Poor Bob has lost it. Internet access. His phone service. He's completely at my mercy. So I'm taking over to provide his Friday afternoon blog entry. I know he was going to tell you that Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez is really a misunderstood genius who journalists never can give a fair shake to. She's the "chica lit" author who famously quit the Los Angeles Times a few years back after railing in a 3,400 word e-mail against the racist nature of the newspaper industry (here's a compendium of Valdes-Rodriguez-related items from matchless L.A. blogger and author Luke Ford). The half-Cuban woman got sweet revenge when she became a bestselling author. Her third book, "Make Him Look Good," is set right here in South Florida's glitzy celeb scene. But Alisa can't get any promotional help from the Miami Herald. She says in her blog that every time her publicist calls, editors say they're too busy covering the closing of the Coconut Grove Playhouse to review her book. But she has her own ideas. She thinks reporter Fabiola Santiago is jealous:
"She believes she is a better writer and should be the reigning Cuban American novelist in America. One little problem: No one in publishing wants to buy the depressing books she writes...she has taken every chance given to her to bash me, and her envy and disgust likely percolate through the newsroom like bitter water through acidic coffee grounds."
And then there's columnist Lydia Martin:
"A reporter character in the new novel, Lilia, is based very roughly on a nasty reporter at the Herald, Lydia Martin, who did a Lunch with Lydia column on me a couple years ago; at Lunch, Lydia was nice and sweet and said she loved my work and agreed with my politics. In the piece, Lydia body-slammed me to the ground. So, yeah, I guess I hold a grudge, too."
Just go to Alisa's blog for the rest. It's truly amazing. Bob thinks Valdes-Rodriguez should get a National Book Award just for putting up with this kind of media cold-shouldering. Even if the Herald thinks poor Alisa is nutty, they ought to review her book. "Make Him Look Good" is about a Latin pop star named Ricky Biscayne, so you know it's gotta be bueno. -- Tony Ortega
Green Eyeshades We have the winners in the regional SPJ competition that covers Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Before listing them, here are a few highlights and/or peculiarities: — The Sentinel's FEMA series came in third place in the investigative reporting category. — Leonard Pitts whooped ass. — They misspelled the names of Debbie Cenziper and Ana Menendez. — Frank Cerabino made 'em laugh. — New Times killed again in the weekly/monthly competition, though I'm fairly certain the "First Place" and "Second Place" awards were mistakenly switched in the Serious Commentary category. More on that later.
Anyway, here they are:
** Print (Daily) Winners **
Deadline Reporting First Place: Tom Loftus and Mark Pitsch, The Courier-Journal, "Flectcher pardons nine in state hiring inquiry" Second Place: Staff, The Charlotte Observer, "Crash in Graniteville" Third Place: John Pacenti, Nirvi Shah & Jennifer Sorentrue, The Palm Beach Post, "Ramadi Madness: Harsh Scenes of War"
Non-Deadline Reporting First Place: Debbie Conziper, The Miami Herald, "Blind Eye" Second Place: Thomas French, Christopher Goffard and Jamie Thompson, St. Petersburg Times, "The Hard Road: Inside the Jennifer Porter Case" Third Place: Tony Bartelme, The Post & Courier, "Under Fire"
Feature Writing First Place: Leonard Pitts, Jr., The Miami Herald, "Sad Songs in Hell" Second Place: Katya Cengel, The Courier-Journal, "Lost Boys, Torn Families" Third Place: Jeff Kunerth, Orlando Sentinel, Anatomy of an Accident"
Sports Reporting First Place: Damian Cristodero and Marc Topkin, St. Petersburg Times, "What Went Wrong: 10 Years of Devil Rays" Second Place: no award presented Third Place: no award presented
Sports Commentary First Place: Geoff Calkins, The Commercial Appeal Second Place: Greg Cote, The Miami Herald Third Place: Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel
Business Reporting First Place: Bill Estep, John Stamper and Linda Blackford, Lexington Herald-Leader, "Win, Lose or Draw" Second Place: Kris Hundley, St. Petersburg Times, "Capitalist China" Third Place: Bush Bernard, Richard Lawson and Kevin Walters, The Tennessean, "Nissan"
Investigative Reporting First Place: Aimee Edmondson, Karen Pulfer Focht and Mickie Anderson, The Commercial Appeal, "Born to Die" Second Place: Brad Schrade, Trent Seibert and Donna de la Cruz, "Tennessee Highway Patrol" Third Place: Sally Kestin, Megan O'Matz, John Maines and Jon Burstein, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "FEMA: A Legacy of Waste"
