by John Ball
THE ANN ARBOR Independent earned three “Excellence in Media” awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Detroit Chapter, for 2014 photography and reporting on such varied topics as investigative reporting, the 2014 Ypsilanti ElvisFest and 2014 U-M Take Back the Night rally.
Competing in the Class C journalism division, open to all weekly newspapers, in the investigative reporting category the paper took second place for its 2014 reporting for a series titled “Viva Las Vegas” at the SPJ annual awards ceremony in Troy on April 15.
“The Ann Arbor Independent is adding to its staff and has high editorial ambitions. The paper is only in its second year of business and to be honored by the SPJ in 2013 and 2014 tells me we’re providing the kind of quality news coverage we want to provide,” said Editor Patricia Lesko. “The A2 Indy can compete and the paper will continue to deliver high-quality, thought-provoking journalism to our growing readership.”
The Ann Arbor Independent was nominated for a dozen awards for its 2014 coverage and photography, including awards for feature, education and environmental reporting, commentary, invesigative reporting and arts coverage. Editor Patricia Lesko took second place in Investigative reporting for a series of articles titled “Viva Las Vegas.” The series revealed that Washtenaw County employees were frequently visiting Las Vegas, staying at casinos and treating themselves to high-priced meals at casino buffets and restaurants. In 2013, Lesko captured a first place award from SPJ for an investigative piece about Ann Arbor city employees who’d “retired” into jobs paying $100,000 or more.
Two of the paper’s photographers captured awards. Thomas Ulch, II took a second place prize for his photo of the U-M Take Back the Night March. Likewise, photographer Nicole Hester took a second prize for her photo of Ypsi’s ElvisFest.