The SFJ board is just back from two days of brainstorming and planning for our 2020 conference, and, y’all, I am excited.
This year’s conference will be Oct. 21-24 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Our sessions will be at the Poynter Institute.
We have ideas for a few new events—including a book-themed brunch by the pool—and updating some old favorites.
Our core mission remains the same: The conference is a time to gather to celebrate what we do and support each other in doing it. You’ll leave both inspired and with practical take-home tips, as well as new and strengthened connections.
For questions, contact the contest co-chairs: * Jim Haag, retired features editor at The Virginian-Pilot, 757.639.2675, firstname.lastname@example.org. * Sharon Chapman, features editor at the Austin American-Statesman, 512.445.3647, email@example.com
001 General Feature Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic. Entries can be a single trend story, profile, interview, news feature or general feature of 1,000 words or more. Sidebars accepted. Each entry consists of one story. Multiple bylines accepted.
002 Arts & Entertainment Feature Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic – such as architecture, art, books, dance, movies, music, opera, television or theater. NOTE: Food stories should be entered in one of the food categories. Entries can be a single trend story, interview or feature story. Each entry consists of one story.
003 Short Feature Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words. A word count is required with each entry; entries exceeding the limit will be disqualified. Enter the word count in the “Comments, Credits & Other Info” field on the entry form. Each entry consists of one story.
004 Food Feature A single story focusing on food, not including reviews or commentary. Can be a trend story, personality profile, narrative piece, how-to or other feature treatment of a food topic. Each entry consists of on story.
005 Food Criticism A single story, such as a restaurant review, that offers opinions about a topic or restaurant in the food industry. Each entry consists of one story.
006 Features Series or Project Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts. Sidebars accepted. Can include a written explanation of not more than 250 words on how the story was reported. Each entry consists of the stories that comprise the series or project. Multiple bylines accepted.
007 Narrative Storytelling A single story told in a narrative style, using techniques such as character development, use of dialogue, sense of place, scene building, narrative arc and adherence to theme. Each entry consists of one story.
008 Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio Three stories by the same writer on one features specialty topic, such as arts and entertainment, fashion, health, religion, technology or travel. NOTE: Food writing entries should be entered in the Food Writing Portfolio category. Entries can be trend stories, profiles, interviews, news features, general features or narratives covering the same topic. Columns and commentary are excluded. Each entry consists of three stories from the same writer.
009 Food Writing Portfolio Three stories by the same writer on any food topic. Entries can be stories, columns or reviews. Each entry consists of three stories from the same writer.
010 General Commentary Portfolio A collection of three columns or essays by the same writer on any human interest or specialty topic, excluding editorials. NOTE: Food writing entries should be entered in the Food Writing Portfolio category. Each entry consists of three examples of the writer’s work, showing a range of reporting styles.
011 Arts & Entertainment Commentary Portfolio A collection of three columns, essays or reviews by the same writer on any arts and entertainment topic, excluding editorials. NOTE: Food writing entries should be entered in the Food Writing Portfolio category. Each entry consists of three examples of the writer’s work.
012 Sports Feature Feature treatment of any sports topic. Entries can be a trend story, interview or feature story. Each entry consists of one story.
013 Headline Writing Portfolio A collection of three headlines and accompanying decks by the same writer for feature stories or columns. Headlines must be attached to the stories or columns and can be accompanied by related visuals. Entries will be judged on clarity, accuracy and creativity. One entry consists of three headlines and accompanying decks and stories. NOTE: All entries, regardless of circulation group, compete in one group.
014 Video Storytelling The coverage of any A&E, lifestyle or specialty topic using a single video of not more than 8 minutes in length. One entry consists of one video.
015 Integrated Storytelling The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through the integrated use of print, digital, social media, video and any other platform. One entry consists of the package of stories and other elements used to cover the topic.
016 Features Podcast The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through a podcast. One entry consists of links to three podcast episodes by the same person or persons. NOTE: All entries, regardless of circulation group, compete in one group.
017 Diversity in Digital Features The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic that highlights the diversity within a publication’s audience. Diversity can include race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other ideologies. One entry consists of a story or a series of stories on the same diversity topic. Multiple bylines accepted.
018 Digital Innovation New or improved digital ventures, which can include new or upgraded websites, apps, social-media experiments or other ways to share information in the digital world. Entries will be judged on creativity and impact. Must include a description of no more than 250 words on how the innovation came about, its goals and its success. Submit explanation as a Word document attachment or enter explanation in the “Comments, Credits & Other Info” field on the entry form. One entry consists of one innovation, such as an app or a website. NOTE: All entries, regardless of circulation group, compete in one group.
019 Special Section A special section published in 2019 either in print and/or online once a year. (For sections published two or more times, enter Niche Product.) Submit one hard copy or PDFs of the entire or provide the URL (if it’s an online-only entry) in the comments section on the entry.
Each entry must also include a PDF of the cover or homepage of the section. On the back of each hard-copy issue, attach a printed entry label, which automatically appears after each entry is submitted. Mail entries to Jim Haag, SPJ-SFJ Contest 2019, 4967 Cinder Cone Drive, Victor, ID 83455. Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 15, 2020.
020 Niche Product The best examples of a niche product – such as a magazine or special section – published at least two times a year. Submit two hard copies of each niche product or PDFs of the entire product of the same niche product.
Each entry must also include PDFs of the covers from both of the submitted entries. One entry consists of one copy of each of the two issues and the two PDFs. On the back of each hard-copy issue, attach a printed entry label, which automatically appears after each entry is submitted. Mail entries to Jim Haag, SPJ-SFJ Contest 2019, 4967 Cinder Cone Drive, Victor, ID 83455. Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 15, 2020.
021 Features Digital Presence The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. Submit links to a website; features channel; app; and/or social-media page such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter. Entries are judged on content, which includes timeliness, depth of coverage, voice and style. One entry consists of links to a website, features channel, social-media pages or app.
022 Best Section The best your publication has to offer in printed A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. Submit five sections, either hard copies or PDFs of the entire sections, from the 2019 calendar year. One must be an arts-and-entertainment-themed section, and one must be a Sunday section. (If your publication doesn’t print on Sunday, submit one section from Saturday or from your premiere weekly section and add a note of explanation).
The other three are the editor’s choice from regularly appearing features sections. Entries are judged on content, which includes the range of topics, depth, voice and style; service, which includes the inclusion of everyday people, useful information and the level of reader interaction; and design, which includes the use of photos and illustrations, headlines, navigational tools and the “wow” factor.
One hard copy of each section or PDFs of the entire section is required. One entry consists of one copy or PDFs of each of the five sections and PDFs of three of the submitted section fronts (PDFs of the section fronts only). On the back of each section, attached a printed version of the entry label, which automatically appears after each entry is submitted. Mail entries to Jim Haag, SPJ-SFJ Contest 2019, 4967 Cinder Cone Drive, Victor, ID 83455. Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 15, 2020.
023 Finest in Features Sweepstakes Awards This award honors three publications in each circulation category that garner the most awards in the other 22 categories. No entry is necessary. Instead, points are assigned for each of the other winning entries, and the publications with the highest number of points receive the sweepstakes awards.
ESPN’s Kelley Carter to kick off Society for Features Journalism’s 2019 conference
VENUE UPDATE FOR THURSDAY: We will now meet at St. Andrews, a decommissioned church on Wayne State’s campus, right next to the Communications building, Manoogian Hall. (Not to be confused with St. Andrews Hall on E. Congress, which is a downtown music venue.) If you’re staying at the hotel, the shuttle driver will drop you at Manoogian Hall, and you will see the church just next door.
If you’re coming on your own, we’re at the corner of Warren Ave. and the Lodge service drive. If you’re driving, Garage #2 is just behind the church on W. Kirby and the Lodge service drive. It’s a public, pay parking garage.
ORIGINAL POST: The Society for Features Journalism announces its 2019 conference schedule, starting with its keynote speaker, a Detroit native who’s reporting on the national stage for ESPN’s The Undefeated. Check out the full schedule of sessions below, plus everything you need to know to plan your visit:
When: Wednesday-Saturday, Sept. 18-21, 2019 (Register now!) in Detroit
Tour Downtown Detroit | 2 to 4 p.m. Pick-up and drop-off, Element Detroit at the Metropolitan Never been to Detroit before? Jump on this tour bus, provided by The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. A seasoned guide will show off some of the city’s most beautiful architecture, from Art Deco masterpieces to mid-century modern standards. Register here for the free tour.
Opening reception and registration | 7 to 9 p.m. Pendant Room, Element Detroit at the Metropolitan Meet your fellow features creatures, register for the conference and relax. Enjoy a glass—or two—of wine, some hors d’oeuvres and good conversation. SFJ President Margaret Myers and other officers will welcome guests and introduce some special folks, such as our Diversity fellows and panelists in attendance.
THURSDAY | 09.19.19
9-9:30 a.m.| Coffee and registration, St. Andrews, Wayne State The Element hotel provides free breakfast for guests. We will provide a shuttle from the Element to Wayne State.
9:30 a.m.| Keynote with Kelley Carter from ESPN’s The Undefeated We are thrilled to feature Detroit’s very own Kelley L. Carter! Kelley is an Emmy-winning journalist and the Senior Entertainment reporter for ESPN’s The Undefeated. She got her start at the Detroit Free Press, and since then has written for some of the most recognized news outlets in the business, including USA Today, Vibe, BuzzFeed, Ebony, Essence, ESPN.com, MTV News, and the Chicago Tribune. At The Undefeated, Kelley’s developed a beat that draws from the intersection of entertainment, pop culture, and race.
10:30-11:30 a.m. | The future of Detroit (and who gets to write it)
Reporters—and headline writers—like Detroit. There are news stories: “Five years after bankruptcy, Detroit’s comeback still has a long way to go.” There are stories that use Detroit as a metaphor: “Russia’s Detroit falls on hard times.” And there are stories that target potential visitors: “Detroit: The most exciting city in America?”
But how can we get a real sense of Detroit and its future? For starters, you can listen to the experts—people who live or have lived here and have made time for thoughtful observation. We have four of them on our panel: Nicole Avery Nichols, Urban Affairs Editor at the Detroit Free Press; Candice Fortman of Outlier Media; Martina Guzman, a local features reporter; and Ron Fournier, the former publisher and editor of Crain’s Detroit Business.
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.| Parenting coverage: What works, what falls flat, and why?
Some parenting stories resonate with readers so profoundly that they break traffic records for their publications and spark meaningful, important discussions. Other parenting stories garner almost no traffic at all. Why the disparity? What works and what doesn’t? Is there a magic sauce?
This panel can help you decide whether your publication should have a parenting beat and, if so, how that beat might work best in your part of the country. With Rebecca Dube, head of TODAY Parents Digital for the TODAY show; Ron Fournier, author of “Love That Boy,” a book about his relationship with his son with autism; and Amy Joyce, On Parenting editor for The Washington Post.
12:30- 2 p.m.| Lunch and Show & Steal part I
Back by popular demand! Just as writer’s block is real, so is editor’s block. Get inspiration from some of the best work by SFJ members from around the country. Laura Coffey of TODAY.com and Sharon Chapman of the Austin American-Statesman will guide this highly visual ideas bonanza.
2-3 p.m. | Freelancer AMA
Editors, how strong—and how diverse—is your freelance roster? With shrinking staffs and audiences’ demand for authenticity, now is the perfect opportunity to cultivate your bench and uncover deeper levels of storytelling. And writers, do you know how to develop your niche and do you even need one? How do you manage the business side of things while staying focused on the creative work?
In this frank discussion, we will hear from veteran freelancers who are all in different stages in their careers, with different backgrounds and goals for the future. They will share advice with the editors and the writers in the room on everything from pitching to pricing. With Daniel Hernandez of the New York Times, Janelle Harris of AARP’s Sisters, and Evan F. Moore of Chicago Sun-Times.
3-4 p.m. | Innovation and on-demand audio Why the podcast and on-demand audio space is so ripe for innovation. But first, what even is innovation? And how do you know if you’re doing it? A look at The Washington Post’s approach to podcasting, with a focus on smart approaches to innovation in any medium. With Jessica Stahl, the head of audio for The Washington Post.
4-5 p.m. | How to Cover the Arts on Any Beat For years, local news organizations under financial strain have cut back on arts coverage or eliminated their arts staff altogether. Features writers and beat reporters are asked to pick up the coverage in newsrooms, while writers dedicated to covering the arts are left to navigate the freelance world.
Our panel will give resource-strapped reporters and editors creative and sustainable approaches to incorporating arts coverage in business, features and breaking news stories. With Christopher Wynn, arts and entertainment editor of The Dallas Morning News; and Joshua Barajas, deputy online editor at PBS NewsHour.
5:15-5:45 p.m. | Features 911
We’ll have a 911 box available throughout the conference, and we’ll ask conference attendees to ask questions, both big and small. Jim Haag and Sharon Chapman will lead this quick and lively session.
8:30 a.m. | Coffee, African Room, Department of Communication, Wayne State University We will provide a shuttle from the Element to Wayne State.
9-10 a.m. | Soul for the Food
Telling the stories of a community by writing about its food. Regional cuisines are a product of the area’s history, native ingredients, colonial influences and more. So writing about Tex-Mex, Frogmore Stew, scrapple or other regional dishes gives us opportunities to write about the communities themselves.
This panel will explore how to mine an area’s food scene for the community stories that lie just beyond. With Emily Spicer, features editor at the San Antonio Express-News; Daniel Hernandez formerly of LA Taco; Jamila Robinson of the James Beard Awards Journalism Committee; and Paul Stephen, food writer San Antonio Express-News.
10-11:30 a.m. | Are features stories endangered species? At a time when the industry is focused on investigative, project and data journalism, we ignore—at our own peril—the kinds of feature stories that resonate with our readers. Tom Hallman Jr. will lead a workshop drawn from the real world of storytelling, discussing what’s needed to find, report and write feature stories with impact. More than a class on theory, Hallman will examine his stories, and the stories of other writers, to break down what is required to bring stories to life.
Participants will learn skills they can use immediately. While Hallman has written series and stores as long as 6,000 words, he believes a story does not have to be long, nor does it require months of reporting and writing. Hallman, a senior reporter at The Oregonian, won the 2001 Pulitzer in Feature Writing.
12-1:30 p.m. | SFJ award winners luncheon, Italian Room
We laud the winners of the 2019 Excellence-in-Features Awards.
2-3 p.m. | A new beat for an old magazine
Why on earth would someone spend $50 on a water bottle? What does it say about you if you do? “If you can understand why so many people would spend 50 bucks on a water bottle, you can understand a lot about America in 2019,” writes Amanda Mull, a staff writer at The Atlantic. From why we obsess over fancy S’well bottles to the reason that young Americans are so sick of booze, Mull is carving out a fresh approach to examining contemporary culture, while developing a brand new audience for a 163-year-old publication.
3-4 p.m. |Write the Power: Community stories as told through music writing Music culture coverage isn’t just cool, bringing dismissive hipsters to the fold or sending Boomers into nostalgic overloads. This arts beats is an essential part of journalism because it often tells us the stories of the overlooked and ignored. Whether it’s using a feature on a hip-hop group to showcase how people are powering pride in a crumbling part of town or examining cultural ties by explaining how K-Pop connects a second generation of Americans to their ancestral homeland, these stories unite us through art while bringing different faces and stories to news sites. In a time of representative reporting and diversity course correcting, the music beat can look on point. But the truth is music writers have been reporting on diversity and representation for years by simply finding the best stories about the best art.
We talk with a panel of veteran music and culture writers to explain how music coverage is more than snide album reviews or fawning Q&As; it’s a highly effective way to get diverse people on the front page and timely issues into the news sites. With Mesfin Fekadu, AP Music writer; Imani Mixon, freelance culture writer in Detroit; and Jim DeRogatis, author and former Chicago Sun-Times music critic; and Robert Morast, Senior Arts & Entertainment Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle.
4-5 p.m. |Breaking down R. Kelly In 2000, The Chicago Sun-Times was the first news outlet to publish a report that alleged R. Kelly had engaged in sex with minors. Veteran music reporter Jim DeRogatis has been reporting on this tragic story from Day 1. Now, as the pop singer awaits arraignment on federal sex crimes, we have this special opportunity to sit with DeRogatis and discuss this 20-some-year tragedy.
5:15-5:45 p.m. | Features 911
We’ll have a 911 box available throughout the conference, and we’ll ask conference attendees to ask questions, both big and small. Jim Haag and Sharon Chapman will lead this quick and lively session.
