The Payson Roundup garnered eight Arizona Press Club awards at the organization's recent annual banquet, and pulled off a near-sweep in general reporting for newspapers with circulations of less than 25,000.
During the press club's annual banquet last week in Tucson, the Roundup was named the winner of the first and second place awards, and was also cited with an honorable mention for general reporting.
The Roundup's Mike Burkett won the first- and third-place awards for his reports entitled "Trouble in Paradise" and "Founding Father Forgotten," respectively.
"Trouble in Paradise" recounted the struggles of Tess Johnson and Freddie Jones, a homeless mother and son who had lived on Tonto National Forest land just south of Payson for four years before being forced to move by the U.S. Forest Service.
The subject of "Founding Father Forgotten" was Wally Davis Sr., who hasn't been granted membership by the Tonto Apache Tribe despite the fact that he is the only living founding father of both the Tonto Apache reservation and its tribal council.
"This piece takes an event that might have not seemed even worth a police blotter item to a less attentive reporter," the press club judges wrote of the first-prize winner. "This reporter had the insight and the heart to turn it into a richly detailed portrait of the odd turns that life can take for those at the bottom of the income scale ... The one entry in the lot that lingers in the memory long after the first reading."
Roundup reporter Jerry Thebado earned an honorable mention in the general reporting category for his story, "Community Calls for a Bridge Where a River Runs Through It." The judges wrote, "This piece shows how muscular, evocative writing can lift above the humdrum even such a typical update on bureaucratic inaction."
Burkett racked up a second-place award in the category of Personality Profile/Feature Writing for his story, "Painful Past, Hopeful Future Found at Wall" wherein he recalled two close friends, a married couple, who were torn apart by the war in Vietnam.
Other Press Club awards for small non-daily newspapers went to Roundup editor Katy Whitehouse, who picked up both a second-place and an honorable mention in the category of commentary/analysis.
"A fine defense of the public's right to know and participate at the table of government," the judge's wrote of Whitehouse's editorial, "Council Needs to Keep Public Part of Process."
Thebado also was awarded a third-place citation in the category of magazine cover photography and design, and Whitehouse won third-place for layout and design, wherein they competed with every magazine and newspaper in the state.