In the Opinion section, you'll notice our usual post-awards-ceremony write-up, featuring shameless back-patting and horn-tooting. Forgive us. It's what newspapers do. And in this year's Arizona Newspapers Association contest, we had a lot of patting and tooting to do.
But I'll let you in on a little secret: While most journalism awards are nice, and we truly appreciate the recognition ... they're pretty much meaningless.
Don't get me wrong: Most of the stories, photos, designs and writers honored are quite good. I'd say that most of the stuff we won awards for was, in fact, worthy. But I'd venture that a lot of stuff was entered--not to mention a lot of stuff was NOT entered--that was just as good.
Here's how these press association contests usually work: Two press associations agree to swap awards entries with each other. Then, the press association asks editors, writers, photographers, etc., to show up at some conference room at some specific time. Those who show up are rewarded with a snack, and are given an envelope of contest entries to judge. There are no multiple rounds of judging, no checks of a judge's credentials, and no serious review of a judge's decisions.
Trust me: I know. I have actually been a judge--and in the case of the categories I examined, the judge--for the ANA Better Newspapers Contest before, when I was in Nevada.
Again, I don't mean to diminish all the work the ANA folks put in to the contest--they did a fantastic job--nor do I mean to throw cold water on the accomplishments of the award winners. I just want to make it clear that you should take journalism contest results with a grain of salt--a really, really big grain of salt.