7-9 p.m. | The SFJ Foundation Auction, The Detroit Writing Room
Meet us two blocks from the hotel at Detroit’s only co-working space for writers! And it was co-founded by a former features reporter for the Detroit News. We’ll have an open bar and apps. We hope you will bid big to help support the SFJ Foundation’s Diversity Fellowship program. Emily Spicer and Jim Haag will lead the craziness, with able assistance from those in the crowd.
SATURDAY | 09.21.19
Stevie Wonder Room, michigan.com
9 a.m. | Coffee and doughnuts
9:30-10:30 p.m. | Digital storytelling—10 things digital editors wished you knew
Barbara Allen and Kristen Hare from Poynter will lead this session. Come with questions!
10:30-11:30 a.m. | Show & Steal part II Laura Coffey of TODAY.com and Sue Campbell of Star Tribune Magazine showcase more great feature ideas from SFJ members.
11:30 a.m.-noon | Changing of the guard It’s a time-honored tradition: The current SFJ president, Margaret Myers turns over the gavel – and few surprising pieces of clothing – to the incoming president, Sharon Chapman of the Austin American-Statesman. Then, sadly, it’s time to wrap it up.
Editor’s note: We have updated this post to reflect a few changes from the original. Namely, Detroit’s Aaron Foley will not be joining us due to a scheduling conflict. We will miss him! Also, Sue Campbell from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune will be joining Show & Steal this year.
INDIANAPOLIS, July 10, 2019 – The Society for Features Journalism (SFJ), an organization promoting the craft of writing and innovation in journalism is proud to announce that Wei-Huan Chen, the Arts + Culture Writer and Theater Critic for the Houston Chronicle will receive SFJ’s 2019 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship.
Additionally, a generous first-time grant from Craig Newmark Philanthropies will fund fellowships for five journalists of color to attend SFJ’s September conference in Detroit.
The Society for Features Journalism is a member-based organization whose members write for large and small publications nationally, covering stories about race, identity, culture and community. Every year, SFJ hosts a conference for writers, editors, students and journalists interested in learning about honing their craft. Through the Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship Program, journalists of color can attend the conference for free. The conference allows fellows to gain insight on the workings of features departments nationwide, to network with outstanding journalists, and to share their insights with the journalistic community.
“My aim is foremost to raise awareness, leaving artists and administrators to take action,” said Wei-Huan Chen. “And perhaps most important: during a time of national trauma and distrust, I love writing about beauty, joy, inspiration and brilliance.”
Chen has written for the Chronicle since 2016. He combines arts criticism and investigative reporting to produce groundbreaking coverage that highlights diversity. The SFJ Foundation will cover Chen’s all-expenses paid fellowship to the conference.
Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, assisted the SFJ in funding these fellowships through a generous first-time grant. These funds will give five additional journalists of color the opportunity to attend the conference: helping cultivate conversations about tech trends, the #MeToo movement, social media, and the media’s coverage of communities of color nationwide.
The five Craig Newmark fellow recipients are:
– Nicole Clark, Vice Media, Staff Writer, Los Angeles. Nicole writes on film, television, book reviews and was previously a legal writer.
– Mesfin Fekadu, Associated Press, Music Editor and Senior Journalist, New York. Mesfin has worked at the AP since 2008, overseeing the text music coverage as well as video and photo production.
– Chris Ip, Engadget, Associate Features Editor, New York. Chris writes features on the intersection of culture, society, and technology.
– Prince Shakur, Freelancer, Columbus, Ohio. Prince has written for a variety of publications including Teen Vogue, AfroPunk and Vice. His Two Woke Minds video project won the 2017 Rising Stars Digital Innovator Award from G.L.A.A.D.
– Vanessa Taylor, Afrotech, Writer and Editor, Philadelphia. Vanessa covers politics, culture and religion. As a teenager, she co-founded the Black Liberation Project, a grassroots collective of Black youth based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.
SFJ is excited to bring such a diverse class of fellows to this year’s The Society for Features Journalism National Conference, taking place September 18-21, 2019, in Detroit.
These awards recognize the three publications that garner the most honors in the contest’s other 20 categories. First place: NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune Ten awards, including six firsts (Short Feature, Food Criticism, Food Writing Portfolio, General Commentary Portfolio, Best Niche Product and Best Podcast), two seconds (Best Features Digital Presence and General Feature), one third (Diversity in Digital Features) and one honorable mention (Food Feature) Second place: Austin American-Statesman Six awards, including three firsts (Best Section, Best Features Digital Presence and Arts and Entertainment Feature), one second (Video Storytelling) and two thirds (Arts and Entertainment Commentary Portfolio and Video Storytelling) Third place: The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post Five awards, including two firsts (Food Feature and Food Specialty Writing Portfolio), one second (General Commentary Portfolio) and two thirds (Narrative Storytelling and Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio)
The best regularly occurring printed features sections that focus on A&E, lifestyles or other features coverage. First place: Austin American-Statesman Judge’s comments: What’s impressive about the Austin American-Statesman is that the paper continues to be an authority when it comes to two major aspects that define its city’s culture – food and entertainment. The extremely comprehensive SXSW guide and the dining guide are fine examples. Throughout the features sections, the stories – whether about a new restaurant, a new singer or a wine-tasting journey – are well-written, reported and edited. Longer reads – like the one about the rapper-barber who’s observing gentrification taking hold of his city or the one about the woman who finds love from a father figure later in her life – prove that the paper’s lifestyle coverage isn’t a one- or two-trick pony. Ultimately, the coverage makes you want to visit Austin – with an empty stomach, of course – and have an adventure you’ll talk about for years to come. Second place: (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union Judge’s comments: These features sections are amazing! (And we use exclamation points sparingly.) In addition to having strong writing and reporting by staff writers – bravo, Steve Barnes – as well as freelance contributors, what stands out is the creativity in the design and the wonderful story ideas. It’s obvious from reading these sections – including the food coverage (such as the story about the actual cost of burgers or the one about olives), the various restaurant reviews (real gems) and the theater and arts coverage – that readers are in for something special when they pick up this paper. The sections have a clear understanding about the entertainment, cultural and dining scenes in the Albany area. As a bonus, readers likely will get a chuckle or two from the quick-witted and colorful writing. Third place: (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record Judge’s comments: The News & Record captures the goings-on in its vibrant community through its intriguing features and arts-and-entertainment pieces – whether a lifestyle story about a chorus performing “Messiah” for the last time or a Halloween writing contest for students. It’s easy to see why these stories would appeal to a diverse group of readers. Honorable mention: The (Allentown, Pa.) Morning Call
Best features digital presence
The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. First place: Austin360.com, Sharon Chapman, Eric Webb + Staff, Austin American-Statesman Judge’s comments: As the cultural oasis of Texas and home to SXSW, Austin demands a media organization that rises to the challenge in presenting everything the city has to offer – and to it with personality. The features staff at the Austin American-Statesman has met this challenge with a slick, comprehensive presentation that conveys a playful and lively approach to the information people need to have. Second place: Where NOLA Eats, Todd Price, Ann Maloney + Brett Anderson, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune Judge’s comments: Where NOLA Eats represents an amazing effort by its three-member food staff, hitting every angle and update that residents and visitors alike would need to know to find their way through this food mecca. Third place: Out There Colorado, Staff, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette Judge’s comments: Out There Colorado presents a picture-perfect guide to the outdoor adventures the state has to offer. A job well done in a tough category. Honorable mention: Equal Voice News, Staff, Equal Voice News
Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic.
First place: Amy Silverman, Phoenix New Times, “John McCain: Man of Illusion” Judge’s comments: Silverman’s sharp, authoritative memoriam of John McCain transcends the category of political obituary. With a warm embrace and a gut punch, she delivers a nuanced – and distinctly Arizonan – perspective on parts of the McCain legacy that often are overlooked by national voices who knew the senator as only the “Maverick.” Second place: Katherine Sayre, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, “Fighting for Kevin: A Father Struggles to Keep His Son Alive in Louisiana’s Mental Health Care System” Judge’s comments: Sayre showcases a sharp eye for detail in a story that takes a novel approach to explaining the problems with the state mental health system. It’s a topic that has been taken on before, and Sayre tackles it with ambition. Reggie Seay is an empathetic protagonist whose determination in the face of a byzantine system is as humbling as it is powerful. Third place: Stephanie Earls, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “Joshua’s Journey: Gazette Chronicles a Year in a Young Boy’s Battle with Cancer” Judge’s comments: The intimate and everyday struggle of a family facing the unimaginable comes alive through Earls’ precise and beautiful writing. Joshua is only 4 years old, but his personality jumps off the page, as does his parents’ devotion during his treatment. Honorable mention: Anna Claire Vollers, The Birmingham (Ala.) News/AL.com, “Alabama’s Dinosaur Adventure Land Teaches That Evolution is ‘Dumbest Religion in the History of the World’ “
Arts & Entertainment feature
Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic. First place (tie): Steve Bornfeld, LasVegasNewswire.com, “This is a Shtick-Up!: At 92, Vegas Legend Shecky Greene Still a Comedy Tornado” Judge’s comments: Bornfeld captures the frenetic energy and stream-of-consciousness style of Shecky Greene, and readers feel as though they’re in the room with the comic. Bornfeld’s instincts for mirroring Greene’s style results in an entertaining snapshot. A line early in the story captures the approach: “Chitchats with Shecky Greene demand massive stockpiles of those percussive flourishes (BA-RUMP-BUMP!) that could punctuate Shecky punch lines whooshing toward you in tsunami waves.” First place (tie): Wes Eichenwald, Austin American-Statesman, “Where Life is Still a Cabaret in Manhattan” Judge’s comments: Eichenwald’s portraits and reminiscences about those who moonlight as entertainers in New York’s piano bars and cabarets convey an intimacy borne from personal experience and the memories of subjects who have a thousand stories to tell. A wonderfully observed slice of disappearing life. Second place: Chad Huculak, Edmonton (Canada) Journal, “Fringe Survival Guide: The Illustrated Edition” Judge’s comments: The cartoon treatment of this survival guide is a clever and entertaining way to advance an event. It’s a fresh take on what likely is an annual ritual, and it’s nice that the writer tapped into various segments of the people involved, including performers and critics. Third place: Robrt L. Pela, Phoenix New Times, “Battle of the Ladmo Bag Boys” Judge’s comments: This story takes readers deep into the cult of a faded kids TV show “beloved by all Phoenicians” and a legal flap that threatens a happy ending. We appreciated the energy and the devotion to detail in the story, and Pela does a good job explaining the significance of the show and telling people who might not have watched why they should care.
Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words. First place: Todd Price, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, “One Man Makes All of Arnaud’s Souffle Potatoes” Judge’s comments: Oh, the things we take for granted when we step into a fancy restaurant. We make a reservation and show up with a long list of expectations. If those expectations are met, we leave happy – and we probably don’t give meal preparation a second thought. But Price is here to remind us that behind every delicious bite is dedication, experience and pride of craft in his piece about the man who creates all of the soufflé potatoes for a New Orleans institution. Read this piece, and you’ll understand the pursuit of perfection. Second place: Fish Griwkowsky, Edmonton (Canada) Journal, “Barbarian Art: The Secret Conan Lurking Inside Edmonton’s Outdoor Murals” Judge’s comments: Two words: “Fish Griwkowsky.” This isn’t the first time this writer has delighted us, so it’s not surprising that he’s done it again. Three more words: “Conan the Barbarian.” Perhaps there is no one else in the world who could make a story on a muralist who likes to include Conan in his works read like a work of art: “… the puncher of camels is reliably in nearly every Friesen mural — in effect the Where’s Waldo of Edmonton.” Third place: Andrea Brown, The (Everett, Wash.) Daily Herald, “Alexa Does It All (Except Curse)” Judge’s comments: The future is already here, and for anyone who proudly resists it – or who proudly calls herself a Luddite – get over it. You cannot resist! This is a glimpse – through Brown’s precise prose – of how many of us (most of us?) will be ordering our lives until the next improvement comes along. Honorable mention: Elise Stolte, Edmonton (Canada) Journal, “Hidden Strengths: These Edmonton Shopkeepers Are Gems in the Fight Against Homelessness”
A single story focusing on food, not including reviews or commentary. Can be a trend story, personalityprofile, narrative piece, how-to or other feature treatment of a food topic. First place: Liz Balmaseda, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, “A Sliver of Haiti in Boca Raton” Judge’s comments: Balmaseda writes with ease and elegance as she introduces readers to Chef Greg Romulus and his restaurant. At each step of the way, the flavors of Haitian food come through with her beautiful descriptions. This is a great example of how a story can be written tightly and yet effective. Second place: Chris Malloy, Phoenix New Times, “Eating Arizona” Judge’s comments: This is a compelling narrative with detailed descriptions. Readers get an in-depth taste of the Sonoran Desert and the ingredients it offers when Malloy takes a trip with chefs to forage, hike and harvest. The writing is engaging and educational. Third place: Ian McNulty, The New Orleans Advocate, “Now Fewer Than Ever, New Orleans Po-Boy Bread Bakers Have a Lot Riding on Their Loaves” Judge’s comments: McNulty achieves what he sets out to do by making readers understand why good bread matters for po-boys. The story has a smooth and easy flow as he works his way through the different bakeries that create the bread and seamlessly captures the voices of the bakers.
Honorable mention: Ann Maloney, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, “Father and Son Keep Roman Candy Rolling Through New Orleans”
A single story, such as a restaurant review, that offers opinions about a topic or restaurant in the food industry. First place: Todd Price, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, “Jack Rose Shakes Off the Past With a Playful Attitude, Satisfying Fare” Judge’s comments: This is how a critic should write, describing the moment, the atmosphere and the scene, as well as the subject at hand – in this case, food. Price gives readers a global view on a myopic moment, and we’re richer for it. Second place: Susie Davidson Powell, (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union, “Pebbles Asian Fusion Serves Food True to Roots of Chef’s Native Taiwan” Judge’s comments: Davidson displays fine writing and descriptive ability in her work.
Features series or project
Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts. First place: Jennifer Berry Hawes and Deanna Pan, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “An Undying Mystery” Judge’s comments: A fascinating, horrifying and mesmerizing look at two unsolved 1944 murders. The research and writing are impeccable in this fantastic piece of storytelling. Second place: Staff, Deseret News, “Generation Vexed: Teens and Anxiety” Judge’s comments: A useful series that might not have been done at all if not for reporters simply following up on something they observed. One of the more interesting aspects of it was hyper-local: how stress affects missionaries in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Fascinating. Third place: Janet French, Edmonton (Canada) Journal, “Missing the Mark: An Investigation into Alberta’s Class Sizes” Judge’s comments: Superb work with data analysis, and this piece does something we do far too little as journalists: follow up. This series looks at classroom conditions 15 years after a highly touted study, and this reporting shows little, if any, progress after $2 billion was poured into making attempted corrections. Honorable mention: Britt Kennerly, Florida Today, “The Long Goodbye”
A single story told in a narrative style, using techniques such as character development, use of dialogue, sense of place, scene building, narrative arc and adherence to theme. First place: Jennifer Berry Hawes, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “The Stolen Daughter” Judge’s comments: A wonderful and well-crafted piece with elegant, simple prose, and the chapter approach segments a long story into digestible chunks that provide drama – the good kind. As much as anything else, it’s a story that exemplifies how patience can amplify intrigue – through character development, a smart outline and nonlinear storytelling that stays on path. This is top-notch work – the type of story you don’t want to stop reading, but you also want to rush to the end to find out what’s coming. Second place: Jennifer Berry Hawes, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “In a Blinding Flash” Judge’s comments: Another strong piece by Hawes. This one has great pacing and language, and the story moves like a lulling rhythm that pulls you in and sets you to time. Third place: Joe Capozzi, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, “The Strange Tale of Wolfie and the Addicts” Judge’s comments: This story features wonderful voice and style in the opening section, and it’s smart and effective, without becoming a burdensome trick. Honorable mention: Steve Barnes, (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union, “Waiter Matthew Kirschner Tells His Opioid Tale, in His Own Arrogant Way”
Feature specialty writing portfolio
Three stories by the same writer on one features specialty topic, such as arts and entertainment, fashion, food, health, religion, technology or travel. First place: Liz Balmaseda, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post Judge’s comments: Balmaseda deftly connects people, food and culture in an engaging, sophisticated style. Her passion for food, people and writing comes through in each piece and, in the end, you feel as though you know these people and you know this place. Second place: Keith Spera, The New Orleans Advocate Judge’s comments: Spera oozes cool with great storytelling and a clever way with words. Third place: Larry Aydlette, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post Judge’s comments: Readers surely love this series of historical and celebrity stories. Aydlette combines history, clips, the present and the past in a style that seems effortless. Honorable mention: Kelli Bozeman, inRegister
Food writing portfolio
Three stories, columns or reviews by the same writer on any food topic. First place: Brett Anderson, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune Judge’s comments: Anderson seamlessly merges in-depth reporting with engaging writing. Each piece is smooth and pulls you in, with effortless description and character development. There are moments of fun and levity, but you’re never unclear about how well Anderson scratches beneath the surface. Second place: Liane Faulder, Edmonton (Canada) Journal Judge’s comments: Faulder clearly cares deeply about the community she covers. She has a wide range of reporting skills and knowledge about her city’s business, food policy and the culture. She knows how to put a human face on trends that demonstrate the power of food. Third place: Steve Barnes, (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union Judge’s comments: Barnes’ stories about the business side of food show impressive off-the-news analysis. He clearly follows his community closely and knows when news events will have an effect on people. Honorable mention: Ian McNulty, The New Orleans Advocate
General commentary portfolio
A collection of three columns or essays by the same writer on any human interest or specialty topic, excluding editorials. First place: Haley Correll, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune Judge’s comments: Correll takes a particular instance or event and puts it in universal context. The columns about school are well-reported and illuminate a larger issue affecting the community. Second place: Leslie Gray Streeter, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post Judge’s comments: Streeter takes personal thoughts and raises them from the individual to the universal. Her writing is sophisticated with a distinctive voice. Third place: Bill Knight, Pekin (Ill.) Daily Times Judge’s comments: Knight displays clever wordplay and has a recognizable voice and point of view.
