Each fall, the Valley of the Sun Chapter of SPJ presents its annual Arizona Freedom of Information Awards, honoring dedication and outstanding service in journalism, as well as special recognition for efforts on behalf of the First Amendment.

MAKE A NOMINATION: We invite nominations for these awards from the Arizona journalistic community.  The deadline to submit is Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. Nomination forms are available for downloading here:

The award categories include:

  • The Phil Alvidrez Award for Excellence in Journalism recognizes the career of an Arizona journalist whose body of work has served to inspire fellow journalists, including a notable commitment to the cause of freedom of information. The award is named for Phil Alvidrez, who retired as news director at Phoenix’s KTVK-TV (Channel 3) after 20 years in that position. Alvidrez was a tireless campaigner for the free flow of government information, often committing his station’s financial resources to fight numerous court battles to open closed documents and meetings.
  • The Order of the Silver Key honors journalists who have been in the profession for at least 25 years, a significant majority of which were in Arizona, who have conspicuously contributed to the journalism profession and have inspired fellow journalists.

MAKE A NOMINATION: We invite nominations for these awards from the Arizona journalistic community.  The deadline to submit is Friday, Aug. 13, 2021. Nomination forms can be downloaded here:   SPJ_Silver Key_FOI_Forms_2021 Download

The following awards may be given at the discretion of the Valley of the Sun SPJ board of directors upon its own motion:

  • The Sunshine Awards recognize efforts by non-journalists for conspicuous efforts in the continuing cause for more open and accountable government, especially through public records and open meetings. 

The Valley of the Sun Chapter of SPJ does not present first-, second- or third-place awards. Instead, the awards honor great journalism and great journalists — and non-journalists — whose efforts uphold the right of freedom of information. The right, exercised through full access to government through public records and open meetings, is indispensable. Without it, citizens who are entrusted to monitor government activity to keep it from interfering with our liberties would be powerless to do so.

Previous Honorees (dates reflect the year the award was presented, for efforts made in the previous year):

Phil Alvidrez Award for Excellence in Journalism
Phil Alvidrez, KTVK-TV (Channel 3), 2004
Bob Early, Arizona Highways magazine, 2005
Paul Schatt, The Arizona Republic (posthumous), 2006
Bob Scott, KTAR-AM, 2006
Lou Ruggiero, KPNX-TV (Channel 12), 2007
Gary Avey (posthumous), Native Peoples and Arizona Highways magazines, 2007
Hal DeKeyser, editor/publisher,, 2008
Richard de Uriarte, former columnist and editorialist, The Arizona Republic, 2009
Kent Dana, formerly of KPNX-TV (Channel 12) and KPHO-TV (Channel 5), 2010
Jon Kamman, The Arizona Republic/Arizona Daily Star, 2011
Tom Arviso Jr., Navajo Times, 2012
Mark Casey, VP and News Director, KPNX-TV (Channel 12), 2013
Gary Nelson, The Arizona Republic, 2014
Joe Burchell, Arizona Daily Star (retired), 2015
No Award Presented – 2016
Bobbie Joe Buel, Arizona Daily Star, 2017
Randy Wilson (posthumous), Arizona Daily Sun, 2018

  • Craig Harris, The Arizona Republic, 2019
  • No Award Presented – 2020
  • John D’Anna, formerly of the Arizona Republic, 2021
  • David Cuillier, University of Arizona, 2022


  • Order of the Silver Key Award
    Jana Bommersbach, freelance columnist, 2006
    Howard Fischer, owner, Capitol Media Services, 2006
    Donovan Kramer Sr., publisher, Casa Grande Newspapers, 2006
    Mary Jo Pitzl, reporter, The Arizona Republic, 2007
    Michael Grant, KAET-TV (Channel 8), 2007
    Paul Rubin, Phoenix New Times, 2007
    Charles Kelly, reporter, The Arizona Republic, 2007
    Edythe Jensen, reporter, The Arizona Republic, 2008
    Doug Ramsey, reporter/anchor NPR & KJZZ-FM, 2008
    Phil Riske, editor, Arizona Capitol Times, 2008
    Debbie Kornmiller, reader advocate, Arizona Daily Star, 2009
    Terry Greene Sterling, freelance writer, 2009
    Betty Beard, reporter, The Arizona Republic, 2010
    Dennis Lambert, reporter, KJZZ/NPR, 2010
    Dave Munsey, meteorologist, Channel 10 (KSAZ), 2010
    Ted Simons, host of Horizon, KAET-Channel 8, 2011
    Laurie Roberts, columnist, The Arizona Republic, 2011
    Terry Ward, anchor, KJZZ 95.5 FM, 2011
    Al Macias, managing editor, KJZZ, 2012
    Ken Western, reporter, The Arizona Republic, 2012
    Bill Heywood, Valley radio icon, 2012 (posthumous)
    Jill Jorden Spitz, senior editor, Arizona Daily Star, 2013
    Bret McKeand, publisher & president of Operations, Independent Newspapers Inc., 2013
    Randi Weinstein, managing editor, Phoenix Business Journal, 2013 (posthumous)
    Kathy Tulumello, business editor, The Arizona Republic, 2014
    Peter Aleshire, editor, Payson Roundup, 2014
    Ed Sharpe, owner, Glendale Daily Planet, 2014
    Ned Foster, weekday morning anchor, KTAR-FM, 2015
    Ilana Lowery, editor-in-chief, Phoenix Business Journal, 2015
    Betty Reid, features writer, The Arizona Republic, 2015
    No Award Presented – 2016
    Pat Flannery, Senior Editor,The Arizona Republic, 2017
    Mike Sauceda, Senior Producer, Arizona Horizon, 2017
    Joseph C. Adams, News Anchor, KOY and KFYI radio (posthumous), 2017
    Floyd Galloway, Reporter, Arizona Informant, 2018
    Kristin Gilger, Senior Associate Dean, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 2018
    Phil Boas, Editorial Page Director, The Arizona Republic, 2018
  • Steve Benson, formerly of The Arizona Republic, 2019
  • Elvia Diaz, The Arizona Republic, 2019
  • Bill Orovan, Echo Magazine, 2019
  • No Award Presented – 2020
  • Dennis Welch, KTVK-TV/KPHO-TV, 2021
  • Dodie Manuel, Salt River Au-Authm News, 2021
  • Karina Bland, formerly of The Arizona Republic, 2021
  • David Fitzsimmons, Arizona Daily Star, 2022
  • Nick Oza, The Arizona Republic (posthumous), 2022
  • Richard Ruelas, The Arizona Republic, 2022

