Sterling, who won the award in 1987 and 1989, was chosen for a portfolio of work that included an investigation into the financial dealings of the Baptist Foundation of Arizona. Her work in 1998 also delved into a redevelopment project in Chandler and the plight of an elderly couple in Youngtown who had been cited by the city because their small patch of grass was too high.
Sterling graduated in 1984 from Arizona State University's journalism school. She wrote for the Dallas Morning News, the San Jose Mercury News, the Arizona Republic and several state and national magazines before joining the staff of New Times in 1986. She has won dozens of state and national journalism awards.
Other finalists for the 1998 Virg Hill award are Dennis Wagner and Bill Muller, both of the Arizona Republic. The winner will be announced at the press club's annual banquet in Tucson on Saturday, April 17.