Last weekend, I attended the Society of Professional Journalists awards banquet at the glamorous Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. I have sat on the board of the Western Washington Pro division of SPJ since the charter was issued in 1947, and the banquet is always a high point of my year. In addition to the mouthwatering steak—delivered by a waitstaff that, refreshingly, speaks English as a first language—the evening provides a celebration of all that is good in journalism. (While it is true that journalists in Seattle reek of liberal taint, I find it worthwhile to note when they do decide to take journalism seriously.)

This year, as the Washington SPJ expanded to include newspapers from Oregon, Montana, and Alaska—we were having trouble filling the banquet hall with the dwindling number of news outlets in Seattle—we feted the best that the Northwest had to offer. Prestigious organizations such as the Seattle Weekly and the Seattle Times were honored, and everyone enjoyed the cash bar and silent auction.

Part of the reason that we all had such a good time at the SPJ awards banquet was that The Stranger was not in attendance. It did not win any awards; it is not even a member of the SPJ. Back in the early days of The Stranger, the staff no doubt eschewed membership as a show of youthful insolence; now, their lack of membership probably is due to a drug abuser's sense of momentum (or, just as likely, the lack of enough change in the "staff expenses" mason jar to cover the annual fee). But no matter—The Stranger could not honestly win a journalism award even if said journalism award was constructed of belly-button lint and the sweat of desperation, then proffered by a hobo.

Look at this week's "news" section, particularly the brain-dead attempt at character assassination by DOMINIC HOLDEN, in which he calls my good friend Dick Conlin a coward for fighting our hippie mayor's anti- automobile agenda. Further, he mocks Dick for having the audacity to take a much-needed vacation to Greece. Mr. Holden is simply jealous; no doubt he wishes to violate a swarthy man-boy on foreign shores. I would not allow this piece of garbage at the SPJ awards banquet even as a carpet in the men's powder room; such myopic twaddle gives journalism a bad name. ELI SANDERS is no better; his think piece about redistricting is as dry as the Sahara and twice as unnavigable.

When we move into the features and lifestyles section, things do not improve. KELLY O blathers on about her native Detroit for a few pages, never once explaining why we should care about a story about a dead city that is decidedly not in the Northwest. Meanwhile, as the largest film festival in North America goes on somewhere outside her cubicle, LINDY WEST scribbles about a television show that sounds, to my ears, like a Gilligan's Island remake (RIP, Alan Hale Jr.—you were the finest actor of your generation) written by drug-addicted philosophy majors. And PAUL CONSTANT "reviews" a cartoon book without any words that is supposedly intended for adults. Not one award was won in the writing of this issue of The Stranger, you may be certain.

Follow A. Birch Steen at www.twitter.com/strangerslog.