The Nogales International won first place in General Excellence among newspapers its size and reporter Genesis Lara was named Journalist of the Year for non-dailies when the Arizona Newspapers Association announced the winners of its annual Better Newspapers Contest on Thursday.
In all, NI staffers collectively and individually won 18 prizes in the contest, which covered newspaper editions and stories published from May 1, 2019 though April 30, 2020.
In the collective categories for non-daily papers with circulations less than 3,500, the NI won first place in Community Service/Journalistic Achievement, Editorial Page Excellence and Page Design Excellence. The latter award was primarily the result of the efforts of page designer Priscilla Bolaños.
“The overall look of the Nogales International was top of the class from first glance,” the judges said in their comments.
Second-place awards came in the ares of Reporting and News Writing Excellence; Departmental News and Copy Editing Excellence; and Best Use of Photography. The NI was third in Best Newspaper Website.
In the individual award categories, reporters for the NI earned six prizes, including five first-place awards – three of those by reporter Nick Phillips:
• First Place, Best News Story: “A rancher says the Border Patrol put a camera on his property and pointed it at his home. So he took it,” by Nick Phillips.
• First Place, Best Feature Story: “Volunteers share language with migrants waiting for a chance at U.S. asylum,” by Genesis Lara. The judges called it: “A great story, well told. Excellent lead and intro to bring readers in. Good quotes and used well throughout. A very human tale.”
• First Place, Enterprise Reporting: “Cubans wait their turn,” by Nick Phillips. “Engaging, caring without being sentimental,” the judges said of this account of Cuban asylum-seekers arriving in Nogales, Sonora.
• First Place, Best Sports Story: “Rio Rico earns dramatic OT win over Nogales,” by Jonathan Clark.
• First Place, Best Multimedia Storytelling: “Mary Lou Jimenez cooked for the stars – and Denny’s – in Santa Cruz County,” by Nick Phillips.
“The article is the heart of the presentation, and as the reader goes along, they're able to look into the kitchen of the woman about whom they're reading via multiple photos. A short video further connects us to the subject,” the judges wrote. “The story itself is well written and is a touching and engaging tale of a woman who followed her passion as it led her through some inspiring life experiences. A recipe at the end gives us the opportunity to actually taste some of that experience.”
• Second Place, Best Sustained Coverage or Series: Jonathan Clark, Genesis Lara and Nick Phillips combined on a series of stories related to border-crossing restrictions implemented in response to COVID-19. (Story 1 | Story 2 | Story 3 | Story 4)
NI staffers also won three photography awards in the ANA contest:
• Second Place, Best News Photograph: Jonathan Clark, “Pandemic effect takes hold.”
• Second Place, Best Sports Photograph: Jonathan Clark, "Claudette Ruiz competes in the hurdles."
• Third Place, Best Feature Photo: Genesis Lara, "Nogales resident Conrado Humberto Villegas."
The ANA Better Newspapers Contest is one of three contests the Nogales International participates in each year.
In August, the NI won three prizes in the National Newspaper Association’s 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, including first place in its class for local news coverage. Winners of the annual Arizona Press Club are currently being announced on a rolling basis.