not because he was insane but because he was deaf; and the mysterious death of a 6-year-old girl.
This year's Virg Hill competition was judged by a panel of three Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists from out of state.
Judge Brian Donovan of Newsday lauded Rubin's ability to immerse himself in a subject, "get firsthand accounts from reluctant people, understand how scores of details relate to the big picture and tie the whole package together with a classy writing job." He said such traits are "the mark of a first-class reporter."
Judge Jesse Katz of the Los Angeles Times wrote that Rubin "did a superb job of blending the raw emotional power of a narrative with keen and nuanced reportage. His body of work was thorough and engaging, a true pleasure to read."
Rubin won four other awards as well: second in long-form feature writing; second in project reporting; third in business non-deadline reporting; and third in personality profile.
New Times staff writer Terry Greene Sterling won three writing categories, including the Don Schellie Award for feature-column writing; diversity reporting; and religion and ethics reporting. She also captured second in law-and-order reporting.
Amy Silverman placed first in law-and-order reporting and general reporting; and second in diversity reporting.
David Holthouse was a double winner as well, for personality profile and travel and food writing.
Tony Ortega won two firsts--sustained coverage and long-form feature writing--and two thirds--short-form feature writing and diversity reporting.
Art director Sonda Andersson Pappan swept all three places in the multiple-page design category, and also took the top prize for magazine cover design. She placed second in magazine design.
Photographer Doug Hoeschler won the portrait trophy.
M. V. Moorhead won first and second in general criticism.
John Dougherty won first in environmental reporting.
Michael Kiefer won second in personality profile and third in law-and-order reporting.
Michael Lacey won second in news-column writing.
Howard Seftel won second in feature-column writing.
Barry Graham won second in sports feature writing.
Chris Farnsworth won third in environmental reporting.