It was a huge, huge night for LA Weekly at the Los Angeles Press Club's awards gala in Universal City a few hours ago. Staff writer Christine Pelisek triple-swept in the Hard News, Investigative and News Feature categories for major newspapers with more than 100,000 circulation, beating the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News. Pelisek won, respectively, for her powerful 2008 cover stories "Billboards Gone Wild," "Grim Sleeper," and "Death of Raven, a Hollywood Beauty."
Staff writer Gendy Alimurung took honors in the highly competitive top Columnist category for her body of work in 2008.
Weekly freelancer Daniel Heimpel grabbed a big win for Political Journalist of the Year for his body of work in 2008.
Weekly freelancer Nancy Rommelmann won in the hard-fought category of Entertainment Feature for her cover story "No Exit Plan."
The awards, granted to the best in Southern California each June, are judged by sister city journalists to avoid local favoritism. This year's judging was handled by press clubs in Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, Houston, New Orleans and Syracuse.
Big winner Pelisek, the judges from other cities said, "represents the best of what investigative journalism should be: Dogged determination, skepticism of authority, and insatiable curiosity." Pelisek was also named second-placer for Print Journalist of the Year in what the judges called "a difficult decision." That award went to David Evans of Bloomberg News for his extensive, early coverage in 2008 warning of the fiscal disaster to come.
Alimurung won for her body of work in the popular La Vida columns, and was praised by judges for her flair for language and keen eye for stories.
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Rommelmann impressed the judges for performing "a skillful autopsy on the JT LeRoy myth."
Heimpel's stories delving into City Hall and the policies of Antonio Villaraigosa "dare to challenge political correctness and the status quo, making him an essential voice," the judges said.
The Weekly also won several second-place awards. Art Director Darrick Rainey won second place for Designer of the Year, with the judges singling out his cover design for "Death of Raven, a Hollywood Beauty." Steven Leigh Morris won second place for Business and Financial Print Journalist of the Year, for his extensive coverage of Los Angeles' development wars.
Second place in Feature writing went to Patrick Range McDonald for "The All-About-Me Mayor." In Entertainment Feature writing, second place went to Ella Taylor for "Sacreligulous: Bill Maher's Cross to Bear." Honorable mentions went to Jonathan Gold for Columnist, Christine Pelisek for Investigative (she also won the category) and Patrick Range McDonald for Hard News, for his extensive coverage of Proposition 8.