2009 AltWeekly Awards Finalists are Announced

UPDATED JUNE 3, 2009: This story was updated to include the finalists of the Blog, Cartoon & Music Reporting categories. That story can be found here.

If journalism is dying, someone forgot to tell the finalists for the 14th annual AltWeekly Awards. The 2009 award winners come from 57 different member papers, including one paper that will be receiving honors in its first year of eligibility.

The winning pieces range from the irreverence of Fast Forward Weekly’s Christmas Sex Stories Contest (pdf) to the disturbing account of a letter sent to the Pasadena Weekly which threatened to assassinate then President-elect Barack Obama. In his series “Prescription for Disaster,” Phoenix New Times’ John Dickerson details how the Arizona Medical Board allowed recovering drug addicts to practice medicine without monitoring, while Kristen Hinman’s Riverfront Times piece “The Pope of Pork” had a first round judge remarking, “Don’t know if I’ll have much of an appetite for pork again.”

The finalists listed below demonstrate that despite these trying times, alternative newsweeklies continue to produce outstanding journalism, distinctive artwork, and original reporting on matters that might otherwise go uncovered by the mainstream media.

The list of finalists includes some of the usual suspects. Jeffrey Anderson (Baltimore City Paper) will receive honors for his series “The Shadow Economy” in the Investigative Reporting category, the same category in which he took the first-place award last year. Jeffrey C. Billman (Orlando Weekly) is a finalist in three separate categories, a feat he also accomplished in 2004 and 2005. In the Photography category, Walter Coker (Folio Weekly) is set to receive his eighth AltWeekly Award, while Darrow Montgomery (Washington City Paper) will be honored for the fourth time. Don Eggert (Seven Days) will also receive his eighth award and Anne Schindler (Folio Weekly) will receive her seventh.

Other familiar names who will be picking up no less than their third AltWeekly Award include Jonathan Gold (LA Weekly), Christina Waters (Metro Santa Cruz), Jim Schutze (Dallas Observer), Gustavo Arellano (OC Weekly), Susan Clark Armstrong (Folio Weekly), Tom Carlson (Riverfront Times), Jeffry Cudlin (Washington City Paper), Kyle Whitmire (Birmingham Weekly), Margaret Downing (Houston Press), Tom Robbins (The Village Voice), Fiona Morgan (Independent Weekly (NC)), Bob Whitby (Orlando Weekly), Dave Mann (Texas Observer), Ben Joravsky (Chicago Reader), Paula Routly (Seven Days), Cathy Resmer (Seven Days), Amy Silverman (Phoenix New Times), Erik Wemple (Washington City Paper) and Curt Guyette (Metro Times).

Several members will receive multiple awards this year, including Wemple and Guyette, Coury Turczyn (Metro Pulse), W. Kim Heron (Metro Times), Ivylise Simones (The Village Voice), Jeff Prince (Fort Worth Weekly), Matt Davis (Portland Mercury), Joel Warner (Westword) and Christine Carrie Fien, Jeremy Moule and Mary Anna Towler (City Newspaper).

And in the latest demonstration of the effectiveness of AAN’s diversity program, recent Academy for Alternative Journalism grads Phillip Bailey of Louisville Eccentric Observer and Jared Maher of Westword will both be honored this year in reporting categories.

In the large-circulation division, The Village Voice leads the pack with nine awards. In the small-circulation division, The Santa Fe Reporter is set to go home with at least five prizes. And in its AltWeekly Awards debut, Fast Forward Weekly is slated to pick up awards in the Editorial Layout, Illustration and Innovation/Format Buster categories.

It’s still too early to say which paper will end up receiving the most awards. That’s because the finalists in three categories — Blog, Cartoon, and Music Criticism — will not be announced until later this month.

The finalists below are listed in alphabetical order by newspaper. Where more than three finalists are listed in any given category, it indicates there was a tie or an honorable mention was awarded in that division.

The final placement of the winners will be announced at the AltWeekly Awards luncheon to be held on Friday, June 26 during the 32nd annual AAN Convention in Tucson. Dan Savage, the syndicated sex columnist and editorial director of The Stranger, will be hosting the Awards luncheon for the third time.

AAN will showcase the design work on our Facebook Photo Gallery. Finalists in the design categories are encouraged to send JPGs of their work to Jason Zaragoza at: jzaragoza (at) aan [dot] org.


