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Tom Danehy is severely depressed. He likes to win, no matter what kind of game he's playing, and he especially likes to win journalism competitions. Yet all he got out of this year's Better Newspapers Contest, sponsored by the Arizona Newspapers Foundation, is second place.

That was in the Best Feature Column category in the Tucson Weekly's division, non-dailies with circulation greater than 10,000. I pointed out to Danehy that second place isn't so bad, especially since this is the first year he's been entered in the contest, but that didn't seem to help.

He was still stewing over the fact that his nemesis, ex-Weekly columnist Susan Zakin, took both first and second place in the Best Analysis/Commentary Column category, for her pieces on ranchers as a high-priced luxury we can't afford and on local grocery workers getting the shaft. Danehy's entry, by the way, was a reflection on the death of Bobbie Olson.

Senior writer Jim Nintzel took honorable mention for Best Analysis/Commentary Column (advocating booting out the Amphi school board's old ruling majority), as well as for Best News Story (a feature on Mayor Bob Walkup). Nintzel also took second place in the latter category for a story about backlogged crime labs.

Margaret Regan is surely the envy of Tom Danehy; she got two first-place plaques. One was for Best News Story (notice that we nearly swept that category) for her long feature on the death of an illegal border crosser; the other was for Best Lifestyle Feature Story, for her account of Irish-born diarist Mim Murphy Walsh's years in Tucson.

The Weekly was also awarded second place for Departmental News Coverage, and first place for News Writing Excellence. That's four first-place plaques. But none went to Tom Danehy.

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