The Arizona Newspapers Association on Saturday declared the Payson Roundup the best non-daily newspaper in the state — for the 12th year in a row.
The announcement was made at the ANA annual convention held at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Some 53 newspapers submitted 1,324 entries, the bulk of them in the non-daily category.
Roundup Publisher John Naughton said, “This continued achievement for our hometown newspaper reflects the wonderful support we get from this community. This year, the entries were judged by the Nevada Press Association, and it is especially pleasing as entries were judged by folks who don’t know any of us from Adam. The award belongs to the whole staff. We’re a family — and this just proves it.”
Roundup editor Tom Brossart said, “Twelve years, it is hard to imagine being named the best non-daily paper in the state for that length of time. So we we thank our community for letting us cover their events, their news and issues, so we can continue to publish the best paper possible.”
The Newspaper of the Year award includes points earned from an evaluation of the paper’s news and advertising content. The Roundup placed second in the advertising category this May. An exceptional first-place showing for the news department wrapped up the Newspaper of the Year award.
General Exellence honor
In addition to winning the prize for best non-daily paper in all circulation categories, there are 98 non-daily publications in the state, the Roundup won the “general excellence” award for its category — papers with 3,500 to 10,000 circulation.
In that general excellence category, the Green Valley News and Sun placed second and the Sedona Red Rock News placed third.
Winners of the general excellence award in other circulation categories included San Pedro Valley News-Sun (non-daily, under 3,500), Tucson Weekly (non-daily over 10,000), the Sierra Vista Herald (daily, under 25,000) and The Arizona Republic (daily, more than 25,000).
To achieve the general excellence honor, the Roundup won first-place awards for reporting, news writing, design and special section, this one for the paper’s regional adventure and travel magazine, Arizona Highlands.
The newspaper’s reporters on Saturday won individual awards in most of the news writing and reporting categories — including sustained coverage, best news story, best initiative reporting, and best investigative reporting. In fact, the paper won all three awards in the investigative reporting category, with individual awards going to Pete Aleshire, Suzanne Jacobson and Alexis Bechman.
“We have a great team at the Roundup, people who want to produce a quality newspaper for our readers,” said Brossart. “Good reporting along with good photos does not just happen, it takes special people who have an interest in their community. They say it takes a community to educate a child, the same is true for a newspaper. It takes a community to help us as reporters and photographers produce a consistent, year-after-year, award-winning newspaper.”
Jacobson picked up awards for coverage of each of her three regular beats — schools, Gila Community College and Gila County.
Her repeated, in-depth articles on the budget problems at Payson Unified School District and the controversy surrounding resulting layoffs won the first-place award for best-sustained coverage.
Her revelation that the Gila County jail had pushed through the early release of thousands of prisoners from the jail to ease crowding won the coveted prize for best news story of the year.
“The Roundup was already winning awards before I got here,” said Jacobson, “but it’s just nice to be part of such a great little newspaper. I’m happy that no one has tried to kill me yet,” she added, reflecting the controversy that has surrounded some of the topics she has covered this year.
Aleshire received first-place awards for investigative coverage and for enterprise reporting, both for a series of stories with a strong environmental focus, including the impact of building the Blue Ridge pipeline and the efforts to protect Fossil Creek. He also won three second- and third-place awards in other categories.
“It was actually kind of nerve-wracking,” said Aleshire of attending the awards ceremony at the Cronkite School of Journalism in Phoenix on Saturday.
“The Roundup has been so good so long — 12 years in a row — all you can do at this point is blow it. I’m so happy we didn’t blow it. Fortunately, this town generates the most astonishing number of great stories — comes from having so many interesting people living here.”
The Arizona Republic won more first-place awards than any newspaper in the state, including the best daily newspaper in Arizona.
Doug Nintzel at the Tucson Weekly won the coveted Journalist of the Year in the non-daily newspaper category. Last year, the Roundup’s Pete Aleshire won that award. Ro O’Dell of the Arizona Daily Star won the journalist of the year award in the daily newspaper category.
The Story of the Year award went to Dave Brown at the Arizona Range News and to Nick Oza at The Arizona Republic.
ANA Awards for the Roundup
General Excellence - 1st
Reporting and News Writing - 1st
Page Design Excellence - 1st
Special Magazine Arizona Highlands - 1st
Editorial Page - 2nd
Use of Photography - 2nd
Web Site - 3rd
Department News and Copywriting - 3rd
ANA Individual Awards:
Best News Story:
1st place: Suzanne Jacobson, “Thousands get early release from Gila Jail”
Best Sustained Coverage:
1st Place: Suzanne Jacobson, Coverage of school district budget cuts
1st Place: Pete Aleshire, Plans to build the Blue Ridge pipeline
2nd Place: Suzanne Jacobson, Gila Community College’s plight
3rd Place: Alexis Bechman, Lack of fire hydrants in Star Valley
Best News Feature:
2nd Place: Pete Aleshire, story on Chiricahua Mountains
1st Place: Pete Aleshire, Efforts to protect Fossil Creek
Best News Photograph:
2nd Place: Andy Towle, Remembering Cynthia Pool
3rd Place: Andy Towle, Bachelor Fire
Best Sports Photograph:
2nd Place: Andy Towle, Safe at any speed
Feature Photo Layout:
2nd Place: Pete Aleshire/Tom Brossart, Water Wheel Fire
Best Sports Beat Coverage:
3rd Place: Max Foster