Stephenson named Arizona’s Virg Hill Journalist of the Year

The Arizona Press Club is pleased to announce the winner of the 2016 Virg Hill Journalist of the Year Award.


Michael LaForgia, investigations editor at the Tampa Bay Times, George Papajohn is associate managing editor for investigations of the Chicago Tribune and Angie Muhs is executive editor and vice president of the State Journal-Register, Springfield, Illinois.

LaForgia has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting — in 2014 for exposing problems in a Hillsborough County homeless program and in 2016 for a series on Pinellas County’s neglect of five schools in black neighborhoods.

George Papajohn started at the Chicago Tribune in 1982, and remained there ever since. In 2007, Papajohn directed the Tribune ’s “Hidden Hazards” project, which won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting

Angie Muhs previously held reporting and editing positions at the Portland (Maine) Press Herald, The Miami Herald, the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader and The (Columbia, S.C.) State. She has served as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes.

Virg Hill Journalist of the Year

Hank Stephenson
Arizona Capitol Times

Stephenson’s work “showed how following the money – not to mention analyzing the data – is almost always a good instinct. Despite intense pressure from government officials, he persisted and his work made a clear impact.”

The judges said Stephenson’s stories demonstrated “his doggedness in holding state officials accountable.

Judge Muhs recognized Stephenson for his work, saying it was a “Great example of classic government watchdog reporting.”

First Runner-Up

Craig Harris, Arizona Republic

“Harris dove in on the story of mass firings in state government and blazed new investigative trails, bringing a human face to a story that could have been bureaucratic and helping spur change,” wrote Papajohn.

Second Runner-Up

Perla Trevizo, Arizona Daily Star

Trevizo’s contest portfolio contained “elegant writing, combined with solid in-depth reporting, presents a vivid and nuanced portrait of life on the border. Anyone debating “the wall” should read these packages. She also deserves the top honor due to her commitment to digital presentation, incorporating GPS coordinates into reporting.”

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