The annual journalism awards handed out by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) are the real deal — the prizes that everyone in the alt press takes seriously. And no wonder. The competition is enormous, intelligent, and like-minded. This year, the Phoenix newspapers came home from the AAN annual convention, in Portland, Oregon, with seven winners in the large-papers division.
Arts Editor JEFFREY GANTZ took second place for Arts Criticism. His three submitted pieces included “Good Vibrations?,” a study of conductor Robert Norrington and the overuse of vibrato in classical music; “Strong, Silent Type,” a critique of Renaissance artist Piero della Francesca’s locally available works; and “Shifting Shakespeare,” an analysis of Ron Rosenbaum’s Bard book The Shakespeare Wars.
Now–media reporter ADAM REILLY took second place in the Political Columnist category for “Where Is the Hate?” a look at the decline in rabid anti-Kennedy sentiment; “Romney’s Greatest Gaffes — So Far,” which must have been a tough list to compile; and “Citizen Arrest,” an examination of strained relations between citizens and Boston police.
Second-place honors likewise went to writer-for-all-seasons JAMES PARKER in the Music Criticism category. Parker’s winning entries were contemporary looks at three classic bands: Slayer, the Who, and the Doors.
Over on the Web site, thePhoenix.com editor CARLY CARIOLI ended up in third place for the On the Download blog, his nonstop clearing-house for the newest and best in local music.
The Boston Phoenix design department collected two honorable mentions: Design Director KRISTEN GOODFRIEND in the Editorial Layout competition for her March 17, 2006, Saint Patrick’s Day “Set ’Em Up, Knock ’Em Back” layout, and freelance photographer TANIT SAKAKINI for her striking human-interest portrait titled Horror Couple and Spooky the Hairless Cat (right).
The Portland Phoenix pulled in a third-place win in the Format Buster category for former news writer SARA DONNELLY’s anti-tour of the city, “Ugly Portland.” (AAN defines a “format buster” as an article whose thrust and presentation are contrary to usual newspaper conventions.)
And to round out our ever-swelling pride, former Worcester Phoenix and Boston Phoenix investigative reporter KRISTEN LOMBARDI (you may remember her as the woman who linked Cardinal Bernard Law to the pedophile-priest scandal a full year before the Boston Globe reached the same conclusion) corralled a first-place Investigative Reporting trophy for her “Death by Dust” exposé on the prevalence of cancer diagnoses among 9/11 rescue workers. Lombardi wrote the piece for the Village Voice, from which she was let go earlier this month.
Congrats to all our winners. The AltWeekly Awards are the most competitive of all the contests this paper enters, so these trophies will get a prominent spot on our mantelpiece.