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Just in time for the Best Of issue, we received some very good news from the Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists: We'd won 10 awards and an honorable mention in the chapter's Excellence in Media competition for dailies of circulation 100,000 and more, and weeklies of circulation of 50,000 and more. Those awards included a clean sweep — first, second and third — in the criticism category, and first and second in features writing. The criticism awards went to former arts editor Rebecca Mazzei (for her manifesto on public art in Detroit), music editor Bill Holdship (for our survey of the most powerful folks in the local music biz) and to film reviewer Jeff Meyers. In the features category, Mazzei took first place for her profile of theater director Malcolm Tulip, and managing editor Brian Smith took second for his profile of rapper Invincible. News editor Curt Guyette took a second place for investigative reporting for his work on the Detroit's waste-to-energy incinerator

In feature page design, design director Sean Bieri took first and second places (a clean sweep since no third was awarded); the first was for his "Just Go" cover of then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Bieri, Guyette and I took a second place in news graphics for the comic "The Rise and Fall of Kwame-Man." Cartoonist Mikhaela Reid took a third place for her editorial cartoons, and staff writer Sandra Svoboda received an honorable for her work on questions around the conviction of two men for assault with intent to commit murder in a 2000 Ecorse shooting. (Not to toot our horn too loudly, but we won nearly half as many awards as The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press each, working with a fraction of either paper's staff.)

Svoboda was also honored last week for her work covering claims of wrongful conviction. She placed third in the 2009 Wade H. McCree Jr. Awards for the Advancement of Justice presented by the State Bar of Michigan for Michigan journalists who foster greater public understanding of the legal and judicial system.

And to share one other piece of news, you may have noticed that longtime features editor Brian Smith's title in our masthead is now managing editor. That's an overdue recognition of his growing role in week-to-week and long-term planning for the paper.

That's our best news of late. Now for the Best of Detroit.

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