New Times Writers, Designers, and Photographers Win Honors from Arizona Press Club

Phoenix New Times walked away with 14 first-place awards last night at the state Press Club's 2010 Best Journalism in Arizona contest -- including for the paper's comprehensive national immigration series, "Amongst U.S."

Overall, the newspaper received 40 awards for work during 2010.

Sarah Fenske, a former New Times staff writer and columnist who now is managing editor of this publication's sister paper in St. Louis, was named first-runner-up for the Virg Hill Journalist of the Year Award, and New Times art director Peter Storch was first-runner-up for Designer of the Year.

Storch also won a first place in Cover Design, sharing the honor with  assistant art director John Walters and photographer Jamie Peachey, for work on "Tater Tot," the cover image for a feature on now-Congressman Ben Quayle. The judge said: "The image says it all. Love the restraint here. Not that many publications have that kind of discipline."

Storch and Walters also won a second place in the category for "This Bud's for You" for a feature about medical marijuana.

Fenske came in second for the  Don Schellie Award for Column Writing and third for the Don Bolles Award for Investigative Reporting for her piece, "Mr. Big Stuff," about the nepotism, cronyism, and turmoil in the Maricopa County Housing Authority.

Michael Lacey, Monica Alonzo, and Stephen Lemons won first place in the Project, Explanatory Writing and Public Service Journalism category for the series examining the U.S. government's failed immigration policy and what it has wrought. 

"A deeply sourced series that tells the stories of what happens to Latino immigrants in America and those trying to come here," the judges wrote. "The strength of this undertaking is its humanity - this is no retelling of events based on official records. These reporters are at the border, in Mexico, in the courtroom, in jail, in the health center, in people's homes. These stories paint a picture that is compelling, heartbreaking, infuriating - and all too real."

Jay Bennett took third place in this category for "Nothing Not New," a yearlong project in which Bennett listened only to music released in 2010.

Former editorial fellow Malia Politzer won first place in the Immigration Reporting category for her "Return to Sender" story -- which judges said created "searing portraits of children of illegal immigrants, now reaching adulthood, caught in the middle of Arizona's immigration policies.

"The story showed the real stories and trauma suffered by a generation brought to the U.S. with illegal immigrant parents, now living in fear of deportation from the only country they have known as home," the judge wrote. 

Paul Rubin took first place in Social Issues Reporting for "Honor Thy Father," a story about a Glendale man of Iraqi descent who killed his daughter because he felt she was too Americanized.

It is a "chilling tale, compellingly written with great detail," the judges wrote. "Rubin captured the atrocity of the crime while providing the cultural context for how something so unimaginable in the western world could occur."

Sarah Fenske won second place for her piece, "Til Death Do Us Part" in this category.

New Times swept the Illustration Design category, with Kyle T. Webster nabbing first place for "Phantom murder," Graham Smith winning second for Seized," and Tim Gabor taking third for "Get Out!"

About Webster's design, the judge said: "These compelling stories are often so difficult to illustrate. The content is certainly worthy, yet some publications struggle to make it THE thing because of a lack of visuals. This illustration hit that elusive high note, elevating the content where it belonged."

Jonathan McNamara and Claire Lawton got a first place for their Multimedia Package "Hero Worship."

The judge said: "This entry easily stood out from the field in its ability to leverage several key storytelling formats -- thoughtfully compiled vignettes, tightly-edited video, great photography and playful interactivity -- with impressive dexterity. This is a shining example of the quality of work that multimedia journalists should strive to produce."

Martin Cizmar won first place for Best Opinion Blog, which judges said is "very funny and clear. His columns are wonderfully explanatory and hilarious commentaries on politics and music. His barbs can get personal and mean (calling Jan Brewer "leather-faced"), but are irresistible. A delight to read."

Stephen Lemons won second place in the category for his Feathered Bastard blog.

Alonzo and James King won first places in the Best News Blog category for their work in "Valley Fever."

Judges said Alonzo's "great persistence reporting on a revealing story about a powerful politician, Mayor Phil Gordon, neatly marries the great tradition of watchdog journalism with the new Internet age."

About King, the judge wrote: "[He] follows the great tradition of 'alternative' media by writing with attitude and verve about what otherwise could be mundane election doings. His items harness all the Web makes available with photos, videos and links."   

Cizmar also took a third place in Best News Blog award for "Up on the Sun."

Other awards to New Times:

* Health Reporting: Ray Stern, second place for "Chronic Future."
* Environmental/Science Reporting: Niki D'Andrea, third place for "High Science."
* Public Safety Reporting: Paul Rubin, third place for "Phantom Murder."
* Business Reporting: Ray Stern, third place for "Gold Rush."
* Personality Profile: Niki D'Andrea, honorable mention for "Over the Rainbow."
* Human Interest: Claire Lawton, third place for "Tag, You're Art."
* Human Interest: Zachary Fowle, second place for "Zach vs. Food."  
* Portrait Photography: Jamie Peachey second place for "Gold."
* Best Feature Blog: Michele Laudig, Jonathan McNamara, Wynter Holden, Erica O'Neil, third place for "Chow Bella."
* Best Criticism: Robrt L. Pela, third place for his "Surreal Estate" column.
* Best Art Reporting: Robrt L. Pela, third place for digging "deep into the local music scene to provide fun, fresh portraits."
* Best Art Reporting: Niki D'Andrea, second place for bring "cutting-edge pop culture from the fringe to the forefront in readable, well-researched features.

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Monica Alonzo
Contact: Monica Alonzo