For the 11th year in a row, the Payson Roundup was named the best non-daily newspaper in the state by the Arizona Newspapers Association and for the first time, a Roundup reporter won the journalist of the year category.
News Editor Peter Aleshire was named top journalist for the non-daily division alongside Rob O’Dell with the Arizona Daily Star in the dailies division.
Nearly every newspaper in Arizona belongs to the ANA. This year, 54 newspapers entered the Better Newspapers Contents, submitting 1,155 entries.
Beyond winning Newspaper of the Year, the editorial team garnered 24 awards from Saturday’s ceremony at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix.
Regarding the Roundup’s win, Editor Tom Brossart said it belonged to the readers as much as the newspaper and its staff.
“The Roundup enjoys great support and trust from our readers and it is only because our readers allow us, as journalists, to write about you and your events is it possible for the paper to win the highest awards year after year,” he said. “I thank all of the people who let us be a part of their lives this past year year and for all of the help they provided so we can put together a complete newspaper week after week. We have a great staff that works hard each week to produce the best newspaper possible.”
Publisher John Naughton said he was extremely happy with the win and the effort of all staff members.
“Without quality journalists, dedicated advertising staff, a production crew second to none, and a consistent press crew and delivery drivers, the Roundup could not have won,” he said. “Everyone deserves accolades for this award because it is a team effort.”
The Roundup won the top award for “general excellence” in its circulation category of 3,500 to 10,000. First-place award categories included departmental news, page design, editorial page, news story, sustained coverage, investigative story, sports column, news feature, enterprise reporting, feature photograph and feature photo layout.
For departmental news and copy editing, one judge commented that the paper was full of news and features relevant to the community, “all in a nicely-packaged product.”
Other general excellence winners included the Arizona Republic and The Sierra Vista Herald in the daily category. In the non-daily, Prescott Valley Tribune came in on top while the Arizona Capitol Times and San Pedro Valley News-Sun tied in the circulation category under 3,500.
The Roundup also won second place for its Web site and overall reporting and news writing, and third for a special section on Julia Randall Elementary School.
Individually, Aleshire won four first-place awards — for best news story for his coverage of the replica Vietnam Wall Memorial coming to Payson in June 2008; for his sustained coverage of the Wall’s impact in the community; for investigative reporting with his “Endangered species” stories; and for enterprise reporting, a story headlined “Russian roulette in Rim Country,” which detailed the risk Rim Country communities face by sitting in some of the nation’s most fire-threatened regions.
Staff writer Alexis Bechman won third place for the news story “Firefighter shocked pinching gas line” and second place for investigative reporting on the accusations Star Valley’s former town manager was given pay increases without the council’s approval. She also won second place in enterprise reporting for an article looking at the high cost of getting arrested for DUI.
Sports writer Max Foster won first place for a sports column on remembering Jim McBurney and second place for another sports column on the YMCA.
Staff writer Suzanne Jacobson won the top news feature award for a story about Luis and Ramona Coppelli, who decided to sail the world together.
In photos, Brossart won two first places. The first award was a feature photograph of two eagles titled “Flyin’ high” and the other for a photo story on wildflowers.
He also won third place for “A second chance,” which illustrated the efforts of the New Hope Equine Rescue facility in Star Valley to save horses headed for the slaughterhouse.
Towle, Brossart and Foster collectively won second place in the photo story category for the “Memorial Wall.”
Photographer Andy Towle won second and third place in the feature photograph category for “Motocross” and “Santa sighting.”
In May, the Roundup’s advertising, design and production staff was awarded four first-place Excellence in Advertising Awards from ANA.
The Roundup won second place overall in advertising, with the White Mountain Independent taking first.
Points earned in advertising were added to the winning entries from editorial contest to determine the Newspaper of the Year.