The Pasadena Weekly received top honors at the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Better Newspapers Contest in Monterey Saturday for its coverage of last summer’s Station Fire.
 
In addition, the paper was named as a blue-ribbon finalist in the general excellence category, as were an investigative report and a breaking news story.
 
The paper received a first-place award among weekly papers with circulations higher than 25,001 for the Sept. 3 story “Fire on the Mountain,” detailing the devastation caused by the worst brushfire in Los Angeles County history, written by City Hall Reporter André Coleman, Deputy Editor Jake Armstrong and Editor Kevin Uhrich.
 
In the general excellence category, judges recognized the paper’s Jan. 8, 15 and 22, 2009, editions for their “breadth of story selection and general news coverage.”
 
Armstrong’s investigative piece, “Just Too High,” examined grossly disproportionate marijuana arrest rates in California and Pasadena, where African Americans are three times more likely than whites to be arrested for pot-related offenses.
 
Former Deputy Editor Joe Piasecki’s story, “Hater Nation,” was penned after the Weekly received a letter threatening then-President-elect Barack Obama. Piasecki is currently studying for his master’s degree as a fellow at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
 
“It’s kind of unusual for a weekly alternative paper to win awards for investigative reporting and breaking news, but we seem to do that rather well,” said Uhrich. “I’ve been blessed with some wonderful and talented people, not all of whom were recognized, but are nonetheless great writers and reporters and editors who certainly deserve recognition.” 
 
Those journalists include Carl Kozlowski, Chip Jacobs and Justin Chapman, as well as veteran Music Editor Bliss and Calendar Editor John Sollenberger, who routinely break entertainment-related stories. Also contributing to the paper’s overall success in 2009 was Art Director Joel Vendette and former Copy Editor John Seeley.
 
The Sacramento-based CNPA was founded in 1888 and has nearly 1,000 members, including daily, weekly and campus newspapers. There were more than 4,000 entries in 28 award categories.