Phoenix New Times Wins 20 Arizona Press Club Awards, Including Nine Firsts

New Times art director Peter M. Storch and his team received five awards, including three first places in the Arizona Press Club's annual journalism contest, which recognized outstanding work from 2014. In addition, Storch was named second runner-up for Designer of the Year.

The paper also took top honors in all three blogging categories -- News, Opinion, and Feature. In all, New Times won nine first-place prizes and a total of 20 awards for longform writing, criticism, blogging, and design.

Staff writer Stephen Lemons placed first for Opinion Blog. Judge Heather "Digby" Parton, who runs the blog Hullabaloo, wrote, "Lemons is a blogger's blogger, writing with a strong point of view but very well sourced and well written."

In addition, Lemons placed second for News Blog and Column Writing and third in Politics and Government Reporting for "The Walking Dead," a story about now-former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.

Staff writer Ray Stern placed first for News Blog. "Told a good story with multiple sources and images. Connected well with the reader," wrote judge Uriah Kiser, founder of

Stern also placed second for Opinion Blog and second in Environmental/Science reporting for a series of stories about Camelback Mountain.

New Times' music blog, Up on the Sun, placed first in the Feature Blog category. Judge Jessica Pearce Rotondi, senior lifestyle blog editor at the Huffington Post, wrote, "Up on the Sun stands out from the crowd for its deep-dive coverage of all aspects of the local music scene."

Contributor Robrt L. Pela won first place in Public Safety Reporting for "Ruthless," a story that revealed new details about the crimes of Arizona's most infamous murderess, Winnie Ruth Judd.

"What a story!" wrote judge Sandra Peddit, an investigative reporter at Newsday. "Compelling writing and organization make this piece a breeze to get through. I wanted to know more about the entire case -- it's so bizarre!"

Managing editor Amy Silverman placed first in Education Reporting for "The New Segregation," an investigation into charter schools that "push out" kids with special needs that also explored the author's efforts to find a school for her own daughter.

Judge Gary Stern, reader engagement editor with the Journal News in White Plains, New York, wrote, "Silverman wrote a powerful, first-person account of how Arizona's growing network of charter schools are avoiding enrollment of special-education students, producing a new form of segregation. Her piece was an extensively researched and aggressively reported narrative that lays bare a fundamental problem with the entire direction of public education in Arizona. It's almost unfair to compare other articles to Silverman's, since she was driven by both journalistic and maternal impulses. Silverman was trying to find an appropriate school for her own daughter. Compelling from start to finish."

Contributor Zach Fowle placed first in Arts Criticism for his column, "Craft Beer of the Week." "These humorous, engaging essays on beer are the work of a mature writer with a strong, confident voice. He is able to communicate his deep knowledge of his subject in clear, entertaining prose. I learned a lot," wrote judge Inga Saffron, architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Additional winners included music editor David Accomazzo, who tied for second place in Arts Criticism for his music reviews; former fellow Ashley Cusick, who took second in Social Issues Reporting for "Violently Ill," a story about violent kids; and the staff of Chow Bella, New Times' food blog, which placed second in the Feature Blog category.

Art director Storch racked up awards in many categories, all judged by Josh Crutchmer, design and graphics editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

"The creative range of this designer stands out," Crutchmer wrote in awarding Storch second-runner up Designer of the Year. "From the deft touches throughout the complicated 'Best of Phoenix' issue to one-offs like Space Invader and Walking Dead, this designer was up to the task each time, building pages around dramatic, impactful imagery."

Other awards included:

* First place, Tabloid/Magazine Cover Design, to Storch and Andrew J. Nilsen, for "Down the Chimney with Ease."

* First Place, Multi-Page Design, to Storch and staff for "Best of Phoenix 2014."

* First place, Drawn Illustration, to Storch and Graham Smith for "Officer Friendly."

* Second place, Drawn Illustration, to Storch and Scott Bakal, for "Violently Ill."

*Second place, Photo-Based Illustration, to Storch and Andrew Pielage, for "Billy's Bud."

Daniel Gonzalez of the Arizona Republic was recognized as Virg Hill Journalist of the Year and the Community Journalist of the Year was Curt Prendergast of Nogales International. The Republic took top honors in design and photography for Rachel Van Blankenship and Nick Oza, respectively. Complete results are available at