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Sentinel reporting wins Arizona Press Club awards

TucsonSentinel.com's coverage of border and immigration issues and watchdog reporting on local elections won several awards from the Arizona Press Club, with recognition for Paul Ingram, Joe Watson and Dylan Smith.

Watson and Ingram jointly won awards in both the Community and Statewide divisions for their August story "Decorated Marine vet may be deported, despite likely U.S. citizenship."

The report was about George Ibarra, a decorated veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who served in the Persian Gulf War, who faces deportation to Mexico despite evidence that he is a United States citizen. Ibarra, whose case is still pending a decision months later, has already had a federal judge rule that he has a claim to derivative citizenship, the two reported. Their work included an exclusive interview with the central figure in the story.

Ingram, a senior border and political reporter for TucsonSentinel.com, and Watson, a freelancer working with the Sentinel, were awarded second place for Community Immigration Reporting, and third place for Statewide Immigration Reporting for their efforts on the story. The judge was Richard Marosi, a longtime border reporter at the Los Angeles Times and two-time Pulitzer finalist.

TucsonSentinel.com Editor and Publisher Dylan Smith was named first runner-up for the Arizona Press Club's Community Journalist of the Year.

"Smith's 2017 reporting was dogged, thorough and had a consistent investigative edge," wrote judges Jennifer Napier-Pearce, editor of the Salt Lake Tribune; Daniel Simmons-Ritchie, investigative reporter with PennLive and the Patriot-News; and Sheila McCann, managing editor of the Salt Lake Tribune.

"From his coverage of a bill provision that would have excluded Customs and Border Protection from FOIA to failures by advocacy groups to properly disclose campaign spending, Smith served up important watchdog journalism to readers. Impressive work," the judges said.

The Arizona Press Club is the state's association for print and online journalists, and each year recognizes the best reporting, photojournalism and design work. See all of the 2017 awards at AzPressClub.org.

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Smith is a vice president of the Press Club. The awards are judged by experienced journalists from outside Arizona who have no connection to the entrants.

Ingram recently won a national award for his photojournalism, receiving an an honorable mention from the Institute for Nonprofit News last month in the Impact Prize for Nonprofit News Photography contest. He was one of just seven photographers  seven journalists working for nonprofit news organizations to be recognized with an INN award, which he received for his 2017 picture of a teenage boy sprinting away from the Nogales border wall that separates the U.S. and Mexico, just after illegally climbing over the barrier with a ladder from the sister city of Nogales, Sonora.

Smith was named in March as a winner of the annual Sledgehammer Award by the Arizona Press Club for his work pushing government officials to release information. The Sledgehammer, which was also awarded to the Arizona Daily Star's Caitlin Schmidt for 2017, are a tribute to journalists who relentlessly seek the truth, smashing through obstacles thrown their way.

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