2005 Contest Results

Growth and Development Reporting

First Place: Catherine Reagor Burrough and Glen Creno, The Arizona Republic

Second Place: John King, San Francisco Chronicle

Third Place: Stuart Leavenworth, The Sacramento Bee

Burrough and Creno earn first place with “Banking on Growth.”

“The Republic’s effort to explain and explore Phoenix’s explosive housing economy was as ambitious as the homeownership boom itself,” the judge wrote. “The series’ foundation was strong reporting, from the quantification of the housing economy to the narrative details behind the history, sale and development of one residential lot. It showed imagination and flair in its personal approach. And it was powerfully told, in words and visuals. No other institution except for a newspaper could hope to hold up this kind of mirror to a community to help residents better understand the forces shaping their lives. That makes this effort more of an obligation than a mere opportunity, and Republic’s series met that challenge.”

Second place goes to King for “15 seconds that changed San Francisco.”

“Strong analysis, keen insight and vivid writing set this entry apart,” the judge wrote.

Urban design writer John King told San Franciscans a series of important stories about themselves and their city’s rebirth after the Loma Prieta earthquake. Given that his canvas is the city of San Francisco, one of the nation’s best-known (and most-beloved) urban landscapes, he was facing a very high bar. His series lived up to the sweep of his key point in the first installment: ‘… San Francisco did something startling: It reshaped itself with a boldness than can only now be grasped.'”

Leavenworth grabs third place with “Risking risk.”

“Leavenworth’s series on crumbling levees took on the kind of quiet crisis-in-waiting that too often gets noticed only after the crisis has occurred. He defined the importance of his region’s levee system and showed how flood control had become one of those crises-in-waiting – despite repeated examples of flooding as a crisis in fact. It was an outstanding example of how a newspaper can help put critical issues back on the public agenda.”

The judge added, “Your member papers committed some serious journalism last year, and it wasn’t limited just to the handful of very large papers that participated. With all the travails of our industry, it was especially bracing to see small- and medium-sized papers creatively tackle tough local issues, and pull off great results.”

Judged by Edward Dufner, assistant managing editor/business, at The Dallas Morning News. 46 entries.

Immigration and Minority Affairs Reporting

First Place: Melinda Burns, Santa Barbara News-Press

Second Place: Marc Cooper, LA Weekly

Third Place: Jane Hoback and Ellen Jaskol, Rocky Mountain News

Burns wins first place with a series on the Mixtec farm workers.

“Many publications submitted special reports on migrant labor or undocumented immigrants, but this one stood out for its clarity and the understanding it provided its readers,” the judge wrote. “Burns not only told the stories of local farm workers making a living or caring for themselves sand their families. She asked the big questions that opened up the local and national policies that shape their world.

“Why are so many Mixtec Indians coming from Oaxaca to California to work in the fields? Burns looked at how NAFTA flooded Mexico with cheap grain. Combined with the deregulation of agriculture by President Fox, drought and the failure of old farming methods, many small farmers were forced off the land and come north. She looked at local regulations that shape farm workers’ housing and transportation and the struggle of public health officials to control the spread of tuberculosis when a single infected person refused to cooperate in his own care. Beautifully written and wonderful photos.”

Second place goes to Cooper for “Tribal Warfare.”

“This is a perfect article that uncovered the politics of small tribes controlling gambling in California,” the judge wrote. “It revealed the fault line created by small tribes that are socially responsible versus those who run their casinos like big businesses and eschew responsible labor practices or community relations. They no longer provide a united front in relation to state government, and the author reveals the propositions and politics that are the result.”

Hoback and Jaskol grab third place with “The Healing Fields.”

“We learn about missionaries Setan and Randa Lee, both survivors of the Khmer Rouge who return to Cambodia to help prostitutes escape their life and learn new job skills so they can survive outside brothels,” the judge wrote. “This 12 part series, published also on the Web, begins with the couple’s life under the Khmer Rouge and lets us see their struggle to balance their lives so they can give something back to their home country. By traveling with immigrants back home, we get to see a new country through their eyes.”

“I found this judging to be very difficult,” the judge added, citing several other top stories that made the final list. “Fantastic work.”

Judged by Abby Scher, director, Independent Press Association, New York. 54 entries.

Environment and Natural Resources Reporting

First Place: Michael Riley and Greg Griffin, The Denver Post

Second Place: Craig Welch, Hal Bernton and Alex Fryer, The Seattle Times

Third Place: Eric Nalder, Mike Lewis, Lisa Stiffler and Robert McClure, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Riley and Griffin earned first place honors with “The High Price of Gold.”

“A superb job of digging, writing and explaining in this two-part series looking at a local gold mining company’s horrible environmental record abroad and the reasons behind its record,” the judge wrote. “A classic muckraking story that hit home to readers in the West, where this company kept talking about its stellar environmental record. Good documentation and use of voices of people inside and outside the company. It also made a story, much of which was based in far-away places, meaningful for readers back home. Simply well done.”

Second place goes to Welch, Bernton and Fryer for “The Environment and The Presidency.”

“This five-part series looked at the decisions of the Bush presidency, the appointments, the changes and what they meant to the environment and then looked at the Kerry record. The Seattle Times took a rote must-do story for the presidential campaign and turned it into a true reader service. The package was comprehensive, well-written, broad but still focused, and fair. But most of all it served its readers, who came away with a good understanding of what was at stake in regards to the environment in the 2004 election. Simply the best environment-election coverage by far.”

Nalder, Lewis, Stiffler and McClure grab third place with “Freighter Selendang Ayu Grounding.”