Arts & entertainment commentary portfolio
A collection of three columns, essays or reviews by the same writer on any arts and entertainment topic, including dining reviews but excluding editorials. First place: Tracey O’Shaughnessy, (Waterbury, Conn.) Republican-American Judge’s comments: In muscular, descriptive writing that’s authoritative yet accessible, O’Shaughnessy gives her readers a master class in art appreciation. In a column about a hitherto-unknown Leonardo da Vinci painting, she says: Who else, given “the way the light reflected off the interior caramel trim of the saint’s cloak … [and] the almost microscopic speck of light that bled on the saint’s left thumb.” No pandering here; the writer respects her readers’ intelligence. Second place: Simi Horwitz, Film Journal International Judge’s comments: Horwitz is a consistent winner, and she’s back again this year. Marginalized youth is thriving in movie land, she argues in a masterful piece that displays her command of cinema history. Third place: Matthew Odam, Austin American-Statesman Judge’s comments: Vivid details help convey the flavor of Austin’s food scene in Odam’s work.
Feature treatment of any sports topic. First place: Jesse Hyde, Deseret News, “The Lonely Master: From March Madness to Shangai, the Unlikely Journey of Jimmer Fredette” Judge’s comments: Poignant look at former NBA journeyman Jimmer Fredette, who finds himself playing basketball in China. Hyde chooses the perfect details to show what happens when life doesn’t turn out exactly like you had planned. The lede is wonderful – Fredette building a nativity set from Legos in Shangai while his family celebrates Christmas in the States – and the ending resonates. Second place: Emily Wolfe, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, “Ski. Climb. Write.” Judge’s comments: Wolfe chronicles the path of Dick Dorworth, a champion skier, whose life journey takes him from on the top of the world to an extremely dark place before finding Zen Buddhism. The writing is lively, and the pacing is perfect. Third place: Stephanie Earls, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “Run With the Burros” Judge’s comments: It’s easy to love a story that starts this way: “About 4 miles into the Victor Gold Rush Challenge, my ass went bankrupt.” Earls gives us a first-hand account of her attempt at burro racing, and we’re pretty sure that the “ass” she mentions in the opening line is the donkey – and not her derriere. It’s a fun piece that kept us laughing. Honorable mention: Nathan Van Dyne, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “Kindness Elevated: Six Strangers Turn Mountain Mishap into Mountain Rescue”
The coverage of any A&E, lifestyle or specialty topic using a single video of not more than 8 minutes in length. First place: Hannah Tran, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “Discarded Beauty” Judge’s comments: A beautifully shot and tightly edited piece, “Discarded Beauty” expertly carries out the recycling metaphor without slipping into cliched territory. Heartfelt, honest and an important reminder that art is a critical piece of one’s humanity – and that it shouldn’t be forgone when someone is incarcerated. Second place: Reshma Kirpalani, Austin American-Statesman, “Bad Birds” Judge’s comments: A funny, charming look at an unexpected subject matter. Seeing how these birds – for better or worse – unite a community makes for a quirky and delightful video. Well-shot and edited with a breadth of characters and a healthy but fun dose of education. Third place: Ana Ramirez, Austin American-Statesman, “Swimming for a Dream” Judge’s comments: A touching story that is visually compelling and emotionally moving. The video is focused and features excellent sound editing. Plus, cool underwater shots capture the energy and vibrancy. Honorable mention: Staff, Equal Voice News, “The Future Builders: A Native Community and Family Homes”
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through the integrated use of print, online, social media, video and any other platform. No awards given.
Diversity in digital features
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic that highlights the diversity within a publication’s audience. First place: Emily Wolfe, Montana Outlaw, “Fuel, Oxygen and Heat” Judge’s comments: Wolfe takes readers into the heat of the action, and she shows what it feels like to be at the scene of a fire – and to be a female firefighter dealing with unwanted advances. Second place: Mike Fisher, U Magazine, “International Call for Freedom Leads to UCalgary” Judge’s comments: Fisher shares a poignant story of survival and hope. Third place: Ann Maloney and Todd Price, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, “Race and Diversity Through Food in New Orleans” Judge’s comments: Maloney’s story shows how the common denominator of food can break down economic barriers. Honorable mention: Paula Simons, Edmonton (Canada) Journal, “Pride Over Prejudice: How the Vriend Case Made Legal History at the Supreme Court Two Decades Ago and Established LGBTQ Rights in Alberta – and Across Canada”
Best special section
The best your publication has to offer in printed A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. First place: Staff, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “Colorful Colorado” Judge’s comments: The writing is captivating, and the photos are gorgeous in this special section. If the idea is to entice visitors to see these places, then this section does its job. Second place: Staff, The Villages (Fla.) Daily Sun, “Gridiron 2018” Judge’s comments: This section gets high marks for being highly useful. Just about every angle is covered for fans of this high school team. The design is clean and consistent, and the photo portraits are fun. Third place (tie): Staff, (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union, “Vow” Judge’s comments: Third place ends in a tie between two different types of publications, both well-done. “Vow” has a beautiful slick cover and provides a nice variety of articles. Third place (tie): Staff, The Villages (Fla.) Daily Sun, “Paradise in Pictures” Judge’s comments: Third place ends in a tie between two different types of publications, both well-done. “Paradise in Pictures” must surely be popular with readers, and the caption writers do a nice job keeping it lively. Honorable mention: Ian McNulty, The New Orleans Advocate, “Essential 100: New Orleans Advocate Dining Guide”
Best niche product
The best examples of a niche product – such as a magazine or special section – published at least two times a year. First place: Dining Guides, Todd Price, Ann Maloney and Brett Anderson, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune Judge’s comments: These guides to New Orleans’ food and drinking scene are must-haves for anyone wanting to partake in the city’s glorious culinary tradition. The writing is authoritative, and the fried chicken guide is simply mouth-watering. Second place: 1808, Cindy Loman and Staff, (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record Judge’s comments: A well-done magazine with striking covers and a nice mix of shorter and longer pieces. Love the idea of looking at today’s tourism throughout the eyes of a Revolutionary War hero. Third place: Adore, Katy Danos and Emily Sucherman, The New Orleans Advocate Judge’s comments: We – dare we say it? – adore the covers on these guides to fashion, home design and decor, and we’re sure readers love the helpful tips and advice they receive from the content. Honorable mention: Discover Central Virginia, Carrie Sidener and Jon Ness, The (Lynchburg, Va.) News & Advance Honorable mention: Upstate, Staff, (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union
DIVISION 2 | Circulation 90,000 to 199,999
Finest in features sweepstakes awards
These awards recognize the three publications that garner the most honors in the contest’s other 20 categories. First place: The Virginian-Pilot Eleven awards, including four firsts (Narrative Storytelling, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio, Best Special Section and Best Niche Product), one second (Best Special Section), five thirds (Best Section, Food Feature, Food Criticism, Sports Feature and Integrated Storytelling) and one honorable mention (Video Storytelling) Second place: San Antonio Express-News Twelve awards, including two firsts (Best Digital Features Presence and Food Criticism), three seconds (Food Feature, Food Criticism and Best Podcast), three thirds (Narrative Storytelling, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio and Food Writing Portfolio) and four honorable mentions (Features Series or Project, Best Section, General Feature and Best Special Section) Third place: The (Portland) Oregonian/OregonLive.com Nine awards, including four firsts (General Feature, General Commentary Portfolio, Video Storytelling and Integrated Storytelling), four seconds (General Feature, Features Series or Project), General Commentary Portfolio and Sports Feature) and one third (Short Feature)
The best regularly occurring printed features sections that focus on A&E, lifestyles or other features coverage. First place: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Judge’s comments: This section is impressive in breadth and local knowledge. The weekend section is easy to scan and contains loads of service material. Cover subjects include creative explorations of breakfast, a great “Mix and Match” Easter foods section and a summer guide to Pittsburgh. But the most impressive is the section on Mister Rogers. For this paper, his life was hometown story, so a 50th anniversary section would seem a given. But the Post-Gazette went all out and, surprisingly, the stories never felt repetitive. The section’s design is lovely, and each page holds something special. Second place: St. Louis Post-Dispatch Judge’s comments: This section is full of inspired and creative content. For subscribers and frequent readers, there are regular columns, but there also are strong stories to pull in casual readers. For example, the “Fallen Arches” article is easy to scan, funny and irreverent. At the same time, it is informative in a way that could turn outsiders into insiders. We also loved “Women Shaping Our Arts Scene,” which profiles not just the normal arts folks but also a librarian and beverage director. The section covers a wide array of subjects – theater, books, parenting, society, pets, travel – giving readers much to choose from. Third place: The Virginian-Pilot Judge’s comments: The section covers a wide variety of ideas and is generally strong. The staff tackles the serious subject of race but also takes on traditional features content – food (the writing, by the way, is top-notch), theater and goings-on about town. We liked the “Out and About” page, which has content that lets people know where to be and what to do. Honorable mention: San Antonio Express-News
Best features digital presence
The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. First place: MySAFood, The Taste Team, San Antonio Express-News Judge’s comments: MySAFood has a deep online presence, with diverse topics, strong social media, effective multimedia efforts and great photos. It’s easily the most well-rounded, user-friendly, interesting and polished of the lot. Second place: baltimoresun.com/entertainment, Staff, The Baltimore Sun Judge’s comments: This is a strong site with nice social media feeds. Third place: sunsentinel.com/goingout, Gretchen Day-Bryant + Staff, (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Sun Sentinel Judge’s comments: Strong social media feeds enhance this site.
Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic. First place: Tom Hallman Jr., The (Portland) Oregonian/OregonLive.com, “Dear Della” Judge’s comments: Wow. This story sets Hallman apart from the rest. He saw potential and acted upon it. He did not know where it might lead, most likely a dead end, but he embarked on the journey and discovered a hidden gem. The fragrance of determination wafts through this story. Hallman employs many devices to deliver a compelling tale. The fundamentals of great stories include conceiving a great idea, collecting valuable information and constructing a compelling tale, and Hallman masters each step in that process. Second place: Bethany Barnes, The (Portland) Oregonian/OregonLive.com, “Targeted” Judge’s comments: Barnes did an amazing amount of reporting and homework. She spent a considerable amount of time trying to understand the tremendous stress and strain this process created for this family. The depth of her reporting is unmatched in this way. Barnes writes with authority, especially at the beginning of the story, because of all the work she did to understand the topic. This is the kind of story that causes readers to think about an issue that they had likely never considered. It’s both troubling and complex without easy answers. Third place: Michael Mayo and Megan O’Matz, (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Sun Sentinel, “For Families of Parkland Shooting Victims, Awful Truth Came After Hours of Waiting” Judge’s comments: Superb work. The story captures the frustration of grieving parents hungry for information about their children amid the mass tragedies. We felt the frustration, just reading the story. Honorable mention: Richard Marini, San Antonio Express-News, “Still Not Too Old to Bump and Grind”
Arts & entertainment feature
Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic. First place: Rod Stafford Hagwood, (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Sun Sentinel, “For Marjory Stoneman Douglas Drama Students, a ‘Spring Awakening’ Like No Other” Judge’s comments: This engaging look at those involved in a South Florida production of “Spring Awakening” – which features several Parkland shooting survivors – gets behind the headlines to offer a glimpse at how trauma can affect the making of art. Second place: Cristina Bolling, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, “They Never Expected His Gift. Now They Must Help Him Make the Biggest Choice of His Young Life.” Judge’s comments: Bolling’s profile of the phenomenally talented 17-year-old cellist Drew Dansby doesn’t solely focus on him, as intriguing as he is. It also delves into what it’s like being a parent of someone labeled “brilliant” and the burden of making parental decisions in such a situation. Third place: Bobby Olivier, NJ Advance Media, “Good … For a Girl” Judge’s comments: Sexual harassment is an issue in the music business, and this can be especially true on the local level where, as Olivier reports in his engrossing conversation with several female musicians on the New Jersey club scene, such behavior is being “swept under the stage, gig after gig, weekend after weekend.”
Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words. First place: Carlos Frias, Miami Herald, “It Has Vanilla, Nutella Filling — and 100 Croquetas. Behold Miami’s ‘Croqueta Cake.’” Judge’s comments: When you read these words – “This moment will be remembered like the day Sir Alexander Fleming left a petri dish uncovered and accidentally discovered penicillin. Because this was the day the croqueta cake was born” – you know you are in the hands of a master. This story is at once solid, informative, compelling, informative and playful – which is exactly what food writing should be. We’re pretty sure we all need to fly to Miami and insist that Carlos treat us to a croqueta cake. Second place: Cristina Bolling, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, “Hen Hangs Out at Harris Teeter, Becomes a Summer Celebrity” Judge’s comments: Let us be clear: We like animals. In fact, we love animals, but most of the animal stories we encounter are over-the-top or silly or way too sweet. This gem of a story is simply a lovely read – a story about a phenomenon that has captivated a community. The captivator just happens to be a chicken and, in this instance, that is pretty wonderful. Third place: Eder Campuzano, The (Portland) Oregonian/OregonLive.com, “Can I Finally Call Myself an American?” Judge’s comments: This entry is moving, thoughtful and relevant to the current culture. If anyone ever contemplates what it means to call oneself an American – if anyone wants to NOT take that adjective for granted – this is the article they should read. Honorable mention: Mark Gauert, (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Sun Sentinel, “The Question I Asked Marjory Stoneman Douglas”
A single story focusing on food, not including reviews or commentary. Can be a trend story, personalityprofile, narrative piece, how-to or other feature treatment of a food topic. First place: Carlos Frias, Miami Herald, “His Pizza is so ‘Extraordinary,’ the Government Granted Him a U.S. Visa” Judge’s comments: An extraordinary slice-of-life story with a localized news peg. It’s a long piece, but we stayed with it and kept thinking, “This would make a great movie!” All because of the way Frias framed the story, developed his characters and put a face on a controversial issue Second place: Paul Stephen, San Antonio Express-News, “For the Best Tamales, Love is the Secret Ingredient” Judge’s comments: This story features good sourcing and good transitions and is a good length. And it’s a shoe-in for Show & Steal. Third place: Matthew Korfhage, The Virginian-Pilot, “For the First Time in Decades, Virginia Beach Schools Will Be Making Scratch Food” Judge’s comments: Scratch cooking in schools? Shut the door! We bet this story was a talker. Korfhage folds in much information but never lets it muddle the narrative. Lots of spinoff story potential in the chef’s plans: culinary classes for kids, scratch recipes for moms, tips and tricks to get kids to eat their vegetables. We love the ongoing news value of this one – and the strong visuals to help drive clicks. Honorable mention: Kelly Brant and Thomas Metthe, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “Well-Read Feast”
A single story, such as a restaurant review, that offers opinions about a topic or restaurant in the food industry. First place: Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, “Carnitas Lonja Puts Pork on a Pedestal” Judge’s comments: Sharp, lively writing with phrases that take you by surprise. A joy to read. Second place: Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, “3 Stars for Clementine in Castle Hills” Judge’s comments: Another strong effort from Sutter, this one features lovely writing and a smart structure. Third place: Matthew Korfhage, The Virginian-Pilot, “Virginia Beach Now Has a Restaurant With Glorious Hand-Pulled Chinese Noodles” Judge’s comments: It’s easy to admire the depth of knowledge in this piece and the clarity with which it is presented. Honorable mention: Ian Froeb, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “At Savage, Logan Ely Turns Humble Ingredients into One of the Year’s Best New Restaurants”
Features series or project
Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts. First place: Mike Stocker, Doreen Christensen, Yiran Zhu, (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Sun Sentinel, “Voices of Change” Judge’s comments: Beautiful, compelling, thoughtful and engaging. Top-notch writing, photography and design. Second place: Noelle Crombie, Dave Killen, Beth Nakamura, The (Portland) Oregonian/OregonLive.com, “Ghosts of Highway 20” Judge’s comments: A rich collection of media; each element is finely crafted and presented. Any other year, this would win. Third place: David Frese, The Kansas City Star, “When Polio Struck” Judge’s comments: An important topic, intelligently researched and reported, presented with lively writing, lovely photography and strong design. Honorable mention:Melissa Fletcher Stoeljte, San Antonio Express-News, “Sold for Sex”
A single story told in a narrative style, using techniques such as character development, use of dialogue, sense of place, scene building, narrative arc and adherence to theme. First place: Joanne Kimberlin, The Virginian-Pilot, “On America’s Founding River, Two Men Battle Each Other for Progress and History” Judge’s comments: This excellent piece illustrates the tension in a fight over a massive power-line project through the eyes of two men on opposite sides of the issue. The pair have never met, yet Kimberlin seamlessly stitches their stories together with details that bring the characters, the landscape and the project to life. A long-simmering infrastructure dispute doesn’t automatically come with inherent drama, but the writer crafts a compelling narrative that hooks the reader from the get-go, even if they’ve never set foot near the James River. Second place: Chabeli Herrera, Miami Herald, “A Split-Second Decision Saved His Life in the Parkland Shooting. The Trauma Haunts Him.” Judge’s comments: The horror of a shooter menacing the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the agonizing aftermath for its survivors vividly come to life in this feature. Told through the eyes of a wounded student, the story does a deft job of placing readers in the moment that thrust Parkland students, teachers and families into the spotlight. But the piece does just as good a job telling the stories of the bonds that form afterward – exploring both existing relationships (such as those between parents and son) and new connections (like the friendship between a 15-year-old and an off-duty officer who came to his aid as he fled the school with a gunshot wound). Third place: Martin Kuz, San Antonio Express-News, “Returning to War to Find Peace of Mind” Judge’s comments: A walk down a hilltop trail in Afghanistan changed Luke Cifka’s life when an explosion cost the soldier his legs. This feature, tied to his return to the country years later through Operation Proper Exit, delivers a clear-eyed, well-paced story of the soldier’s life before and after the catastrophic blast. Honorable mention: Matthew Stanmyre, NJ Advance Media, “In N.J.’s Underground Arm Wrestling Scene, Grunts, Groans, Grimaces Rule and Only the Strong Survive”
Features specialty writing portfolio
Three stories by the same writer on one features specialty topic, such as arts and entertainment, fashion, food, health, religion, technology or travel. First place: Elizabeth Simpson, The Virginian-Pilot Judge’s comments: Simpson’s smooth storytelling and style bring her subjects to life. For example: “The arms of the 4-year-old sisters move gracefully through the air, reminiscent of babies waving their arms in cribs.” The writing immediately draws in readers and keeps them engaged. This collection of health stories covers a range of thought-provoking issues: A teen with an unusual growth spurt caused by a brain tumor. A dentist who notifies the CDC about a rare pulmonary disease. And parents dealing with genetic mutations in two of their three triplets. Each is well-researched and reported, but ultimately, this first-place win comes down to the writing. Second place: Jeremy Reynolds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Judge’s comments: Reynolds’ collection of stories highlight surprising aspects to coverage of classical music. Issues such as age discrimination among symphony orchestras bring an interesting comparison to peak athletes and the challenge for musicians to remain on top of their game. Hearing loss in classical musicians because of acoustic shock brings another aspect. And the trend across the country of musicians with mental illness forming symphonies – and what that can mean for their therapy – offers additional insight. Each piece goes deep in its reporting, giving readers an appreciation for the subject. Third place: Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, San Antonio Express-News Judge’s comments: Fletcher Stoeltje doesn’t shy away from difficult issues. Her piece on the opioid crisis takes a look at how doctors who misinterpret CDC guidelines are harming patients. A look at diabetes-related amputations among diabetes sufferers relates to the disproportional number of cases among the local Hispanic population. Another story examines the moral issues involved in heart surgery for opioid addicts. Each piece is well-researched and thoughtfully written, presenting the science in understandable language and the compelling stories of the real people at the center of the topic. Honorable mention: Spencer Kent, NJ Advance Media
Food writing portfolio
Three stories, columns or reviews by the same writer on any food topic. First place: Jessica Remo, NJ Advance Media Judge’s comments: Remo’s writing is arresting and personable, with just the right touch of sass. It has a compelling sense of immediacy that declares, “You must read this story – now!” And while the topics might seem simple, they are deceptively so. On close examination, it’s clear that there is a great deal of solid reporting in each story. Remo’s fresh voice puts her on the leading edge of the new crop of excellent, accessible food writers. Second place: Carlos Frias, Miami Herald Judge’s comments: Frias consistently turns out arresting, must-read ledes. To that, he adds vivid imagery and inspired similes – all of which make his writing vibrant. His keen grasp and playful use of language helps bring his stories to life, and his sense of place telegraphs that he knows the communities he covers extremely well. Third place: Chuck Blount, San Antonio Express-News Judge’s comments: The pacing of these stories helps makes them eminently readable, and the lively quotes make them fun, accessible and compelling. The use of smart topics, a hyper-local approach and accessible packing (with tips bars, boxes and multiple entry points) makes this entry a winner. Honorable mention: Daniel Neman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
General commentary portfolio
A collection of three columns or essays by the same writer on any human interest or specialty topic, excluding editorials. First place: Samantha Swindler, The (Portland) Oregonian/OregonLive.com Judge’s comments: Swindler’s pieces begin with ordinary events and lead to deeply felt truths: the sense that the dead should be left to rest in peace, the heart connection we desire to our own flesh and blood, the ominous swell of a mob mentality. These are fine stories with shimmering revelations. Second place: Tom Hallman Jr., The (Portland) Oregonian/OregonLive.com Judge’s comments: A long-lost letter. An intriguing obit. In these luminous and sometimes mystical pieces, dogged journalistic sleuthing meets great writing to uncover real-life mysteries, illuminating the importance of time, remembrance and human connection. Third place: Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Judge’s comments: Martin is a thought-provoking writer whose topics include urban myth, Russian classic literature and The Rolling Stones. The story about the second-hand football made momentarily presentable with shoe polish almost brought us to tears.
Arts & entertainment commentary portfolio
A collection of three columns, essays or reviews by the same writer on any arts and entertainment topic, including dining reviews but excluding editorials. First place: Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Judge’s comments: This commentary is rich in common sense. Plain-spoken with an intelligence that doesn’t draw undue attention to itself, Martin’s unfussy vernacular style puts the focus squarely on the topic at hand, bringing out the underlying ideas in an almost casual but utterly clear fashion. At his best, he spins laconic music that connects in a special way, much like one of his subjects here, singer-songwriter Jason Isbell: “You walk out night after night and worry about the worn places on your guitar’s neck and find the words you can’t say any other way standing up before a crowd of strangers who also can’t be anywhere else right now.” Second place: David Zurawik, The Baltimore Sun Judge’s comments: Fierce and relentless, Zurawik is no mere TV reviewer. He is a social critic who takes TV itself to task. In a “Z on TV” column about the once-almighty, now-impotent broadcast networks, he argues that their abdication of public-service programming and capitulation to junk-food entertainment is a danger to democracy. Third place: Sadie Dingfelder, The Washington Post Express Judge’s comments: Chatty, pointed and wonderfully witty, these “Staycationer” columns invite readers to ride shotgun as Dingfelder explores D.C. This isn’t rocket science to be sure, but the work is smart and on the money. Honorable mention: Jeremy Reynolds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Feature treatment of any sports topic. First place: Joseph Atmonavage, NJ Advance Media, “The Making of Doris Burke” Judge’s comments: This is an excellent example of a story about a woman succeeding in a male-dominated area of sports that is actually about the woman, not the fact that she is a woman. Great depth in the interviews and research, and great use of quotes about the subject rather than quotes from the subject. Second place: Andrew Greif, The (Portland) Oregonian/OregonLive.com, “The Power of Asking for Help: Former Oregon Ducks Lineman Zach Okun on his Battle with Mental Health” Judge’s comments: These are two critical issues in sports: concussions and mental health, and this story puts a likable human face on both. It’s rare to hear about an athlete who had to choose not to pursue sports and be hailed for doing that. Great job telling a different side of the story of an athlete overcoming obstacles. Third place: Harry Minium, The Virginian-Pilot, “ODU Legend Ronnie Valentine Disappeared Among the Homeless in Miami for Decades. We Set Out to Find Him.” Judge’s comments: This is an ambitious project, and it’s well-worth the investment of time and other resources. The depth of human connections forged through sports is intense, and Minium captures that well. Honorable mention: Sam Mellinger, The Kansas City Star, “Good and Lucky: How Patrick Mahomes Wound Up in Kansas City, Quarterbacking the Chiefs”
The coverage of any A&E, lifestyle or specialty topic using a single video of not more than 8 minutes in length. First place: Samantha Swindler, The (Portland) Oregonian/OregonLive.com, “DNA Test Reunites Korean Adoptees 34 Years Later” Judge’s comments: Such a touching story told in 3.5 minutes. The writing is tight and effective; the music is appropriate; and the story is fascinating. The result is one of those, “Who’s crying? I’m not crying” moments. But, yes, we were crying. Second place: Carlos Frias, Amy Reyes and Matias Ocner, Miami Herald, “We Went on a Croqueta Tour of Miami. Five Stops in One Day — the Most-Miami Adventure.” Judge’s comments: We absolutely loved this, from the two on-screen folks to the animation. Great way to make food reviews ultra-accessible. Third place: Jessica Remo and Andre Malok, NJ Advance Media, “Crazy Cranford Cowboy Rides a Homemade Battery-Powered Horse” Judge’s comments: This one made us laugh. The video features a great on-screen presence and quite a weird story to tell. Honorable mention: Shelly Yang, The Kansas City Star, “Who Is Dr. MooMoo?” Honorable mention: Kristen Zeis, The Virginian-Pilot, “No Turning Back: A Transgender Sailor’s Journey”
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through the integrated use of print, online, social media, video and any other platform. First place: Noelle Crombie, Dave Killen and Beth Nakamura, The (Portland) Oregonian/OregonLive.com, “Ghosts of Highway 20” Judge’s comments: We were totally glued to this entry. Terrific storytelling and outstanding research about an unbelievable topic. It is incredible that these heinous crimes went on for so long. The woman who escaped is on this Earth for a reason. The story brings out emotions – and that makes an excellent feature. Second place: Yvonne Wenger and Diana K. Sugg, The Baltimore Sun, “The Wait” Judge’s comments: This story tugs at our emotions. Terrific lede, and nice use of visual and auditory cues – kids playing, quiet house. The story stayed with us long after we finished it. Third place: Kaitlin McKeown and Matthew Korfhage, The Virginian-Pilot, “Hampton Roads’ Only Lesbian Bar Under Threat” Judge’s comments: This story made us want to know these women and their community. The balanced piece showed both their side and the city’s side, but it seems clear that discrimination is present. Stories like these need to be told. Honorable mention: Mike Stocker, Doreen Christensen, Yiran Zhu, (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Sun Sentinel, “Voices of Change”
Diversity in digital features
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic that highlights the diversity within a publication’s audience. First place: Mike Stocker, Doreen Christensen, Yiran Zhu, (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Sun Sentinel, “Voices of Change” Judge’s comments: This excellent digital project focuses on the intersection between race and guns in America. Its creators use the online medium for maximum impact. The video testimonies, coming one after another, are extremely powerful. The feature, rooted in the aftermath of the murders of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, gives voice to the stories of survivors focusing on black and Latino students, teachers and community members. The work honors those speaking up about how gun violence in the U.S. is not experienced equally and their efforts to address that. Second place: Molly Solomon, Oregon Public Broadcasting, “Longstanding Equity Issues At Clark College Alienate Staff, Students” Judge’s comments: It’s clear that a tremendous amount of work went into this feature on long-standing equity issues on the staff of a Washington state college. The piece includes many voices from staff members and students talking about a serious concern – that the diversity of the staff doesn’t come close to reflecting a student body that is 40 percent students of color. Good use of audio and written elements in the digital presentation. Third place: Francisco Vara-Orta, Holly Peele and Maya Riser-Kositsky, Education Week, “Hate in Schools” Judge’s comments: This feature, rooted in research that is national in scope, does a fine job backing up the data with details and voices. It demonstrates how hundreds of examples of hate-fuelled acts – tied to religion, ethnicity and race – have crept into schools and the effect it has on the students confronted with that hate and bias. The piece is well-presented online with digital elements that help push the conversation forward. Honorable mention: Brittany Britto, The Baltimore Sun, “How a Baltimore Resident is Taking the City’s Dirt Bike Culture and Turning It into STEM Education for Youths”
Best special section
The best your publication has to offer in printed A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. First place: Staff, The Virginian-Pilot, Food Issue of Distinction Judge’s comments: The thick cover and heavy paper pay off in making this special section a keeper. But that’s just the surface. The publication covers a variety of topics written to keep readers interested, and the photography is consistently beautiful. Second place: Staff, The Virginian-Pilot, “Holiday Food Guide: A Taste of Virginia” Judge’s comments: This section features well-written, informative feature stories. Third place: Rachel Mull, The Baltimore Sun, “Fall Arts Guide” Judge’s comments: This special section is well-organized and highly useful. Honorable mention: Emily Spicer, Paul Stephen and Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, “Top 100 Dining & Drinks”
Best niche product
The best examples of a niche product – such as a magazine or special section – published at least two times a year. First place: Distinction, Staff, The Virginian-Pilot Judge’s comments: This perennial powerhouse shines again – with its stellar covers, great mix of stories, excellent writing and crisp design. “The Guide to Virginia Bourbon” is comprehensive, well-crafted and fun. Love the Hit List. Second place: Prime, Mark Gauert, Anderson Greene and Staff, (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Sun Sentinel Judge’s comments: A strong effort throughout, with stunning covers and a breadth of coverage inside. Impressive. Third place (tie): Howard, Rachel Mull and Staff, The Baltimore Sun Judge’s comments: This publication, which focuses on Howard University, features solid writing and design. Third place (tie): VA Growler, Staff, The Virginian-Pilot Judge’s comments: A well-written and well-designed guide to the craft beer and liquor offerings in southeast Virginia. Informative and fun. Honorable mention: Special Editions of Go!, Gabe Hartwig, Amy Bertrand and Staff, St. Louis Post- Dispatch
DIVISION 3 | Circulation 200,000 and up
Finest in features sweepstakes awards
These awards recognize the three publications that garner the most honors in the contest’s other 20 categories. First place: The Washington Post Seventeen awards, including five firsts (Best Section, Food Writing Portfolio, Sports Feature, Video Storytelling and Diversity in Digital Features), five seconds (Narrative Storytelling, Food Writing Portfolio, General Commentary Portfolio, Video Storytelling and Best Niche Product), six thirds (Best Features Digital Presence, Food Criticism, Arts and Entertainment Commentary Portfolio, Video Storytelling, Best Special Section and Headline Writing Portfolio) and one honorable mention (Arts and Entertainment Commentary Portfolio) Second place: Los Angeles Times Nine awards, including three firsts (Food Feature, General Commentary Portfolio and Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio), four seconds (Best Section, General Feature, Food Criticism and Features Series or Project) and two thirds (General Feature and General Commentary Portfolio) Third place: Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times Six awards, including one first (Narrative Storytelling), three seconds (Food Feature, Arts and Entertainment Commentary Portfolio and Intregrated Storytelling) and two honorable mentions (Features Series or Project and Best Niche Product)
The best regularly occurring printed features sections that focus on A&E, lifestyles or other features coverage. First place: The Washington Post Judge’s comments: The section is the right blend of short, bright features for skimmers and deeper dives for engaged readers. The photos are played big and bold, enticing readers to dig into longer features on culture, arts and celebrity. The food section, in particular, reflects the diversity of the community with drop-dead gorgeous design and well-written features and recipes. The weekend entertainment and home and garden sections are well-organized with expert guidance, as well as fun and engaging reads. The weekend tab serves locals and visitors, and that’s not always easy to do. Second place: Los Angeles Times Judge’s comments: The L.A. Times delivers on the expected glitz and glamour while also serving up expert guidance for eating and going out. Culture stories provide context for understanding the business of entertainment as well as the effect that the arts have on our psyche. Surprising illustrations — even poster pages! — put a smile on readers’ faces Third place: The Dallas Morning News Judge’s comments: The section is well-designed, with engagingly composed stories that demonstrate seasoned reporting chops. These pages also boast some of the best headlines around, like: “Opera Star Maria Callas and Dallas critic John Ardoin were close friends – until suddenly they weren’t.” If that doesn’t make you flip to Page 8E, nothing will. Honorable mention: (Minneapolis) Star Tribune
Best features digital presence
The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. First place: FeedMe, Staff, Newsday Judge’s comments: FeedMe excels on all platforms, especially FeedMe TV, which spotlights individual restaurants, communities and dining trends with beautiful cinematography, use of graphics and in-depth info on history, business strategies and, of course, food. The hosts are knowledgeable and engaging. The FeedMe website is comprehensive and easy to navigate. Second place: Datebook, Staff, San Francisco Chronicle Judge’s comments: When we saw this new San Francisco Chronicle site, we immediately sent it to our newspaper’s web editor to see if we could do this, too. It’s a one-stop shop of all information anyone interested in the cultural arts would need – especially at a time when so many papers are cutting back on this coverage. It’s well-presented and easy to navigate. Third place: Style, Staff, The Washington Post Judge’s comments: This one is clean and extensive, with stellar writing, photography and design.
Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic. First place: David Gambacorta and Helen Ubiñas, The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Shot and Forgotten” Judge’s comments: Heartbreaking and eye-opening, this story is an excellent example of hard news reporting and human storytelling. It reveals a national shame – how victims of gun violence are not getting help – without coming down on either side of the gun-control debate. It feels like a call to action, too – it’s hard to imagine someone reading this and not wanting to advocate for change. Second place (tie): Corina Knoll, Los Angeles Times, “As Deadly Flames Approached, a Mother Called Her Daughters to Say Goodbye” Judge’s comments: What an emotional journey Knoll tells a dramatic story without melodrama and with much urgency. It’s a specific catastrophe – trapped in a fire and believing you’re not going to survive – in which universal truths about love, life and family emerge. You can guess from the beginning that the subject did, in fact, survive, but still you can’t stop reading and wondering, “Will she make it? What happens next?” A great example of a less traditional approach to storytelling from a news event, done with authority and confidence. Second place (tie): George Johnson and Rajul Punjabi, Tonic.com, “When Racism Anchors Your Health” Judge’s comments: A personal story that illustrates much larger issues – the legacy of slavery and racism that permeates our culture and which has created disparities that continue. Not every writer has the talent to use their own life to illustrate a larger issue. Here, the writing, shared details and reported parts all work together seamlessly. Third place: Esmeralda Bermudez, Los Angeles Times, “‘I’m Here. I’m Here.’ Father Reunited With Son Amid Tears, Relief and Fear of What’s Next” Judge’s comments: The writing in this story is plain and straightforward, but the images that Bermudez chooses to focus on tell a truly moving story. Small details – like what the father cooked in preparation for his son’s return, or notes on his physical state – tell a story independent of the political climate at hand (at one point, the father mentions how little he knows of President Donald Trump).
Arts & entertainment feature
Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic. First place: Brendan Meyer, The Dallas Morning News, “Almost Famous: ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ Dad Faces Reality of Turning Viral Fame into Lasting Legacy” Judge’s comments: If you’re the only person who missed this viral sensation, relax. Just read this story, and you’ll be caught up. This is a compelling look at the aftermath of so many dreams sparked in the social-media age. We were hooked from beginning to end. Second place: Chris Hewitt, (Minneapolis) Star Tribune, “The Secret Life of Seats” Judge’s comments: This made us so happy! A clever look at something ordinary – yet important – with actionable, useful information to boot. A home run. Third place: Chris Ip, Engadget, “On the Nose” Judge’s comments: Great profile of an unconventional artist.
Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words. First place: Jason Nark, The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Can Being Nice to Cows Save the World? A Hindu Man in the Poconos Would Like to Believe So.” Judge’s comments: This story looks at a novel concept – the Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary. The piece features a nice lede and points out the contrast in lifestyles and cultures. The ending packs a punch: “They accept the way of life,” he said in the barn as cows downstairs mooed. “We are called human beings, you know, but we just don’t be. We are always becoming. ‘I want to become a doctor. I want to become rich.’ We just don’t be. Cows, they just be, no matter what it is.” Second place: Terri Peters, Today.com, “‘God Heard My Prayers’: Mom Who Fosters Sick Kids Adopts Son Before His Death” Judge’s comments: A telling, touching story about a generous family, whose members live their religion and values and who are willing to carry the pain their mission entails. Not sweet, not sorrowful – just real. Third place: Mike Fisher, Toronto (Canada) Star, “Rustic Boating is Mainly for the Birds in La Tovara National Park” Judge’s comments: Nice, descriptive writing, such as this gem, “It’s a boat-billed heron peering down peevishly at us, a small ruff of orange feathers tucked like a dinner napkin above its ample belly.” And the piece offers a great sketch of that rare breed – birders – and their strange habits.
A single story focusing on food, not including reviews or commentary. Can be a trend story, personality profile, narrative piece, how-to or other feature treatment of a food topic. First place: Amy Scattergood, Los Angeles Times, “At 95, Mexican Food Expert Diana Kennedy Is Growing Her Own Coffee and Making Her Own Tortillas” Judge’s comments: A delightful read. Scattergood’s vivid descriptions transport readers to Diana Kennedy’s home, and we felt as though we were sitting in on the conversation. We could see Kennedy’s expressive face, hear her forceful voice and taste her corn tortillas. Second place (tie): India Mandelkern, Munchies.Vice.com, “The Weird Science Behind Chain Restaurant Menus” Judge’s comments: Spectacularly written, Mandelkern’s story follows a solid narrative structure. Keeping a keenly observant tone, her tale about chain restaurant menus has substance, panache and humor. And, along the way, we learn about the weird science that is involved. Second place (tie): Laura Reiley and Eve Edelheit, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, “Shell Game” Judge’s comments: One does not have to live in Apalachicola to understand the tough times facing its oyster business. This work explains the situation exhaustively and eloquently by taking readers inside the life of an oysterman. Third place: Tan Vinh, The Seattle Times, “The Wonder of the Fresh Hop: How Washington’s Special Autumn Beer Gets Made” Judge’s comments: Vinh’s reporting is deep and is the heart of this story, which is filled with engaging details such as a timeline of text messages exchanged between two brewers. An illustration, bar graph and two sidebars offer supplemental information and are just as engaging as the main story. Honorable mention: Brett Anderson, The New York Times, “Tokyo in Texas: Distinctive Japanese Food is Thriving in Austin”
A single story, such as a restaurant review, that offers opinions about a topic or restaurant in the food industry. First place: Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register, “At Journeyman’s in Fullerton, an Idealistic Young Chef Reaches for the Stars” Judge’s comments: There’s so much to love about this piece. We laughed out loud at the description of a server trying to open a wine bottle. Then, there’s this wonderful description: “Geerson’s food is not simple. It is scientific and cerebral but also artistic and fleeting, like edible philosophy.” Second place: Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times, “At Middle Eastern Restaurants, It All Starts With Hummus. Jonathan Gold Says Bavel’s is Magnificent.” Judge’s comments: A great critic sits you down at the table and lets you taste, smell and see the food. Gold had us at hummus: “But the great kitchens, the ones that inspire hour-long drives and dinnertime haiku, tend to labor over their fragrant goo as assiduously as a French baker might over her baguettes. Great hummus must never be taken for granted.” Third place: Tim Carman, The Washington Post, “A Wawa Sub Makes Sense on the Highway. In the City, It Tastes Like a Mistake.” Judge’s comments: We love that Carman wasn’t afraid to review a Wawa sub and that he wasn’t afraid to not love it: “My reaction to each sandwich was wholly dependent on its location: In the parking lot off a remote highway, the hoagie was a handmade comfort, warm, toasty and satisfying. In downtown Washington, it was a confession: I was too lazy to go somewhere better. Context is a prime ingredient in the Wawa experience.” Honorable mention: Alison Cook, Houston Chronicle, “Chef Paul Qui Faces Trial; Houston Diners Face a Choice”
Features series or project
Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts. First place: James E. Causey and Angela Peterson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Cultivating a Community” Judge’s comments: Beautifully written and meticulously reported, this series offers a heartbreaking account of one man’s struggle to make life bloom where it otherwise seems doomed. It’s eye-opening and gut-wrenching; readers continue to think about the people they meet over the course of the series – long after the last sentence has ended. Second place: Molly Hennessy-Fisk and Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles Times, “Patrolling a Land of Secret Signals and Signs on the Texas-Mexico Border” Judge’s comments: This series was excellent, a product of staffers taking up temporary residence in Roma, Texas, instead of just stopping in for a story, but the section that truly stood out was “In Roma, Texas, Residents Must Choose: Help Border Patrol, or Border Crossers?” An excellent look at the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by residents for whom smuggling and illegal immigration are an all-day, everyday part of life. Third place: Patty Cox, Greg Gilderman, Kevin Hayes and Exodus Reporting and Production Teams, The Weather Channel Digital and collaborations with Food & Environment Reporting Network, InsideClimate News and The Marshall Project, “Exodus: The Climate Migration Crisis” Judge’s comments: The Weather Channel’s focus on how climate change is affecting human migration is both global and hyper-local. A mix of video and written narratives captures part of the effect of a story still unfolding, as we travel from New Orleans to Bangladesh to Mexico City and beyond. Videos from Bangladesh and with a reporter embedded with a migrant caravan are particularly powerful, touching on issues such as gentrification and the treatment of girls around the world, along with environmental changes. Honorable mention: Lane DeGregory, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, “Lincoln’s Shot”
A single story told in a narrative style, using techniques such as character development, use of dialogue, sense of place, scene building, narrative arc and adherence to theme. First place: Lisa Gartner, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, “She’s Taught at the Parkland High School for 14 Years. Can She Go Back?” Judge’s comments: A bittersweet tale of a Parkland teacher who worries that she won’t be able to return to her classroom after the horrific events at her school. So she goes ahead of time, and the entire story takes place in that visit. Telling details and a hopeful ending make this the clear winner. Second place: Ben Terris, The Washington Post, “She Works for Trump. He Can’t Stand Him. This is Life with Kellyanne and George Conway.” Judge’s comments: Life in the Conway home is never boring, and Terris takes us there with an up-close look at Trump aide Kellyanne and Trump critic George. It’s a telling piece that is, at times, humorous, and you can’t help but love the ending, with Kellyanne belting out, “That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.” Third place (tie): Hannah Dreier, ProPublica and Newsday, “The Disappeared” Judge’s comments: This was part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning entry, and it’s an amazing piece of work that displays many elements of narrative writing. Third place (tie): Doug Clark, GQ, “The Untold Story of Otto Warmbier, American Hostage” Judge’s comments: You might think you know the story of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who was taken prisoner by North Korea, but Clark’s amazing tale will astound you. Meticulous research went into this important piece of work. Honorable mention: Peter Nickeas and E. Jason Wambsgans, Chicago Tribune, “Jalen’s Journey”
Feature specialty writing portfolio
Three stories by the same writer on one features specialty topic, such as arts and entertainment, fashion, food, health, religion, technology or travel. First place: Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Judge’s comments: This entry is in a class of its own – original, ambitious, novel. The gist: an occasional series on beloved music venues because “digital sound through earbuds is no substitute for being in the room where it happens.” Reynolds’ series, “Sites and Sounds,” incorporates everything a reader could want: colorful narrative, soul, jazzy commentary, playlists, beautiful photography. Folks, this one gets a prolonged standing ovation. Second place: Monica Rohr, USA Today Judge’s comments: These strong entries offer insight into the dynamics feeding the spread of racism and right-wing extremism. Rhor pours her soul into earning her sources’ trust for insightful narratives on the plight of the “Sugar Land 95,” the fighting spirit of the ragtag reVision Football Club, and the unlikely conversion of a former KKK member and neo-Nazi. Third place: Molly Glentzer, Houston Chronicle Judge’s comments: One story begins with this great lede: “Oh, the buff buttocks. And backs, thighs and calves, sigh, with their peaks and valleys of light and shadow. And the sensitive, downturned face of an ancient man in what looks like a wrestler’s helmet. Such is the larger-than-life-size eye candy of one of the monumental drawings enticing viewers to ‘Michelangelo and the Vatican’ this spring at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.” We are there! This story imparts the kind of info that can spark intelligent cocktail party talk with a stranger who shares your appreciation for the visual arts. Great work. Honorable mention: Anna Kuchment, The Dallas Morning News
Food writing portfolio
Three stories, columns or reviews by the same writer on any food topic. First place: Maura Judkis, The Washington Post Judge’s comments: This portfolio shows a great breadth of coverage, from the humorous riff on Doritos for women to serious, in-depth reporting on #MeToo in restaurants. We loved this paragraph: ”How often do I eat chips? Well, I only eat them when I am alone, laugh-crying while wearing fuzzy slippers and watching ‘The Bachelor,’ and there are no men nearby to see my shame. I sure wish I could eat chips more often, but it’s so difficult to avoid the embarrassment of being a Lady who eats chips. I know I’m only supposed to eat salad, but the Doritos tempt me so. Now you know my terrible secret.” Second place: Tim Carman, The Washington Post Judge’s comments: We love that Carman covers the fun of food as well as the science of it. He’s not afraid to write about a Wawa sub, and he treats Southern barbecue as seriously as high-end dining. This graph is a jewel: “But it’s hot enough that the pit crew’s faces and necks shimmer in the light that pours through the screen windows. It’s hot enough that one new cook lost 15 pounds during his first three days on the job. It’s hot enough that the workers will, every once in a while, seek the shade of an oak tree in back of the smokehouse.” Third place: Michalene Busico, The Dallas Morning News Judge’s comments: Busico has a nice writing style. It’s engaging without sounding preachy, which so often happens with food criticism. Honorable mention: Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register
General commentary portfolio
A collection of three columns or essays by the same writer on any human interest or specialty topic, excluding editorials. First place: Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times Judge’s comments: Stunning work and range. Abcarian finds the humanity in the big events and the larger implications of the smaller, more personal stories. Second place: Monica Hesse, The Washington Post Judge’s comments: In each relatively brief column, Hesse provokes deep reflection in readers. The combination of the concision and focus of the writing with the broadness of the ideas makes her work powerful and effective. Third place: Chris Erskine, Los Angeles Times Judge’s comments: Erskine, without sentimentality, allows readers to understand and possibly learn from his personal tragedies.
