The South Florida alt-weekly ran a lengthy cover story this week on the problems facing South Florida's newspapers, and decided that it would only be fair to report on its own struggles as well. Reporter Lisa Rab says that the New Times newsroom staff has shrunk by four (to 13) and its circulation has dropped from around 80,000 to 54,500 over "the past couple of years." She also talks to Village Voice Media president and chief operating officer Scott Tobias, who says there are no plans afoot to make the paper online-only, to sell it or to merge its operations with its sister paper to the south, Miami New Times.
Miami New Times and New Times Broward-Palm Beach each won eight total awards in the Florida Press Club's 2009 Excellence in Journalism contest. Miami took home first-place honors in the General News, Light Feature Writing, Minority News and Religion Writing categories, while Broward placed first in the Blog Writing, Criticism, Health Writing and Sports Feature Writing categories. However, blog winner Bob Norman points out that the press club put all of the alt-weeklies' nonblog entries in Class D, the lowest category in the contest. "The last time they did this a few years ago, we refused to accept our awards (yeah, we're arrogant like that)," Norman writes. "Now they've gone off and done it again. We've been judged over the years in Category A, where we belong, all the way down to D. It's an issue that needs to be ironed out beforehand."
AAN News has just received a copy of Da Capo's Best Food Writing 2009, and it is chock full of alt-weekly talent. Included in the collection are stories from City Pages' Rachel Hutton ("Spam: It's Not Just for Inboxes Anymore"), New Times Broward-Palm Beach's John Linn ("Highway to Hog Heaven"), SF Weekly's Peter Jamison ("Out of the Wild"), The Stranger's Bethany Jean Clement ("The Beauty of the Beast"), Washington City Paper's Tim Carman ("How Not to Hire a Chef"), and Westword's Jason Sheehan ("The Last of the Great $10 Steaks"). The book also includes a selection from Houston Press food writer Robb Walsh's book on oysters, and is slated to be released this fall.
Winners of the Florida Press Association's 2008 Better Weekly Newspaper Contest were announced last weekend, and two AAN members were well-represented amongst the winners. Miami New Times took home a total of 11 awards, including first-place wins for Community History, Criticism, News Story, Outdoor Writing and Website Development; its sister paper New Times Broward-Palm Beach won two awards -- both first-place finishes -- for Investigative Reporting and Serious Column.
The alt-weekly won this year's Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism in the non-daily category for its story on the growing heroin epidemic among Long Island's youth -- a story the judges called "the epitome of public service journalism." The story -- "Long Highland" -- also won the AltWeekly Award for Public Service last week in Tucson. The Dallas Observer and New Times Broward-Palm Beach received honorable mentions in the Casey Medal competition, which recognizes "exemplary reporting on children and families in the U.S."
Village Voice Media's two Florida newspapers fared well in this year's Green Eyeshade Awards, which recognize journalistic excellence in 11 Southern states. Miami New Times won five awards, including first-place finishes in four categories: Coverage of Politics, Crticism, Public Affairs Reporting and Public Service. Sister paper New Times Broward-Palm Beach took home three awards, winning first-place accolades for Non-Deadline Reporting and Sports Commentary. Started by the Atlanta Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the contest is now administered by regional directors for the Society.
Miami New Times and New Times Broward-Palm Beach have a handful of contenders in the Society of Professional Journalists' 59th annual Green Eyeshade Awards. Miami New Times has five finalists, and Broward-Palm Beach has three, in a variety of categories, from Public Service to Sports Commentary. The Green Eyeshade Awards is a regional journalism competition covering Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Winners will be announced this summer.
The North Central Florida SPJ chapter has announced the winners of its 2008 Florida Awards of Excellence contest, and Village Voice Media's two papers in the state won 20 total awards. Miami New Times staff writer Francisco Alvarado was named Journalist of the Year, and in competition among non-daily papers, his paper took home ten awards, including first-place finishes in Education Reporting, Environmental Reporting, General Reporting (single story), General Reporting (series) and Series Column Writing. New Times Broward-Palm Beach won a total of nine awards, including first-place wins for Business Reporting, Feature (non-deadline), Humorous Column Writing and Sports Reporting (non-deadline).
Eric Barton, the managing editor of Village Voice Media's The Pitch in Kansas City, will take over soon as the company's top editorial employee in Fort Lauderdale. According to a VVM press release, Barton "was closely involved in the growth of The Pitch's website" during his tenure in Kansas City, and he helped Pitch.com "double its traffic by adding blogs, video, audio, podcasts and slideshows." Barton takes the reins at New Times Broward-Palm Beach on September 22.
In the non-daily print division, both the Memphis Flyer and Miami New Times won four first-place awards in the annual contest which "recognizes outstanding journalism in 11 southeastern states." The Flyer placed first in disaster coverage, editorial writing, feature reporting, and political reporting. It also tacked on two third-place finishes. Miami New Times finished first in consumer reporting, courts and law reporting, criticism (a category swept by alt-weeklies), and non-deadline news. New Times added one third-place finish as well. In addition, New Times Broward-Palm Beach took home two awards, including a first-place win for sports reporting; while both Mountain XPress and North Carolina's Independent Weekly went home with a second-place award. Winners were announced Saturday in Atlanta.