“Great breaking (an unavoidable pun) news coverage,” the judge wrote. “Nalder knows the tanker beat backwards and forwards, and when a freighter went aground in the Aleutians, the P-I rewarded its readers with thorough and moving coverage. The victims’ family story was touching without being maudlin. But what made this story prize-worthy was the way it did enterprise/investigation on the fly and on deadline. It found some dangerous problems. It was almost a shame that the actual oil spill disaster wasn’t bigger because it slightly diminishes the great effort by this team of reporters.”

Judged by Seth Borenstein, national correspondent, Knight Ridder Newspapers, Washington. 55 entries.

Spot News Reporting

First Place: Staff, San Jose Mercury News

Second Place: Staff, The Modesto Bee

Third Place: Staff, The Denver Post

The Mercury News earned first place for “Google Goes For It” and related stories on the day after the much-watched Internet search engine company went public.

“The coverage was excellent, but what put this entry over the top was the packaging and context that was provided to this story that was at once local and national,” the judge wrote. “The coverage was so well rounded that I found it hard to believe that readers would not find the Mercury News the definitive source on this news story.”

Second place goes to the Bee for its coverage of the Scott Peterson verdict.

“The special report coverage demonstrated the depth of reporting that the staff had developed over the course of this national story,” the judge wrote. “There were several entries from Bay Area newspapers on this news event, but the Bee matched and exceeded the coverage of its rivals. The strong lede from John Cote and Garth Stapley delivered a very personal vision of the trial that had dominated international media: ‘Two families hung on a single word: Guilty.’ In addition to this strong news story, the surrounding material on community reaction was well-written. The short tidbits and graphics pulled the reader into the story in many different fashions.”

The Post takes third place with “Dismissed,” its coverage of the Kobe Bryant case settlement.

“What made this package a winner for me was the context in which all the stories were presented,” the judge wrote. “In a case that I did not think I could read one more word about, I learned a great deal. The reporters wrote with authority and presented this news event in a manner that was understandable for the reader despite the amount that went unsaid by both parties in the case.”

“The final cut was, as always, a difficult one as there was much good material to choose from in this particular category,” the judge wrote. “Way too much domestic abuse, however!” Judged by Anne Gordon, managing editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. 76 entries.

General Reporting

First Place: Jonathan Martin and Ken Armstrong, The Seattle Times

Second Place: Ann Imse, Rocky Mountain News

Third Place (tie): DeeDee Correll, The Gazette, Colorado Springs

Third Place (tie): Molly Ball and Steve Kanigher, Las Vegas Sun

Martin and Armstrong earn first place honors with “Confounding murder case tests court system in turmoil,” about the upcoming trial of Washington’s youngest murder defendants in the slaying of a 13-year-old boy. “Mistakes have bedeviled the case,” they wrote. “Evidence was destroyed; the defense is in disarray. The lead prosecutor was once convicted of a felony, and the trial judge censured for incompetence.”

“The writers crafted a detailed story about an inexplicable crime caught up in a most troubled justice system,” the judge wrote. “They consistently put readers at the scene, offered insight into the key players and detailed the legal issues involving the defense attorneys, the prosecutor and the judge. Their attention to detail – the accused boys watched Dale Earnhardt Jr. win NASCAR races when they were younger and the victim was recovering from the flu when his mom allowed him outside – helped them tell a complicated story in a conversational and compelling way.”

Second place goes to Imse for “Dying to be paid.”

“This is a classic story about big government versus the little person,” the judge wrote. “Imse thoroughly detailed the problems with the federal government’s program to compensate workers who had gotten sick while working at a nuclear weapons plant, but she also convinced people to tell their stories. That gave the package its heart. Imse did what newspapers are known for – shining a light on a wrong, in the hope that someone will make it right.”

orrell grabs one third place prize with “When words speak louder than acts.”

“How many stories make you want to spend $2 to find out what happened next?” the judge wrote. “Correll’s story about an imprisoned murderer who corresponds with the mother of the man he helped beat to death 13 years ago made me pay $2 at The Gazette’s Web site to find out if he got his parole and a chance to meet the mom face to face. His parole was denied.”

Ball and Kanigher snag the other third place prize with “Moving targets.”

“Framed with the story of one family’s loss, the writers detail why Nevada has one of the highest per-capita death rates for pedestrians in the country. They used police records to show it wasn’t a tourist problem and detailed the factors that contribute to the high rate. It was solid reporting, blended well with human drama.”

Judged by Jill Fredel, assistant managing editor for The News Journal, Wilmington, Del. 129 entries.

Explanatory Reporting

First Place: Staff, The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.

Second Place: Tom Knudson, Edie Lau and Mike Lee, The Sacramento Bee

Third Place: Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times

The Press Democrat’s staff earns first-place honmors with “Global Shift.”

“Multiple newspapers in the region submitted ambitious projects exploring the ramifications of globalization on local businesses, but many suffered from a lack of focus or weak writing,” the judge wrote. “The Press Democrat’s entry, exploring the movement of jobs abroad from Sonoma County, California, was the best of the bunch, with bright, colorful, illustrative reporting and photography in the U.S. and in Malaysia, Mexico, and India. Good anecdotes, powerful descriptions, and solid reporting, despite an apparent lack of substantive cooperation from Agilent, a key subject of the series, distinguish this project.

“The reporters managed to describe, respectfully and compellingly, the human impact not only in their readership area, but also in the developing world nations. And the paper made sure the four days of the project were carefully defined, distinct and distinctive, and organized to give a sense of forward motion to the series.”

Second place goes to Knudson, Lau and Lee for “Seeds of Doubt.”

“This well-written and beautifully photographed series explores the complex controversies over biotechnology, and in the process takes a critical look at the results of efforts by a local university, University of California at Davis, to use agricultural biotechnology to help residents of Mali. The reporting is aided by impressive graphics that add much to the project.”

Bernton takes third place with coverage of the role in Iraq of the military units from Washington state.

