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'Tucson Weekly' earns six first-place wins, seven overall honors in annual Arizona Press Club contest

The Tucson Weekly took home seven honors in the Arizona Press Club's annual contest—and six of those were first-place wins.

Five of those wins came in writing categories. In comparison, the Arizona Daily Star only took home one first-place writing prize, and three first-place awards overall.

All of the Weekly's writing honors came in metro or "Best in Arizona" categories, meaning that the Weekly's entries competed against those submitted by all of the state's largest newspapers.

Tim Vanderpool won two first-place trophies. His "Predators and Prey" (May 20, 2010) took top honors in the Public Safety Reporting category. Judge Jordan Smith, of the Austin Chronicle, noted: "Vanderpool does a nice job of making a personal experience the jumping off point to navigate the often-charged topic of sex offender laws. The subject matter is complex and often under-reported outside of spot news related to individual arrests. Vanderpool does a good job of navigating the core issues of crime and punishment in this area of the law without succumbing to the sensational."

Vanderpool's other win came in the Health Reporting category, for "Death by Study" (March 4, 2010), about a potential childhood leukemia cluster in Sierra Vista. Judge Meg Kissinger, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrote: "This story was as effective in telling what is known about cancer cluster studies as it was fleshing out the frustration of what is not known. Compelling examples. Excellent writing."

Tom Danehy, Margaret Regan, Emily Bowen, Linda Ray and Anna Mirocha shared top honors in the Personality Profile category for their Local Heroes contributions (Dec. 23, 2010). (The Weekly entered the entire Local Heroes package, featuring profiles of 10 people, but the Press Club board decided that only five "stories" could be included as one entry, and therefore only sent five of the 10 profiles to the judge.) Judge Tracy Ahrens, of the Chicago Tribune, raved: "A beautiful blend of five short portraits of community heroes. The works are easy to read and hold the reader. These pieces make you want to meet every person showcased. More publications should do routine personality profiles like this of often hidden, unsung heroes in every community."

Renée Downing won the Don Schellie Award for Column Writing, for a selection of her work including "To Annoy a Mockingbird: Meet Fu's New Mortal Enemy" (May 27, 2010) and "A Disturbing Revelation: Downtown Phoenix Has Recently Become ... Nice" (April 1, 2010). The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Thomas noted: "Downing has what I like to call writing genetics. Her topics were clever and her writing crisp. She ably turned mockingbirds into villains and Phoenix into, well, something almost desirable. Being from Orlando, I certainly could relate!"

Weekly scribes took the top two places in the all-encompassing Criticism category. Margaret Regan took first for "The Whole Picture" (Feb. 4, 2010), "Tiled Roofs and Borrowed Styles" (July 15, 2010) and "Deposited by Angels" (Oct. 28, 2010). Mark Feeney, of The Boston Globe, commented: "Serious without being solemn, Regan's reviews demonstrate intelligence, range, and a consistent ability to provide context and make larger connections."

For the fifth year in a row, James DiGiovanna was honored as Arizona's best film critic, as he took second in the Criticism category, behind Regan, for "Tolstoy, Plus Boobs" (Feb. 18, 2010), "Emotion Exposed!" (March 25, 2010) and "Tragic Remake" (April 22, 2010). Judge Feeney said: "Possessing an impressive knowledge of film, a knowledge he wears lightly, DiGiovanna writes with frequent verve and consistent passion."

Photographer David Zickl took first prize in the non-metro Portrait Photography category, for his picture of ranchers Robert and Phil Krentz. The image was used on the April 29, 2010, cover of the Weekly, along with the story "The Krentz Bonfire," about the as-yet-unsolved murder of Robert Krentz.

Daniel Gonzalez, of The Arizona Republic, was named the Virg Hill Journalist of the Year at the awards ceremony, held Saturday, May 21, at the Sheraton in downtown Phoenix. Jen Levario Cieslak, also of The Republic, was named Designer of the Year, while The Republic's Michael Chow was honored as Photographer of the Year. The Explorer's Thelma Grimes was named the Community Journalist of the Year for the second year in a row for work she did at the San Pedro Valley News-Sun.

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