The Sigma Delta Chi Awards for excellence in journalism are given out by the Society of Professional Journalists.
Coming from a liberal arts education and working with publications such as The New Yorker, Rolling Stone and Newsweek, Alan Prendergast acknowledges his background is “a little different” from other reporters within the alternative press.
The recent Best of the West journalism contest honored several alt-weeklies, including the Houston Press, Phoenix New Times, SF Weekly and Denver's Westword, which each picked up first-place honors.
Calling Alan Prendergast's reporting on how a Wisconsin-based insurance company fought one of its policyholders in court a "riveting tale," CJR's Trudy Lieberman says he "revealed much about the inner workings of an insurance company ... provid[ing] a kind of an insurance 101." She concludes that Prendergast's work proves that the alternative press "can expose the real story" while the mainstream media "continues its obsession with politics and pony races."
In the seventeenth installment of this year's "How I Got That Story" series, Westword staff writer Alan Prendergast talks to Angelica Herrera about his stories on local district attorney Carol Chambers. The two articles, which earned the veteran alt-weekly writer a first place finish in News Story -- Long Form, specifically examine Chambers' controversial use of Colorado's "habitual offender" statutes, which give prosecutors leeway to seek longer sentences for repeat offenders regardless of the nature of the crimes. In this Q&A, Prendergast discusses the roots of the story, how Chambers reacted, and why alt-weekly writers shouldn't shy away from covering the same ground as the daily. "Sometimes the temptation with weeklies is to shy away from stories that the dailies are already doing," he says. "But, often those stories in the dailies are poorly covered, or there are just a lot of questions left unanswered."
The Society of Professional Journalists has named Westword staff writer Alan Prendergast a 2007 Sigma Delta Chi Award winner in the feature writing category (under 100,000 circulation) for "The Caged Life," a story about life in solitary confinement. The awards will be presented July 11 during the annual banquet at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
"I'm full of hate and I love it." That's a sample of the secret writings of Columbine shooter Eric Harris, obtained by Westword. The story by Alan Prendergast reveals the explosive rage of a young killer -- and his power to manipulate others. The handwritten pages of Harris' diary "provide glimpses of a teenage terrorist who couldn't wait to carry out his violent fantasies, who was more virulently racist and more acutely psychotic -- batshit mad-dog crazy, in layman's terms -- than previously reported," Prendergast writes. Fully a year before the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School, Harris had the plans for the massacre scribbled in his journal, along with his ambition to crash a plane into a New York City skyscraper, and his efforts to find a girlfriend before the coming apocalypse. Seized as evidence by police hours after the shooting and kept under wraps for more than two years, Harris' secret journal writings first saw light Tuesday on Westword's Web site.