Last night's SoCal Journalism Awards ceremony -- an annual affair put on by the L.A. Press Club -- was more star-spangled than usual. Among the presenters and honorees were Martin Sheen, Ron Perlman (so much shorter in person, but with an even bigger voice), Daniel Pearl's extended family and every journalist's childhood heroes: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (the former via Skype).
But keeping things consistent with last year, L.A. Weekly cleaned up...
... with six first-place finishes and seven additional second- or third-place finishes. Here are the categories in which we took gold, complete with judges' comments:
Sports: Hillel Aron, "The Bikeroots."
"Killer lead: 'For Stephen Box, it all began in the summer of 2010, when he was nearly hit by a bus.' How can you not keep reading? Excellent long-form journalism in a sport, and form of recreation and transportation, often crowded out by press coverage of other pursuits."
Best Facebook Presence by a News Organization: Web editors Jake Swearingen, Keith Plocek and Liz Ohanesian, for L.A. Weekly's Facebook page.
"This is much more than just a showcase for the popular publication. LA Weekly smartly uses its Facebook page to encourage participation and reaction for its readers. The LA Weekly extends its print franchise as the bible of what to see and what to do in LA to Facebook."
Entertainment Reviews/Criticism/Columns: Karina Longworth.
"Longworth was the only entrant, but she won because these are intelligent,
sophisticated - and at times humorously sarcastic - film reviews. Outstanding work."
Online Multimedia Package: Chris Vogel and Simone Wilson, "LAPD Detective Says Combs and Knight Ordered Killings."
"These are journalists who have the topic covered even beyond their crisp and detailed prose. They offer video and documents to weave a story told from all sides. Despite what Sean Combs telling them the allegations are "pure fiction", the reader is left with much to ponder."
Hard News: Mars Melnicoff, "L.A. County's War on Desert Rats."
"This entry wins first place because the story and the photography are perfectly integrated. This story would not have the impact it does without the insightful, portrait-like photography that illustrates its human drama."
News Photo: Ted Soqui, "Sarah." (Soqui is technically a freelance photographer, but he's a longtime L.A. Weekly contributor and was shooting an Occupy L.A. protest for us when he snapped this iconic shot.)
"A portrait of one individual, caught up in larger events, that practically begged to become an archetype. It soon became a global one when a version of the photo was used for Time's Person of the Year, The Protestor."
Our second-place wins were Chris Vogel for Print Journalist of the Year and Investigative Series, Simone Wilson for Online Journalist of the Year, Ben Westhoff for Personality Profile and Mars Melnicoff for Multi-Media Package. Third-place wins included Amanda Lewis for Online Feature, Darrick Rainey for Design and Gendy Alimurung for Columnist of the Year.
As it happens, L.A.'s finest alternative paper was also honored earlier this month by the national AltWeeklies Awards. Listings editor (and longtime music writer) "Falling James" Moreland, former staff writer Chris Vogel and creative director Darrick Rainey all got pinned with blue ribbons.
Music Reporting/Criticism: James Moreland, for his concert reviews on Buffalo Springfield at the Wiltern, the Go-Go's & Girl in a Coma at the Greek Theatre and Morrissey & Kristeen Young at the Shrine Auditorium.
News Story (Long Form): Chris Vogel, for his reporting on corruption and violence within the L.A. County Sheriff's jail system. See "Wheelchair Hell in Men's Central Jail" and "Men's County Jail Visitor Viciously Beaten by Guards."
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Editorial Layout: Darrick Rainey, for his design of "There Goes the Neighborhood," a spread in our annual fashion issue.
Longworth, our film critic, was also honored this awards season by the National Association of Black Journalists, for her story "Going Hollywood." For the rest of our non-winning nominees, see "LA Weekly Nominated for Over 20 National, Regional Journalism Awards: Read the Stories That Got Us Here."