The New Times group of alternative newsweeklies has always placed a strong emphasis on in-depth investigative reporting and cutting-edge cultural criticism. Announcements this week from two of the nation’s most prestigious journalism competitions — the John Bartlow Martin Awards and the James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards — show that New Times is enjoying an exceptional year on both fronts.
The Martin awards are handed out by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and are intended to honor reporting that probes into the country’s neglected, abused and forgotten. Last week, Medill announced that a New Times paper had taken first place in the contest for the second year in a row. This year’s winner is Miami New Times, which won the top prize for its series on poverty in the Miami area, “We’re Number One!” The Miami weekly beat out writers and editors from The New Yorker, Time, U.S. News & World Report and Texas Monthly. Perhaps more significant, it had to fend off competition from other New Times papers. In fact, though New Times has historically done well in the Martin contest, this year marked the company’s best finish yet. All told, New Times writers accounted for eight of the sixteen stories or projects named as either winners or finalists — which, from available information, appears to be the strongest finish ever by a single news organization.
New Times finalists joining the Miami editorial staff as honorees were Bob Norman of New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Julie Jargon of Denver Westword — each cited for two separate stories — along with Joe Miller of The Pitch in Kansas City and Wyatt Olson and Ted Kissell of New Times Broward-Palm Beach. New Times’ performance was all the more impressive because it came on the heels of a first-place finish in the Martins last year by Lisa Davis of New Times’ SF Weekly, who won for her series on nuclear contamination at the Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard.
According to an official announcement from Medill, the research and reporting in the Miami project were “entirely consistent with the kind of journalism practiced by John Bartlow Martin” in the 1940s and ‘50s. A writer for such publications as Life, Look and Collier’s, Martin specialized in covering the plight of the nation’s less fortunate, writing groundbreaking articles on racketeering, poor working conditions and racism. “We’re Number One!” was produced by the Miami New Times staff after statistics in the 2000 census showed Miami to be the nation’s poorest big city.
“In an effort to help its readers understand the meaning of this ignominious distinction, Miami New Times produced this special report, consisting of more than 20 articles and statistical charts that examined poverty in Miami from a variety of perspectives — largely told through profiles of those struggling to get along,” added the Medill release.
Also last week, it was announced that Jason Sheehan, food critic for Denver’s Westword, has won first place in the Newspaper Restaurant Review or Critique category of the James Beard Awards. Like the Martins, the James Beard contest, which honors the country’s best food writers, draws entries from all of the country’s major newspapers and magazines. And like his counterparts in the Martin contest, Sheehan had to beat out fellow New Times writers to claim his prize. In fact, each of the three finalists named in the Newspaper Restaurant Review or Critique category were from New Times publications; Sheehan was joined by Robb Walsh of the Houston Press and Jill Posey-Smith of the Riverfront Times in St. Louis. Walsh also was a finalist in the Newspaper Series category for his three-part series “The Future of Fusion.” Other James Beard honorees this year included Roger Angell of The New Yorker, Alan Richman of GQ, and Matt Lee and Ted Lee of The New York Times.
To read all of the winning New Times entries in the Martin and Beard contests — and to catch up on all the other awards New Times writers and editors have won this year and in years past — please visit newtimes.com.
New Times is the nation’s largest group of alternative newsweeklies. It publishes weekly papers in Phoenix, Denver, Miami, San Francisco, Oakland/Berkeley, Dallas, Houston, St. Louis, Ft. Lauderdale, Kansas City and Cleveland.