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Navajo Times wins 18 Arizona Press Club awards


The Navajo Times won 18 awards in the annual Arizona Press Club journalism contest, including the Arizona Community Journalist of the Year, one of the state’s most prestigious journalism awards.

Krista Allen portrait

Krista Allen

Krista Allen, assistant editor at the Times, was named Arizona Community Journalist of the Year for her coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in the Navajo Nation, which the judging panel said “embodies the essence of community journalism.”

The panel added, “Any reader can see this is a journalist who cares deeply about her community, works hard to tell its most important stories, and doesn’t depend on the official narrative.”

Allen also won second place for the Nina Mason Pulliam Environmental Journalism Award in the community division; and third in community social issues reporting.

Reporter Arlyssa Becenti won a first-place award for community investigative reporting, for her coverage of the massive hemp empire outside Dineh Benally’s home in Shiprock.

“Well-informed series of stories,” said judging panelist Warren Woodberry Jr. of Millenium Magazine, “consistent follow up from start to finish. This is truly what reporting was meant to do.”

Becenti also captured the distinguished Nina Mason Pulliam Environmental Journalism Award in the community division for her story about how uranium cleanup is still impacting residents in the Navajo Nation.

Judges said Becenti’s story serves the critical role of revealing the indifference tribal leaders have toward uranium pollution in the Nation.

Reporter-photographer Donovan Quintero won a first-place award for community health reporting, for his story about a frontline health care worker, ER nurse Tyra Street of Phoenix Indian Medical Center, who was struggling with the coronavirus.

“What I was looking for was a human touch in these COVID-19 stories,” said judging panelist John Pacenti of The Palm Beach Post. “This was the only entry that brought home that quality.”

Quintero also won first- and second-place awards for community photojournalism in the pictorial category. He also took second in community photojournalism in news.

Sports editor Quentin Jodie won first place for community sports beat reporting, for his coverage on rodeo in the Navajo Nation.

Judging panelist Tony Maluso of the Citizens’ Voice in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, said Jodie’s rodeo coverage “hit the subject from all angles.”

“(Jodie) was definitely on top of everything that was happening with the rodeo,” Maluso said.

Jodie also won second in community sports investigative reporting.

Sports reporter David Smith won first place for community sports investigative reporting, for his story about Navajo student-athletes leaving the Nation to play sports in border towns.

“(Smith) looked at the situation and dilemma facing the athletes from all angles,” Maluso said, “a thorough exploration of the subject.”

Reporter Rima Krisst won third place for community local government reporting.

Photographer Sharon Chischilly won two third-place awards for community photojournalism in news and community photojournalism in features, respectively.

Former assistant editor Cindy Yurth won first place for community headline writing.

Judging panelist Sara Ziegler of the FiveThirtyEight and of The Society for Editing, said Yurth’s headline writing “paired whimsy with storytelling while still clearly getting across the points of the articles.”

Ziegler added, “I appreciated the dual meaning in ‘One for the books,’ while ‘Minimal pomp, strange circumstance’ perfectly captured the surrealness of a (drive-thru) commencement.”

Yurth also won second place for community arts reporting and criticism.

Olson Patterson, the production department manager for the Navajo Times, took first in community print page design portfolio.

Overall, the Navajo Times took second in community public service journalism, behind the Phoenix Business Journal.

“When I first heard the news that we did well with the Arizona Press Club, I was quite happy,” said Tom Arviso Jr., the Navajo Times publisher and CEO.

“But after I saw the actual list of award winners,” he said, “it brought a big smile to my face because I was so dang proud of our Navajo Times staff.”

Arviso said both Allen and Becenti earned two of the biggest journalism honors a journalist can earn in Arizona.

“And our reporters won both of them!” Arviso exclaimed. “I am proud and happy for them because I witnessed all the hard work they did, the long hours they put in and the criticisms they had to endure from some of our people.

“I can honestly say that Krista and Arlyssa earned those awards,” he said, “and they are both quite deserving of the honors.”

Arviso said while the Navajo Times staff placed second overall to the Phoenix Business Journal, the Times staff is always first in this category, in his book.

“Our public service journalism is what we take great pride in,” he said. “All throughout the coronavirus situation, the Navajo Times staff (was) out in the public reporting the news and trying to help the best way we could.”

Arviso, Allen and Editor Duane Beyal commend the members of the Navajo Times staff for their hard work and dedication to the Diné they serve.

“Congratulations to my hard-working colleagues,” Allen said. “I am happy for our team. And congratulations to Donovan, who’s truly a determined journalist and works day and night, rain or shine, for our people.”

Arviso said, “I also want to congratulate all of our Navajo Times winners – Donovan Quintero, Quentin Jodie, David Smith, Sharon Chischilly, Olson Patterson, Cindy Yurth and Rima Krisst – for their quality journalism.

“The man behind the scenes who helps to make everyone shine is our editor, Duane Beyal,” he said. “Duane is one of the hardest working people I know, and he is a true editor for the Navajo Times.”

Arviso added, “The Arizona Press Club is made up of a bunch of us die-hard journalists who take a lot of pride in what we do for a living.

“Our members are from all types of nationalities, colors, shapes and sizes,” he said. “We are pretty hard on each other when it comes to judging or critiquing each other’s work.

“So, if you win an award from the Arizona Press Club,” he said, “believe me, it is well earned and is respected and recognized by the whole journalism industry in the state of Arizona.”


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