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The Arizona Capitol Times wins more than dozen press club awards

The Arizona Capitol Times excelled in the categories of political writing and investigative reporting in the Arizona Press Club’s annual writing contest.

ben-2-web-100x150Reporter Ben Giles, who covers the Arizona Senate, won third place in breaking news for his reporting on how a signature gathering firm, one of the state’s largest, was giving legislators a dose of their own medicine by charging them by the hour. The firm’s decision followed legislators’ approval of a measure approved that ended the practice of paying circulators per signature for statewide ballot initiatives and referendums. The law, approved on party line votes by Republicans who claimed it would stamp out signature-gathering fraud, does not apply to lawmakers, some of whom pay to collect signatures to qualify for the ballot every two years.

Reporter Katie Campbell, who also hosts the Arizona Capitol Times podcast, The Breakdown, won third place in government reporting for her expose of funding misallocations at the Arizona Department of Education.

katie-campbell-photoAlec MacGillis, a politics reporter for ProPublica, who judged this category, said Campbell was thorough in her reporting.

“School funding formulas are forbiddingly intricate, but the reporter laid out what had gone wrong, and its impact on schools, as clearly as possible,” MacGillis said.

Campbell also won third place for her piece on how Yuma County approaches troubled youngsters – by rehabilitating them first and putting them behind bars only as a last report, a model that the rest of the country has just begun to adopt.

Jeremy Duda

Editor Jeremy Duda, who edits the Yellow Sheet Report, a sister publication, won third place for his insight into how Arizona has become fertile ground for other states to poach teachers.

In addition, reporter Rachel Leingang, who now covers higher education for the Arizona Republic, and reporter Hank Stephenson, who now writes for the Arizona Daily Star, won first and third places, respectively, in community investigative journalism.

Leingang won the award for her coverage of sexual harassment allegations at the state Capitol, while Stephenson was cited for his expose on how a former House staffer was paid thousands of taxpayer dollars while never showing up for work at the Capitol over an eight week period, in which the staffer was working Donald Trump.

Leingang also won third place in the Don Bolles Award for Investigative Reporting, a category that included the state’s biggest dailies.

Both reporters won second and third places for statewide political reporting, a category that also included the state’s biggest papers.

Below is the full list of awards won by the Arizona Capitol Times:

Community investigative reporting

First: Rachel Leingang

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/11/13/arizona-don-shooter-sexual-harassment-tara-zika

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/11/08/arizona-don-shooter-sexual-harassment-capitol-michellle-ugenti-rita-athena-salman

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/11/10/arizona-don-shooter-sexual-harassment-house-appropriations-committee-suspended

Comments: “A timely and quick turnaround bringing to light multiple allegations of sexual harassment against a prominent state lawmaker. The reporter put together several impressive stories with accusers’ detailed accounts that yielded immediate impact.”

Third: Hank Stephenson

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/04/25/tradition-dictates-no-show-no-problem-in-house-transition/

Comments: “A clean hit revealing how a state House employee was paid for two months while she worked on the Trump transition. The story was timely, and the reporting was excellent in weaving together records, interviews and social media to expose what was essentially a no-show job at taxpayer expense.”

Breaking News

Third: Ben Giles

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/08/24/arizona-republican-lawmakers-upset-over-petition-partners-paid-per-hour-signature-rate/

Comments: “The writer expertly examines the behavior of a company that has implications for the state’s democracy and lawmakers.”

Community political reporting

First: Hank Stephenson and Rachel Leingang

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/03/16/democrats-bullying-incident-underscores-pattern-of-sexism-in-house/

Comments: “An excellent example of how to take a national issue and localize it for a community paper. The article is authoritative and well-written.”

Second: Rachel Leingang

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/05/26/president-donald-trump-controversies-democrats-surge/

B6 Government Reporting

Third: Katie Campbell

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/10/27/arizona-department-of-education-federal-funding-low-income-misallocations/

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/11/01/arizona-department-of-education-diane-douglas-idea-special-education-funding-errors/

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/11/17/arizona-diane-douglas-education-federal-funding/

Comments: “This was a thorough accounting of two screw-ups by the state Department of Education in the allocation of federal Title 1 (high poverty) and IDEA (special education) funding to schools around the state. School funding formulas are forbiddingly intricate, but the reporter laid out what had gone wrong, and its impact on schools, as clearly as possible.”

Community Health Reporting

Second: Rachel Leingang

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/08/18/arizona-governor-doug-ducey-personal-information-requirement-narcan-opioid-crisis/

Comments: “This piece is solid in all respects, from spot-on stats, measured writing, enterprise reporting and fantastic quotes. Excellent balance of important policy information and human interest. And bravo to the Arizona Capitol Times for going into pharmacies to try to buy naloxone – the drug that was the topic of the story – to more fully understand the issues involved.”

Third: Rachel Leingang

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/06/16/negative-ads-motivate-smokers-to-call-arizonas-helpline/

Comments: “A clear and thorough examination of an under-reported topic. This story features a sharp, focused lede, useful stats and compelling visuals.”  

Community Social Issues Reporting

Third: Katie Campbell

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/08/25/yuma-county-approach-to-juvenile-justice-a-model-for-state-nation/

Comments: “This was interesting and provides some hope.  It could also provide guidance on another path to justice.”

Community Education Reporting

Third: Jeremy Duda

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/01/30/education-advocates-say-duceys-teacher-retention-plan-wont-cut-it

Comments: “Education advocates say Ducey’s teacher retention plan won’t cut it”: This story took a creative approach to tackling a key issue, especially by focusing on recruiters in other states.

 The Don Bolles Award for Investigative Reporting / Statewide investigative reporting

Third: Arizona Capitol Times, Rachel Leingang.

Comments: “A timely and quick turnaround bringing to light multiple allegations of sexual harassment against a prominent state lawmaker. The reporter put together several impressive stories with accusers’ detailed accounts that yielded immediate impact.”

Statewide Political Reporting

Second: Hank Stephenson and Rachel Leingang

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/03/16/democrats-bullying-incident-underscores-pattern-of-sexism-in-house/

Comments: “An excellent example of how to take a national issue and localize it for a community paper. The article is authoritative and well-written.”

Third: Rachel Leingang

https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/05/26/president-donald-trump-controversies-democrats-surge/

Comments: “A unique take on a story about the consequences of elections. The article is compelling, well-sourced and researched.”

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