COVER DESIGN circulation 50,000 and over

Miami New Times: Share the F*&%ing Road, I’m HIV Positive, and Drop-Dead Sexy by Pam Shavalier

Riverfront Times: Cougar Heaven, The Veep Fair, and Lip Service by Tom Carlson

Willamette Week: The Queer and the Qur’an, Nope, and Yeah! by the Willamette Week Design & Production Staff

COVER DESIGN circulation under 50,000

Boston’s Weekly Dig: I Want to Ride My Flycycle, Spring Dining Guide, and Abs of Wood by the Weekly Dig Staff

Nashville Scene: Gettin’ Jacked, Best of Nashville, and Reckless Love by Rob Williams

Santa Fe Reporter: The Politics of Eating, Down and Dirty, and Vote by Angela Moore

EDITORIAL LAYOUT circulation 50,000 and over

LA Weekly: Death of a Hollywood Beauty by Darrick Rainey

NOW Magazine: Banning Handguns in Canada by Troy Beyer

Phoenix New Times: Green Fatigue by Peter Storch and Jasmine Hobeheidar

Village Voice: Prodigy’s 25th Hour by Ivylise Simones

Village Voice: The Ultimate Re-Vamping by Ivylise Simones and Howard Huang

EDITORIAL LAYOUT circulation under 50,000

Gambit Weekly: Gone Daddy Gone by Amy Morvant

Fast Forward Weekly: The Cinematic Sounds of Calgary’s Underground (download pdf) by Riley Brandt and Kris Twyman

Pacific Northwest Inlander: Fall Arts Preview (See Gallery) by Chris Bovey

San Luis Obispo New Times: Secrets of Recycling (download pdf) by Patrick Howe, Alex Zuniga and Steve E. Miller

ILLUSTRATION circulation 50,000 and over

Baltimore City Paper: Sizzlin’ Summer by Paige Shuttleworth

Riverfront Times: 7-Up vs. Coke, Part 2 by Brian Stauffer

Village Voice: A Wing and a Prayer by Christian Northeast

ILLUSTRATION circulation under 50,000

Fast Forward Weekly: Twin Peaked by Julie McLaughlin

Santa Fe Reporter: Eureka by Richard Borge

Seven Days: Say Yes! by Matt Mignanelli

PHOTOGRAPHY circulation 50,000 and over

Baltimore City Paper: City Paper Freelancers 2008 by John Ellsberry, Frank Hamilton, Frank Klein, Michael Northrup, Ryan “Rarah” Stevenson and Jefferson Jackson Steele

Riverfront Times: Fighter, It Girls, Life Is Short, Lip Service, Thousand Dollar Baby, Fist City, Mistress, D.I.Y., and Princess by Jennifer Silverberg

Washington City Paper: Truce and Consequences, Best of D.C., and When the Rebar Hits the Road by Darrow Montgomery

PHOTOGRAPHY circulation under 50,000

Folio Weekly: Through The Lens by Walter Coker

San Luis Obispo New Times: Momento Mori by Steve E. Miller

Style Weekly: Scott Elmquist Photography by Scott Elmquist

2009 Photography Finalist Gallery


ARTS CRITICISM circulation 50,000 and over

LA Weekly: Benjamin Button, Diary of the Dead, and The Visitor by Scott Foundas

LA Weekly: From Reverence to Rape, Waugh and Remembrance, and Was Roman Polanski a Pedophile? by Ella Taylor

Village Voice: Kill One for the Gipper, What We Learned about the Election in This Summer’s Movies, and Deep Freeze by Jim Hoberman

Washington City Paper: Pine of the Times, Sheet Smart, and Pain by Numbers by Jeffry Cudlin

ARTS CRITICISM circulation under 50,000

Independent Weekly (NC): Kipper Kids, El Greco, and USPO by Amy White

Metroland: Not as They Seem, Branching Out, and Everything Is Illuminated by Meisha Rosenberg

Metro Pulse: So, This Is My Life… by Charles Maldonado

ARTS FEATURE circulation 50,000 and over

Chicago Reader: Life Without a Script by Anne Ford

LA Weekly: No Exit Plan and The Life and Death of JT Leroy by Nancy Rommelmann

The Pitch: A Picture of Hope by Jason Harper

ARTS FEATURE circulation under 50,000

Fort Worth Weekly: Magical Misery Tour by Jeff Prince

Metro Pulse: Lowbrow Genius by Coury Turczyn

Metro Santa Cruz: Unlock & Roll by Curtis Cartier

COLUMN circulation 50,000 and over

Dallas Observer: No Nature for Old Men, What’s in a Nombre, and Eat My Dirt by Jim Schutze

