First Amendment Award—Dennis Wagner, Arizona Republic, and Mark Flatten, Goldwater Institute. The First Amendment Award honors published or broadcast work in 2009 that involved significant reliance on public records or open meetings.
• Wagner is recognized for his work on a project that exposed a failed serial-rape investigation by agents of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs in conjunction with White Mountain Apache tribal police.
• Flatten is honored for his work on a project that showed how Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox used her political connections to land a lucrative concession contract with the city at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix.
Sunshine Award—Sarah Fenske, Phoenix New Times; students Vaughn Hillyard and Sophia Curran, educator Sheri Siwek, and David Bodney and Aaron Lockwood of Steptoe & Johnson LLP. The Sunshine Award honors both journalists and non-journalists whose actions helped foster greater openness in government in 2009.
• Fenske created a series of stories that exposed an illicit scheme within the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to raise money for political attack ads against an election opponent of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
• Hillyard and the others were recognized for a censorship case involving the Thunderbird High School student newspaper and the Glendale Union High School District’s interference in attempting to publish a story.
The Lloyd Clark “How It Made Print” Award—Russ Wiles, Arizona Republic. Also known as “The Shoeleather Award,” this recognizes print journalists whose own tale of how the story became a reality is exceptional. Wiles is being recognized for his work on a project that showed top executives of Arizona-based public companies had held on to big paychecks even in a tough economy in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
The following awards were presented by the Valley of the Sun SPJ Board of Directors:
The Phil Alvidrez Award for Excellence in Journalism—Kent Dana, formerly of Channel 12 (KPNX) and Channel 5 (KPHO). Honoring an Arizona journalist who has demonstrated a continuous commitment over time of high standards of ethical professional conduct and a spirited defense of the First Amendment.
The Order of the Silver Key Society—Betty Beard, Arizona Republic; Dennis Lambert, KJZZ/KFYI; and Dave Munsey, Channel 10 (KSAZ). Honoring journalists with at least 25 years of experience in Arizona.