The California Newspaper Publishers Association recently gave out 480 first and second place awards in its 2009 Better Newspapers contest, and nine alt-weeklies received at least one. The Sacramento News & Review won ten awards, including firsts for Public Service, Columns, Sports Story, Front Page, Freedom of Information. SF Weekly won seven awards, including first-place finishes for Writing, Investigative/Enterprise Reporting and Environmental/Ag Resource Reporting. The North Coast Journal won six awards, including firsts in the Writing, Local News Coverage, Business/Financial Story and Environmental/Ag Resource Reporting categories. Palo Alto Weekly took home five awards -- all first-place wins -- in the Editorial Comment, Local News Coverage, Sports Coverage, Feature Photo, Best Website and General Excellence categories. Chico News & Review won two awards, both firsts, for Editorial Pages and Special Issue. Pacific Sun also took home two awards, both firsts, for Feature Story and Lifestyle Coverage. Metro Silicon Valley, Pasadena Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian each took home one award.

Continue ReadingNine California AAN Members Take Home State Press Awards

"About five years ago, Carolyn [Fernandez, the paper's production manager] and I began to craft a succession plan for the newspaper," publisher Judy Hodgson writes. "What would the ownership look like when we are no longer actively working? Who will be at the helm for the next 20 years?" To answer that question, the two co-founders did not have to go far. On Jan. 1, editor Hank Sims, sales manager Mike Herring and A&E editor Bob Doran became co-owners of the Journal; they are now minority stockholders while Fernandez and Hodgson retain majority control.

Continue ReadingNorth Coast Journal Adds Three Co-Owners

The new 60-minute A&E documentary examines the illegal pot growing scene in Arcata, Calif., and follows Humboldt County law enforcement officials "as they make busts and fly over forestlands searching for hidden marijuana groves," the network says. As eagle-eyed North Coast Journal editor Hank Sims points out, the trailer on YouTube has a special surprise guest. "I never thought that I'd be carrying a gun," one resident says about 20 seconds into the promo. And just where does said resident keep his trusty piece? On top of a copy of the North Coast Journal, of course! "Most creative recycling suggestion ever," Sims writes.

Continue ReadingNorth Coast Journal Makes Basic Cable Debut in ‘Pot City USA’

The Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announced the winners of its 2009 Excellence in Journalism Awards last week, and three alt-weeklies took home honors. The SF Weekly's Joe Eskenazi won the Explanatory Journalism (print, non-daily) award for "Service with a Snarl," a piece that "examines, with clarity and humor, the laws around the use of service animals in San Francisco." Kathleen Richards of the East Bay Express won the Investigative Journalism (print, non-daily) award for "Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0," which the judges say is "a strong example of consumer-affairs reporting." And the staff of the North Coast Journal won the Student Special Project award for "Meltdown," a project the paper undertook with students from Humboldt State University's Investigative Reporting Class.

Continue ReadingThree AAN Members Win Northern California SPJ Awards

Gretchen Giles is one of 12 U.S. journalists to win a place in the first International Arts Journalism Institute in the Visual Arts. The program, which provides mid-career art critics and writers the opportunity to participate in a two-week intensive training, is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. State Department.

Continue ReadingNorth Bay Bohemian Editor Tapped for NEA Program

Last year, John Sakowicz began writing "smartly prescient" pieces on the impending financial collapse for the North Bay Bohemian, editor Gretchen Giles writes, so she kept publishing him and even dubbed him contributing editor on the paper's masthead. However, as Sakowicz's work at the Bohemian landed him a local radio show and "expert" status at the Institute for Public Accuracy, some people started digging into his background. Ultimately, Giles found that she couldn't confirm some details of Sakowicz's biography, and the paper has cut ties with him. "It appears that Sakowicz, while talented at understanding and predicting the economic moonscape, does not have the exact background he claims to have, one that we underscored by repeatedly printing it at the end of his articles," Giles writes in a mea culpa. "A credible publication cannot publish the works of writers whose credentials cannot withstand scrutiny."

Continue ReadingAlt-Weekly Parts Ways with Writer After His Credentials Are Questioned

The California Newspaper Publishers Association announced the winners of its annual Better Newspapers Contest on Saturday, and nine AAN members won a total of 38 awards. The Sacramento News & Review won a total of nine awards, five of which were first-place finishes, including a General Excellence win. "The News & Review is a salty and irreverent weekly packed with excellent coverage of news and culture, multiple voices in columns and two pages of letters," the judges wrote. "Its colorful design is inviting and, praises to the sales department, it is packed with ads." In addition, Palo Alto Weekly also won nine total awards; the North Coast Journal won eight; Chico News & Review won four; the San Francisco Bay Guardian won three; Metro Silicon Valley won two; and the Pacific Sun, Pasadena Weekly and SF Weekly each took home one award. CORRECTION: The Santa Barbara Independent also won five awards.

Continue ReadingCalifornia Alt-Weeklies Take Home Dozens of State Awards

The Humboldt County alt-weekly provoked an angry response last week with a cover story revealing the names of citizens who have permits to carry concealed weapons in the county. The cover illustration of a handgun was composed of names supplied by the county sheriff's office of 641 individuals holding such a permit. The story has caused an "internet shitstorm," editor Hank Sims tells AAN News, as evidenced by the comments on the story itself and various online forums and blogs. Sims notes that the reaction online has been much harsher than his face-to-face encounters. "A number of local people called or came into the office last week a little bit angry, wondering how we got their name or why we should be allowed to publish the list. They were all very cool, and I had some great conversations," he says. "These out-of-town internet dudes are another matter."

Continue ReadingNorth Coast Journal Story on Weapons Permits Causes a Stir