“Several newspapers submitted the work of reporters embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, but Bernton’s coverage was a cut above the rest, with his vivid writing, both in Iraq and Washington state, making more accessible to readers the strategic goals of U.S. troops and the many challenges they face collectively and as individuals,” the judge wrote.

Judged by Michael Paulson, religion reporter for The Boston Globe. 86 entries.

Project Reporting

First Place: Celeste Fremon, LA Weekly

Second Place: Matt Weiser, Rosario Ortiz and Henry Barrios, The Bakersfield Californian

Third Place: Mike Stark, Greg Tuttle and Becky Shay, The Billings Gazette

Fremon earns first place honors with “An American family on the verge.”

“This year-long study of a married pair of former gang members trying to go straight shows how their perhaps biggest obstacle is the police,” the judge wrote. “It also introduces an unforgettable character in Francis, the wife and mother who holds everything together amid spectacular chaos. The series was impossible to put down and it had impact.”

Second place goes to Weiser, Ortiz and Barrios for an investigation into the United Farm Workers.

“This comprehensive package of stories raises scandalous questions about the effectiveness and integrity of the UFW,” the judge wrote. “Well written, well researched, well presented and surprising.”

Stark, Tuttle and Shaw grab third place with “Awaiting justice.”

“These stories make a convincing case that the FBI botched the investigation into the murders of two young Native American women,” the judge wrote. “The reporters persuaded local crime-enforcement officials to open up on the record about the shoddy performance of the FBI – which didn’t hang around the crime scene long enough even to find the murder weapon, which a local officer found without any trouble. These stories lend weight to the long-standing criticism of FBI handling of Native American murders. They bring attention to a people who are largely forgotten and who are distinctly Western.”

Judged by Kevin Helliker, senior editor, The Wall Street Journal. 76 entries.

Investigative Reporting

First Place: Nigel Jaquiss, Willamette Week, Portland

Second Place: Steve Suo and Erin Hoover Barnett, The Oregonian

Third Place: Cheryl Phillips, Ken Armstrong and Steve Miletich, The Seattle Times

Jaquiss wins first place with “The 30-Year Secret,” which revealed former Oregon Gov. Neil Goldschmidt’s long-concealed sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl.

“Classic and dogged investigative reporting, working documents and developing sources, on a subject that apparently had been whispered about for a long time but eluded other reporters,” the judge wrote. “Nigel Jaquiss didn’t just reveal a sex scandal that rocked Oregon’s political world, he showed how the events of three decades ago ruined one life and changed state policy.”

Second place goes to Suo and Barnett for “Unnecessary Epidemic,” which showed for the first time that the government could dramatically slow the spread of methamphetamines by choking the supply of the cold medicine pseudoephedrine.

“Suo achieved that rare feat in investigative reporting of creating a new reality with his detailed research and reporting that showed the federal government could – and had in the past – contain the meth epidemic ravaging parts of the nation,” the judge wrote.

Phillips, Armstrong and Miletich grab third place with “Airport Insecurity,” an investigation into the federal Transportation Security Administration that revealed frightening holes and frequent breaches in security and a workforce plagued by high turnover, poor training and sinking morale.

“The newspaper’s team of reporters performed a public service for readers far beyond Seattle with its national investigation into the performance of the Transportation Security Agency. Times’ reporters showed how the agency that was created in crisis is struggling, and at times failing, to carry out its post Sept. 11 mandate.”

Judged by Maud Beelman, projects editor for The Dallas Morning News. 56 entries.

Feature Writing, Short Form

First place: Angela Cara Pancrazio, The Arizona Republic

Second Place: Richard Roesler, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane

Third Place: Doug Irving, Daily Breeze, Torrance, Calif.

Pancrazio takes first place with “Papers exact ultimate price,” about a Somali refugee who died while trying to retrieve his immigration papers from his burning apartment in Phoenix.

“There are so many things to commend this piece,” the judge wrote. “The organization is clean. The reporting feels thorough. The story reads like a story. The writing is solid, doesn’t try to show off, doesn’t overwhelm, and doesn’t turn tragedy into something treacly. The details – “he pedaled his bike to Food City,” “He took off his glove and reached out again” – are authenticating rather than extraneous. The context grafs, instead of feeling obligatory, advance the story and make the appearance of a stove knob absolutely heartbreaking. What I admire most about the piece, though, is that the reporter paid attention to something that could have been easily shrugged off as a brief. This is a good story, a good feature and a good piece of journalism, and it wins by a considerable margin.”

Second place goes to Roseler “Wait is hours for seconds with Clinton.”

“I didn’t expect to read every word of a story about a Bill Clinton book signing,” the judge wrote. “But I did read every word and thought that the story, from beginning to end, was terrific. I liked the structure, I liked the device, I liked the tension that was created with customer No. 1065, and I liked that the reporter didn’t try to make more of the story than it was. The one thing I was left wondering: What did Clinton write in the birthday card?

Irvin nabs third place with “Cherished time,” about children visiting their mothers in prison on Mother’s Day.

“I like this story for its effort, for not sugar-coating its subject, for not patronizing its characters, and for taking me to a place of which I would otherwise be unaware,” the judge wrote. “I also like that the story stayed true to the perspectives of Whitfield, Ebony and Janay in its telling, which imbued it with an honest and unassailable poignancy.”

Judged by David Finkel, a staff writer for The Washington Post. 134 entries.

Feature Writing, Long Form

First Place: David Holthouse, Westword, Denver

Second Place: Carol Smith, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Third Place (tie): Robert Sanchez, Rocky Mountain News

Third Place (tie): Robert Nelson, Phoenix New Times

Holthouse takes first place with “Stalking the Bogeyman.”

