Arizona Daily Star, Navajo Times win top newspaper awards

October 10, 2021 GMT

CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Daily Star and the Navajo Times have won top honors in the Arizona Newspapers Association’s annual Better Newspapers Contest announced Saturday.

The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson earned Arizona Newspaper of the Year in the daily category. One of its journalists, Tim Steller, was named the 2021 Journalist of the Year for his work covering the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Steller has an unmatched understanding of the political history of the borderlands and how it intersects with state and national politics,” judges said.

The Navajo Times based in Window Rock won for Newspaper of the Year in the non-daily category. Krista Allen with the newspaper earned Journalist of the Year for non-dailies for her coverage of the coronavirus on the Navajo Nation.

“Her work demonstrates a special kind of community journalism,” judges said. “She is persistent and compassionate in interviewing people who are navigating a pandemic and facing incredible losses.”


Arizona Republic reporters Rob O’Dell and Richard Ruelas received the daily newspaper award for Story of the Year for their series, “The Patriots,” that shed light on a much-seen but little-understood movement in Arizona.

“O’Dell and Ruelas demonstrate that the in-your-face confrontations from the movement had a distinct impact on the GOP and, therefore, on the decisions made by Arizona’s leaders, from the Chandler school board to the governor at the height of a deadly pandemic,” judges said.

Michele Nelson of the Payson Roundup won in the non-daily category for her series, “mobile home park evictions,” that illustrated a trend that had serious consequences for low-income residents in a state that already has a severe shortages in the housing and rental markets.

“She has a real talent for showing readers the human face of the issue and revealing the distinctions in homes that mean the difference in residents having some money in hand to start anew versus none,” judges said.

Kelly Presnell of the Arizona Daily Star won a fourth consecutive award as ANA Photographer of the Year. Arianna Grainey of the Scottsdale Independent won in the non-daily category for the second year in a row.

Judges said Presnell’s photos not only enhanced stories but told stories of their own. They said Grainey’s work was well-rounded and thoughtfully represented her community.

The Arizona Daily Star also was selected as The Associated Press’ Member of the Year. The award was presented by Peter Prengaman, the AP’s news director for the Western United States.

A total of 36 newspapers submitted 884 entries. They were judged by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association and the AP’s West regional bureau.

The awards were presented at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino in Chandler.