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UPDATED: Arizona Mirror staff take home awards, including top journalist of 2021

By: - February 7, 2023 11:33 am

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The Arizona Mirror took home 15 awards, including a prestigious honor for the top journalist of 2021, in the Arizona Press Club’s annual contest.

Jeremy Duda, the Mirror’s former deputy editor, was awarded Community Journalist of the Year by a panel of judges for his 2021 in-depth coverage of the decennial redistricting process and the Arizona Senate’s beleaguered partisan review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County.

“It’s an incredible honor to have been named the community journalist of the year,” Duda said. “I’m immensely proud of the work I did last year to keep Arizonans informed about redistricting, the ‘audit’ and other important issues.”


Duda was a founding member of the Arizona Mirror staff who left in April 2022 to join Axios Phoenix. 

The judges for the Community Journalist of the Year award — Christina Lords, editor of the Idaho Capital Sun; Alec MacGillis, a senior reporter for ProPublica; and Keith Kohn, executive editor of the Victoria (Texas) Advocate — praised Duda for his “fearlessness and hustle” in reporting on intricate and politically charged processes in a way that made them easy for readers to understand. 

“Reporting on every aspect of the redistricting process, while not the splashiest subject, is exactly the type of work we need to help readers understand the political and electoral process,” the judges wrote. “We’re glad that Arizona had such a strong resource as the state worked through this controversial process.”

Duda helmed the Mirror’s efforts covering redistricting. He was often the only journalist present when the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met to work on drawing new congressional and legislative maps, and his reporting made the Mirror the authoritative source for all things redistricting.

Duda was also a driving force in the Mirror’s coverage of the so-called election “audit,” and the Mirror regularly broke news about the state Senate’s conspiracy-fueled review of the 2020 presidential race in Maricopa County, beginning with the revelation that Senate President Karen Fann intended to hire a discredited conspiracy theorist. That reporting led the Senate to instead hire an unknown cybersecurity firm that was run by a different conspiracy theorist, whose advocacy for baseless claims of election fraud were first uncovered by the Mirror.

The story detailing the conspiracy beliefs of Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, written by Duda and Arizona Mirror Editor in Chief Jim Small, was awarded a 1st Place for breaking news reporting.

Other highlights include a story debunking claims by “audit” leaders about supposedly “phantom” ballots, which won a 3rd Place award for investigative reporting, and coverage of a fundamentally flawed “canvass” of voters conducted by election conspiracists.

Duda also was awarded 2nd Place in the community political reporting category for a profile of Kari Lake’s gubernatorial campaign and her surging popularity among Republican voters and a 3rd Place for public safety reporting for his work covering the prospects of criminal justice reform efforts.

Shondiin Silversmith, the Mirror’s Indigenous affairs reporter, took home a 1st Place award for her reporting on the crisis of violence against Indigenous women in America.

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy won 1st Place in the feature photo journalism category for his stunning photography of the 20-year anniversary of the murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi. 

He also won a 2nd Place in the Community Nina Mason Pulliam Environmental Journalism category for his coverage of the 2021 wildfire season and how it was driven by climate change and decades of drought.

“It provides plenty of context to make crystal clear how wildfires have changed in severity over time. The writing is clear, leaving the reader to walk away with a better understanding of climate science and how it relates to wildfire,” wrote the judges.

MacDonald-Evoy also scooped up two awards in the health reporting category: He was awarded 2nd Place for his reporting on why flu cases were almost nonexistent in 2020-21, and a 3rd Place award for his coverage of nefarious online pharmacies selling dangerous and unregulated drugs to Arizonans.

Small won 2nd Place in opinion writing for his columns on former Gov. Doug Ducey’s minimizing of the COVID-19 pandemic and his later premature lifting of pandemic restrictions to further his political goals, and a column about how Republicans showed their cowardice when they refused to condemn the violent and racist rhetoric used by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar.

And former Mirror reporter Laura Gómez took home three awards: 1st Place in the community immigration reporting category for coverage of a state trooper who claimed he “smelled” undocumented immigrants, 3rd Place for reporting on legislation that critics said would “erase” non-binary people in Arizona and 3rd Place in the business category for her coverage of a South Phoenix coffee shop that closed because of light rail construction.

***UPDATE: This story was originally published on Nov. 29, 2022, detailing five awards that were announced at that time. It was updated on Feb. 7 to reflect 10 additional awards that were made public in late December 2022.


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