OC Weekly: “¡Ask a Mexican!” Why won’t Mexicans vote for a black man?, Is It Racist to Call a Mexican Working at a Coffee Shop a ‘Beaner’?, and Cherry-Picking César Chávez by Gustavo Arellano

Philadelphia Weekly: “The Angry Grammarian” Sarah Palin: Diagrammed, Web of Confusion, and Ebonics by Jeff Barg

Phoenix New Times: Globe High School Censors its Student Newspaper, Peter Singer to Talk at ASU, and Sarah Fenske’s in Dogged Pursuit by Sarah Fenske

COLUMN circulation under 50,000

Colorado Springs Independent: “Ranger Rich” by Rich Tosches

Folio Weekly: Sugar Land, Dumb & Dumber, and History Lesson by Anne Schindler

Orlando Weekly: “Police Beat” by Jeffrey C. Billman

Portland Mercury: “In the Shadows” by Matt Davis

COLUMN — POLITICAL circulation 50,000 and over

Chicago Reader: “The Works” Jul. 3, Sep. 18, and Oct. 16 by Ben Joravsky

Metro Times: Just Go, Guilty as Charged, and Obama’s Moment by Curt Guyette & W. Kim Heron

Village Voice: Bloomberg’s Velvet Coup, Bloomberg’s Term-Limits Coup, and Eliot Spitzer Goes Down by Tom Robbins

COLUMN — POLITICAL circulation under 50,000

Birmingham Weekly: Gettin’ Gay with Leapin’ Larry, Alabama Exceptionalism, and Leapin’ Larry Fights the Feds by Kyle Whitmire

Pacific Northwest Inlander: Interdependents, Rotten Crumbs, and Obama for President by Ted S. McGregor

San Luis Obispo New Times: Don’t mess with Uncle Sam, Pot and porn, and Semantics, Romantics by the New Times Staff

FEATURE STORY circulation 50,000 and over

Creative Loafing (Atlanta): Sober by Thomas Wheatley

Houston Press: Mental Anguish by Margaret Downing

LA Weekly: From Silver Lake to Suicide by Barry Isaacson

Westword: Father of Invention by Joel Warner

Westword: The Good Soldier by Joel Warner

FEATURE STORY circulation under 50,000

Fort Worth Weekly: His Last War by Jeff Prince

Pacific Northwest Inlander: Boys of Summer (pdf) by Luke Baumgarten

Texas Observer: See No Evil by Emily DePrang

Texas Observer: Private Trauma by Patrick Michels

FOOD WRITING circulation 50,000 and over

City Pages (Twin Cities): Spam: It’s not just for Inboxes, With Honeycrisp’s Patent, and Manny’s Attempts to Raise the Steaks by Rachel Hutton

LA Weekly: Breaking Free, Keep on Trucking, and A Proper Brasserie by Jonathan Gold

Riverfront Times: The Pope of Pork by Kristen Hinman

FOOD WRITING circulation under 50,000

Metro Santa Cruz: The Jester’s Quest by Christina Waters

Monterey County Weekly: Spit Fire Flavor by Mark C. Anderson

Santa Fe Reporter: Fast Approaching, Chase the Dragon, and Peanut Gallery by A Qasimi

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING circulation 50,000 and over

Baltimore City Paper: The Shadow Economy Series: Flight Connections, Redemption Song and Dance, One Angry Man, Creative Licensing, Preacher, Teacher, Forger, Spy, Grave Accusations, Friends of Milton Tillman Jr., All the Emperor’s Men, Citizen of the Year, and All Around Player by Jeffrey Anderson, Edward Ericson Jr., Chris Landers, and Van Smith

New Times Broward-Palm Beach: To Hug a Porcupine by Deirdra Funcheon

Phoenix New Times: Prescription for Disaster by John Dickerson

Westword: State of Emergency by Jared Maher

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING circulation under 50,000

