The Nogales International and its staffers won 21 prizes at the Arizona Newspapers Association’s annual convention last weekend in Phoenix, including first place for general excellence in the ANA’s 2016 Excellence in Advertising competition and second place for general excellence in the 2016 Better Newspapers Contest.

Page designer Priscilla Bolaños won seven first-place prizes for her work creating special sections and print and online advertisements, while individual reporting awards came in areas ranging from investigative to sports reporting.

In the Better Newspapers Contest, the NI finished first among the state’s small newspapers in the categories of Editorial Page Excellence and Departmental News and Copywriting Excellence. The paper took second place for Reporting and Newswriting Excellence, Best Use of Photography and Page Design Excellence.

In the individual categories, reporter Paulina Pineda won two awards in the Investigative Reporting competition. She took second place for “In denying harassment, Silva admits questionable conduct,” a report on a scandal and lawsuit at the County Attorney’s Office, and third place for “Patagonia’s profuse ticketing of Mexicans draws scrutiny,” which highlighted a traffic enforcement practice that took advantage of a grey area in Sonoran transit regulation.

Pineda and former reporters Murphy Woodhouse and Norma Gonzalez teamed up to win a first-place price in Best Multimedia Storytelling for their “Food trucks of Santa Cruz County” series featuring stories, photos, video and an interactive map. In another collective effort, Pineda, Woodhouse and Publisher Manuel C. Coppola won third place in Best Sustained Coverage or Series for a collection of stories about the effects of the weakening Mexican peso on the local economy.

Gonzalez was the first-place finisher in the Best Team, Sport or Sports Beat Coverage category for her coverage of the 2015 Little League Intermediate Division West Regional Tournament in Nogales that included game stories, features and photo galleries.

Woodhouse won third place in Enterprise Reporting with “From $300 to $50,000 per load, smuggling wages range widely,” a look at the ground-level economics of the local cross-border drug trade, and managing editor Jonathan Clark finished first in Best Column, Analysis or Commentary for “An exclusive campaign stop,” an editorial about a visit to Nogales by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Excellent ads

In the Excellence in Advertising contest, Bolaños won first place in the Best Black & White Ad competition for an ad she designed for the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program, and in the Best Color Ad category for a Villa’s Market advertisement. She also was the top finisher in the categories of Best Paid Ad Series – Color (“You Have the Power” for the County Attorney’s Office), Most Effective Use of a Small Space (Villa’s Market) and Best Online Ad (“Male victims of violence” for the County Attorney’s Office).

Bolaños also took first place for Best Special Section with the NI’s Christmas Coloring Book and for Best Newspaper Promotion Ad (“Find one here!”).

The Arizona Newspapers Association contests included items published May 1, 2015 to April 30, 2016. The Nogales International participated in the contests’ Division 1, which includes papers with print circulations of 3,500 or less.