WCOG President Toby Nixon, right, presented the Key Award to former Mirror editor Carrie Rodriguez in 2014.

WCOG President Toby Nixon, right, presented the Key Award to former Mirror editor Carrie Rodriguez in 2014.

From watchdog to community service, Mirror has a history of excellence | Mirror’s 20th anniversary

The Mirror has received multiple awards over the past 20 years for its journalism and advertising.

The Federal Way Mirror has received multiple awards over the past 20 years for its journalism and advertising.

One banner year was in 2016, when the Mirror won its first General Excellence award, which is the top honor from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. The Mirror staff won 23 total awards that year, including Feature Writer of the Year for reporter Raechel Dawson. The Mirror’s advertising and creative staff, meanwhile, earned five first-place awards among their 12 total. Creative Artist Marcie Shannon produced all 12 of the ads with input from advertisers and staff sales consultants Cindy Ducich and Kay Miller.

In 2014, former Mirror editor Carrie Rodriguez earned the Washington Coalition for Open Government’s (WCOG) Key Award for winning disclosure of public information that Federal Way city officials had wrongly withheld. When the Federal Way City Council was considering applications from 20 candidates to fill a council vacancy, the city initially released only their names.

The city declined to release the application packets, contending that council members are city employees and such “employment” applications are exempt from disclosure. Rodriguez consulted attorneys, including the state attorney general’s ombudsman for open government, and confirmed that council members are not legally city employees and such application materials are public records that must be disclosed.

She published a column challenging the city to release the information. A week later, the council held a special meeting and voted to release the application packets.

The Key Award recognizes individuals or organizations that have made a notable contribution to the cause of open government. The coalition is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that advocates for the people’s right to access government information.

WCOG President Toby Nixon presented the award to Rodriguez on April 24, 2014.

“Carrie Rodriguez served the community well by insisting on disclosure of information that should be routinely provided to any citizen who asks for it,” Nixon said. “Citizens need this kind of information to evaluate candidates for public office.”

Another past honor includes the 2011 WNPA Community Service award for the Mirror’s series titled “Quality of Life.” Quality of life relates to the satisfaction people derive from social, cultural and intellectual opportunities in the place they call home. The series showed Federal Way residents more reasons to appreciate and invest in their city.

In 2012, the Mirror won the WNPA’s Best in Advertising award for its “Reasons to Play for Father’s Day” promotion. The whimsical ad depicted former publisher Rudi Alcott on a rock-climbing wall, surrounded by Father’s Day deals from local businesses. Mirror Photoshop whiz, Marcie Shannon, designed the ad and gave Alcott several colorful tattoos. Multimedia sales reps Cindy Ducich and Mary Lou Goss also contributed.

In 2009, the Mirror’s editorial page received first-place honors from Suburban Newspapers of America, which is the largest suburban and community newspaper trade association in North America, representing over 2,000 newspapers with more than 22 million in circulation. Mainstays of the editorial page at that time included political cartoons by Frank Shiers, Bob Roegner’s weekly “Inside Politics” column, and the late Walter Backstrom’s column, “No Excuses.”

First edition of the Federal Way Mirror, Feb. 4, 1998.

First edition of the Federal Way Mirror, Feb. 4, 1998.

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