by THE INLANDER STAFF & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he Society of Professional Journalists' Region 10 "Excellence in Journalism" awards were announced last week, and The Inlander brought home 11 awards, including four first-place wins. Region 10 covers the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho; we were competing with weekly newspapers from all of those states. Here are the winning stories, with a few excerpts and choice pieces of art.
First Place Social Issues
Kevin Taylor, "A Question of Conscience" (5/31/07)
Taylor debriefed Sgt. Brent Carey, an Arab language interrogator in a military intelligence battalion who grew up in Deer Park. Carey recounted exactly when and why he decided to become a conscientious objector to the war in Iraq.
...And here he was today, this blazing April day, at Fort Hunter Liggett in California, a 36-year-old sergeant acting as an RSO, or range safety officer, helping roughly 140 young soldiers learn the finer points of aiming, breathing and squeezing off bullets at paper targets.
"It was an all-day affair. It was hot, bloody hot," Carey says. "What really struck me that day is these were not the little round targets with bulls-eyes you shoot at with bow and arrow -- it's a human-shaped target and you're trying to hit center mass.
"Most of the people out there were 19, 20 years old -- in my mind, they were kids," Carey says. "There's been a lot of discussion about child soldiers in Africa, and I was thinking how absurd this was that we had these kids out here practicing how to shoot at and kill people." ...
Eventually the crack of rifle fire petered out and the troops sought shade as they cleaned weapons and got ready to board buses for the two-hour ride back... There were a few magazines of ammo left over and someone asked Carey if he'd like to shoot. He picked up the M-16... and jammed home a magazine.
"I'd done this for years. It was very natural for me," he says. "I knew I could pick up the rifle and shoot it...but it just wasn't who I was any more."
And so Carey froze in a terrible, torn moment of being a soldier and not a soldier, of wavering at a fork in the path. ...
"That was the day I realized I could no longer participate in war or the training for war."
First Place Environmental Affairs
Kevin Taylor, "Pulling the Plug" (3/1/07)
A look at the real impact on the Northwest's power grid of maintaining the three lower Snake River Dams, as arrived at by one interpretation of Bonneville Power Administration statistics.
First Place Humor
Kevin Taylor, "Hoo! Hot! Marmot!" (7/12/07)
Taylor talks marmot recipes with a Spokane woman who found them to be a delicacy in Mongolia, where she was working. We got some angry mail over this one, but for the record, no marmots were harmed in researching this story.
...Ah, marmots: Cute, furry, and mmmmm, so tasty.
And who won't get excited about a thousand-year-old Mongolian barbecue that a) begins with instructions to "Shoot the marmot's head off," b) requires vast amounts of cheap Russian vodka for the cook, and c) can explode in your lap?
Way funner than burgers.
First Place Page Design
Chris Bovey, "The Aquifer" (5/10/07), "Monsters in the House" (4/5/07) and "Inside the Otis" (8/16/07)
SECOND Place Government
Kevin Taylor, Joel Smith and Doug Nadvornick,
"Tale of Two Cities" (10/18/07)
A preview of the Spokane mayoral race, paying special attention to divisions between the inner city and the outer neighborhoods.
SECOND Place Humor
Tim Bross, "Bare-Alls" (8/9/07)
Bross, our summer intern, cajoled his buddies to run the notorious Bare Buns Fun Run with him, all for the greater journalistic glory -- which he reaped in this second-place finish.
...We were greeted by several middle-aged men and women, all of whom were a sore sight for easy eyes. ...they were relentlessly friendly, and met us with warm smiles and hand shakes. Nudity did not seem to faze these people.
It was surreal. I was convinced a drunken clown on stilts would soon wander by, a crooked grin on his face. I was also sure the social contract did not exist here, and that Kaniksu did not observe such institutions as Daylight Savings Time. We were in Alice's Wonderland.
SECOND Place Lifestyle
Luke Baumgarten, "My Super Intense, Inlander-Funded New Year's Resolution Weight Loss Miracle" (1/11/07)
Baumgarten made his own quest to lose weight quite public is this series of stories.
...Here's what we're working with: I'm a 25-year-old music editor who gets paid to lead a sedentary lifestyle. I ended my freshman year of college at 6-foot-3 and weighing roughly 185 pounds. I haven't grown, but I'm now hovering at a lard-assy 215. That's totally unacceptable.
To whit: I resolve to get as close to young, lithe Luke as possible. The quantifiable part: lose 30-ish pounds as quickly as possible...
SECOND Place Special Section
Inlander Staff, "Philanthropy 2007" (8/2/07)
THIRD Place Business
Joel Smith, "Boom or Bust?" (2/22/07)
Separating hype from reality in the condo craze that had hit Spokane in 2006.
THIRD Place Education
Doug Nadvornick, "Recalculating Math" (2/22/07)
The pros, cons and indecision over which kind of math kids should be taught.
THIRD Place Social Issues
Kevin Taylor, "Voices from the Otis" (8/16/07)
A candid view on the people who lived in the Otis Hotel and were being evicted to make room for downtown regentrification.
HONORABLE MENTION Personalities
Kevin Taylor, "A Wizard of Words" (4/19/07)
Taylor's profile of Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian who has since become a National Book Award winner.