Complaining about awards seems like the most petty thing to do in the world, but the whole process can be a little tedious. Some awards are better than others, but getting together the entries themselves can take up nearly an entire work week (larger newspapers often assign someone to that task and nothing else when the entry period comes up; as you might guess, we're not afforded that luxury). Then, the judging process is a bit arbitrary at best, as a group of journalists somewhere look over your work and decide in generally subjective ways possible what's best. Because it's largely a matter of someone's preference, you can't really get too excited about a win, although that same logic doesn't hold up when you're grumbling about a loss. If you're lucky, the award ceremony itself is actually fun (winners get free drinks at the Altweekly Awards, at the very least), but often, there's just a lot of clapping for the Arizona Daily Star and the Arizona Republic, which is not an enjoyable activity for me. At all.
On the other hand, there are a lot of people who work hard to make the Weekly worthy of winning a plaque (or in the case of the thrifty Arizona Press Club, a certificate), so I'm taking off my cynical jackass hat for a moment and appreciating our haul from the Arizona Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Awards, held in Tempe (sigh) last Saturday. We won a bunch of advertising stuff, a third-place mention for Reporting and Newswriting Excellence, a second for page design, something for our website and some other stuff, but most importantly, Jim Nintzel, JM Smith and Irene Messina were recognized for their writing last year.
Also, we won first place for General Excellence in the non-daily with circulations above 10,000 category, which is remarkable since our style is so different than anyone in that group, such as the Phoenix Business Journal and La Voz. I always expect to get kicked out of these functions, so being awarded at one is a plus.
So, the plaques will end up on the wall somewhere here, but the day after the awards, it was back to work, finishing up next week's Best of Tucson® issue on a Sunday in the office. It's nice to win, but the goal is still to do better each issue.