New Mexico Press Women Members are Award Winning Government Watchdogs

New Mexico print reporters were honored nationally for serving in their role as watchdogs by writing about state government, state and local law enforcement and providing a convenient way to track political contributions.

While total NMPW submissions were fewer than other states, members swept the top four categories in the writing division of the 2017 National Federation of Press Women Communications Contest, earning first place awards in News Story, Continuing Coverage or Unfolding News, Investigative Reporting and Enterprising Reporting.

Online news entities with a small staff and a freelance writer accomplished this, revealing a streak of New Mexico independence and tenacity. “I’m thankful your organization still devotes the time and resources to doing stories like this,” wrote one judge, of New Mexico In Depth, but the judge could have been speaking about any of the winners who were smaller or independent entities. “It is the ‘watchdog’ role to a T, and one that very few media organizations now have the resources or desire to carry out.”

Members received 23 awards overall, including 11 first-place recognitions. Winners were announced in September at the NFPW Communications Conference in Birmingham, Ala.

The governor’s communication staff was the subject of an article written by freelancer Peter St. Cyr, who is director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and an NMPW board member. “Silence is Deafening: Martinez administration dodges interview requests with an army of spokespeople who do not speak” won first place in News Story – Print-based. The article was published in the Santa Fe New Mexican, and as the title suggests, St. Cyr reported on the lack of information and stonewalling by the governor’s communication directors and public information officers statewide.

The state Human Services Department and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, were the subject of a statewide scandal last year. Joey Peters, senior reporter with NM Political Report, began his coverage when employees testified in federal court that their supervisors had asked them to inflate the assets of SNAP applicants to deny them emergency assistance. The scandal led to federal oversight of the department. Peters received a first-place in Continuing Coverage or Unfolding News.

Two articles and a website submitted by New Mexico In Depth Executive Director Trip Jennings won first place awards for Investigative Reporting, Enterprising Reporting and Web site edited or managed by entrant – Nonprofit, government or educational.

“Puff of Smoke,” written by Jeff Proctor and published in collaboration with the Santa Fe Reporter, received a first place for Investigative Reporting. The articles’ big reveal was how investigative grand juries, used by Santa Fe district attorneys to review police shooting cases, are actually used to proove justifiable homicide by a public officer, rather than consider if there’s enough evidence for an indictment as a traditional grand jury would do. The fatal shooting of Jeanette Anaya by State Police Officer Oliver Wilson led to the investigation.

Another fatal shooting, this time of Albuquerque police officer Daniel Webster allegedly by convicted felon Davon Lymon was the subject of a series of articles by Jeff Proctor, including “Davon Lymon: 15 years on law enforcement’s radar,” which received a first place Enterprise Reporting award. The case became politicized, but Proctor learned that Lymon was not arrested after he allegedly sold heroin and firearms to undercover federal agents weeks before the shooting. It also revealed a lack of communication between local and federal law enforcement agencies.

The Openness Project, a joint effort between New Mexico in Depth and DataMade, a Chicago-based civic technology company, is a website that tracks political contributions made to New Mexico politicians running for public office. It received a first place in the Web and Social Media division, Website edited or managed by entrant category for nonprofit, government or educational. “I was a political consultant for 20 years and would have loved to have access to a site like this,” wrote a judge. “I want to applaud you for tackling this subject matter and getting a site up that can benefit many!”

Another first-place sweep by NMPW members took place in the Books and Creative Writing division. Five authors received top honors for their books in the nonfiction books for adult readers: biography or autobiography and history categories, Children’s books: fiction and nonfiction categories, and Short Stories: single story category.

“The War Within: the story of Josef is Patricia Walkow’s self-published account of her in-laws experiences in World War II Germany. Walkow is an award-winning author who lives in Corrales and specializes in essay, memoir and historical fiction.

At nearly 1,000 pages, Don Bullis’ “New Mexico Historical Encyclopedia,” describes 700 historical incidents. “Pick up this massive volume to virtually any place, and be treated to an enjoyable yarn of the old West,” commented the judge. “New Mexico, perhaps more than any other locale, is where the varied players of the American Story met.” Published by Rio Grande Books, Bullis’ encyclopedia is not his first foray into New Mexico and Old West history. He’s a well-known, award-winning author of 10 nonfiction books and two novels.

“Grandpa Lolo’s Matanza,” written by Nasario Garcia and illustrated by Dolores Aragon, is a children’s picture book that tells the story of the New Mexico tradition of matanza, roasting a whole pig to feed the entire village, through the eyes of eight-year-old Junie López. Also published by Rio Grande Press, an imprint of LPD Press, a New Mexico publisher, Mantanza is Garcia’s second award-winning book with Aragon.

“Sea Shoes,” written by Vickie Mayhew, is her second children’s picture book, published by Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Agency, LLC. A father and son are walking along the beach when the boy’s removed shoes are swept into the ocean where they have an amazing adventure.

