Led by Nogales International reporter Kendal Blust, those with University of Arizona School of Journalism ties captured 15 first-place awards at the 2017 Arizona Press Club competition on May 21.
Blust, a 2016 master's graduate, picked up five first places — in short-form writing (statewide and community categories), community education reporting, community social issues reporting and community government reporting. She also was named second-runner-up as Community Journalist of the Year and placed second in community business reporting.
“Blust’s portfolio is a mix of classic watchdog surveillance of local government officials and news features that give her readers a sense of place, valuing and reflecting the experiences of people living in Santa Cruz County and Nogales, Sonora," judges wrote.
Two journalists for the Arizona Daily Wildcat won first-place awards, including current J-school student J.D. Molinary in community public service, and Matthew Wall in community sports beat reporting.
Caitlin Schmidt, a 2014 alumna, took first place in statewide sports investigative reporting. Mikayla Mace, a 2017 master's grad, captured first in statewide science reporting. Mike Christy ('11) took first in statewide sports action photography. Former students Hank Stephenson and Glenn Gullickson captured first in community political reporting and community breaking news reporting, respectively.
The Arizona Republic captured first place in statewide public service reporting for its coverage of President Trump's proposal to build a border wall. The project, which won the Pulitzer Prize in explanatory reporting, included contributions from two UA journalism alums: video journalist Hannah Gaber ('16 M.A.) and copy editor Rebecca Dean Dyer ('85), while former adjunct instructor Rob O'Dell also was a reporter.
Three former UA adjunct instructors were honored. Stephanie Innes of the Arizona Daily Star took first place in statewide health reporting and was named the Virg Hill Journalist of the Year, the Press Club's most prestigious honor; Megan Kimble placed first in community business reporting; and O'Dell took first in statewide government reporting.
Here's a full list of those honored with UA Journalism ties:
• Statewide and community short-form writing: First in both categories — Kendal Blust, Nogales International: "Mothers in U.S. and Mexico unite across the border." Judge's comments: “The writer’s light touch, strong sense of place and use of powerful imagery drive home this story about Mothers Without Borders and an encapsulating moment at the U.S.-Mexico border.”
• Statewide sports investigative reporting: First — Caitlin Schmidt, Arizona Daily Star: Five stories — "Ex-UA athlete fearful, frustrated with progress of criminal case" and "Lawsuit: UA failed to protect woman assaulted by former coach" and "Recent history shows trend of impropriety by Arizona Wildcats" and "UA withholding access to student athletes about domestic violence" and "Expert: UA lacks accountability, transparency needed to combat sexual violence." Comments: “Important and fact-loaded series of stories on several allegations of sexual assaults and domestic violence among University of Arizona athletes."
• Community sports beat reporting: First — Matthew Wall, Arizona Daily Wildcat, “No hero, no angel: The Jay Dobyns Story,” “‘I can do hard things,’” “Brian Jeffries is living out his dream,” “Erika Barnes ready for future at Arizona.” Comments: “The best stories are the ones that pull back the curtain and give readers a look at a program they wouldn’t otherwise see. Matthew does that with all of his submissions. His thorough beat work is evident in the depth of the features.” Second — Christopher Boan, Tucson Local Media, (master's student). Comments: “These clips focusing on prep football were really well written and captured the reader’s attention with strong ledes and descriptive language.”
• Community public service journalism: First — J.D. Molinary, Arizona Daily Wildcat, “Students at odds with UA pres. search secrecy,” “Rise of the executive headhunters,” “‘Completely wrong on the law,’” “Secretive searches the ‘new gold standard.’" Comments: “This student reporter showed impressive tenacity in his coverage of the University of Arizona’s search for a new president in a closed-door process that gave students little voice."
• Community education reporting: First — Kendal Blust, Nogales International, "No preschool for most county children." Comments: “This entry combined solid data reporting with human storytelling to tell a compelling and critical story.” Third — Jeremy Duda ('02), Arizona Capitol Times, "Education advocates say Ducey's teacher retention plan won't cut it." Comments: "This story took a creative approach to tackling a key issue, especially by focusing on recruiters in other states."
• Community social issues reporting: First — Kendal Blust, Nogales International, "Children of waste pickers find a helping hand." Comments: “It was a heartbreaking untold story.”
• Statewide science journalism reporting: First — Mikayla Mace, Arizona Daily Star, "Tucson doctor’s use of new leukemia treatment improves survival rate for people of color." Comments: “Mikayla Mace’s outstanding story clearly explains difficult scientific concepts while educating readers about health disparities. This piece represents the best kind of science journalism by not only informing readers but performing a public service.” Second — UA adjunct instructor Tom Beal, Arizona Daily Star, “UA’s Dante Lauretta was ‘born to lead’ a NASA mission.” Comments: “Tom Beal’s delightful profile of a cosmochemist at work should be a model for other journalists who aspire to make the farthest reaches of the universe accessible to readers.”
• Statewide health reporting: First — former adjunct instructor Stephanie Innes, Arizona Daily Star, “The Good Samaritan.” Comments: “Great reporting on a dramatic traffic accident and its excruciating aftermath. Innes follows good Samaritan Norma Santos Trujillo from the night when she was critically injured trying to help a fellow motorist, to a life-and-death hospital stay, to the grueling recovery period.”
• Community government reporting: First — Kendal Blust, Nogales International, “Doyle allies oust Diaz as vice mayor,” “Moves raise open govt concerns,” “Fired with little explanation,” “Council shocks city manager with ouster." Comments: “The extraordinary turmoil in Nogales city government late last year was hard to keep up with: the dismissal of the city manager followed by the firing of the city attorney and replacement of the vice mayor, carried out with a minimum of transparency. But the reporter captured the upheaval with as much clarity and insight as was possible, in stylish prose laced with just the right amount of edgy skepticism. Particularly helpful was her November 24 analysis calling the City Council to account for its undermining of open-government principles.”
• Statewide government reporting: First — Dustin Gardiner and former adjunct instructor Rob O’Dell, Arizona Republic, series that included "Cashier's checks, $3,000 in cash, a consultant and a pastor." Comments: "The reporters uncovered one of the oldest ruses in the campaign-finance playbook, the apparent use of straw donors to get around campaign donation limits, which in turn led to revelations of lobbyists failing to register as such and making comically sloppy efforts to cover that up."