“Gripping,” the judges wrote. “This was the clear winner on the basis of literary quality, writing quality, originality and creativity. Powerful. Gut-wrenching. Gripping. These were just a few of the adjectives the judges used to describe this personal tale by the writer, who was raped as a seven-year-old and encounters the main more than two decades later. ‘I couldn’t put it down,’ one judge said. ‘I wouldn’t have been as forgiving as he was,’ added another. The judges were unaware of the legal problems the writer faced after the story was published, but it seems clear that the charges were unwarranted and that he was victimized again, adding even more pain to his ordeal.”

Second place goes to Smith for “A Time to Live.”

“Narratives about sick and dying children have become almost a cliche, but Smith’s elegant writing, along with the stunning photos, elevated this story about Seth Cook and progeria to the high plane of literary journalism,” the judges wrote. “One judge was in tears at the end of the story.

Sanchez earns one third-place prize with “Jonathan Swain Didn’t Die,” about a premature baby who was given AIDS-tained blood and was not expected to live past two but last year celebrated his 21st birthday.

“An uplifting tale, beautifully told with the strongest reporting of any of the entries,” the judges wrote. “If there was a complaint, it was that the photos, though strong, took some of the emotional edge off the ending because you already knew what happened.

Nelson grabs the other third-place award with “My Right Foot.

“Newspapers often gloss over a hero’s flaws in stories like these, much the way that the TV report did,” the judges wrote. “But the writer lets us into the wild world of Gordon McGuire without restraint, giving us truly a man in full.”

Judged by Connie Schultz, columnist; James F. Sweeney, reporter; Debbi Snook, reporter; Andrea Simakis, Sunday magazine reporter; John Mangels, science writer; David Briggs, religion writer; Leila Atassi, reporter; Bill Lubinger, reporter; Fran Henry, reporter; Michael Heaton, reporter; John Caniglia, reporter; and Stuart Warner, writing coach/deputy features editor; all of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. 174 entries.

Business and Financial Reporting

First Place: Will Evans and Lisa Rapaport, The Sacramento Bee

Second Place: Jeff Kosseff, The Oregonian

Third Place: Dan Richman, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Evans and Rapaport earn first place with “Payment Due,” and Kosseff takes second place with “Charity Inc.”

“Both are powerful stories that reflect a lot of hustle, research and enterprise,” the judges wrote. “Moreover, delving into the difficult world of nonprofits is not an easy task. Both stories hit a variety of chords – each contained a degree of outrage that made readers think.

“‘Payment Due’ clearly challenged whether the profiled Sacramento hospitals deserved non-profit status, given their behavior. ‘Charity Inc.’ deftly laid out a business conundrum: What is someone’s worth – whether they run a ‘charitable’ operation and lead it to great profitability or if they are a worker at the margins for whom any occupational endeavor is a life-building experience given that the tangible fruits of their efforts are minimal. On balance, ‘Payment Due’ gets a very slight nod because of the potential for non-profit hospitals to impact the lives of thousands of people in the community.”

Third place goes to Richman for “The Fall of AT&T Wireless.”

“The fall of any corporate icon is stunning,” the judges wrote. “When it’s a local company that was an industry leader, the lives of area residents – employees, suppliers, shareholders, customers – are impacted. The story clearly, dispassionately and interestingly traced the evolution of darling McCaw Cellular to AT&T Wireless, an also-ran in a business it helped define. The writer displayed a keen sense of how this tale unfolded within its business sector, laying out key strategic and personnel lapses. The graphics and overall presentation freed the storytelling of numerical details that would have sent some non-business readers scrambling. This is an excellent example of a business story told in a sophisticated manner that was accessible and useful to the general reader as well as the financially savvy crowd.”

Judged by Michael Weiss, assistant national editor for The Dallas Morning News, with assistance from Vernon Smith, deputy foreign editor, also with The Dallas Morning News. 113 entries.

Sports Reporting

First Place: Mark Zeigler, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Second Place: Elliott Almond, Mark Emmons and Pete Carey, San Jose Mercury News

Third Place: Bill Briggs, The Denver Post

Zeigler wins first place with “Fatal errors,” a recap of Ken Caminiti’s life and death.

“An excellent story with insight into how one of baseball’s most popular players started down a dark path that ended with his death,” the judges wrote. “Lots of great information we had not seen before, written very well.”

Almond, Emmons and Carey take second place with “How Balco built the world’s fastest man, a look at Tim Montgomery.”

“Great background information on the whole Balco scandal from a different point of view,” the judges wrote. “Very nice writing.”

Briggs grabs third place with “A legend and a life, a look back on John Elway’s life as he prepares to enter the Hall of Fame.”

“This story provides a new look at someone we thought we all knew,” the judges wrote. “Lots of great stories within the story about an athlete coping with life after football.”

Judged by Roger Simmons, deputy sports editor; Lynn Hoppes, executive sports editor; Bill Speros, deputy sports editor; Deanna Gugel, assistant sports editor; David Georgette, night sports editor; Stephen Ruiz and Dave Darling, both senior desk editors; all of the Orlando Sentinel, plus Tribune Co. sports editor John Cherwa. 98 entries.

General Interest Column Writing

First Place: Marjie Lundstrom, The Sacramento Bee

Second Place: John Powers, LA Weekly

Third Place: Linda Valdez, The Arizona Republic

Lundstrom earned first place honors with columns on the slaying of two immigrant women, secrecy rules on meat recalls in California and a man caught up in the state’s “three strikes and you’re out” sentencing law. “Lundstrom’s columns were tightly written and thoughtful, but so were most of the entrants in the final cut,” the judge wrote. “What sets her articles apart is the rigorous reporting on which they are based. Her opinions are neither knee-jerk nor easily labeled. They are rooted in the reality of her community and also in the complex, confusing world we all live in these days.”