Arts & entertainment commentary portfolio
A collection of three columns, essays or reviews by the same writer on any arts and entertainment topic, including dining reviews but excluding editorials. First place: Howard Fishman, The New Yorker Judge’s comments: Stage critic Fishman examines the effect of Eugene O’Neill as a lifelong fan and obsessive researcher; questions the state of regional theater during a visit to a small, seemingly indifferent town; and writes about the optimism of a play about the Constitution in troubled times. With a thorough and polished style, he’s good at pinpointing the emotional reaction we have to theater that makes it so different from other art forms and such a powerful distillation of culture. Second place: Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times Judge’s comments: Gorgeous writing that reflects timely concerns in criticism of literature, whether it’s a hard-boiled detective seen through the eyes of the #MeToo movement or the environmental crisis mapped out in short stories about Florida. Writer Bancroft combines deep literary knowledge with a keen eye for the pressing modern problem and a luminous style. Third place: Ron Charles, The Washington Post Judge’s comments: Beautifully written commentary that illuminates nonfiction themes through the personal lens of a sensitive and thoughtful critic. Honorable mention: Hank Stuever, The Washington Post
Feature treatment of any sports topic. First place: Kent Babb, The Washington Post, “Kobe Bryant, Revising His Own History” Judge’s comments: With excellent details and an honest look at the past and present, this story lets readers explore the various facets of Kobe Bryant’s life. Compelling reading. Second place: Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “They Love Fishing, So They Set Cabins Afloat: Wolf River Rafts Are ‘Home’ to Some Anglers” Judge’s comments: This is a true slice of Americana, well told through rich detail derived from interviewing many sources and being on the scene. Excellent reporting and writing. Third place: David Gambacorta, The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Curt Schilling Doesn’t Care What You Think as Hall of Fame Vote Looms” Judge’s comments: Curt Schilling – with all his mastery and faults – is a tough subject to tackle, and this story takes an unflinching look while remaining fair and balanced. Gambacorta deftly captures the dichotomy of a divisive figure. Honorable mention: Bob Wojnowski, The Detroit News, “Parkinson’s is Kirk Gibson’s Biggest Battle”
The coverage of any A&E, lifestyle or specialty topic using a single video of not more than 8 minutes in length. First place: Sarah Hashemi, Daron Taylor and DeNeen L. Brown, The Washington Post, “How ‘Respect,’ Aretha Franklin’s Iconic Song, Came To Be” Judge’s comments: We all know the song, but do we all know the whole backstory behind “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”? Here, we learn it under four minutes, with a great mix of audio, graphics, live performances and reported script. Important, energetic and engaging. Second place: Ashleigh Joplin, Malcolm Cook, Daniel Mich, The Washington Post, “‘Black Panther’ Is More Than a Trip to the Movies. It’s a Celebration of Black Excellence” Judge’s comments: A thoughtful and fun look at a superhero movie that is more than a superhero movie. An important cultural moment is captured through a variety of engaging personal stories. Third place: Ashleigh Joplin, The Washington Post, “‘We Shall Overcome’: How Joan Baez Still Fuels the Resistance” Judge’s comments: Threads of nostalgia and a modern sense of urgency run through this video, a hard combination to do well. Joan Baez’s legacy gets its due, but she also gets her say as a still engaged and vital voice. A good mix of older footage and a new interview and performance from Baez. Honorable mention: Shako Liu, NBC News, “African-Americans and Home Schooling: ‘A Way of Freedom’”
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through the integrated use of print, online, social media, video and any other platform. First place: Peter Hartlaub, Heather Knight and Staff, San Francisco Chronicle, “Total Muni” Judge’s comments: What an amazing adventure that started with an innocent tweet and turned into a journey of epic proportions. This entry involved readers from the start, and it showed. The videos, live tweeting and behind-the-scenes stories were all fun and riveting. And it’s great that readers showed up on Muni Day to meet the reporters – and then did their own versions of the project afterward. Proof that local always wins. Second place: Tara McCarty, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, “Look What Taylor Swift Made Me Do” Judge’s comments: The adage to follow your passions applies to stories, too, as this entry shows. Only a true Taylor Swift fan can turn out an OCD print package like this, plus a Twitter thread and graphics. And it’s only apropos that Taylor herself saw the story – in print! Third place: Staff, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Lessons Lost” Judge’s comments: An important look at how, even with the best of programs and intentions, there are roadblocks to helping schools. We appreciated the dynamic presentation and the fascinating graphics. Honorable mention: Staff, Honolulu Civil Beat, “Black Market Babies”
Diversity in digital features
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic that highlights the diversity within a publication’s audience. First place: Rhonda Colvin, Ashleigh Joplin and Jorge Ribas, The Washington Post, “Traveling While Black: Some Americans Are Afraid to Explore Their Own Country, Concerns that Evoke the Jim Crow-Era Green Book” Judge’s comments: The graphics are enlightening – and frightening – and the stories heartbreaking. We appreciated the time the team spent gathering these stories to show how racism exists, past and present. The illustrated videos were a nice touch. Second place: Zachary Drucker and Staff, Broadly, “Trans Legends” Judge’s comments: This oral history project has assembled an incredible archive about the lives and spirits of transgender icons. Through the personal experiences of Drucker, the light of these subjects – many likely unknown to the general population – shine through. Third place: James E. Causey and Angela Peterson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Cultivating a Community” Judge’s comments: There are many striking things about this series, one of which is how it shows the trauma and frightening regularity of violence and its effects on children. The other is the power of hope. And, finally, the fact that the writer grew up in the neighborhood gives it an extra specialness that not many stories like this could have. We were struck by this line from a journal entry after a fatal shooting: “This was on the streets of Milwaukee – not some dangerous road in Afghanistan, but it didn’t seem like enough people were talking about this.” Honorable mention: Jane Gerster, Global News, “A Man was Ignored to Death in an ER 10 YearsAgo. It Could Happen Again.”
Best special section
The best your publication has to offer in printed A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. First place: Tim Campbell and Christy DeSmith, (Minneapolis) Star Tribune, “Fall Arts: A Season of Showstoppers” Judge’s comments: This section is well-organized and easy to read. The stories are delightful, and the top 10 picks are useful. This section demonstrates consistent quality from front to back. Second place: Alison Cook, Houston Chronicle, “Alison Cook’s Top 100 Restaurants 2018” Judge’s comments: This is the best dining guide in any category in this year’s contest. Others should take note of the small size, which can be tucked into a coat pocket or stored in a vehicle’s glove compartment. The writing is enticing and thorough but concise, and the photos are delectable. The book is well-organized and useful. Third place: Staff, The Washington Post, “1968: The D.C. Riots” Judge’s comments: This section is an important journalistic product. The stories are well-written, and the historical photos well-chosen.
Best niche product
The best examples of a niche product – such as a magazine or special section – published at least two times a year. First place: FeedMe, Staff, Newsday Judge’s comments: A stellar publication that is chock full of tips, information and trivia about Long Island’s culinary scene. Beautiful covers, clean design and sparkling writing. Oh, and “Oyster Love” made us want to slurp some bivalves! Second place: The Luxury Issues of The Washington Post Magazine, Staff, The Washington Post Judge’s comments: Striking covers, a great mix of stories and stellar writing combine to make this interesting and informative. Third place: Star Tribune Magazine, Sue Campbell and Staff, (Minneapolis) Star Tribune Judge’s comments: This magazine is fun and informative, with gorgeous photography and lively writing. Honorable mention: Bay, Pegie Stark, Katherine Snow Smith and Staff, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times
Headline writing portfolio
A collection of three headlines and accompanying decks by the same writer for feature stories or columns. First place: Wendy McManamon, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer Judge’s comments: In a category loaded with high-quality entries, McManamon demonstrated a consistent level of creativity and fun. Second place: Thomas Floyd, The Washington Post Express Judge’s comments: Engaging headlines that quickly lure readers into the stories. Third place: Doug Norwood, The Washington Post Judge’s comments: These headlines are clever in so many ways. “Mission: Impeachable” stood out. Honorable mention: Joseph Stalvey, (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union
New or improved online ventures, including websites, apps, social-media experiments or other ways to share information in the digital world. First place: Michael Mayo, Gretchen Day-Bryant and David Schutz, (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Sun Sentinel, Let’s Eat, South Florida Facebook Group Judge’s comments: Audience engagement is the goal with this Facebook group, and it’s easy to see just how engaged South Florida is with the food crew at the Sun Sentinel. This effort undoubtedly increases relevance and brand, not to mention provides a wealth of story ideas and contacts. Well done. Second place: Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, iPad Initiative Judge’s comments: This initiative takes customer service to a new level. It’s an innovative way to maintain readers and profit. Third place: Staff, Newsday, Long Island Brewery Map Judge’s comments: The functionality on mobile and desktop is simple and effective. While it serves its purpose with the brewery scene, this map could provide value in numerous ways.
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through a podcast. First place: Emma Scott and Michael Scott, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, “Voodoo City, Season 1” Judge’s comments: A marvelous idea for a podcast – focused in topic but almost endless in the possibilities from episode to episode. The installments of “Voodoo City” have a great sense of place. You can tell the hosts love their city. Mike Scott is a knowledgeable, personable presence, giving the listener the experience of a local showing you around beloved haunts. Good editing and fascinating tidbits are sprinkled throughout. This is the kind of journalism that only a strong local newsroom can produce. Second place: Emily Spicer, Mike Sutter and Chuck Blount, San Antonio Express-News, “52 Weeks of BBQ” Judge’s comments: A fun idea that is told in an authoritative way with a strong sense of focus. Each episode of painted a picture – you could taste bark on the brisket and marbled fat just by listening to these folks talk. The hosts have a good rapport and energy, but Spicer in particular was one of the most engaging personalities in all the podcast entries. Third place: Staff, Broadly, “Queerly Beloved” Judge’s comments: This podcast casts a vital spotlight on often-marginalized voices. “Queerly Beloved” is smart to let those voices do most of the talking. Each episode feels like a warm, empathetic hug. Honorable mention: Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle, “The Big Event”
Best collegiate features journalist
The top collegiate features journalists, based on an entry of up to three stories First place: Claire Miller, Syracuse University Judge’s comments: Now, here we have a writer. Clever turns of phrase, great attention to details, regular use of the present tense and active voice, and knowledge of appropriate story structure are all present in Miller’s work. It’s a pleasure reading her two very different pieces, one of which is an excellent examination of the stereotypical American Dream vs. immigrants’ actual experiences in upstate New York. A clear standout among the entrants – and the clear winner. Second place: Haley Kim, Syracuse University Judge’s comments: Kim’s Lockerbie cycling story stands out, thanks to great interviews and details, and it holds the reader’s attention throughout. The Bay Area housing piece is well-researched and thorough. Third place: Kit Fitzgerald, The University of Iowa Judge’s comments: Well-written, with an engaging style, good structure and a nice feel for the subject. Honorable mention:Marissa Payne, The University of Iowa
Diversity Fellows will learn what’s happening in features and news departments nationwide while networking with outstanding journalists specializing in lifestyle, culture, food, arts and entertainment coverage.
Fellowships cover SFJ conference registration, airfare within the U.S. and hotel. Fellows also will be reimbursed for expenses toward baggage and transportation.
RESUME + ESSAY: A resume and single-page essay explaining what you love about your job and how you have distinguished yourself in arts and/or features coverage.
PHOTO: A photo of yourself for the conference program and SFJ website.
LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION: One letter from someone who can talk about your work.
WORK SAMPLES: › For writers, three storytelling examples. › For editors, three samples of pieces you edited with comments on how your involvement helped the story succeed. › For copy editors, three headlines with attached stories, plus two stories with editing comments. › For designers, three samples of layouts. › For journalists with online-only work, list website links in your application letter.
Selections will be announced by June 21. Email applications, with attached PDFs or links, to Kathy Lu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us Sept. 18-21 in the Motor City for our annual conference as we network, share knowledge, and celebrate our craft.
As always, we have invited some of the best in the business to share their wisdom with us. This year we will feature Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Hallman of The Oregonian, and we are planning to have frank conversations about culture and identity and how it shapes our coverage. We are also excited to feature a panel on innovations in podcasting and how audience research can inform your storytelling. See the full list of speakers and panels here!
Oh, it doesn’t matter what you wear, just as long as you are there!
We will be staying at the Element Detroit at the Metropolitan, a newly opened Marriott in a refurbished 100-year- old building in the heart of the Downtown’s vibrant city center, within walking distance to several “best of” bars and restaurants.
There’ll be swinging and swaying and records playing …
We’ll gather Wednesday evening, Sept. 18, at the hotel for a welcome reception! And later, who knows, we may sample some of the nearby delights, from the speakeasy-inspired cocktail joint tucked into the alley across the street, to the velvet-drenched old Hollywood lounge around the corner.
They’ll be dancing, dancing in the street.
To register for the conference, click here. To get the $100 early bird discount, please register by Aug. 21!
We will be updating the website with more details. Follow us on Facebook for updates, and don’t forget to renew your 2019 membership!
For questions, pitches and ideas, email me, your dance captain for this party: Margaret Myers, email@example.com.
Now here are a few stories to whet your Detroit appetite:
For more than three decades, the Society for Features Journalism has honored the best in features storytelling and design with the annual SFJ Excellence-in-Features Awards.
Though the contest categories have evolved through the years, the mission has remained the same: To highlight the writers and storytellers who strive to portray and preserve a slice of today’s culture.
The SFJ contest also awards $300 to first-place winners — a rarity in journalism contests.
For details on how to enter the 2020 SFJ contest, follow the first item under the “SFJ Contest” tab or go to featuresjournalism.org/2020/01/08/sfj-excellence-in-features-contest-adds-2-categories-including-podcast.
The Society for Features Journalism is happy to announce that Brittany Britto, @brittanybritto, and Janelle Harris, @thegirlcanwrite, are the 2018 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellows! They will be joining us at our conference Sept. 12-15 in New Orleans (which you should also register for now!).
Here are some more things to know about them.
Brittany Britto is a general assignment features reporter and blogger for The Baltimore Sun, where she writes about culture, the arts, entertainment and viral news.
A proud Terp twice over, Brittany graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in creative writing, and a master’s in journalism from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
In her downtime, Brittany enjoys spending time with loved ones, hanging with the locals in foreign destinations, trying new foods, crying during episodes of “This is Us,” and hoarding various sized notebooks and journals.
Q: Tell us about your current work.
I am a general assignment features reporter at The Baltimore Sun, where I report on local arts, entertainment, and my favorite topic — culture.
Q: What’s your favorite story or project you’ve ever worked on and why?
Working on the Baltimore Club Dance story turned into a fun, collaborative project that allowed me to work with Baltimore Sun photographers, editors and a talented interactive designer to take the written story to an experiential level with gifs, video, and a special layout. I also curated a playlist with the help of some of the Baltimore Club scene’s most pivotal figures and learned some dance moves along the way (TBD on my “crazy leg”). But most of all, I got to see why Baltimore is so proud and passionate about their culture. It also led to at least one other story, which we’ll release this summer.
Q: Most memorable person you’ve ever interviewed?
I interviewed Ta-Nehisi Coates about which part of Baltimore he misses the most. It was pretty cool getting to talk to a storyteller who has had an impact on the city.
Q: Advice you would give to an aspiring features journalist?
The best advice I have for aspiring features journalists is to say “yes” and tackle as many stories as you possibly can early on. In my time as a reporter, I’ve been thrown into so many different stories on topics I know little about, which has taught me how to be more versatile and make stories more engaging. It has also allowed me to hone in on what I like to write about, which is the cultural expression and histories of marginalized communities.
I’d also say, don’t be afraid to spend time with sources, especially in-person. With deadlines, it can be hard to really take your time with certain interviews, but often, when it comes to features writing, I find putting in a little extra time allows a writer to paint a better picture for their readers (and sometimes, it earns the respect of the subject and puts them at ease).
Q: Favorite guilty pleasure reads/social media feeds? Overall, Twitter is probably my guiltiest pleasure. My timeline allows me to follow a bunch of different outlets and personalities to make sure I’m getting a mix of coverage, opinions and insight on what’s happening. “Moments” has also been a decent tool when checking social media’s temperature for the day. A not-so-guilty pleasure is O Magazine. It’s the perfect way to put my day on pause for a bit and get some much-needed positivity. And … Oprah, amirite?
Q: What book is on your nightstand right now?
“The Comfort Food Diaries,” by former New Yorker editor Emily Nunn. I love stories about family, food, travel and transformation, and so far, Nunn’s book has been a nice blend of all four. Plus, she includes recipes, so you can try your hand at what she’s making in the book.
Q: Because we love recommendations, what are some of your favorite restaurants—from hole-in-the-wall to let’s-dress-up-and-go-out kind of dining—in your town?
When looking for some good Italian food and the best happy hour in Baltimore, my coworkers and I visit La Scala Ristorante, which boasts $7 bowls of homemade pasta and decadent espresso martinis. They also have bocce ball, which makes for a fun activity while waiting for your food or post-meal. If sharing and sampling is your thing, visit La Cuchara, a Basque restaurant, which has some pinxtos and other small plates, delicious cava, and mouthwatering churros.
Brunch at Blue Moon Cafe is bound to fill you up and excite your taste buds, with Cap’n Crunch french toast, a Frito pie french toast, and the “Sweet Baby Jesus,” a heap of hash browns, crab meat, eggs and hollandaise sauce, topped with Old Bay (Warning: might need help walking out of the restaurant after this).
If you’re not afraid to get a little dirty and dig in hands first, crack open some crabs and indulge in seafood at LP Steamers.
And don’t forget Baltimore’s carryout staples. Sunny’s Subs has one of the best chicken boxes in the city and also serves lake trout—a fried fish sandwich that has nothing to do with a lake, or trout, for that matter. Wash it all down with a half-and-half, a sugary mix of sweet tea and lemonade. I’ve learned, it’s the Baltimore way.
Q: Last song you sang out loud.
“What’s My Name” by Rihanna featuring Drake (at the gym!)
Q: Favorite quote.
“Your work is to discover your world, and then, with all your heart, give yourself to it.” — Unknown
A writer since she won a crisp dollar bill in an elementary school essay contest, Janelle uses her platform as a storyteller to explore the experiences, challenges and diversities of women and people of color, particularly Black folks, who she loves fiercely.
As a journalist, her work covers race, class, gender and culture and has appeared in more than 40 print and digital publications.
As an editor, copywriter and communications consultant, she has shaped content that reframes played out narratives and equitably represents communities undervoiced in mainstream media. She believes in the magic of stilettos, cookies and cream milkshakes, and saying “hi” to strangers on the street.
Q: Tell us about your current work.
I’m in a space where I want to try new things. I want do some documentary work. I want to learn photography. I want to launch a podcast. I want to write longer, feature-length articles.
Right now, I’m working on a series of stories that lift up the voices of poor people. I think they’re talked about, but not necessarily talked to, so I’m shopping some pieces about the realness of poverty, like the psychological effects of gentrification, for example.
