Alt-weeklies fairly dominated the newspaper divisions of the 2008 Lone Star Awards, the Texas-wide journalism contest sponsored by the Houston Press Club. In the over-100,000 circulation division, the Houston Press and Dallas Observer combined to take first, second and third places in the "Print Journalist of the Year" competition. The Observer won a total of five awards, while the Press took home more firsts (nine) and more awards overall than any other paper in the division. The Press finished first in these categories: Print Journalist of the Year, Photojournalist of the Year, Public Service, Business Story, General Commentary/Criticism, Feature Story (Internet-based), Opinion (Internet-based), Sports Photo, and Photo Package. In the under-100,000 newspaper division, the Fort Worth Weekly brought home more hardware than any other paper. That included five first-place trophies, in these categories: Feature Story, Investigative Reporting, Politics/Government, Business Story, and Student News. The awards were presented on June 6.
The Dallas Observer's Megan Feldman and Jesse Hyde, Phoenix New Times' John Dickerson, and Washington City Paper's Dave Jamieson are among this year's Livingston Award finalists. The contest awards three $10,000 prizes for Local, National, and International Reporting to journalists under the age of 35. The winners will be announced on June 4.
Mark Donald has been involved with the Observer on and off for more than ten years, including stints as associate editor and staff writer. Since leaving the paper in 2004, he has worked at Texas Lawyer and D magazine. He begins in mid-January, following the departure of Julie Lyons, who is stepping down to write a book based on her Bible Girl columns.
Julie Lyons, also known as "Bible Girl," announced yesterday that she's leaving the paper in January to write a book loosely based on her 1992 story "My Life as a Holy Roller" -- her first assignment at the Observer. "When I leave, I'm sure I'll write a long, meandering post about some of the strange and wonderful experiences I've had here over the years, but for now, that's all," Lyons writes. "I will continue writing for the Observer in some capacity. Bible Girl isn't ready to hang up her cape just yet."
When At the Movies With Ebert & Roeper begins its 22nd year in national syndication Aug. 25, Richard Roeper will be joined for at least the first several weeks by the Observer's Robert Wilonsky, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Wilonsky will take the place of Roger Ebert, who is recovering from surgeries.
After a judge agreed that his case could move forward, Dallas County Constable Mike Dupree resigned yesterday during a court hearing on a petition seeking to remove him from office, the Observer reports. The suit came on the heels of reports of Dupree's misconduct -- including sexual harassment of subordinates -- that were first revealed in the alt-weekly. In a separate Dupree-related matter, the police officer accepted a plea from the Texas attorney general's office charging him with misdemeanor abuse of power.
In a bizarre case of technological misinformation, last week a blog reported that Dallas Observer reporter Matt Pulle was identified in a sheriff's report as a suspected telephone harrasser. A source for the reporter's work on the embattled Constable Mike Dupree had mistakenly given Pulle's number to the authorities after receiving harrassing phone messages. When confronted with Pulle's phone records, though, the blogger amended his post. In an attempt to get Pulle's name out of the sheriff's report, a Village Voice Media attorney wrote the sheriff's office, and they are reopening the case to find out who may have actually made the calls.
In February, Observer editor Julie Lyons reported on her "Bible Girl" blog that Pentacostal Minister Sherman Allen had a decades-long history of alleged sexual abuse. Her investigation also revealed that several women have alleged that the minister, who is being sued by a former employee and church member, is also involved in the occult. Now, the Church of God in Christ has suspended Allen "from all national and local pastoral roles and activities" until his trial is settled, according to the Observer. The Church of God in Christ is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, as well as the fourth-largest Christian church organization in the country, with some 6 million members.
The Observer's spelling team edged out the Dallas Morning News yesterday at the Literacy Instruction for Texas spelling bee. Writer Andrea Grimes says the win is "sweet, sweet verbal revenge" for the "ass-kicking" the News gave the Observer in last year's softball league. She tells the News not to take the loss too hard: "We're sure those excellent batting averages are very helpful when it comes to putting out the daily paper."