And The Winners Are...

A MOMENT, PLEASE, for some shameless back-patting:

The Tucson Weekly's editorial staff brought home 10 awards from this year's Arizona Press Club competition, including three first-place finishes and a clean sweep of a commentary/ analysis category.

Image Senior editor Jim Nintzel won four awards. Nintzel picked up first place in the sustained coverage among medium publications category for his reporting on last year's city elections. Judge Steve Coll, editor of The Washington Post Magazine, said Nintzel's work was "Candidate survey journalism at its most useful: balanced, clean, thorough, well-written, independent, convincing. I felt able to enter the ballot box and I didn't even know where in Arizona I was. Nothing too flashy here, but a strong and intelligent package, cleanly written and well-reported."

Nintzel received second place honors for commentary/analysis among medium publications for "Grand Old Party," which skewered presidential hopefuls Pat Buchanan, Phil Gramm and Alan Keyes. Judge Robert Barnstone of the West Austin News described Nintzel's work as "Reporting and commentary that seem like an 8 x 10 glossy black-and-white police photo of the scene of the crime."

Nintzel won third place in the same category for "Cash Flow," a story about the Arizona Legislature's 1995 attempt to scrap campaign finance laws. "Solid reporting commentary and analysis," said Barnstone. "Delivers both sides of the issues very competently."

Nintzel finished third in the competition for feature writing among medium publications for "Space Madness," which chronicled a visit to Roswell, New Mexico, "It's not just the intrigue of a cover-up that makes this story worth reading," noted judge Lorie Hearn of the San Diego Union Tribune. "What a wonderful tale of a unique, funky town. Story gives a real sense of its inhabitants, earthly or otherwise." The award fulfills Nintzel's longtime ambition to become an award-winning UFO correspondent.

Image That trip into flying saucer country also earned TW art director Hector Acuña first-place honors in the statewide competition for best magazine cover. Judge David Frazier of the San Jose Mercury News described Acuña's Roswell cover as "a sweetly disturbing marriage of typography and imagery. Arresting, in-your-face aliens and other-worldly colors reach from the page and pull you into the understated wordcraft. The illustration's constructivist landscape rewards the reader for browsing through details that remain haunting long after the page has been turned. Even the masthead glows with unearthly quirkiness."

Acuña also won second place in the statewide newspaper and magazine design category for his work on "Newsplex Confidential." Judge Lance Lekander of the Anchorage Daily News complimented Acuña's skillful use of headline type, rules and white space.

Arts Editor Margaret Regan won second place for feature writing among medium publications for "Once Upon A Time," a profile of storyteller Pleasant Despain. "It's a difficult job to tell the story of a storyteller," said judge Lorie Hearn. "The writer has taken the right track--she let Pleasant Despain tell his own story."

Regan also took third place in general reporting among medium publications for her work with former Eighth Day columnist Hannah Glasston on "Nowhere Campus," which took a critical look at the Board of Regents' plans to locate Arizona International University in the Rincon Valley. Judge David Maraniss said their work was "another finely reported article, lending weight and interest to a subject that could otherwise be boring."

Image Columnist Tom Danehy completed The Weekly's sweep of the medium publications' commentary/ analysis category with his first-place finish for "Notes From The Edge," in which Danehy covered Pat Buchanan's speech at Tucson's Saturday Morning Breakfast Club. Judge Robert Barnstone praised Danehy's piece for "great wit, casual and offhanded--he hoists them on their own petard. He has crytallized all of the silly issues dominating the Republican primaries."

Random Shots cartoonist Rand Carlson won second-place honors in editorial cartooning for his "Random Shots" strip. Judge Jim Morin, editorial cartoonist for the Miami Herald, said Carlson's work possessed "a simple, forceful and original drawing style. Creative use of word play also appealed to me. Refreshing graphic images and dry humor. This is a close second place."

Other winners of note: Gov. J. Fife Symington III won the Brick Wall Award for the second year in a row for his staff's standard practice of ignoring public records requests. A runner-up was Tucson City Manager Michael Brown, who was honored because he "routinely strings out responses for records requests while attempting to do damage control."

Congratulations to the winners.

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