Each year, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) holds an editorial contest among its 120-some member papers and announces the winners at the organization’s annual convention, this year held in Little Rock, Arkansas, June 16 through 18. AAN Awards are not easily won. Unlike in other journalism competitions, the AAN contest pits papers such as the Phoenix against people who are as smart as we are. And that makes winning all the sweeter.
AWARD WINNING: David Bernstein's series on the Boston Police Department took second place.
This year, the Boston Phoenix took home two AAN prizes. Staff reporter David S. Bernstein won second place for investigative reporting (competing against papers with weekly circulations above 50,000) for “The Worst Homicide Squad in America,” his influential series on the Boston Police Department’s low murder-conviction rate. The continuing series, which spotlighted the department’s fundamental deficiencies, previously won the John Jay College “Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting” Award, prompted America’s Most Wanted to devote an episode to Boston murders, and played a part in chasing former police commissioner Kathleen O’Toole to Ireland. The entire series can be found online at thePhoenix.com/homicide.
In the large-circulation arts-criticism category, long-time Phoenix arts editor Jeffrey Gantz was awarded honorable mention for his three far-ranging critical entries: “Gender Benders?” (Arts, March 11, 2005), a comparative critique of the classic-car design exhibit at the MFA and a photo show at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum); “Dante, Dude” (Arts, September 2, 2005), a review of a modernized and illustrated translation of Paradiso; and “The Many, the One, and the Two,” (Arts, September 9, 2005), a three-way review of the Koch collection at the MFA, religious-inspired porcelains at the Pucker Gallery, and a Cézanne and Pissarro exhibit at the MOMA.
Our sister paper, the Portland Phoenix, was also twice blessed by AAN this year. Taking first place for news writing, among papers with weekly circulations of 50,000 or less, was freelancer Lance Tapley, for “Torture in Maine’s Prisons” (November 11 and 18, 2005), his two-part report on prisoner abuse in Maine’s state prisons. Tapley’s report exposed the routine violent measures used to control troublesome and mentally ill inmates at the state’s Supermax facility in Warren, and explored more humane alternatives.
And Maine legend Al Diamon won honorable mention for his iconoclastic weekly column, “Politics and Other Mistakes.”
Congratulations to all our winners and the multitude of editors and support staff who made it all possible.