OC Weekly won 10 or 11 awards at Wednesday night's Orange County Press Club Journalism Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Irvine. Among these were eight first-place awards.
It's 10 or 11 total because the same Weekling tied for first place in the same category, something Kedric Francis, Firebrand Media group editor and the press club vice president emceeing the awards portion of the evening, believes may be unprecedented in club history.
The winners, winning entries and--where provided--comments from judges follow:
Best News story, first place:
R. Scott Moxley, "The Real Squatters of Orange County"
Comment: "A fascinating yarn and real page-turner. A masterful job of blending narrative and context with a compelling story. Great illustrations as well. The clear winner in this category."
Best Feature story, first place:
Nick Schou, "He Shall Be Set Free"
Best Business story, feature or column, first place:
R. Scott Moxley, "The Great Park: Hot Air?"
Comments: "A great effort at holding a politician's feet to the fire, using his own words over the years."
Best Sports story, feature or column, first place:
Matt Coker, "Going to Extremes to Get the Shot"
Comments: "Gives us great inside look at the harrowing world of photographers who shoot action-sports films. They often must go to extremes to capture the extreme sports--and put themselves in danger at the same time."
Best Art or Culture story, review, feature or column, first place (tie):
Stacy Davies, "'Art Shack'-ing Up"
Comments: "Davies' descriptive writing allows the reader to feel as if he or she is actually inside a gallery viewing these spectacular pieces. She marries interesting facts with relevant art explanations. Her writing style is vivid, captivating and tight. Excellent transitions and sentence structure."
Stacy Davies, "Laurie Hassold's Creepy Crawlies"
Comments: "Although she explores a somewhat shocking topic, Davies is an expert writer whose descriptive prose draws the reader in and generates interest. This artist is undoubtedly unusual, but Davies tells a story in such a way that one actually begins to understand the artist's connection and fascination with the macabre."
Best Music or Entertainment story, review, feature or column, first place:
Matt Coker, "Drake Doremus' Douchebag at Sundance"
Comments: "Fine storytelling. I went from never having heard of the director to cheering for him."
Best Music or Entertainment story, review, feature or column, third place:
Matt Coker, "Punks Vs. Suits"
David McQuay Award for Best Columnist, third place:
Vickie Chang, Trendzilla
Comments: "Tracking cultural trends usually sinks into trivia pretty quickly, but this lady knows her stuff and knows how to hook the reader into it."
Marjorie Freeman Award for Best Humorous Story, first place:
Matt Coker, "USA-Canada Gold Medal Hockey Game as Viewed From a Central OC Barstool"
Best Blog, third place:
Matt Coker, Navel Gazing
Comments: "A compelling look at off-the-beaten path crime stories written with zeal."
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The awards, which are open to all print and online journalists working in Orange County, were for stories published in 2010. Other winners came from the ranks of the Orange County Register, Riviera magazine, Laguna Beach Independent, the Voice of OC and other local media outlets.
Steve Churm, owner of Churm Media (OC Metro, OC Family, etc.) received the 2011 Sky Dunlap Award for his longtime contributions to Orange County journalism and the community.
Also honored were winners of the annual OC Press Club Journalism Contest, which bestowed journalism scholarships to Chapman University's Daniel Langhorne, Amanda Starrantino, Stefani Peterson and Kimberly Yuen.
Keynote speakers were Los Angeles Times reporters Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb (who used to knock around the Times' Orange County bureau). Their articles exposing corruption in the city of Bell (and allegedly by Huntington Beach resident Robert Rizzo) resulted in indictments, reforms and the Times being awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.