Criticism First Place: Glenn Garvin, The Miami Herald, "Television Criticism" Second Place: John Beifuss, The Commercial Appeal, "Hustle and Flow" Third Place: Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "Collection"
Editorial Writing First Place: George Arnold, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "Collection" Second Place: Blake Fontenay, The Commercial Appeal, "Collection" Third Place: Jeff Stidham, The Tampa Tribune, "Emergency Room Waits"
Humorous Commentary First Place: Frank Cerabino, The Palm Beach Post Second Place: John Brummett, Arkansas News Bureau Third Place: Wendi C. Thomas, The Commercial Appeal
Serious Commentary First Place: Leonard Pitts, Jr., The Miami Herald, "In my opinion" Second Place: Ana Menendy, The Miami Herald, "In my opinion" Third Place: Larry Dale Keeling, Lexington Herald-Leader, "Death & Corruption"
Photography First Place: Bernard Troncale, The Birmingham News, "In the heart of AIDS warzone" Second Place: Benjamin Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "Photo Collection" Third Place: Maurice Cohn Band, The Miami Herald, "Land Mines: A legacy of Latin America's wars"
Editorial Cartoon First Place: Bill Day, The Commercial Appeal Second Place: Mike Luckovich, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Third Place: J.D. Crowe, Mobile Register
** Print (Weekly/Monthly) Winners **
Non-Deadline Reporting First Place: Jeff Stratton, New Times Broward/Palm Beach, "Mr. Big Shot" Second Place: Jennifer Strom, The Independent Weekly, "Growth Rules!" Third Place: Tara Servatius, Creative Loafing, "Where's the justice for Zachary Montognese"
Feature Reporting First Place: Francisco Alvardo, Miami New Times, "Crack Kills" Second Place: Faith Dawson, McMedia LLC, "Goodbye Old House" Third Place: Mara Shalhoup, Creative Loafing, "Losing Hanna"
Sports Reporting First Place: Noelle C. Haner, Orlando Business Journal, "Predators: Punt, pass & profit" Second Place: no award presented Third Place: no award presented
Sports Commentary no awards presented
Business Reporting First Place: Wyatt Olson, New Times Broward/Palm Beach, "The Bad Hands People" Second Place: Brett Sokol, Miami News Times, "Ocean Thrive" Third Place: Trevor Aaronson, New Times Broward/Palm Beach, "Vested Interests"
Investigative Reporting First Place: Susan Lundine, Orlando Business Journal, "Outrageous insurance claims" Second Place: Wyatt Olson, New Times Broward/Palm Beach, "The Bad-Hands People" Third Place: John Branston, The Memphis Flyer, "Why didn't you shoot the guy"
Criticism First Place: Chris Herrington, The Memphis Flyer, "It comes from within" Second Place: Curt Holman, Creative Loafing, "Collection" Third Place: Gail Shepherd, New Times Broward/Palm Beach, "Came Sail Away"
Editorial Writing First Place: Terry Hollahan and Scott Shepard, Memphis Business Journal Second Place: Faith Dawson, McMedia LLC, "Good vs. Bad" Third Place: Ken Cogburn, Orlando Business Journal
Humorous Commentary First Place: Tim Sanders, The Post Second Place: Tim Nicholas, Rankin Ledger, "Nobody's Perfect" Third Place: Mike DaRoza, High Springs Herald, "Being a Guy"
Serious Commentary First Place: Chuck Strouse, Miami News Times Second Place: Bob Norman, News Times Broward/Palm Beach, "A Tragedy of Errors" Third Place: Doug Monroe, Creative Loafing
Photography no awards presented
Editorial Cartooning First Place: Brad McMillan, Memphis Business Journal Second Place: no award presented Third Place: no award presented
General News Reporting First Place: Patricia Andreu, Scott Zamost, Felix Castro and Danielle Dubetz, WTVJ/NBC 6, "Picture of Deception" Second Place: Dedrick Russell, WBTV, "The Troubled Ten" Third Place: Emily Maza and Mark Gambino, Bay News 9, "Woods People"
Feature Reporting First Place: Matt McGlashen, Aaron Wische and Robin Guess, WFTS/ABC Action News, "FEMA, Fair?" Second Place: Patricia Andreu, Scott Zamost, Pedro Cancio and Jeff Barnes, WTVJ/NBC 6, "Touched by Angels" Third Place: Keith Cate and Michael Egger, WFLA-TV, "War Stories-Germany"
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Sports Reporting First Place: Chris O'Connell and Jason McDowell, Bay News 9, "I Challenge" Second Place: no award presented Third Place: no award presented
Sports Commentary no awards presented
Business Reporting First Place: Travis Sherwin, Stephen Stock, Shannon FitzPatrick and Marc Rice, WESH-TV, "Ford Fires" Second Place: Ben Roberts and Thomas Jones, WALB-TV, "Fair Rule or Free Ride?" Third Place: no award presented
Investigative Reporting First Place: Stephen Stock, Travis Sherwin, Marc Rice and Jason Morrow, WESH-TV, "Doing Time, Stealing Your Money" Second Place: Aaron Wische, Matt McGlashen and Robin Guess, WFTS/ABC Action News, "Risky Sherrifs Administrator" Third Place: Matt McGlashen, Aaron Wische and Robin Guess, WFTS/ABC Action News, "Missing Boy Scouts"