Q: What’s your favorite story or project you’ve ever worked on and why?
I traveled to Alaska to interview a Native community in Anchorage about a rites of passage program and ceremony for teenage boys. In addition to learning about a culture so different and far away from my own, the beauty of nature was breathtaking. The people were super friendly and I loved their community-centeredness, putting family and honor over anything external.
I interviewed an elderly couple — he was 92, she was 86, I think — who made feathered fans for the boys to use in the ceremony celebrating their transition into manhood. It was my first time using a translator for to ask questions and they were all incredibly patient with me. It was such a dope experience. Q: Most memorable person you’ve ever interviewed?
I have a bucket list of folks I really want to meet and most of them are older, so I tracked down Gloria Richardson — civil rights legend, white privilege eviscerator, fearless bayonet pusher — and interviewed her in March this year. She’s 96 and still remembers the details of her protests and negotiations so clearly, it’s amazing.
I can’t remember what I did yesterday but she can recall with clarity a conversation she had with Malcolm X 50 years ago. I’ll never forget it.
Q: Advice you would give to an aspiring features journalist?
Create systems to help streamline the un-sexy parts of writing: transcribing interviews, fact-checking, following up with sources. When I started outsourcing my transcriptions and doing checklists for my facts, I had more time to focus on the thinking and writing, which is what I want to be doing anyway.
Q: Favorite guilty pleasure reads/social media feeds?
I love Red Table Talks with Jada Pinkett Smith on Facebook and my short attention span lets me stay on the treadmill if I’m watching a Broadly or Refinery29 mini-documentary on YouTube.
Q: What book is on your nightstand right now?
“Barracoon,” by Zora Neale Hurston
Q: Because we love recommendations, what are some of your favorite restaurants — from hole-in-the-wall to let’s-dress-up-and-go-out kind of dining — in your town?
For casual sit-down, the fried chicken at Langston Bar and Grille on H Street is so good. It’s tiny in there, but the people are friendly and you don’t feel the smallness of the space as much.
Henry’s Soul Café in Oxon Hill, just a few steps across the southeast DC border, has godly soul food. There are a few tables but I’d go on ahead and carry out.
The Hamilton on F Street in Northwest is get-dressed-and-go-out nice, but their chicken wings and mumbo sauce is the best in the city, in my opinion.
The Monocle on D Street NE by Union Station has amazing steaks and the best darn house breads I’ve ever tasted. You actually feel sad when the bread basket is empty. And a lot of politicians and chichi uppity folks eat there, so you might catch a whiff of gossip while you’re eating, which is cool if you’re interested.
Q: Last song you sang out loud,
“For the Love of You” by the Isley Brothers (loud AND off-key)
Q: Favorite quote
It’s not an absolute favorite, but it’s one of them: “The man who can murder on the printed page can do so time and time again and need not fear jail or death.” —Addison Gayle, Jr. Of course, I would change that to “man” to “woman.”
Wednesday-Saturday, Sept. 12-15, 2018 New Orleans Theme: Renewal Hotel: Ace Hotel Sessions location: Loyola University New Orleans Auction location: The New Orleans Advocate
WEDNESDAY | 09.12.18
Opening reception and registration | 6 to 9 p.m. Barnett Dining Room and Courtyard at Ace Hotel
Meet your fellow features creatures, register for the conference and relax. Enjoy a glass – or two – of wine, some hors d’oeuvres and good conversation. SFJ President Jim Haag and other officers will welcome guests and introduce some special folks, such as our Diversity Fellows and any panelists in attendance.
THURSDAY | 09.13.18
Communications/Music Complex, Loyola Unversity New Orleans
Those attending will take the streetcar from Ace Hotel to Loyola. The streetcar runs every 15 minutes. The trip takes about 30 minutes. We’ll provide streetcar passes for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
8:30-9:15 a.m.| Breakfast and registration at Loyola
9:15-9:50 a.m.| The conference opening
Let the renewal – of your skills and your spirit – begin. SFJ President Jim Haag, retired features editor at The Virginian-Pilot, welcomes attendees, and Mark Lorando, editor of The Times-Picayune, delivers the keynote address.
9:50-10 a.m. | Break
10-11 a.m. | Finding story ideas: 20 tips your editor won’t tell you
Lane DeGregory, enterprise reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, talks about stories that came from a variety of sources and discusses how a general assignment reporter comes up with fascinating people and topics to write about.
11 a.m.-noon| Get the most out of online tools
Samantha Sunne, a trainer with the Society for Professional Journalists, will offer tips on using YouTube, Public Data Explorer and Trends. Samantha is well-versed in many technology tools involving Google and other online sites.
Noon-1:15 p.m.| SFJ Hall of Fame luncheon and induction
It’s been too long – eight years – since SFJ inducted anyone into our Hall of Fame. So, we’ll rectify that this year by introducing our newest members – two former SFJ presidents who continue to inspire and teach us: Ann Maloney of NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune, and Alice Short, retired from the Los Angeles Times.
1:30-2:25 p.m. | Navigating the new world order – online and in print
More reporters – and even news sites – are injecting opinion in their posts on Twitter and Facebook in the wake of #metoo, school shootings and the current political climate. How is that greeted, and legally can reporters get fired for these kinds of posts? We’ll share some social-media policies from around the country, and try to shed some light on this issue. We’ll also look at the state of presenting the ”other side” in stories when you know that the source is not being honest. Does balanced coverage mean accurate coverage? Where do we draw the line? A panel discussion led by Emily Spicer, features editor at the San Antonio Express-News, with Jamie Stockwell, deputy national editor at The New York Times; Eva Saketkoo, a media attorney with the Hearst Corp.; and others.
2:25-2:30 p.m. | Break
2:30-3:30 p.m. | The perfect recipe for creating a food community on social media Hear how publications are using social media to create a food community that shares stories and can be mined for ideas. Emily Spicer, features editor at the San Antonio Express-News, leads a panel discussion that includes Ann Maloney, a food writer at NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune, who will talk about her publications vibrant food following and how it came to be. Liz Seymour, features editor at The Washington Post, discusses The Post’s new stream of food coverage called Voraciously that is aiming for a young digital reader.
3:30-4:20 p.m. | Reporters and editors: teaming up to tell stories Reporters want attention, support and confidence. Editors need focus, patience and conviction. Success means working well together. Lane DeGregory, enterprise reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, and Maria Carrillo, assistant managing editor/enterprise at the Tampa Bay Times, will talk about what editors and reporters can do to build that relationship.
4:20-4:30 p.m. | Break
4:30-5 p.m. | Show + Steal, Part 1
Laura T. Coffey, a writer and editor at Today.com, moderates one of our most popular sessions, where editors share their best ideas from the past year for anyone to steal. A warning: Laura’s enthusiasm can be infectious, so we might get a little carried away here. The streetcar will take us back to Ace Hotel.
6:30-9:30 p.m. | The SFJ Foundation Auction at The New Orleans Advocate (about three blocks from Ace.)
We’ll offer appetizers and drinks as we sell, both silently and aloud, the goodies we’ve gathered from across the country to help support the SFJ Foundation’s Diversity Fellowship program. Emily Spicer and Jim Haag will lead the craziness, with able assistance from those in the crowd. Dan Shea, president and publisher of our hosts, The New Orleans Advocate, will welcome guests, and Diversity Committee Chairwoman Jeneé Osterheldt will talk about the importance of the Diversity Fellowship program and will introduce our three Fellows for 2018. Expect an evening of chaos and be prepared to sing, just in case.
FRIDAY | 09.14.18
Communications/Music Complex, Loyola University New Orleans Those attending will take the streetcar from Ace Hotel to Loyola. The streetcar runs every 15 minutes. The trip takes about 20 minutes. We’ll provide streetcar passes for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
8:30-9:15 a.m. | Breakfast at Loyola
9:15-10:15 a.m. | Hello, digital! Goodbye, print?
Liz Seymour, features editor at The Washington Post, talks about the process of transforming from print to digital and what that really means in 2018. The Post has been a leader in the field, but even the biggest papers are finding a slow road as we cut our ties with paper and fully embrace the digital future.
10:15-10:30 a.m. | Break
10:30-11:30 p.m. | The #metoo movement: Where are we now?
The news of 2017 and 2018 was frequently dominated by stories about sexual harassment and assault. A trickle turned into a torrent of headlines, accusations, denials and apologies. Companies and institutions and individuals resolved to look inward to change toxic cultures. Many women found reasons to feel optimistic – or, at the very least, they found outlets for their rage. Now it’s September 2018, and the big question is: Where are we as a country and a culture? Institutional change takes years, but are there examples of documentable change or plans in place that might offer hope that the issue won’t fade from prominence? Who continues to kick ass and take names? Alice Short, retired assistant managing editor at the Los Angeles Times, will lead a panel discussion with L.A. Times columnist Robin Abcarian; Brett Anderson, food critic at NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune; and Jeneé Osterheldt, a writer at The Boston Globe.
11:30 a.m.-noon | Search and slice: being your own best editor
Learn how to edit – yourself and others – when you’re racing against a deadline. Maria Carrillo, assistant managing editor/enterprise at the Tampa Bay Times, offers pointers that will help you get your stories online quickly and accurately but also will serve you well when you’re doing long-form work.
12:15-1:15 p.m. | SFJ award winners luncheon
We laud the winners of the 2018 Excellence-in-Features Awards.
1:30-2:25 p.m. | Show + Steal, Part 2
Laura T. Coffey, a writer and editor at Today.com, is back with more great ideas to share.
2:25-2:30 p.m. | Break
2:30-3:30 p.m. |Cooking up profits on social media Learn how publications are making money – money! – from food events. Emily Spicer, features editor at the San Antonio Express-News, leads a panel discussion that includes Ann Maloney, a food writer at NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune, who will talk about ways her publication has mined food for gold.
3:30-3:40 p.m. | Break
3:40-4:30 p.m. | Short takes: reporting and framing narratives in a day Follow a veteran reporter – Lane DeGregory, enterprise reporter at the Tampa Bay Times – and a longtime editor – Maria Carrillo, assistant managing editor/enterprise at the Tampa Bay Times – as they talk about taking small bites off the news and writing short narrative stories and doing it all in one day.
The streetcar will take us back to Ace Hotel.
SATURDAY | 09.15.18
Communications/Music Complex, Loyola Unversity New Orleans
Those attending will take the streetcar from Ace Hotel to Loyola.
8:30-9:15 a.m. | Breakfast at Loyola
9:15-10:25 p.m. | What should we do with kids today? Train ’em? Teach ’em? Or – maybe listen to them? We all need cheap labor, right? How about hooking up with a local college? But then what? Laura Jayne, a former professional journalist and now the director of student services at Loyola University New Orleans, talks about a program she started at Loyola that lets students in her class partner with NOLA.com and The New Orleans Advocate and write for them as freelancers for the exposure. She’ll offer tips on how to do this at your own paper. Barbara Allen, the managing editor of the Poynter Institute’s website and the former director of student media at Oklahoma State University, will offer
advice for mentoring college students, whether they’re interning or freelancing or the newest members of your staff. And a college student will tell us what journalism students want from professional journalists.
10:25-10:30 a.m. | Break
10:30-11:30 a.m. | Features 911
We’re bringing back an old favorite. Annette Sisco, features editor at The New Orleans Advocate, leads a discussion where we answer questions posed by conference attendees. We’ll have a 911 box available throughout the conference, and we’ll ask conference attendees to ask questions, both big and small. Sharon Chapman of the Austin American-Statesman already has the first question for the group: How does everyone handle movie listings these days?
11:30 a.m.-noon | Changing of the guard
It’s a time-honored tradition: The current SFJ president, Jim Haag, turns over the gavel – and few surprising pieces of clothing – to the incoming president, Margaret Myers of Atlantic Media. Then, sadly, it’s time to wrap it up.
12:30-2 p.m. | SFJ BOARD MEETING at Loyola
Margaret Myers will lead her first meeting at SFJ president, and the SFJ gang starts to look ahead to 2019.
2018 SOCIETY FOR FEATURES JOURNALISM EXCELLENCE-IN-FEATURES AWARDS
DIVISION 1 | Circulation up to 90,000
FINEST IN FEATURES SWEEPSTAKES AWARDS
These awards recognize the three publications that garner the most honors in the contest’s other 20 categories. First place: NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune
Seven awards, including five firsts (Best Features Digital Presence, Feature Series or Project, Integrated Storytelling, Diversity in Digital Features and Best Niche Product) and two thirds (General Feature and Food Feature). Second place: The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post
Six awards, including two firsts (Best Special Section and Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio) and four thirds (Best Special Section, Narrative Storytelling, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio and A&E Commentary Portfolio). Third place: The (Colorado Springs) Gazette
Four awards, including two firsts (Best Section and Best Special Section) and two seconds (Short Feature and Sports Feature).
The best regularly occurring printed features sections that focus on A&E, lifestyles or other features coverage. First place: The (Allentown, Pa.) Morning Call
Judge’s comments: Wonderful, eye-popping designs make these sections memorable. As so do timely and lively topics and spectacular writing. And don’t forget the clever headlines, including “Second, Best,” a great take on the “La La Land”/”Moonlight” fiasco at the Oscars. It all combines to make these sections shine. Second place: The (Colorado Springs) Gazette
Judge’s comments: Striking designs – including a fun spread on pen pals – are the hallmark of these award-worthy sections. They feature a nice mix of local and national topics, and they are tightly and brightly written. Third place: (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union
Judge’s comments: Some fine, fun sections with excellent design – check out the beautiful package on heirloom apples. The sections do a great job of speaking to local audiences. Honorable mention: Edmonton (Canada) Journal
BEST FEATURES DIGITAL PRESENCE
The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. First place: Where NOLA Eats: New Orleans Food and Dining Coverage, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, Todd A. Price, Ann Maloney and Brett Anderson
Judge’s comments: NOLA.com knows food, and it’s extremely apparent that this culinary team are the experts when it comes to food and dining in New Orleans – and readers tap into that on multiple platforms. In this digital age of trying to marry Facebook and the print product, “Where NOLA Eats” has a creative strategy that clearly pays off. Second place: CraftsmanshipQuarterly.net, Craftsmanship Quarterly, Todd Oppenheimer and Gaynor Strachan Chun, Craftsmanship Quarterly, “How the Principles of Craftsmanship Can Inform Our Lifestyle Choices and Create a World Built to Last” Judge’s comments: Beautiful storytelling. Each medium – the stories, photos and videos – showcases the subject expertly while stirring nostalgic memories and giving readers an “I want more” feeling. These stories are addicting.
Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic. First place: Greg Stanley, Naples (Fla.) Daily News, “1,100 Miles: Discovering Florida’s Hidden Trail”
Judge’s comments: This story – following a hiker along a daunting trail in Florida – stood out for its graceful writing, for its strong sense of place and for a journey that never felt exhausting or plodding. Second place: Lindsay Moore, Phoenix New Times, “Refusing to Drown Her Sorrow”
Judge’s comments: A terrible accident. A mother’s determination. A promising treatment. It adds up to a compelling read. Third place: Jed Lipinski, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, “Justice for Danny”
Judge’s comments: This man’s story – a small-town pharmacist who goes after his son’s killer – is pretty incredible, showing how he channeled his pain into a life of purpose.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT FEATURE
Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic. First place: Liane Faulder, Edmonton (Canada) Journal, “Broadway-Bound Show Hits the Stage at The Citadel with Hadestown Debut”
Judge’s comments: The writer might not agree with this assessment, but there’s some irreverence here, and that’s what makes this story so enjoyable. A lesser writer would have built this story around the celebration of the accomplishment that Broadway came calling to Canada’s middle section. But the irreverence is that this story lets the reader in on the secret that Edmonton’s theater scene is better than
you think it is – and worthy of Broadway’s attention. That vibe starts with the first sentence and doesn’t die until the final punctuation point. Along the way, the writing is easy to read with a voice of life and purpose. Second place: Amy Biancolli, (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union, “On Music, Race History and ‘The Closet’”
Judge’s comments: Let’s applaud this writer for being myopic. For deciding that this story didn’t need to have a laborious nut graph explaining how this tale relates to America’s great shame or to have a stilted section that forcefully runs through a history of segregation and tangentially ties this tale to it. Let’s applaud the decision to simply tell a man’s story and to let the subtext or quick phrases handle the connective tissue of history. Yes, let’s applaud, because it was a wonderful read of historical importance that could have been forgotten or ignored – or worse yet, written like a “news” story. Third place: Simi Horwitz, Film Journal International, “Risk-Takers: Middle Eastern Filmmakers Defy Danger to Capture the Region’s Turmoil”
Judge’s comments: It’s nice when stories help readers understand the inspiration behind art or the motivation to create and tell stories. And this feature does that quite well, while reminding us that art as rebellion doesn’t just have to be a video by a pop star who’s feeling saucy. The story is written well and sourced expertly. Honorable mention: Dawn Kane, (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record, “Photographer Carol Highsmith’s Work for Library of Congress is Her Calling”
Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words. First place: Seth Boster, The (Colorado Springs) Gazette, “Snow Man”
Judge’s comments: This story of a sweet man captured his sense of isolation as well as his sense of purpose. Nice job painting a picture of solitary, remote living without overly romanticizing it. Measured, smooth writing. Second place: Andrea Brown, The (Everett, Wash.) Daily Herald, “Some Dos (and Don’ts) for the POTUS: Local Barbers, Hairdressers Offer Style Ideas for Trump’s Hair” Judge’s comments: Great idea – to have locals give style tips to the president – offered in a sense of fun and even acknowledging the haters who will protest. Loved the range of hairdressers and their honest curiosity about what makes the president’s hair so bad and helpful ideas for how to fix it. Third place: Connor Sheets, The Birmingham (Ala.) News/AL.com, “How a Former Sharecropper in an SUV Helped Drive Doug Jones to Victory in Alabama’s Black Belt”
Judge’s comments: This was a perfect subject for a short piece – a zoomed-in look at a fervent volunteer for Alabama Senate candidate Doug Jones. She shows her passion and persistence in a story that moved along nicely. Honorable mention: Emma Graney and Juris Graney, Edmonton (Canada) Journal, “Dear Canada: We Just Became Two of Your Newest Citizens. Thank You.”
