The Palo Alto Weekly won the prestigious first-place award for general excellence among all large non-daily papers in California Saturday at the annual California Newspaper Publishers Association conference in Universal City.
It is the Weekly’s fourth first place general-excellence award in the past seven years, during which time it also picked up two second-place awards in the highly competitive category -- competing against several dozen other large non-dailies in CNPA’s annual Better Newspapers Contest.
The Weekly “covers its community on multiple levels and doesn’t hesitate to tackle difficult stories” and is a “well organized paper with strong community presence,” a “Blue Ribbon” panel of out-of-state judges commented.
The award was one of a record 10 first- or second-place 2005 awards picked up by the Weekly and and the community Web site, Palo Alto Online, while the Weekly's sister papers -- the Almanac in south San Mateo County and the Mountain View Voice -- picked up another seven awards between them. Only three other newspapers received more total awards than the Weekly: the San Jose Mercury, the Contra Costa Times and the Los Angeles Times.
Among its other awards, the Weekly won first place in spot news reporting -- its 10th first in a row in that category -- for coverage of Kepler's bookstore's abrupt closure. The story, "The End," by Bill D'Agostino became a national story.
The Weekly also placed first for environmental reporting for its cover story on local zero-waste efforts, "Trash Talk," by Associate Editor Jocelyn Dong.
A photo essay about horseshoeing in the modern world by Chief Photographer Norbert von der Groeben, “Forged in Palo Alto,” also took a first.
Weekly Sports Editor Keith Peters picked up three second-place awards, for overall sports coverage; a cover story on the then-pending retirement of Stanford University's longtime athletic director, Ted Leland; and a sports photo, "Goal Denied."
The Weekly also picked up a second-place award for public-service reporting, "Climbing to the Top," about the struggle and stress involved in getting into a top college, by Staff Writer Alexandria Rocha.
Staff Photographer Nick Wright and von der Groeben were also recognized with a second place for best feature photo, "Shall we dance," by von der Groeben and a second place for a feature photo by Wright for the Mountain View Voice, for which they also shoot photos.
The community Web site, Palo Alto Online, won second place in the best Web site category -- following up on a second place and a first place in the two prior years.
The Weekly also received five “certificates of achievement” honorable-mention awards for freedom of information (on the Palo Alto utilities scandal); arts and entertainment coverage by Rebecca Wallace and her predecessor, Robyn Israel; a photo essay, “The bowling green”; a sports photo, “Celebrating Victory,” by Wright; and a feature photo, “Egrets,” by von der Groeben.
The Voice received a first-place award in the “freedom of information” category, for stories and a lawsuit to force El Camino Hospital to disclose the pay of its CEO, by Staff Writer Julie O'Shea.
The Voice also received second-place awards for environmental stories on Moffett Field's Hangar One pollution by Staff Writer Jon Weiner; a sports story by Scott Campbell; and the feature photo by Wright.
The Almanac placed first for public-service reporting for its coverage of the closing and subsequent re-opening of Kepler's by staff writers Rory Brown and Andrea Gemmett -- who was the first to report the effort to rescue and eventually reopen the bookstore.
The Almanac also received second-place awards for its editorial pages under the direction of Publisher Tom Gibboney and for business/financial reporting -- for a story by Staff Writer Marion Softky on Kepler's 50th anniversary several months before it closed temporarily.