In this year's installment of the Education Writers Association's journalism contest, Rob Jordan of the Miami New Times and April Jimenez of the Long Island Press both received first-place awards in the Feature, News Feature, or Issue Package category in different circulation divisions (Jordan in under 100,000; Jimenez in over 100,000). In addition, Westword's Luke Turf took home a special citation award in the same category for papers with a circulation under 100,000.

Continue ReadingAlt-Weekly Writers Win Education Reporting Awards

As we reported yesterday, Lacey's Phoenix New Times is charging Maricopa County officials with violating his and Jim Larkin's constitutional rights, and with malicious prosecution, racketeering and conspiracy in conjunction with their October arrest for publishing the contents of a grand jury subpoena. "The critical question is: How do they get to the point where they believe that they have the right to arrest journalists in the middle of the night and subpoena the identity of the people that read our newspaper? They didn't get there overnight," the New Times founder and Village Voice Media executive editor tells the Arizona Republic. "They began by abusing prisoners, and there was a staircase escalation where they were never stopped."

Continue ReadingMichael Lacey Discusses Impending Lawsuit

The paper yesterday filed a formal Notice of Claim against the officials responsible for the October blowup which ended with the paper's founders in jail. The notice, which is required by Arizona law to be filed before government officials can be sued, accuses the defendants of violating Michael Lacey's and Jim Larkin's constitutional rights, with malicious prosecution, racketeering and conspiracy. The paper is asking for $15 million in damages if the matter is settled before April 15. "If New Times is required to pursue litigation, the settlement demand will increase," the notice warns. "This is not a decision undertaken lightly," says Lacey. "But I feel like if we don't do something, it's an invitation for this kind of behavior to continue." The County Attorney's office, which is named in the claim, dismisses the legal maneuver as "frivolous," with a spokesman telling the Arizona Republic: "We are confident that it will be exposed as the bunk it is."

Continue ReadingPhoenix New Times Files Prelude to Lawsuit in Grand Jury Probe Fiasco

The documents in question were held by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, the same outfit involved in the secret grand jury kerfuffle that led to the arrests of Village Voice Media executives Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey and, ultimately, to the humiliation of county attorney Andrew Thomas and special prosecutor Dennis Wilenchik. New Times originally sought the documents in May 2004; MCSO released them five months later, after New Times was forced to file suit. On Tuesday, the Arizona Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's ruling, finding that MCSO "wrongfully denied New Times access to public records." The Court of Appeals sent the case back to superior court "for a further determination on the issue of attorney's fees." In the Arizona Republic, the Sheriff's deputy chief admitted that the officer responsible for complying with public-records requests "was truly afraid of the (New Times) reporter, that there was a genuine personal joint vendetta between the two of them."

Continue ReadingAppeals Court Rules in Favor of Phoenix New Times in Public Docs Case

Last week, the New York Press got rid of its newly minted sex columnist after it was revealed that Claudia Lonow took the questions for her first column from old "Savage Love" columns. But Savage tells the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he feels bad for Lonow, and that he thinks the "borrowing was an accident." In an interview with KING5-TV, the syndicated columnist and editor of The Stranger says that if Lonow would have just sourced the questions properly, there would've been no problem. "She just thought they were good hypotheticals and thought she could use them with impunity, and that's kinda not the way the media business works anymore," he says. Meanwhile, the Press is holding an open competition to become the paper's new sex columnist. Each week, the paper's editors will select one piece for publication, and those winners will become finalists in the quest. The new column will launch in the paper's 20th anniversary issue on April 23.

Continue ReadingDan Savage: Sex Column Flap ‘Doesn’t Rise to the Level of Plagiarism’

Yesterday, the Press was proudly announcing its new sex column, "Lip Service" by Claudia Lonow. Today, editor David Blum says her first column will be her last, after it was revealed that some of the questions in the column were taken from Dan Savage's "Savage Love" columns. "It had been our understanding that the questions for her first column came from friends," Blum says. "She has told us she was unaware that using questions from Savage's column was a breach of journalism ethics. She has offered her resignation, and we've accepted it. We apologize to our readers, and to Dan Savage, for this error in judgment."

Continue ReadingNew York Press Fires New Sex Columnist for Stealing from Dan Savage

In 1987, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, who started Phoenix New Times in 1970 and bought Denver's Westword in 1983, "bought a South Beach rag named The Wave for $50 and a hot dog with plenty of relish," and Miami New Times was born, managing editor Chuck Strouse writes as the paper celebrates its 20th anniversary. "Miami is a city that reinvents itself every few years," he writes. "Indeed between the time I left town in 2000 to edit New Times Broward-Palm Beach and my return two years ago, the place went from cultural wasteland to visual arts mecca. Miami New Times, though, has become a constant -- brassy, iconoclastic, and, well, sometimes tasteless."

Continue ReadingMiami New Times Turns 20

"Marya Summers is tired of hanging out in nightclubs, so she's quitting her job," South Florida Media Jobs reports. The New Times Broward-Palm Beach nightlife columnist is leaving to pursue an MFA in creative nonfiction. In this Q&A, she dispenses the notion that writing about nightlife is easy. "Most people are self-deceiving when it comes to who they are, so my column comes as a slap in the face," she says. "I've lost friends." Asked to give advice to the intrepid columnist who might want to replace her, Summers gets right to the point: "An expense account for a nightlife columnist is just incentive to drive drunk. Negotiate more pay instead of reimbursed expenses."

Continue ReadingDeparting New Times Columnist Talks About the Nightlife Beat

In October, as the New Times grand-jury probe fiasco bubbled to the surface, reporter Ray Stern was given a criminal citation for disorderly conduct after an argument over taking photos of public records at the sheriff's office. Stern said Monday that a Phoenix prosecutor offered him a fine of $100 or attending anger management classes in exchange for a guilty plea, the Associated Press reports. "I'm not going to (plead guilty)," he says. "I know I wasn't yelling."

Continue ReadingPhoenix New Times Reporter Rejects Deal in Public Records Case