Folio Weekly: Don’t Bother (pdf) by Susan Clark Armstrong

Orlando Weekly: Might Makes Right by Jeffrey C. Billman

Santa Barbara Independent: Greka’s Monkey Business by Ethan Stewart

MEDIA REPORTING/CRITICISM circulation 50,000 and over

Philadelphia Weekly: Pushing Paper by G.W. Miller III

Washington City Paper: One Mission, Two Newsrooms by Erik Wemple

Westword: The Rocky Mountain News is Going Down, Five Rocky Stars Who Could Be Going Up, and Last Rites on the Rocky Mountain News’s Twittering by Michael Roberts

MEDIA REPORTING/CRITICISM circulation under 50,000

The first-place winner of this category will receive the Connye Miller Award for Media Reporting, a cash prize of $300. Miller served as the founding editor and co-publisher of The Local Planet Weekly in Spokane, Wash. The award, endowed by her husband Matt Spaur, commemorates Miller’s dedication to her newspaper’s role as a media critic and watchdog. Miller died in June 2003 from complications related to the rare disease porphyria.

Arkansas Times: Fear Factor by David Koon and Gerard Matthews

Independent Weekly (NC): Cuts to Run Deep at N&O, The Herald-Sun’s nosedive, and What’s Up? More bad news at The N&O by Fiona Morgan

Orlando Weekly: The Incredible Shrinking Sentinel by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes, Deanna Sheffield and Bob Whitby

Tucson Weekly: “Media Watch”: KUAZ Firing Brings Possible End to Mortimer’s 50-Year Career, KGUN Reporter Investigated for Allegedly Impersonating Victim-Witness Advocate, and Layoffs at ‘Citizen’ Lighter Than at Other Gannett Operations by John Schuster and Tim Vanderpool

MUSIC REPORTING / CRITICISM circulation 50,000 and over

Boston Phoenix: Newport, Nights Out, and Fourth Quarter CDs by Jon Garelick

Dallas Observer: Swagger Like Us by Pete Freedman

Village Voice: Down In Front by Rob Harvilla

MUSIC REPORTING / CRITICISM circulation under 50,000

Independent Weekly (NC): Pity for Black Kids, Lil Wayne, and Billy Corgan’s Bombast by Robbie Mackey

Orlando Weekly: Euro With a Thousand Faces, Wither Without You, and Beach Blanket Brilliance by Justin Strout

Pacific Northwest Inlander: Abe Kennedy, Noise, and Pap by Luke Baumgarten

NEWS STORY — LONG FORM circulation 50,000 and over

SF Weekly: Snitch by Ashley Harrell

Village Voice: NYPD Inaction Over A Missing Black Woman Found Dead Sparks a Historic Racial-Bias Lawsuit by Sean Gardiner

Willamette Week: Señor Smith Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 by Beth Slovic

NEWS STORY — LONG FORM circulation under 50,000

Folio Weekly: Trial & Error (pdf) by Gwynedd Stuart

Pacific Northwest Inlander: Busted by Nicholas Deshais

Texas Observer: Systemic Neglect by Dave Mann

NEWS STORY — SHORT FORM circulation 50,000 and over

City Pages (Twin Cities): Midwest oil mining a crude idea, Local couples fight for gay rights, and Holly Collins Returns by Beth Walton

Miami New Times: Killers in the Can, Burn Baby Burn, and Voter Fraud Ahead by Francisco Alvarado

Salt Lake City Weekly: Secret Police; Crime and Prejudice; Graybar Hotel by Ted McDonough

San Francisco Bay Guardian: Godzilla versus Mothra, Nuclear Fallout, and Vicious Circle by Sarah Phelan

NEWS STORY — SHORT FORM circulation under 50,000

Louisville Eccentric Observer: Taming the Wild West, Turn off the Radio, and Double Whammy by Phillip Bailey

Pasadena Weekly: The Weekly is no Tom Tombrello, The great Pasadena Bond Caper, and Hater Nation by Joe Piasecki

Portland Mercury: Blog This, Taser Eraser, and Leonard’s Secret List by Matt Davis

SPECIAL TOPIC — ELECTION COVERAGE circulation 50,000 and over

City Pages (Twin Cities): Moles Wanted, Police raid anarchist homes, and Dozens of journalists arrested at RNC by Matt Snyders

Phoenix New Times: John McCain’s Fame is Based on His POW Status, But He Has Abandoned Fellow Veterans by Amy Silverman