“Slightly Imperfect” is Teresa Civello’s coming-of-age story, originally published in Oasis Journal, about her 13-year-old self in the weeks before her 8th grade graduation.

Also in the writing division, Bud Russo received a first-place award for Specialty Articles: History for his features published in Southwest Senior, “Beale’s camels could have changed the way the West was wonand “Sighting of ‘smoke’ led Jim White to Carlsbad Caverns.”

Nineteen NMPW members earned an additional twenty-three awards—11 second places, seven third places, and five honorable mentions.

New Mexico Press Women is the state affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women. It provides professional development, networking and First Amendment right protection to professional journalists and communicators.

Entries published in 2017 are now being accepted for the 2018 Communications Contest. Membership is open to women and men and is not required to enter the contest. For more information on the association and contest please visit the website at:

By Jessica Savage

Jim O’Neill to talk taxes with Albuquerque Press Women and Friends

Jim O'Neill

Jim O’Neill

“Taxes and Politics” will be the topic of the November meeting of Albuquerque Press Women and Friends, Monday, November 13, at 11:30 AM, at Golden Corral (5207 San Mateo NE). Our speaker will be Jim O’Neill, one of the state’s most prominent and trusted tax experts. He’ll talk about the New Mexico tax system in the context of the upcoming legislative session, its effect on economic development and the state’s position in the competition for businesses and jobs.

Jim O’Neill is President of O’Neill Consulting LLC, founded in July 2001 and specializing in providing advice on New Mexico state and local taxes and tax legislation.

O’Neill was Assistant Secretary and Director of Tax Policy for the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department from 1984 through his retirement in 2001. He was involved in developing the Department’s regulations and rulings, coordinating and presenting the Department’s position on program issues to the Legislature and being one of the Department’s voices to the community.

Since leaving his state position he has been active in New Mexico tax issues, consulting for clients such as the New Mexico Municipal League, the New Mexico Association of Counties and private businesses. In 2003 he was Chief of Staff of the New Mexico Blue Ribbon Tax Reform Commission.  In 2010 he served on the New Mexico Government Restructuring Task Force. He is a founding board member and first Secretary-Treasurer of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute.

Albuquerque Press Women and Friends welcome everyone. Individuals are responsible for their own lunch. Non-members will be charged $5 at the door.

Press Women Communications Contest is Open

New Mexico Press Women’s 2018 Communications Contest is now open to receive
entries. The contest is open to anyone working on a broad range of communications media – news and feature writing, editorials, headlines, editing and page design, photography and graphics, radio and television, web and social media, advertising, public relations, speeches, collegiate materials, and fiction and non-fiction books.

Work must have been published/presented during calendar year 2017.

Entry fees are $10 for the first entry and $5 for each succeeding entry for NMPW
members and $15 for the first entry and $10 for each succeeding entry for non-members.

Those entering hard-copy books are required to include an additional $15 to cover the cost of shipping books to judges.

Complete information for entering the just-about-all electronic 2018 competition on the
Communications Contest page of the NMPW web site – – and also at the National Federation of Press Women web site. On both sites, click on competition/contest tab and find 2018 Communications Contest information and guidance on how to enter.

Entry deadlines are January 23 to take advantage of the early bird discount. All entries must be entered by February 6, 2018.

Winners will be notified in April so they may attend NMPW’s state conference in Santa

For more information contact 2018 Communications Contest chair Carolyn Carlson at

Media Literacy in a Fake News World

Northern New Mexico Press Women sponsored a seminar on Sept. 23 that was so great they wanted to share the information. Titled “Media Literacy in a Fake News World” it gave lessons on how to discern the truth in the midst of conflicting stories and confusing ‘facts.’

Consider this guide from the Library Policy and Advocacy Blog.

How to spot fake news

How to spot fake news

There is much more in this brochure prepared by the group

The seminar was sponsored by the Santa Fe Public Library, the Society of Professional Journalists – Rio Grande Chapter, NM Foundation for Open Government, New Mexico Press Women, The League of Women Voters of Santa Fe County and the Facebook Community It’s-the-Peoples-Data the seminar offered great tips to use in your search for the truth.

Santa Fe Press Women host “Media Literacy in a Fake News World”

Santa Fe South Side Library

Northern New Mexico Press Women presents “Media Literacy in a Fake News World” at 1 p.m. Sat., Sept. 23 at the Santa Fe Public Library Southside branch, 6599 Jaguar Drive, Santa Fe.

Panel moderator Inez Russell Gomez, editorial editor of the Santa Fe New Mexican, will lead the conversation about fake news with Albuquerque Journal North editor Mark Oswald, Taos News editor Staci Matlock, PBS Newshour correspondent Kathleen McCleery and author James McGrath Morris.

The event is free and is sponsored by the Santa Fe Public Library, New Mexico Press Women, the Society of Professional Journalists (Rio Grande Chapter), Santa Fe chapter of the League of Women Voters, the Foundation for Open Government and It’s the People’s Data.

For information send an email to To contact the Santa Fe Public Library, Southside branch call 505-955-2820.