First Amendment Award
Mark Flatten, Emily Gersema & J. Craig Anderson, East Valley Tribune, 2006
Amanda Crawford, Ryan Konic & Matt Dempsey, Arizona Republic, 2006
Erica Meltzer, Arizona Daily Star, 2006
Abbie Boudreau, KNXV-TV, Channel 15, 2006
Robert Anglen, Arizona Republic, 2007
Ryan Gabrielson, East Valley Tribune, 2007
Erica Heartquist, KVOA-TV, Channel 4, Tucson, 2007
Carol Ann Alaimo, Arizona Daily Star, 2007
Mark Flatten & Jason Massad, East Valley Tribune, 2008
Mike Sakal, East Valley Tribune, 2008
Paul Giblin and Ryan Gabrielson, East Valley Tribune, 2009
Dennis Wagner, Arizona Republic, 2010
Mark Flatten, Goldwater Institute, 2010
Craig Harris, Arizona Republic, 2011
Andrea Kelly, Arizona Daily Star, 2011
Alyssa Newcomb, Cronkite News Service, 2011
Yvonne Gonzalez, Cronkite News Service, 2011
Matthew Casey, The Tombstone Epitaph, 2012
Hillary Davis, Arizona Daily Sun, 2012
Joe Ferguson, Arizona Daily Sun, 2012
Cyndy Cole, Arizona Daily Sun, 2012
Elvina Nawaguna-Clemente, Cronkite News Service, 2012
Lauren Gambino, Tia Castaneda and Heather Billings, Cronkite News Service, 2012
Staff, The Arizona Republic, 2012
Karina Bland, The Arizona Republic, 2013
Bob Ortega, The Arizona Republic, 2013
Carol Ann Alaimo, Arizona Daily Star, 2013
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s News21 Project  Team, 2013
Alexis Huicochea, Joe Burchell, Bobbie Jo Buel, Arizona Daily Star, 2014
Craig Harris, Rob O’Dell, The Arizona Republic, 2014
Craig Harris, Beth Duckett, Dustin Gardiner, The Arizona Republic, 2014
Wendy Halloran, KPNX-TV (Channel 12), 2014
Morgan Loew, KPHO-TV (Channel 5), 2014
Joe Ferguson & Caitlin Schmidt, Arizona Daily Star, 2015
No Award Presented – 2016-2020

Sunshine Award
Mark Flatten, East Valley Tribune, 2006
Michael Chihak, Tucson Citizen, 2006
Melissa Blasius, KPNX-TV, Channel 12, 2007
Julie Conolly, Peoria Independent, 2007
Josh Brodesky, Arizona Daily Star, 2008
Laurie Roberts, Arizona Republic, 2008
John Dickerson, Phoenix New Times, 2009
Sarah Fenske, Phoenix New Times, 2010
Students Vaughn Hillyard and Sophia Curan, educator Sheri Siwek, and David Bodney and Aaron Lockwood of Steptoe & Johnson LLP, 2010
Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Dist. 12, 2011
Megan Neighbor, Arizona Daily Star, 2011
Todd Feltus and Greg Collins, Kercsmar & Feltus PLLC, and Thomas Fitton, president, Judicial Watch, 2012
Teri Hayt, Arizona Daily Star, 2012
Paula Casey, Executive Director, Arizona Newspapers Association, 2015
Dave Cuillier, Director, Associate Professor, the University of Arizona School of Journalism, 2015
No Award Presented – 2016-2020

Lloyd Clark How it Made Print Award
Mark Flatten, reporter, East Valley Tribune, 2007
Ryan Gabrielson, reporter, East Valley Tribune, 2008
Marley Shebala, reporter, Navajo Times, 2009
Russ Wiles, reporter, The Arizona Republic, 2010

No Award Presented since 2010