The New England Press Association (NEPA) annual newspaper contest has always been good to us. This year, they threw us a curve when they merged our usual "alternative" class with the much larger (and therefore more competitive) "weekly" divisions. We nevertheless prevailed.
Of very special note, Phoenix investigative reporter DAVID S. BERNSTEIN was named Journalist of the Year — a wholly appropriate choice considering that he also landed the first-place plaques for Investigative Journalism and Serious Columnist. The investigative honor was given for "Framed," David's exhaustive February 8, 2008, look into police misconduct and the wrongful conviction of Stephan Cowans for a non-fatal shooting of a police officer. Based on four years of research, the piece exposed not only law-enforcement errors and omissions, but the probable use of forged evidence.
In addition to his fine investigative work, Bernstein has been an outstanding regular political columnist, covering everything from Mayor Menino's enemies list to Mitt Romney's bungled presidential campaign.
The Boston Phoenix editorial and online departments shared the glory for a July 4, 2008, special project, "50 STATES/50 BANDS," which chose the top-ranked musical acts — established, solo, and breaking — from each of the United States. The piece was built on input from staff and freelancers and written primarily by music editor Michael Brodeur, Web editor Carly Carioli, and Phoenix editor Lance Gould. For this, the editorial side brought home a third-place certificate for Arts & Entertainment Reporting, while the combined online and editorial departments garnered a first-place win in the Convergence category for the joint-effort online amplification of the piece.
But wait; there's more.
Other first-place finishers for the Phoenix Media/Communications Group (PM/CG) this year include, in the Reporting on Religious Issues category, JAMES PARKER's feature on BU assistant professor Donna Freitas's study of Philip (The Golden Compass) Pullman's fantasy novels, "Mutiny in Heaven"; and, for General News Story, Portland Phoenix contributor RICK WORMWOOD's "Who Killed Edward Okeny?", an investigation of the still-unsolved death of a 26-year-old member of Portland's Sudanese community.
PM/CG's newest family member, the Spanish-language weekly El Planeta, carried off a first prize for its Advertising Supplement, Salud y Familia (Health and Family).
The Boston Phoenix and PM/CG Web division pulled in five second-place wins: Education Reporting for SHARON STEEL's "Publish and Perish?" (February 29, 2008), a look at unauthorized Harvard course material online; Portland Phoenix reporter DEIRDRE FULTON, in the Religious Issues category, for her pop-culture evangelicals feature "Comics for Christ" (October 12, 2007); Boston Phoenix associate design director KEVIN BANKS for his Photo Illustration of toy cars skidding through a blizzard of baking soda; CARLY CARIOLI and classical-music critic LLOYD SCHWARTZ for their online video about Venezuelan music education; and, in the Niche Publication category, the staff of the PORTLAND PHOENIX for that paper's occasional fashion magazine, PORTLAND STYLE.
Civil-liberties attorney and Phoenix contributor HARVEY SILVERGLATE landed a third place in the Serious Columnist category, for his "Freedom Watch" looks at First Amendment justice issues. Barely-out-of-BU freelancer JONATHAN SEITZ placed third in the Sports Reporting category for his "Judgment Night for Doomsday" (June 27, 2008) profile of Roxbury-born MMA fighter John Howard. Freelance illustrator JONATHAN BARTLETT won third place for Illustration for his July 18 rendering of the Joker from The Dark Knight. And finally, in a surprise win (we'd forgotten we'd entered), the PORTLAND PHOENIX DESIGNERS received third-place honors for producing the best Local Black & White Ad.
In all, that's 17 wins for our team. Congratulations everyone who won — and everyone who enabled them.