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."
Bay, who is best known for big-budget action flicks like Transformers and Armageddon, is working on Pain & Gain, a feature he is adapting from a series of Miami New Times stories on steroid-abusing bodybuilders who become criminals. According to an update on Bay's official website over the weekend, the film "is looking very possible."
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.
Dickerson, whose work for Phoenix New Times won him national recognition, recently left journalism to focus on his other vocation: being a pastor. "It really came down to there were not enough hours in the week to minister to people the way I wanted and to do journalism," Dickerson tells the Prescott, Ariz., Daily Courier. New Times managing editor Amy Silverman says the traits that led Dickerson to religious leadership were the same ones that made him a good reporter. "I believe it's the sincerity and goodness that led him to the clergy that make him such a terrific investigative reporter," she says.
Phoenix New Times and East Bay Express both made the cut this year. News Times got the nod (subscription-only) "for its long campaign to shine a light on Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a classic desert despot," says E&P. And East Bay Express made the magazine's annual list (subscription-only) as a result of its focus on "localization" and community-building. "It's a highly transportable idea," publisher Jody Colley tells E&P.
"It was the greatest 11 years that I've spent in many ways, lucky to do the things that I love doing," Ken Simon says of the time he founded and ran the alt-weekly. "I helped to invent the concept of the alternative newspaper, me and the people who worked with me. The Syracuse New Times is the third-oldest alternative weekly, and that's something, especially when you consider that this is Syracuse; it isn't San Francisco or Boston or Chicago or New York City." New Times is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
New Times ran a story in late June by "Joseph Rossi" on Reinalda de Souza, an Arizona faith healer who claimed to have killed Michael Jackson with a curse she learned in Brazil. Among the many exaggerated details in the piece is that de Souza had slit the throat of a 4½-month-old Rottweiler named Cerberus, drank his blood and left his lifeless carcass as part of a black magic ritual. This, New Times reports, led several people to call the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office to demand an investigation into the purported animal cruelty. Stephen Lemons, who actually wrote the piece, says that while this hoax didn't spark as much intense reaction as some of his earlier handiwork, "it was certainly a bunch of fun to write." He adds: "For the record, no animals were harmed in the making of the spoof."
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."
SF Weekly's Katy St. Clair took home a first-place Humor column award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists in its annual contest. Roy Edroso of The Village Voice, Stephen Lemons of Phoenix New Times, and Chuck Strouse and Elyse Wanshel, both of Miami New Times, were also recognized by the group.