Second place goes to Power for columns on Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” Pat Tillman’s death while fighting in Afghanistan and Kitty Kelly’s book on the Bush dynasty.

“Powers was the strongest writer in the category,” the judge wrote. “His columns also demonstrated careful research which enabled him to go into impressive depth in his subject matter.”

Valdez grabs third place with columns looking at two grandmothers on different sides of the Arizona-Mexico border, how a once-vibrant America is growing old and cranky and how she proudly calls herself a liberal.

“Valdez’s columns were emotive, conveying considerable insight into everyday life,” the judge wrote.

Judged by Richard Hornik, a former executive editor of Asiaweek magazine who also worked as an editor and reporter for Time magazine. 88 entries.

Special Topic Column Writing

First place: Karla Peterson, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Second place: Omar Sofradzija, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Third place: Mark Purdy, San Jose Mercury-News

Peterson wins first place.

“Peterson ostensibly writes about television. What she really writes about are culture and ideas,” the judges wrote. “She sees through the phony romance of TV reality shows and declares that TV hates marriage: ‘What God and Vera Wang hath created, reality dating shows are determined to turn into the biggest joke since the Golden Globes.’

“She draws connections between two TV takes on the housewife life: ‘The fictional women of “Desperate Housewives” are desperate because they are buying into someone else’s idea of fulfillment, which is something real women do all the time. But on the other side of the picket fence, the wives and mothers of “Wife Swap” are reminding us that there are a million ways to make a happy family…’

“Her writing is smart, snappy and witty, which is more than can be said of a lot of TV shows that aim for the same.”

Second place goes to Sofradzija.

“Who’d think stories about traffic could be so interesting?” the judges wrote. “Sofradzija, who calls himself the ‘Road Warrior,’ wrings drama out of one of the most mundane but vital elements of modern life. Traffic. Traffic hazards. Traffic accidents.

“An SUV speeds through a stop sign, hits a car and changes a family’s life. A teenage boy gets drunk, gets behind the wheel and crashes a car carrying his three best friends.

“In one piece, Sofradzija simply tries to cross a Las Vegas street: ‘I’ve never been bungee jumping, rock climbing or fire walking,’ he writes. ‘But I’ve crossed a street on foot in Las Vegas, and that’s as extreme a sport as any these days.’

“He’s not a fancy writer, but he’s a clear one who reports with imagination and feeling and makes his place and its people come alive.”

Purdy takes third place.

“Purdy writes with ease, wit and a fluid style that draw the reader into his reports from the 2004 Athens Olympics,” the judges wrote. “He likes the little-told story. He tells one about a Vietnamese immigrant who travels from his San Jose home to play Olympic ping-pong only to be out of the competition in half an hour. He tells another about Pyrros Dimas, a weightlifter beloved in Greece.

“‘Right about here,’ he writes, ‘you are doubtless wondering: Who the heck is Pyrros Dimas, anyway? See, there’s the exact problem. In the United States, we see the Olympics through our own red, white and blue eyes; it’s only natural. But in doing so, we miss so much.’

“Simply put, Purdy’s stories are fun to read.”

Judged by Mary Schmich and Eric Zorn, both columnists for the Chicago Tribune. 106 entries.

Headline Writing

First Place: Dale Ulland, The Denver Post

Second Place: Rob Keenan, The News Tribune, Tacoma

Third Place: Steve Adamek, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Ulland earns first place with a portfolio of five news headlines:

In market for
casket? Shop
till you drop

Blocks apart in Iowa,
miles apart on issues

Oy to the world, the cards have come
Companies design holiday greetings that blend Christmas, Hanukkah

Iraq’s foot in grass slipper
Country’s soccer team has become Cinderella story of 2004 Games

A curbside upside, downside
Lower meter rates driving sales-tax gain, parking-revenue loss

“I loved ‘Shop till you drop,’ and I thought the Iowa campaign hed, while not a difficult one to come up with given the story, demonstrated a wry touch without straying too far from hard news,” the judge wrote. ” ‘Oy to the world” is wonderful, though it loses originality points because it was duplicated in this competition.”

Second place goes to Keenan for five features headlines:

OMG!!
WORST
movie
EVER!! šŸ™

‘Emily, I just had the strangest dream … I was a statue in Chicago’

Dancing partner has two left feet and one tail

Apple Cup forecast:
Chilly, with troopers

Alas, Gamera never showed up

“The cyber-speak and Bob Newhart headlines were among the best in the competition,” the judge wrote. “The way-too-obscure Gamera reference kept this entry out of first place.”

Adamek grabs third place with five feature headlines:

Let the buzzards
circle your calendar

He stepped on many on his way to the top: Godzilla

I’LL BE
PRONE
FOR CHRISTMAS
Don’t let the cold and flu bugs have
you singing the blues this season

More epics pitched after Hollywood hits Homer

LOOK,
MA, NO
BANDS
Acting puts music stars to the test, and we
give you a pop quiz on this crossover club

“The buzzard and Godzilla heds lift this entry from a solid position to a winning one,” the judge wrote.
“Five headlines in the course of a year is a lot to ask, and none of the entries contained five great headlines,” the judge added. “Too many of the entries, I thought, relied on very conventional wordplay, usually puns either too obvious or too much of a stretch. The top three were those that displayed consistency and creativity without being strained.”

Judged by Bill Walsh, national copy chief, The Washington Post. 86 entries.

Editorial Writing

First Place: Judy Sly and Mike Dunbar, The Modesto Bee

Second Place (tie): John Pope, Long Beach Press-Telegram

Second Place (tie): Kathleen Ingley, The Arizona Republic

Third Place: Vincent Carroll, Rocky Mountain News

Sly and Dunbar win first place with “What About Us?,” an editorial attacking a plan pushed by environmental groups to pierce a 90-year-old dam and restore the Hetch Hetchey Valley in Yosemite National Park to its original grandeur because it also would endanger Modesto’s agriculture industry, drinking water and electrical-power supply.

