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AZ Press Club: God Blogging best news blog in 2009

TucsonCitizen.com’s own Renee Schafer Horton won first place for best news blog at the Arizona Press Club’s annual awards ceremony Saturday.

Horton, who writes God Blogging and More, started blogging for TucsonCitizen.com in June, a month after she was laid off by Gannett when the company ceased publication of the Tucson Citizen and converted the news website to a community blogging and citizen journalism site.

The blogging award was judged by Aron Pilhofer, editor of Newsroom Interactive Technologies at The New York Times and co-founder of DocumentCloud, a nonprofit “funded through the Knight Foundation to improve journalism by making original source documents easy to find, share, read and collaborate on” according to a release from the Press Club.

Pilhofer wrote of Horton’s blog: “Many newsrooms have launched blogs over the past few years, and, frankly, very few of them are good. Godblogging is one of the rare exceptions. It is very, very good. Renee Shafer Horton deftly weaves light opinion and straight news without veering too far one way or the other. Godblogging is well-written, well-reported, interesting and entertaining. It’s a model of news blogging done right, and well deserving of this award.”

Horton posted items to her blog regularly in 2009 but her contributions have been reduced in 2010 after she enrolled in classes to become a teacher. However, she still maintains God Blogging at TC.com and occasionally posts items.

Horton also submitted entries for her work from January through May 2009 for the print version of the Tucson Citizen and won first place for education reporting in the non-metro newspaper category. The stories she submitted for that award were titled:”Miller’s reported $18m package raises eyebrows” and “Coach has 2 million reasons to smile”

She also won second place for business writing in the non-metro division for her reporting on the demise of the Citizen’s print publication and full-staff news operation. The stories she submitted for that award were titled: “Looks like curtains for the Citizen,” “Citizen ‘day to day’; closure delayed,” etc.

For a complete list of the other Arizona Press Club awards handed out Saturday, go here.

I’ve known Renee for 11 years. She first wrote a religion column for me when I was editor of the EXPLORER in Oro Valley, then later she was a full-time education reporter for me there and then after a brief hiatus, resumed writing a column for the EXPLORER and did some light copy editing.

After I became an assistant city editor at the Citizen, I campaigned heavily for the paper to hire her in 2008, which they did, giving her the higher education beat. I consider her one of the finest journalists in the state and it’s a god damned shame that she can’t get fulltime work as a reporter in this city and that the billion-dollar corporation I still work for can’t spare the money I need to hire her.

Congratulations Renee. Good luck in your new career as a teacher. Education’s gain is journalism’s searing loss.

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