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Arizona Mirror wins 12 awards for its work covering the ‘audit,’ redistricting, COVID and more

By: - October 7, 2022 7:05 am

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Coverage of the partisan “audit” of the 2020 election was the driving force behind the Arizona Mirror winning a dozen awards in the Arizona Newspaper Association’s annual Better Newspapers Contest.

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 totality of the Mirror’s coverage of the so-called “audit,” spearheaded by Jeremy Duda and Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, earned first place awards for Community Service and Journalistic Achievement, as well as for sustained coverage of an issue.

A story debunking claims by “audit” leaders about supposedly “phantom” ballots won two first place awards. The reporting by Duda and ABC 15’s Garrett Archer, which used election data the “auditors” had to demonstrate that the ballots were legally cast by real voters, was honored in both the investigative reporting and data journalism categories.

Duda also earned a third place award for best news story for his coverage of a fundamentally flawed “canvass” of voters conducted by election conspiracists that claimed more than 250,000 ballots cast were suspicious. But the report had no corroborating evidence and made few specific claims that could be checked out — and those were easily debunked.

Indigenous affairs reporter Shondiin Silversmith won a first place award for best use of video by a print journalist for her coverage of a nonprofit that supported Navajo and Hopi families quarantining because of COVID-19 by doing their grocery shopping and making sure they had provisions to survive. 

And a story by Laura Gómez on U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema intentionally fleeing to a bathroom to escape protesters filming her because she believed they would be committing a crime if they followed her won a first place award for enterprise reporting.

Duda and Jim Small, the Mirror’s editor in chief, won a second place award for best data journalism for their analysis of new legislative districts and an interactive map plotting incumbent legislators on the new political boundaries.

Small also was awarded third place in the data journalism category for a commentary that analyzed school district spending to debunk the claim, often made by Republicans, that teachers aren’t paid enough because spending on administrators is too high.

Columnist Julie Erfle nabbed a second place for best column for taking Gov. Doug Ducey to task because he prioritized tax breaks for the wealthy over investing in what he previously said were the “things that matter most” to Arizonans.

Small also took home a third place award for a column skewering U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for insisting on bipartisanship at all costs — even if it means failing to protect American democracy from those who seek to destroy it.

The Mirror also won a first place award for best website.


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