The judges praised “its strong writing on an issue of importance to its readers that argues against the prevailing view on this subject.”

One second place prize goes to Pope’s “Small-minded Artesia,” which dives into a political flap over plans to put up freeway signs pointing to the community’s “Little India” district.

“This piece had ‘moxy’ and bravely took on all offending parties,” the judges wrote.

The other second-place prize goes to Ingley’s “Downtown Need Not Be Death Valley (A Place in the Shade),” which urges Phoenix to make shade a priority as it revitalizes the downtown area.

“An imaginative twist on a daily problem in Phoenix, an argument against the status quo,” the judges wrote.

Carroll takes third place with “The Scandal of the Preble’s Mouse,” which examines the revelation that a threatened species is, in fact, a fiction.

The judges praised it as “sharply written on a topic that could have received perfunctory treatment.”

Judged by Ann LoLordo, assistant editorial page editor; Diane Camper, assistant editorial page editor; and Nicky Penttila, editorial writer; all of The Baltimore Sun. 68 entries.

News Photography

First Place: Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.

Second Place: Danny Chan La, The Salt Lake Tribune

Third Place: Juan Carlo, Ventura County Star, Ventura, Calif.

Pierson earns first place honors with “Last Stand,” a shot of a homeowner using a garden hose to protect a friend’s home from a wildfire, with smoke and flames approaching in the background.

“The image was appropriately titled,” the judges wrote. “This one rose to the top right away. We liked the desperation. The water mimicking the fall of the hose adds a certain gracefulness to the photo, along with the man’s foot in the air.” “It’s an immediate read on human struggle,” said staff photographer Craig Ruttle. “Though it could have come off as cluttered, with the fence in the foreground, your eye instead focuses on the man, the hose and the fire – the three main points in the photo. A strong first place finish.”

Second place goes to La for “Return Home,” a shot of a woman jumping into the arms of her soldier husband as his unit returns to Utah from the Persian Gulf.

“This reminded us of a moment from the 1970s,” the judges wrote. “We loved the black-and-white. Though we wanted to see their faces, it’s still a strong moment and different from many of the welcoming celebrations we’ve seen. The fact that most of the soldiers are stoic and continuing to march adds to the strength of the image. This was another image that we knew right away we wanted in one of the top three spots.”

Carlo grabs third place with “Pepper Spray,” a shot of seven police officers, two of them using pepper spray, who are chasing down a criminal suspect at a high school graduation ceremony.

“Everyone who saw this photo laughed, and when we read the caption, we laughed harder,” the judges wrote. “Though we didn’t know how this unfolded, we didn’t figure the photographer went to the graduation thinking he would be shooting spot news! Good composition, though we would have cropped down to the bottom of the window. A great moment and certainly worthy of third place.”

Overall, the judges wrote, “there were several strong entries, and though we realized that several situations were media events, getting that single decisive moment is still a challenge and an accomplishment. Some made us laugh, some made us cringe and some were just horribly sad. As we looked through the images, we continually referred back to the criteria of the contest: Judged for news value, alertness of response, visual interest and technical quality. With that focus, it was easy to get it down to the top 10.”

Judged by Liz Dufour, planning editor and former director of photography; Meggan Booker, staff photographer; Eileen Joyce, photo editor; Michael Keating, staff photographer; Craig Ruttle, staff photographer; and Brandi Stafford, staff photographer, all of the The Cincinnati Enquirer. 112 entries.

Feature Photography

First Place: Karen Ducey, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Second Place: Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.

Third Place: Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post

Ducey grabs first place with a shot of a 9-year-old girl upside down as she does a flip off a log on a Lake Washington beach.

“Sophisticated image altogether,” the judges wrote. “Color, composition, layering all come together with timing for a rather unusual slice-of everyday life. A relaxed countenance on the girls face, even upside down, has an easing affect. Visually pleasing, piques interest, and good use of color and light. Photographer has a unique and refreshing vision that defies the usual found-features genre of the past two decades.”

Second place goes to Pierson for a shot of a fisherman casting his line at Lake Arrowhead while a fish hangs in the foreground, appearing to dwarf him.

“We really liked this image on several levels,” the judges wrote. “It’s just a downright pleasing image to look at. Again, excellent use of layering composition and use of monocrhromatic colors. The photographer recognized a good photo and knew just the right lens to use at just the right moment.

Walker takes third place with a shot of the winning diver in a belly flop contest, caught in midair with arms and legs spread.

“Delightful and energetic image employing peak moment within overall composition and framing,” the judges wrote.

Judged by Linda Salazar, night picture editor, Joe Elbert, assistant managing editor of photography and Jay Premack, late night picture editor, all of The Washington Post. 129 entries.

Sports photography

First Place: Thomas Boyd, The Register-Guard, Eugene

Second Place: Danny Chan La, The Salt Lake Tribune

Third Place: Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

Boyd earns first-place honors with a shot of University of Southern California receiver Dominique Boyd reaching to make a one-handed grab of a touchdown pass in a fog-shrouded game against Oregon State.

“This one jumped out right away as a top candidate in the category, and came out as the clear winner,” the judges wrote. “The fog added a surreal look to a nice action photo.”

Second place goes to La for a shot of a high school softball player stretching in a vain effort to tag another player during a title game.

“At first look, the black-and-white threw us off, but when you look at the pure timing, emotion and composition of this photo, it really was worthy of the top three,” the judges wrote.

Presnell captures third place with a photo of Arizona’s Andre Iguodala trying to convince a referee that possession of the basketball belongs to his team.