Village Voice: The Book of Sarah (Palin) by Wayne Barrett

SPECIAL TOPIC — ELECTION COVERAGE circulation under 50,000

City Newspaper: Election Action 2008 by Christine Carrie Fien, Jeremy Moule, Tim Louis Macaluso, Mary Anna Towler, and Karl Slominski

Portland Phoenix: Election 2008 Coverage by Portland Phoenix Staff and Freelancers

Texas Observer: John McCain’s Gramm Gamble by Patricia Kilday Hart


BLOG circulation 50,000 and over

Austin Chronicle: Newsdesk by The Austin Chronicle News Staff

Houston Press: Hair Balls by The Houston Press Staff

San Francisco Bay Guardian: Politics Blog by The San Francisco Bay Guardian Staff

Washington City Paper: City Desk by The Washington City Paper Staff

BLOG circulation under 50,000

Arkansas Times: Arkansas Blog by Max Brantley

Gambit Weekly: Blog of New Orleans by The Gambit Weekly Staff

Santa Fe Reporter: Swing State of Mind by Dave Maass and staff


Mr. Fish by Dwayne Booth (LA Weekly)

Slowpoke by Jen Sorensen

Tom the Dancing Bug by Ruben Bolling

Worst-Case Scenario & Hip Tip by Kenny Be (Westword)

INNOVATION / FORMAT BUSTER circulation 50,000 and over

Metro Times: The Adventures of Kwame-man (web version) (download pdf) by Curt Guyette, W. Kim Heron and Sean Bieri

Village Voice: The Official Village Voice Election-Season Guide to the Right-Wing Blogosphere by Roy Edroso

Washington City Paper: Washington City Paper Files for Chapter 86 Content Bankruptcy by Erik Wemple, Andrew Beaujon and Jule Banville

INNOVATION / FORMAT BUSTER circulation under 50,000

Fast Forward Weekly: Christmas Sex Stories Contest: “A Tingle of Joy” (pdf), “Barely Christmas” (pdf), and “Treesome” (pdf) by Tom Bagley, Genevieve Simm and Travis Sengaus

Metro Pulse: Superhero vs. Autobiographical Comics (download pdf) by Coury Turczyn, Matthew Everett and Travis Gray

Orlando Weekly: Anti-coverage for Anti-Pop (download pdf) by Justin Strout and Shan Stumpf

Santa Fe Reporter: Things To Do in Santa Fe When You’re Undead by Dave Maass, Ursula Coyote and random zombie fans.

PUBLIC SERVICE circulation 50,000 and over

Houston Press: Selling You by Craig Malisow

Long Island Press: Heroin by Robbie Woliver, Timothy Bolger, and Michael M. Martino

Metro Times: Detroit’s Big Burn by Curt Guyette

PUBLIC SERVICE circulation under 50,000

Arkansas Times: The Fayetteville Shale Play by Gerard Matthews, David Koon and John Williams

City Newspaper: Reportage of the Rochester, NY Public Defender Search by Christine Carrie Fien, Jeremy Moule and Mary Anna Towler

Metro Pulse: “Jackie Walker”: The Jackie Walker Story, Local Hero, and A Promise Kept by Betty Bean

San Antonio Current: Hot Wired, The Series by Greg Harman

SPECIAL SECTION circulation 50,000 and over

City Pages (Twin Cities): Comix Issue by Freelance Contributers

LA Weekly: LA People 2008 by Laurie Ochoa and LA Weekly staff

Seattle Weekly: Teach Me Tonight : Seattle Weekly’s 2008 Fall Arts Guide by Mark D. Fefer

Village Voice: Best of NYC by Village Voice Staff

SPECIAL SECTION circulation under 50,000

Cincinnati CityBeat: Annual Manual by CityBeat Staff

North Bay Bohemian: Arcadia by North Bay Bohemian staff

Santa Fe Reporter: Devour, a Locavore’s Guide to Santa Fe by Gwyneth Doland, Larry Kohr and Angela Moore

Source Weekly: The Source Weekly’s Dining Guide by Elise Jones

Seven Days: What’s Good: The Student’s Off-Campus Guide to Burlington by Don Eggert, Cathy Resmer and Paula Routly

Have links or PDFs for a finalist that we don’t? Please email jzaragoza (at) aan [dot] org.