The North Carolina alt-weekly took home a first place prize in the nondaily category for Mosi Secret's story of one man's struggles to overcome addictions to find meaningful, legal work through a Durham jobs program. The paper will receive a Casey Medal and $1,000 at a ceremony this October. AAN members swept this category, with Seattle Weekly's Nina Shapiro finishing second, and Phoenix New Times' Sarah Fenske receiving an honorable mention.

Continue ReadingThe Independent Weekly Wins Casey Medal

Freelancers Sherry Deatrick of Louisville Eccentric Observer and Jennifer Smith of Isthmus, and Byron Woods, theater and dance critic for the Independent Weekly (Durham, N.C.), have each received fellowships to attend the third National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater at the USC Annenberg School for Communication in Los Angeles. "All the American arts depend on media coverage and intelligent criticism," says NEA chairman Dana Gioia. "The NEA Arts Journalism Institutes provide professional development to improve both the quantity and quality of this country's arts journalism." The Institute, a $1 million NEA initiative, will be conducted next year from Jan. 30 - Feb. 9.

Continue ReadingThree Alt-Weekly Arts Writers Selected for NEA Fellowship

After two decades in a ramshackle Durham house on Hillsborough Road, the Independent Weekly is moving up and out. "We've done it all from our drafty old patchwork quilt of a house, where our back-issues archive is a bathtub, our only meeting room is also known as the lobby and no one is that surprised to find mouse droppings in a drawer now and then," writes a slightly wistful Jennifer Strom in this week's paper. The Indy will produce next week's issue during its move to the third floor of the renovated Venable Tobacco Co. warehouse in downtown Durham.

Continue ReadingIndy Week Gets New Digs

Writing film criticism for an alt-weekly in an area with a highly educated population allows Godfrey Cheshire to write without dumbing down his work. His three award-winning reviews for The Independent Weekly analyze films created by an American, a Russian and an Iranian. This is the 22nd in a "How I Got That Story" series highlighting the AltWeekly Awards' first-place winners.

Continue ReadingGodfrey Cheshire: Daring to Write for Sophisticated Filmgoers

As the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina continue to unfold, blogs the Web over are turning to the discussion of what exactly went wrong in those crucial early hours. The 2004 AAN-sponsored FEMA disaster story appears often. Most notably, Eschaton and Washington Monthly have linked to the story and the Sept. 7 follow-up published on, both written by Jon Elliston of the Independent Weekly. In addition, a Louisiana-specific report written by Gambit Weekly staffer Eileen Loh-Harrist shows up on Talking Points Memo.

Continue ReadingAAN FEMA Disaster Articles Appear in Blogosphere

As FEMA stumbles in response to Hurricane Katrina, it's instructive to re-read a couple of articles published in AAN papers eleven months ago. In the first -- a story sponsored by AAN and published in over 20 of its members' papers -- Jon Elliston and the Independent Weekly reported the Bush Administration was shifting FEMA resources from protection from hurricanes and other natural hazards to homeland security. Disaster in the Making was published as FEMA was preparing for Hurricane Frances, only three weeks after their bang-up performance on Hurricane Charley. "They're doing a good job," one former FEMA executive told Elliston. "And the reason ... is because it's so close to the election, and they can't fuck it up, otherwise they lose Florida -- and if they lose Florida, they might lose the election."

In Homeland Insecurity (which was reported and published in conjunction with Disaster in the Making), Eileen Loh Harrist and Gambit Weekly reported that FEMA snubbed Louisiana and violated its own funding standards when it failed to provide the state with badly-needed Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) funds to protect it from flooding. According to Loh Harrist, "the nearly $60 million pot of federal PDM money went to 31 other states and Puerto Rico. Texas received the biggest share, more than $8.8 million, followed by California ($6.1 million) and Florida ($5.3 million)."

Continue ReadingAAN Articles Predicted FEMA Disaster

The Society of Professional Journalists announced the 2004 Green Eyeshade Award finalists yesterday, and AAN papers received 17 of the 27 nominations in the weekly/monthly division. According to SPJ, the Green Eyeshades "have honored the best in professional journalism in 11 southeastern states for 55 years." New Times Broward-Palm Beach and its sister paper, Miami New Times, did particularly well, receiving eight and five nominations, respectively. (NTBPB swept the nominations in the sports reporting category.) Independent Weekly's FEMA story, which ran in over 20 AAN papers this fall as part of an editorial joint project, was nominated in the investigative reporting category. Here's SPJ's announcement.

Continue ReadingAlt-Weeklies Dominate Green Eyeshade Nominations

On Oct. 9, the Association of Food Journalists named winners in its 2004 AFJ Awards Competition -- and Association of Alternative Newsweeklies member papers came out looking like pigs in the "Under 150,000 Circulation" division. Willamette Week, Independent Weekly, Creative Loafing (Atlanta) and Cleveland Scene each took home an award, while Houston Press garnered a pair. According to the AFJ Web site, the awards "recognize excellence in reporting, writing, and photography in all media, and newspaper food section design and content."

Continue ReadingAAN Papers Gorge on Food Journalism Awards