- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2005

The Washington Times won 15 awards from the Virginia Press Association, garnering accolades for news writing, illustration and informational graphics that appeared in the paper during 2004.

For the second time, staff artist Alexander Hunter was awarded best-in-show for daily artwork.

Judges were tickled by “Evil Empire,” Mr. Hunter’s portrait of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner as Darth Vader, the black-helmeted “Star Wars” villain — with the Boston Red Sox represented at his feet as Yoda, the diminutive space guru.

“Flat-out clever and well done, clean display and very topical,” judges commented, noting that the illustration — which depicts baseball bats as neon-tinted light sabres — provided quick-hitting, fast humor.

“The trick was keeping it simple — just two figures. I have a tendency to include a cast of thousands in my work, but in this case, simplicity was the key,” Mr. Hunter said. “The ‘Star Wars’ reference fell right into place.”

Mr. Hunter also won best-in-show two years ago for a heroic illustration of former President Ronald Reagan.

Business desk reporter Patrice Hill won a first place in business and financial writing for a trio of stories covering the complex influence of immigrants, the politics of foreign workers and the effect of inflation rates on health care, higher education and other financial concerns.

“These are huge economic issues, explained clearly and in depth,” the judges said.

Patrick Hruby of the Times’ sports department took first place in sports column writing for three pieces that judges praised for pace, wit and a light touch.

“Clearly opinionated, but not overbearing — just fun to read,” they said.

National desk reporter Audrey Hudson won second place in government writing for three stories on Homeland Security Department air marshals, called well-sourced, with “solid reporting of an issue the government agency didn’t want to address.”

Entertainment writer Scott Galupo won second place in critical writing for three reviews that judges felt were versatile, solid reflections on a wide range of topics.

A quintet of Times reporters placed third in the news series category for “America on the Move,” a group of year-end stories that tracked developments in sports, art and national issues.

David R. Sands, Jeffrey Sparshott, Joyce Howard Price, Mr. Hruby and Mr. Galupo were praised for well-researched and engaging reporting.

Artist Gregory Groesch and Assistant Managing Editor Maria Stainer shared a third-place award in informational graphics for a timeline of World War II that appeared in a commemorative section devoted to the District’s new National World War II Memorial.

Founded in 1881 and based in Glen Allen, the Virginia Press Association contest is one of the nation’s largest press competitions, attracting 5,000 entries annual from journalists, photographers and artists from The Washington Post, Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Virginian-Pilot and other papers.

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