“This was a fun photo,” the judges wrote. “The look on the face of the player and the two fingers pointing in opposite directions made this an easy choice for the top three also.”

“Overall, this was a tough category,” the judges added. “Most of these photos were probably clip winners throughout the year, and for good reason. It was even a chore to keep it to the Top 10. The newspapers from the West are always very competitive and this year was no exception. It’s probably the best region in the country for sports photography, and the entries showed that.”

Judged by David Petkiewicz, Mac systems administator and former photographer, and Scott Shaw, staff photographer, for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. 87 entries.

Informational Graphics

First Place: Steve Cowden, The Oregonian

Second Place: Mark Nowlin, Kristopher Lee and Whitney Stensrud, The Seattle Times

Third Place: Michael Hall, Rocky Mountain News

Cowden wins first place with “City Aims High with Tram Design,” a full-page graphic showing the route and details of an aerial tram planned for downtown Portland.

“The Oregonian offered several strong entries, but this was the best,” the judges wrote. “Nicely organized, clean design and tons of information made this page an attractive offering for readers. The 3-D technique is expertly done. Very inviting.”

Second place goes to Nowlin, Lee and Stesrud for “Getting To Know The New Central Library,” which dissected all 11 floors of Seattle’s new and architecturally complex downtown public library.

“This two-page spread is just full of useful bits of information,” the judges wrote. “Nicely rendered and organized. The reader could actually use this to navigate the library. The spread might have worked better as a true doubletruck.”

Hall takes third place with “Figuring Out The Bill.”

“A fun, informative graphic,” the judges wrote. “The detail is incredible, and the artist must by now be insane from sweating over this. One can literally spend hours with this graphic.”

Judged by David Wersinger, graphics editor; Dana Fasano, senior artist; Shiniko Floyd, senior artist; Lisa Frasier, senior artist; and Ingrid Pecca, news artist, all of The Orlando Sentinel. 61 entries.

Illustrations

First Place: Margaret Spengler, The Sacramento Bee

Second Place: Wendy Wahman, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Third Place (tie): Brian Harris, The Modesto Bee

Third Place (tie): Cindy Enright, The Denver Post

Third Place (tie): Cindy Enright, The Denver Post

Spengler wins first place with “Hair Crazy.”

“Both judges liked the bold graphic impact, the limited yet striking use of color, and the strong concept of a normally impeccably coifed Japanese woman facing a bad hair day, as represented by an exquisite mass of scribbles,” the judges wrote.

Second place goes to Harris for “Holiday Happenings.”

“We felt this whimsical series of holiday illustrations were all great conceptually, beautifully designed and colored, and an overall wonderful solution to illustrating what was essentially a dry listing of upcoming events,” the judges wrote. “They would look as good in a children’s book as they do on the newspaper pages.”

Harris grabs one third-place prize with “It’s Turkey Tech.”

“It had a good concept, a nice visual interpretation of the article, was very well rendered and was the best of the lot of a bunch of similarly created pieces which used primitive, mechanically perfect shapes like circles and triangles to build the illustration,” the judges wrote.

Enright snags the two other third-place prizes.

“Best of Breed,” the judges wrote, “took the central metaphor of the article, a year end review of movies likened to a dog show, and extended it visually in a new and ingenious way.”

“The rap and the Third Coast,” the judges wrote, “was not conceptually as strong as our other choices, we were both so taken with the supreme confidence of the drawing and design that we felt we could not deny an award to this beautiful picture of rappers.”

Judged by David Coulson, a freelance illustrator whose work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Wall Street Journal, and Michael McParlane, a freelance illustrator whose work has appeared in The Detroit Free Press, The Globe and Mail of Toronto, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. 99 entries.

Editorial Cartooning

First Place: Eric Devericks, The Seattle Times

Second Place: Steve Benson, The Arizona Republic

Third Place: Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun

Devericks wins first place with cartoons that included Martha Stewart as a small catch in a Corporate Crime Fishing contest to Pinocchio remarking to a long-nosed GOP elephant that he was impressed by the party’s ability to put on a new moderate face to a husband at a medicine cabinet asking whether his wife wants “the one that cures headache and causes stroke or eases back pain but causes heart attack?”

The judges wrote that they chose Devericks for “the most consistent display of great ideas and great drawings.” Wrote one of the judges in his report: “Bold, clean style, with the image making the impact. Martha toon doesn’t even need a punch line to make its point, and even though Pinocchio can be overused, he’s used subtly in the GOP convention toon. A great use of words in the drug toon – they work with the image, not independent of it. Distinct style.”

Second place goes to Benson for cartoons that included nine roadways packed with cars converging on a single tree under the Bush administration’s forest plan and the Cassini spacecraft entering Saturn’s orbit and beginning to look for Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.

The judges felt that Benson’s “art work was outstanding, as were many his ideas,” they wrote. “Devericks’ ideas were only slightly more consistent in their high quality. A favorite Benson cartoon among the judges was the White House Plan to Make Our National Forests More Accessible – “both the idea and the artistic execution were outstanding.”

Smith snags third place with cartoons that included a couple talking about the contrasting military records of Bush and Kerry with the line “one served in a quagmire, the other created one,” and a U.S. soldier telling another in Iraq that Colin Powell is resigning, with the other responding, “At least someone has an exit strategy.”

The judges also were very impressed with Smith’s work out of Las Vegas. “Though his art is a bit more simplistic, his ideas are top-notch.” A favorite of the judges has a political pollster asking a homeowner, “Are you in favor of same-sex marriages?” The homeowner, apparently underwhelmed by all the attention given to this subject, responds, “Will it lead to lower gas prices?”

Overall, the judges wrote, “it was relatively easy to narrow the couple dozen entries to the six to eight best. But getting from those finalists to the winning three – and to order those three – was excruciatingly difficult. Much of the discussion revolved around how much emphasis to give to the quality of the drawing versus the quality of the idea.”

