NMPolitics.net wins four awards in state journalism contest


Days after winning two regional journalism awards, NMPolitics.net won four more awards in a state-level competition.

In the 2015 New Mexico Press Women contest, we won first place in the investigative reporting category for the article, “Docs may reveal potential Keller conflict on state fair lease.”

Heath Haussamen

Heath Haussamen

That investigative report into a possible conflict State Auditor Tim Keller had when he was a state senator was controversial and well-read. It shone light on Keller’s words and actions. It is also among a growing body of articles NMPolitics.net has published that reveal the inherent conflicts that result from not paying our state legislators a salary.

“Haussamen’s work demonstrates persistence required for investigative reporting, with a thoroughness in research and penchant for uncovering substantiating documents,” the judge’s comments state. “His solid writing leads the reader along a clear path to his conclusion that lawmakers need to be compensated for their contributions to New Mexico’s governance.”

NMPolitics.net won another top prize in the NMPW competition — first place among online publications for news reporting. That award was for the article, “Dianna Duran resigns, pleads guilty to two felonies,” and the accompanying timeline of events leading up to Duran’s resignation.

With that article, NMPolitics.net was the first to report the news that Duran, who stole money from her campaign to feed a gambling addiction, had resigned from her job as secretary of state. The scoop was a big deal for our small news organization.

“Kudos for this big scoop and an in-depth, well-sourced, and well-written story,” the judge’s comments state. “Excellent background, great details on the case, and a good look at what happens next in both the court system and at the state government level to fill that seat.”

“I think you were like a dog with a bone and you wouldn’t let go, and your story shows the high interest level you had been reporting on this,” the judge’s comments continue. “Very nice job and congratulations.”

We also won second place in the personal opinion columns category for my commentaries, “Let’s put Oñate in a museum with the Confederate flag,” and “The truth about gun deaths is complex.” I try to spark interesting conversations with my columns, and both of these led to statewide discussions on important issues. The column about Oñate earned 1,500 Facebook likes and more comments on our website and social media than I could track. It was followed by newspaper articles and demonstrations related to our state’s history of Spanish conquest.

About the Oñate column, a judge wrote that I “offered a powerful statement.”

“He has very interesting opinions, some not usually considered,” the judge’s comments state. “He also offers a clear call to action in his columns.”

Finally, NMPolitics.net won third place among online publications for feature reporting for the article, “Political labels don’t tell the whole story.” This was the inaugural article we posted on June 1 of last year to mark NMPolitics.net’s return after a publishing hiatus of almost three years. It set the tone for the type of conversational journalism we’re trying to do by sparking community discussions that help shape articles.

The awards were announced during NMPW’s annual conference on Saturday in Albuquerque.

Between the NMPW competition and the multi-state Top of the Rockies contest, NMPolitics.net has won awards in recent days for news, investigative, political and feature reporting; commentary writing; and the strength of our website. In other words, while NMPolitics.net operates on a shoestring budget — with one staffer (me) and some small-contract and volunteer contributions from others — these awards affirm that what we’re doing matters, and that we’re doing it well.

Thanks so much for supporting what we do!

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