The Denver alt-weekly received a "press vape" award for the best medical marijuana coverage of last year at the Colorado Cannabis Caregiver's Cup this weekend. Timothy Tipton, owner of the Rocky Mountain Caregivers Cooperative and organizer of the Cup, says Westword has excelled at covering "the medical marijuana community from a political standpoint, as well as making extra efforts to do reviews ... and provide service to the community."

Continue ReadingWestword Receives Award for its Medical Marijuana Coverage

Writers from the Chicago Reader, L.A. Weekly and Westword all took home top prizes at this year's James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards, which recognize excellence in food writing. The Reader's Cliff Doerksen won in the Newspaper Feature Writing category for his feature on mince pie, and Westword's Jared Jacang Maher came out on top in the Newspaper Feature Writing About Restaurants and/or Chefs category for his piece on the pay-what-you-want SAME Cafe. Meanwhile, the Weekly's Pulitzer-winning food critic Jonathan Gold added another awards notch to his belt with a win in the Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Reviews category.

Continue ReadingThree Alt-Weekly Writers Pick Up James Beard Awards

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."

Continue ReadingWestword Staff Writer Gets CJR Laurel

Saying her presence in Denver is "as durable as the U.S. Mint," Denver Post columnist Bill Husted sits down for a few drinks with Patricia Calhoun for his "Bar & Grilled" column. Their wide-ranging conversation touches on everything from why she drinks beer ("I read an article that said women in business should not drink beer because it wasn't professional. And I am enough of a contrarian that I decided to embrace beer with a vengeance.") to why she's stayed with Westword for 33 years ("I guess I haven't found anything more interesting than what I am doing now.") to how she would describe the alt-weekly ("We're bossy, and we're glossy.").

Continue ReadingColumnist: Westword Editor ‘is a Denver Fixture’

As usual, AAN members are well-represented in the list of finalists for the 2010 James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards, which recognize excellence in food writing. The L.A. Weekly's Jonathan Gold and Westword's Jason Sheehan (who is now at Seattle Weekly) are both nominated for the Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Reviews, and Gold is also a finalist in the Writing on Spirits, Wine or Beer category. Elsewhere, the Newspaper Feature Writing category is comprised only of AAN members, with two Chicago Reader pieces and one from the Village Voice vying for the top prize. Westword nabs another finalist in the Newspaper Feature Writing About Restaurants and/or Chefs, where it is joined as a finalist by Washington City Paper. And last, but certainly not least, the Houston Press is a finalist in the Multimedia Food Feature category. Winners will be announced on May 2.

Continue ReadingAlt-Weeklies Nominated for a Number of James Beard Awards

The U.S. Justice Department is refusing to hand over video and images related to a slaying in which two inmates strangled, disemboweled and cannibalized another inmate at a high-security federal prison, despite the fact that they showed them in open court while seeking the death penalty against the killers. Prison Legal News has been fighting to obtain the materials, and the battle is now in front of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. That's where Westword, along with a bevy of other organizations like 60 Minutes, the Associated Press, the American Society of News Editors and the ACLU of Colorado, joined the cause by filing a supporting brief this week. Denver Post columnist Susan Greene says the fed's "hypocritical" claim of privacy rights "seems like an attempt to cover up problems at the high-security U.S. Penitentiary in Florence."

Continue ReadingWestword Joins Fight for Gruesome Prison Video

Westword's Patricia Calhoun took home a first place win and Willamette Week's Beth Slovic received a special citation at the Education Writers Association's 2009 National Awards for Education Reporting. Calhoun took first in the Small Media: Opinion category for "School Daze," while Slovic was recognized in the Small Media: Feature, News Feature or Issue Package category for "Cheerless."

Continue ReadingAlt-Weeklies Among National Education Reporting Award Winners

"If you'd told me six months ago that I'd have a job with Westword that basically required me to smoke pot and then give readers my take on toking, I would have asked you for a hit of whatever it was you were puffing on," pot critic William Breathes writes, before explaining what the job has been like so far. "Medical marijuana is something I take seriously, but that doesn't mean I can't have fun with it. I don't think I'll ever get past the kid-in-a-candy-store feeling when I see twenty different strains in front of me," he concludes. "And I know I'll never get used to collecting a paycheck for taking bong hits."

Continue ReadingWhat’s it Like to Be Westword’s Pot Critic?

That's Robert Newman's take, as he continues to highlight the excellent work being done by alt-weekly art directors around the country. Jay Vollmar, who has been Westword's art director for 10 years, comes from a background doing rock posters, and he tells Newman his approach to the two are very similar. "I usually apply the same principles to Westword covers as I do to poster projects," Vollmar says. "It starts with trying to boil a story down to its basics and then illustrate that in a simple image that can grab you from across the street. I just try to basically capture the vibe of a story much like I do with a band, the specific lyrics, words or details aren't as important or workable as the overall theme."

Continue ReadingWestword’s Covers are ‘Original, High-Energy, and Incredibly Engaging’