Judged by Keven Ann Willey, Sharon Grigsby, Mike Hashimoto, Rodger Jones and Michael Landauer, all of the Editorial Board of The Dallas Morning News. 24 entries.

Words, Editing and Design

First Place: Staff, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Second Place: Kurt Schlosser, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Third Place (tie): Maria Camou and Chiara Bautista, Arizona Daily Star

Third Place (tie): Chris Kozlowski and Tony Bustos, The Arizona Republic

The Union-Tribune earns first place honors with a kids’ guide to the science of trees that’s spread across the front and back covers of the features section.

“This page was our overall favorite,” the judges wrote. “It is visually appealing and worked well using the back page in a non-conventional double-truck. The type was integrated nicely into the page as was the artwork and real photos. The tree silhouettes and the tree finder’s guide gave a nice mix of information.”

Second place goes to Schlosser for “A Time to Live,” a special section on a boy who has a rare disease that causes premature aging.

“We felt this page was elegant without being overdone,” the judges wrote. “There was a nice use of white space and typography. The photos were not cookie cutter and showed the subject as a child and not a disease. But there was some redundancy in the photo editing. The quotes could have been more telling in places; we felt they had designed a quote and then found one that fit.”

Camou and Bautista grab one third place prize with “Color Complex,” which uses human silhouettes in shades of brown like those found in paint swatches to illustrate a story about a book exploring blacks’ perceptions about skin color.

“The illustration for this page was brilliant and imaginative – a great way to illustrate the story,” the judges wrote. “The choice of type complemented the illustration. The judges split on the rotated type finding it effective or distracting.”

Kozlowski and Bustos take the other third place with “15 Days of Anguish,” a news package examining the ordeal of two corrections officers who were kidnapped and held hostage by two inmates for 15 days before they were released.

“This was an impossible-to-illustrate story that used a sketch style that was appropriate for speculating what actually happened,” the judges wrote. “We liked the originality, use of white space and typography and how the illustrations were carried through to the photos. We kept coming back to this entry during the judging. We would have liked to see the front page of this story, if indeed there was one, and how that was handled.”

Judged by Sterling Chen, Amy Junod and Sue Syrnick, all feature page designers, and Mari A. Schaefer, presentation editor, for The Philadelphia Inquirer. 112 entries.

Online Enterprise Reporting

First Place: Staff, Daily News of Los Angeles

Second Place: Michael Marizco, Kerry Dinsmore, Andrew Satter, Kelly Presnell and Chiara Bautista, azstartnet.com and Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

Third Place: Edward J. Perkins, azcentral.com and The Arizona Republic

The Daily News staff wins first place honors with “Terror in our streets,” a special report on gang violence in Southern California.

“Amazing coverage, with several stories in each part of the series,” the judge wrote. “Perfect mix of written, audio and interactive media. Interactive maps were clean and easy to use. Use of video was great. Profiles of individuals helped bring the stories to life. Blogs are a great way to tell a story without trying to convey anything but the writer’s own thoughts.”

Second place goes to Marizco, Dinsmore, Satter, Presnell and Bautista for “Smuggling children,” which looked at the smuggling networks that reunite children with parents living in the United States illegally through the experience of two Mexican boys.

“Obviously an important issue for this area,” the judge wrote. “Every aspect of border crossings is covered. It was interesting learning about the different communities, the types of crossings, border guards and more. Very impressive layout. Extremely easy to navigate to the different and varied content areas. The maps, interactives and sidebar content are clear and concise. The use of a glossary was very helpful.”

Perkins takes third place with “Arizona’s veterans: Remember them,” which looks at Arizonans who have fought and died in America’s wars, from World War I to the Iraq War.

“Very poignant site, with a lot of information presented in a clear and concise way,” the judge wrote. “Impressed by the amount of research done, as well as the continued coverage. Amazing integration of stories and links; an example is the roll call with links to short synopsis, and then links to the full stories. Very compelling site, with great layout. I spent the most time on this site clicking through everything. Good balance of written, audio, and video content.”

Judged by Steve Witkos, director, emeraldcoast.com in Sandestin, Fla. 19 entries.

Online Multimedia Storytelling

First Place: Matthew Thompson and Jason Olmstead, fresnobee.com and The Fresno Bee

Second Place: Diane Luber, Ann Tracy-Lopez, Kerry Dinsmore, Tom Beal and Jennifer Sterba, azstarnet.com and Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

Third Place: Matthew Thompson, fresnobee.com and The Fresno Bee

Thompson and Olmstead win first place with “History of Fresno’s Fulton Mall,” which looked at the 40 years of planning and construction that led to today’s mall.

“Great way to tell the story in a quick and highly visual way,” the judge wrote. “A lot of information presented in an easy to navigate structure. Great way to integrate the story with reader participation. Mixed content inside this, with video, photos, Flash is great.”

Second place goes to Luber, Tracy-Lopez, Dimsmore, Beal and Sterba for “The Gadsen Purchase,” which examines the U.S. government’s purchase of Tucson and other land from Mexico.

“Good mix of content is what makes this site stand out,” the judge wrote. “Nice mix of multimedia. Good mix of content from regular stories to Flash, galleries and audio. Captures the stereotypical look of the Old West.”

Thompson takes third place with “Rites of Passage: Inked,” which looks at a young man’s decision to get a tattoo. It’s part of a monthly online-only series.

“Being a tattoo “freak” I enjoyed the great way this was presented,” the judge wrote. “Good transitions. Humor very well-used. These rites of passage series are interesting. Great way to tell these stories. Combining the maps with voiceover was great.”

Judged by Steve Witkos, director, emeraldcoast.com in Sandestin, Fla. 9 entries.