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Sentinel's Ingram wins 1st place Gov't Reporting award from Az Press Club

TucsonSentinel.com journalists win multiple awards for photography, investigations, breaking news & public service reporting

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Paul Ingram at work. - original photo by John de Dios/TucsonSentinel.com

The top community government reporter in the state is TucsonSentinel.com's Paul Ingram, who took first place in the Arizona Press Club's annual awards for a look at Pima County's plans for a center for released asylum-seekers.

Earlier, Ingram was also named as the first-place community investigative reporter in Arizona, winning for his probe of the immigration bonds system.

Ingram also won awards for his photography, breaking news, and won third place in the Community Journalist of the Year category. The Sentinel's Dylan Smith was awarded for Public Service Journalism.

Ingram was named the top local government reporter in the community division of the Press Club's contest for his digging into Pima County's move to convert part of the juvenile detention center into a respite point for a wave of asylum-seekers being released by the Trump administration. His story "Pima County to lease juvenile center for stop-over for asylum-seekers" was published last July:

Asylum seekers freshly released from federal custody may have a new place for respite in Tucson as Pima County is set to lease an unused section of the juvenile detention center to Catholic Community Services.

The report was "a thorough explanation of a government action meant to address a real-world community problem. It includes data, links to source material, context and, importantly, details on the current problem and the proposed solution," said judge Steve Beatty, former publisher of The Lens in New Orleans. "It’s a topic of great public interest, told in an accessible way."

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As announced earlier, Ingram, the Sentinel's senior reporter, was also recognized for his work on "'Insane' immigration bonds: Spiraling costs, Trump policies strain migrant families," an investigation published last December:

Even as the immigration court system becomes more and more backlogged — rising to more than 1 million cases in September — and detention facilities managed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have hit record levels, holding more than 50,000 people nationwide, immigration officials are seeking much higher bonds for immigrants, or refusing them altogether.

In a recent Arizona case, a woman was told she would be detained unless she paid a bond of more than $40,000. A little more than a decade ago, the median cost of an immigration bond was just $50. Coupled with the spiraling costs, hundreds of millions of dollars that should have been returned to those who filed bonds and who complied with their legal responsibilities have instead been held back by federal authorities. Read more »

The story was a "good example of accountability reporting, exposing an issue that impacts an underserved community," said investigative contest judge Mark Rochester, the editor-in-chief of Type Investigations and vice president of the national group Investigative Reporters and Editors.

"Building this story took weeks of reporting and interviews with at least a dozen sources, to dig through a complicated subject," Ingram said. " I'm really proud that the Arizona Press Club acknowledged  this story."

Ingram's reporting on the staggering increase in the cost of immigration bonds was supported in part with a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, for which he expressed thanks.

Ingram also received three other awards from the Arizona Press Club, which announced a selection of award winners recognizing the top print/online journalists in the state this week.

He was selected as the second-place winner in the Picture Story category, for his capturing a 2019 community event in "Thousands walk & dance in Tucson's All Souls Procession."

He was also a second-place winner in the Pictorial category for his photojournalism in "Lukeville Sunrise," which caught the morning light over the protected Organ Pipe Cactus National Wildlife Refuge on the U.S.-Mexico border, where the Trump administration has begun constructing a 30-foot barrier.

Ingram was named the third-place winner for Community Breaking News, for his report "Scott Warren found not guilty by jury in No More Deaths case," part of an extensive series of reports he filed from the courtroom for both of the trials of the humanitarian aid activist.

He was also honored with a third-place award in the Community Journalist of the Year category.

Dylan Smith, the Sentinel's editor and publisher, was recognized with second place in Community Public Service Journalism for a series of reports on the hollowing-out of Tucson's local press, with a focus on the Arizona Daily Star and its chain media ownership:

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