The Dallas Observer, Fort Worth Weekly, and Houston Press were all honored when the Press Club's announced its 50th annual Katie Awards Saturday night. The Press won a total of three awards in the large newspapers division, including a first-place win for Column. The Observer, which also competed in the large newspapers division, won one award. In the small and medium newspapers division, the Weekly took home a total of four awards, three of which were first-place finishes -- in Business reporting, Investigative Series or Story, and Specialty Reporting.

Continue ReadingThree AAN Members Take Home Press Club of Dallas Awards

The city of about 50,000 residents near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is proposing an outright ban on news boxes in its historic downtown district, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Councilwoman Darlene Freed says the council, which will hold a public hearing on the issue next month, is divided on the ban. Freed says the boxes "are not particularly attractive, but I think you have to have access to newspapers on Main Street ... it's about the First Amendment." Freed also says she's talking with city officials about regulating the boxes rather than banning them. "I suggest they should at least talk with publishers about resolving these issues," says Fort Worth Weekly publisher Lee Newquist, who has several news boxes along the city's Main Street corridor.

Continue ReadingGrapevine, Texas, Proposes Ban on News Boxes

Jeff Prince was working on a story about a group of patients who were helping their doctor try to regain his medical license. The doc specialized in treating chronic pain and was the only professional in the area willing to prescribe drugs like oxycodone, so when his license was suspended his patients went without meds. One such patient was David Noblett, who sustained severe back injuries in the Vietnam war that gave him decades of agony. As Prince was wrapping up the story, he called Noblett at home to let him know he was coming over to snap a cover photo. But when Prince arrived 30 minutes later, he found Noblett slumped in a chair, dead. The doctor tells the Weekly that four of his patients have committed suicide since his license was suspended. Noblett's official cause of death won't be confirmed until the medical examiner's office does a toxicology report.

Continue ReadingFort Worth Weekly Writer Finds Source Dead While Reporting Story

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.

Continue ReadingAAN Members Fare Well in the Lone Star Awards

AAN members took home a fair share of the honors last week in the First Amendment Awards competition sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists' Fort Worth pro chapter, winning a combined three first places among eight print categories in the Texas-Oklahoma contest. Fort Worth Weekly took first place in the Reporting on Open Government and student categories, while the Houston Press finished first in the Defending the Disadvantaged category. The Weekly also won an additional second-place award, and the Press took one more second- and third-place finish.

Continue ReadingAlt-Weeklies Honored by Fort Worth SPJ Chapter

The Fort Worth Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists presented a total of seven First Amendment awards to Fort Worth Weekly and the Houston Press last week, the Houston Chronicle reports. The Weekly won a first-place award in the "Student" category for their collaborative effort with students on excessive use of Tasers by law enforcement. In addition, the Weekly won two second-place and one third-place awards, while the Houston Press won two third-place and one second-place award.

Continue ReadingAlt-Weeklies Take Home SPJ Awards in Texas

A bill Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) filed in December to restrict the use of electroshock Taser weapons by police was prompted by an article in the Fort Worth Weekly suggesting that police were using Tasers frequently, according to the Austin Chronicle. But with support for it stalled, Burnam has introduced four new bills "in an attempt to further define the proper role of the Taser weapon within the police arsenal," the Chronicle reports.

Continue ReadingSpurred by Alt-Weekly Reporting, Texas Legislator Pushes Taser Bills

The Texas alt-weekly recently published a cover story criticizing the Trans-Texas Corridor, arguing "that the project could wipe towns off the map, gobble up about a million acres of farm and ranch land, crumble the state’s current highway system, and gouge motorists with tolls as high as 44 cents a mile." An item on the paper's Web site this week notes that another Texas publisher which also wrote critically of the project was acquired for "upward of $100 million" by Macquarie Media Group of Australia, which is a sister company to Macquarie Infrastructure Group, one of the world’s major toll road operators. "Surely Fort Worth Weekly publisher Lee Newquist’s phone will be ringing any second now with a call from Australia and an offer of millions of dollars," predicts the paper's Static column.

Continue ReadingWill the Aussies Buy Fort Worth Weekly?

Five papers are duking it out in the 128,000-population Northern Colorado town, and two of them have an alt-weekly pedigree, Westword reports. The Rocky Mountain Chronicle debuted in October, arising from the ashes of former AAN member Rocky Mountain Bullhorn, and the mostly direct-mailed Fort Collins Weekly launched in early 2003, with Boulder Weekly alum Greg Campbell and Joel Dyer at the helm. The other three are faux-alts, including one owned by Gannett's Coloradan, which Campbell calls "one of the weakest, worst daily newspapers I've ever come across." Chronicle Editor Vanessa Martinez (pictured) predicts they won't all survive. "I think some of them are going to fall by the wayside," she says.

Continue ReadingFree Weeklies Vie for Similar Audience in Fort Collins