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The Association for Alternative Newsweeklies announced finalists for its annual prizes today, selecting Washington City Paper as a top contender in four categories: Photography, Arts Criticism, Media Reporting/Criticism, and Innovation/Format Buster.

Staff photographer Darrow Montgomery, who’s been shooting for City Paper for 23 years, is among the top three entries for the highest circulation category (50,000 and over). This is the fourth time Montgomery will be honored by AAN. He was given honorable mention for his work in the 2008 awards.

Galleries writer Jeffry Cudlin, who won the top prize for arts criticism last year, was again named a finalist for 2009.

Editor Erik Wemple was named in two categories. His cover story about the Washington Post‘s struggle to merge its print and online operations, “One Mission, Two Newsrooms,” is a finalist in the Media Reporting/Criticism category.

Wemple also contributed to the finalist in the Innovation/Format Buster category, “Washington City Paper Seeks Content Bankruptcy,” along with Managing Editor Andrew Beaujon and Asst. Managing Editor Jule Banville.

The Village Voice takes home the most nominations this year with nine. Our sister papers were also nominated. Creative Loafing Atlanta is a finalist for Feature Story for a first-person piece, “Sober,” by Thomas Wheatley; the Chicago Reader‘s Ben Joravsky is a finalist in the Political Column category. Entries from 57 papers made the final cut. Winners will be announced at the annual AAN convention on Friday, June 26, in Tucson.

Only one other paper, LA Weekly, which has a grand total of 68 nominations, has received more AAN awards than Washington City Paper, which now has 51.

Finalists for the Blog category have not been announced.

Pictured: One of Darrow Montgomery’s nominated photos, which appeared with Ruth Samuelson’s cover story, “Truce and Consequences,” about a turf war in Shaw.