Darts & laurels

The awards dinner for the 2001 Nevada Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest was held Aug. 25 in Carson City. While the event dragged at times, the evening proved to be interesting on several different levels.

The first part of the program was the induction of four people into the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame: former Las Vegas Associated Press correspondent Robert Macy, former Las Vegas Review-Journal city editor Roy Vanett, former Reno Gazette-Journal opinion writer Bruce Bledsoe and former Fallon Standard staffer Ken Ingram.

Ingram’s speech, given from the table he shared with his wife and family, was emotional and revealing. He told the gathered newspaper folks that he was saddened by the fact that fellow Hall of Famer Rollan Melton, whom Ingram hired as a printer’s assistant at the Fallon Standard when Melton was a teenager, couldn’t be there due to fragile health.

It’s been known in Reno’s journalism circles during the past few months that Melton’s health is not so great, and the fact that Melton, who nominated Ingram for induction, didn’t attend helped confirm this fact.

Despite his health problems, and in true Rollan Melton fashion, he continues to churn out his twice-weekly column. He even took the time to leave me and former intern Mary Henry kind messages following the RN&R’s publication of a review of his recent book, 101 Nevada Columns.

Keep it going, Rollan.

Following a hilarious presentation by Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Steve Benson from The Arizona Republic, the awards presentation began. This was a notable occasion, as—for the first time ever—Nevada’s four alternative weeklies were part of the contest.

The RN&R did quite well, racking up 13 awards, including the most writing-based awards of any newspaper in the “weeklies with circulation of 20,000 or more” category. Our winners:

· Rob Bhatt, first place, best business story ("Here Comes Labor")

· Rob Bhatt, second place, best editorial ("Harrah’s Appearance Policy Goes Too Far")

· Jimmy Boegle, third place, best local column

· Jimmy Boegle, third place, best local sports feature ("The Boys [and Girls] of Winter")

· D. Brian Burghart, honorable mention, best investigative story ("A Wheel Big Deal")

· Kelley Lang, second place, best local sports feature ("The Costs and Benefits of Title IX")

· Deidre Pike, third place, best business story ("Juiced")

· Deidre Pike, second place, best investigative story ("Murder of a Leader")

· Debra Reid, first place, best illustrated photo ("Turbulent August Nights")

· Adrienne Rice, second place, best feature story ("Coffin & Keys")

· Bruce Van Dyke, second place, best local column

· Design staff (Andrea Diaz and David Jayne), second place, best overall design

· Design staff (Andrea Diaz and David Jayne), second place, best page one design

It was a good night for the RN&R, its staff and its contributors. And speaking of contributors, Debra Reid—who works for the Daily Sparks Tribune as her full-time gig—solidified her status as the best newspaper photographer in the state by winning 12 awards by herself, including the Photo of the Year award for the second consecutive year. Congrats to Debra and all the rest of the winners.

But in all of the revelry and good spirit that an awards dinner is supposed to represent—after all, it’s the one time each year that all the state’s competing newspapers come together in brotherhood and support—there was a moment that left us peeved at its inappropriateness.

This moment came at the end of the program, when the general excellence award winners were being announced, along with judges’ comments. Here’s part of what the judges, who were from the Arizona Newspapers Association, had to say about general excellence winner Las Vegas Weekly: “Thoughts well-executed and writing lively, friendly, assessable [sic] as opposed to the clichéd, self-important verbiage of many alternative weeklies.”

Wow. Welcome to the show, alternative weeklies!