A single story focusing on food, not including reviews or commentary. Can be a trend story, personality profile, narrative piece, how-to or other feature treatment of a food topic. Each entry consists of one story. First place: Ian McNulty, The New Orleans Advocate, “At the Stand-Up Oyster Bars of New Orleans, the Best Seats in the House Aren’t Seats”
Judge’s comments: What a story! This tale about the lack of seats at Ed’s Oyster Bar & Fish House is compelling, with a grabby lede and simple and direct writing that is sprinkled with evocative images. Second place: Tim Ebner, Eater, “The Cult of Crystal Hot Sauce”
Judge’s comments: A well-told tale on a surprising subject. This story – about how New Orleans’ cayenne condiment conquered America – features captivating writing and shows that the writer has a keen ear for dialogue and killer quotes. The backstory is just enough to flesh out the tale without overwhelming it. Highly readable, and extremely engaging. Third place: Todd A. Price, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, “Café Henri Retools: How to Run a Restaurant When Your Neighbors Are AirBnBs”
Judge’s comments: Starting the story with a failing restaurant made for a fresh take on food writing – and a compelling lede. The piece follows the owners of Café Henri as they revamp their business to meet a growing AirBnB clientele in the neighborhood. Revealing how the restaurant retooled its services made for not only interesting reading but also a cautionary note for others in the food business.
FEATURES SERIES OR PROJECT
Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts. First place: Brett Anderson, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, “John Besh Restaurants Fostered Culture of Sexual Harassment, 25 Women Say”
Judge’s comments: Anderson’s in-depth reporting on the charges of sexual harassment at Chef John Besh’s restaurant group went above and beyond typical coverage for a dining critic. More than eight months of interviews and research went into the piece, which was well-sourced with personal stories, national experts and responses from Besh and his managers. These pieces told the story fairly, without
drama or sentimentality, leaving readers to draw their own conclusions to the veracity of the speakers on both sides. Second place: Paul Grondahl, Anja Adriaans and Marco Cilissen, (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union, “Albany, Nijmegen Bond Celebrates 70th Anniversary”
Judge’s comments: These stories on the 70-year bond between the sister cities of Albany, N.Y., and the Dutch city of Nijmegen encapsulate World War II history, a heartfelt friendship marked by shipments from Albany’s citizens to the war-ravaged city, return gifts of tulip bulbs and a personal tale of a fine pair of shoes given to a Dutch teen. Timed to run before Albany’s annual Tulip Fest, the extensive interviews
and research give the reader much more than a typical preview. Third place: Tracy O’Shaughnessy, (Waterbury, Conn.) Republican-American, “The Lost Arts”
Judge’s comments: This series goes beyond the basic tales of trades that are being lost to a digital era and a disposable consumer mindset. Each of O’Shaughnessy’s stories gives her readers deeply personal portraits of the artists – from their earliest years, through training and opening a business, to the dismal future with which they are left. Great details about workspaces, personalities and craftsmanship.
A single story told in a narrative style, using techniques such as character development, use of dialogue, sense of place, scene building, narrative arc and adherence to theme. First place: Danny Wicentowski, (St. Louis) Riverfront Times, “The Final Flight of Martin McNally”
Judge’s comments: Writer Wicentowski clearly built a relationship of trust with his subject, which resulted in an extremely detailed and vivid depiction of an event that took place more than 40 years ago. The story was full of suspense, intrigue and narrative arcs. Second place: Ken Fine, (Durham, N.C.) Indy Week, “A Requiem for David McKnight: Prodigy, Journalist, Politician, Homeless Street Musician”
Judge’s comments: Well-written and full of details. Third place: Pat Beall, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, “A World With No Floor”
Judge’s comments: In this vividly written tale, Beall takes readers through her personal journey of sexual abuse as a child with the help of imagery and poetic turns of phrase. And she backs up her story with details from the outside world. Honorable mention: Yereth Rosen, (Anchorage) Alaska Dispatch News, “Amid Deep Grief, Remembering Jack Cooper’s Joyous Life”
FEATURE SPECIALTY WRITING PORTFOLIO
Three stories by the same writer on one features specialty topic, such as arts and entertainment, fashion, food, health, religion, technology or travel. First place: Larry Aydlette, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post
Judge’s comments: Aydlette has a great eye for stories that flesh out the unique histories that give the area its personality. Kudos for the extensive research and attention to details. Second place: Dawn Kane, (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record
Judge’s comments: Loved the subjects – great variety and great people you wouldn’t know without the reporter writing about them. Nice touch of humor, particularly in the piece about the fashion designer. Third place: Liz Balmeseda, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post
Judge’s comments: The story choices were great, and the writer used perfect details to convey her subjects’ personalities.
GENERAL COMMENTARY PORTFOLIO
A collection of three columns or essays by the same writer on any human interest or specialty topic, excluding editorials. First place: Ed Hardin, (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record
Judge’s comments: Hardin’s thoroughly reported and beautifully written work is a delight. In one column, you can hear the zoom of race-car driver Richard Petty’s engine; in another, you can hear the water lapping during an Easter morning fishing trip. The piece on the boyhood home of Andrew Jackson was insightful, thought-provoking and skillfully done. An especially impressive amount of reporting is
exhibited in each piece. There’s no substitute for feet on the street, and it seems as though Hardin must wear out plenty of shoe leather on the job. Second place: Andrea Brown, The (Everett, Wash.) Daily Herald
Judge’s comments: Brown’s work takes readers both back in time and to the party. Brilliant writing brings her subjects to life. Each piece is a lesson, a backstage pass or a time machine – what a treat for readers. Third place: Ian McNulty, The New Orleans Advocate
Judge’s comments: Rich, riveting reporting makes these columns delectable. Food writer McNulty puts readers at the bar, at the table, at the food court – wherever he is. Reading his columns feels like dining with a friend.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT COMMENTARY PORTFOLIO
A collection of three columns, essays or reviews by the same writer on any arts and entertainment topic, including dining reviews but excluding editorials. First place: Keith Spera, The New Orleans Advocate
Judge’s comments: Similar to the adage “all politics is local,” music writer Spera finds hometown dimensions in a visit by perhaps the world’s biggest band, U2. Spera nails his twin roles as reporter and critic with authority, unfussy writing and an eye for telling detail. Second place: Simi Horwitz, Film Journal International
Judge’s comments: Horwitz’s writing is rich in cinema history. As she describes certain films, you’ll feel the yen to discover them for yourself – a solid measure of success for a critic. Third place: Leslie Gray Streeter, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post
Judge’s comments: It’s one thing for a writer to have the guts to insert her personal history into a feature story, but to do so in service of a meaningful idea, as Streeter manages to do quite effectively, is another trick altogether.
Feature treatment of any sports topic. First place: Stephanie Earls, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “Frigid Fishing”
Judge’s comments: Writer Earls combines humor and vivid imagery in this riveting fish-out-of-water take on ice fishing. Consider this description: “All around us, the ice emits strange bangs and snaps, the sound of glacial chiropractics as it readjusts atop the 175-acre reservoir.” Bonus points for having to take notes in minus-15-degree weather. Second place: Keith Spera, The New Orleans Advocate, “Dear London: The Saints Are Coming. Brace Yourselves Accordingly.”
Judge’s comments: Our accent! Our football obsession! Our “Who Dat?” When the New Orleans Saints went to London to play football against the Miami Dolphins, writer Spera thought we owed the British an explanation. So he wrote a letter. It’s perfect. Third place: Ed Hardin, (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record, “Richard Petty Turns 80: The King and I”
Judge’s comments: This distinctive personal tribute to an aging race-car-driving icon is capped by a moving conclusion. Honorable mention: Jennifer Sheehan, The (Allentown, Pa.) Morning Call, “Marathoner Reaches Finish Line”
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through the integrated use of print, online, social media, video and any other platform. First place: Todd A. Price, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, “Meet the 2017 James Beard Award Nominees”
Judge’s comments: This entry is proof that you don’t need an entire team of video editors and digital design mavens to pull off something special. The tightly edited chef videos were the perfect complement to tight Q&As that whet the reader’s appetite for more. Second place: Staff, (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union, High School Musical Theatre Awards Coverage
Judge’s comments: Smart layering of live social media coverage with all the trimmings of a special community-driven event. This is a coverage model for other large-scale events. Third place: Staff, (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record, National Folk Festival Coverage
Judge’s comments: Comprehensive coverage of a multi-faceted event – these pieces allow readers to delve as deeply into the topic as their interest takes them.
DIVERSITY IN DIGITAL FEATURES
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic that highlights the diversity within a publication’s audience. First place: Ann Maloney, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, “New Orleans-Area Muslims Invite Community to Share Nightly Ramadan Feast”
Judge’s comments: It’s impossible to talk – or write – about diversity in a community without considering its culinary contribution. Writer Maloney immerses herself in the thing that is most important to our food – tradition. By examining Ramadan iftar foods, traditional Asian foods and something as simple as common beach-street foods from the Caribbean, she transports readers to other places, and, at
the same time, gives us a snapshot of what’s happening in our own backyards. Her writing is lively and charming. Well done. Second place: Jennifer Sheehan, The (Allentown, Pa.) Morning Call, A Look at Families Dealing with Autism
Judge’s comments: Few health issues are as perplexing as autism. Writer Sheehan examines one element – animation and communication – and writes in a compelling way about the difficulties faced by families affected by autism and the sheer joy that can come from something as simple as hearing your child sing “Frozen” songs or seeing them express emotion by falling in love with a slick red car. Third place: Paula Simons, Clare Clancy and Mark Iype, Edmonton (Canada) Journal, “On Point: Fifty Years Ago, Canada Changed its Immigration Policy and in Doing So Changed the Face of This Country”
Judge’s comments: These pieces look at the timely issue of immigration and consider it from the full spectrum of policies, places and people. The human stories are compelling, and it’s easy to imagine what those first cold winters must have been like for Canada’s new immigrants.
BEST SPECIAL SECTION
The best your publication has to offer in printed A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. First place: Staff, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, “Hurricane Irma: Surviving the Monster Storm”
Judge’s comments: This special section stands out for the careful documentation of a natural disaster that made history. The section captures the drama and tragedy of Hurricane Irma through vivid photography and thorough reporting. The Page 3 maps – which detail information about the storm – were particularly well done. This special section provided a great service to the newspaper’s readers, some of whom will surely save it for posterity. Second place: Staff, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “Colorful Colorado”
Judge’s comments: Beautifully written and photographed, this special section does its job of making readers want to visit these lesser-known places in “Colorful Colorado.” Third place: Staff, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, “Eclipse Extra”
Judge’s comments: Palm Beach Post staff members demonstrated that they can consistently produce eye-catching special sections with this preview of the total eclipse.
BEST NICHE PRODUCT
The best examples of a niche product – such as a magazine or special section – published at least two times a year. First place: Brett Anderson and Todd A. Price, Dine & Spirits, NOLA.com/The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune
Judge’s comments: These dining and drinking guides are must-haves for anyone living in or visiting New Orleans. The amount of information is amazing – short reviews of restaurants, bars and barbecue joints; gorgeous photos that offer a feel for the places and a look at their tastiest offerings; and writing that is both informational and illuminating. For instance, it’s telling to know that food critic Anderson has made more reservations at Upperline restaurant than any other. Bravo! Second place: Staff, Upstate, (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union
Judge’s comments: An impressive mix of stories – including short blurbs, Q&As, listings, recipes and longer narratives – keeps things interesting. The covers are striking, and the tone is sometimes serious, sometimes playful. This is a publication you want to linger with. Third place: Cindy Loman, Whitney Cork and Tina Firesheets, 1808, (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record
Judge’s comments: A solid magazine with striking covers, a nice mix of stories and beautiful photography. Honorable mention: Staff, Washington North Coast, The (Everett, Wash.) Daily Herald
DIVISION 2 | Circulation 90,000 to 199,999
FINEST IN FEATURES SWEEPSTAKES AWARDS
These awards recognize the three publications that garner the most honors in the contest’s other 20 categories. First place: The Virginian-Pilot
Fourteen awards, including four firsts (Short Feature, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio, Video Storytelling and Best Niche Product), three seconds (Features Series or Project, Integrated Storytelling and Digital Innovation), five thirds (A&E Feature, Food Feature, Sports Feature, Best Special Section and Best Podcast) and two honorable mentions (Best Section and Diversity in Digital Features). Second place: The Baltimore Sun
Eight awards, including three firsts (Food Feature, Integrated Storytelling and Best Special Section), three seconds (A&E Commentary Portfolio, Video Storytelling and Integrated Storytelling), one third (Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio) and one honorable mention (Best Special Section). Third place: San Antonio Express-News
Eight awards, including one first (General Commentary Portfolio), three seconds (Food Feature, Narrative Storytelling and Sports Feature), one third (Integrated Storytelling) and three honorable mentions (Short Feature, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio and Sports Feature).
The best regularly occurring printed features sections that focus on A&E, lifestyles or other features coverage. First place: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Judge’s comments: What impressed us most about The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was its commitment to projects that really cover the city and appeal to all kinds of readers: The “Bridges of Pittsburgh” project, the clever and useful “Burgs and Burgers” and the page-turning “Notorious Pittsburgh” were well-done
and complemented by sharp event previews and commentary. Second place: Austin (Texas) American-Statesman
Judge’s comments: These sections put readers first, offering top-notch service journalism – the guide to SXSW, the Dining Guide and local seasonal food section – along with beautifully written longer reads, such as the Jimmy LaFave piece and a vibrant travel section. Third place: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Judge’s comments: We love the surprising mix and variety of the Post-Dispatch. The Mocking Meatloaf package illustration was smart and eye-catching, the Fall Book Preview was useful and authoritative, and the overall diversity of stories was impressive. Honorable mention: The Virginian-Pilot
BEST FEATURES DIGITAL PRESENCE
The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. First place: Chow Town, The Kansas City Star, Jill Silva and Sarah Gish
Judge’s comments: The food coverage, across all social platforms, is focused and lively. Second place: SouthFlorida.com, Sun-Sentinel, Staff
Judge’s comments: Excellent job using various platforms – the Web, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – for features coverage.
Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic. First place: Dan Horn, The Cincinnati Enquirer, “Abused by a Priest, Now a Champion of the Church”
Judge’s comments: The unusual nature of this story grabs readers and won’t let go. This piece about a man who was abused by a priest is a surprise – it’s remarkably different than most accounts of abuse in the Catholic Church. It’s a story of forgiveness. It’s the story of a man who has made peace with the
horrific circumstances of his childhood. He has embraced the enemy, which apparently is sometimes a good idea. Even though his actions have alienated others, he makes no apologies. Second place: Nancy Flores, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, “Finding Her Way: Transgender Teen Transitions as Gender Identity Under Fire at Legislature”
Judge’s comments: This well-written story may seem familiar, but it’s the details that make it a standout. The reporter has ensured that the central characters are portrayed as real people. The parents are caring but hardly perfect; their child is brave but not heroic. All of them are trying to make their way in a world
that is not universally supportive of the transgender population. An engrossing tale that we didn’t want to end. Third place: Maria Sciullo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “The Sorrows of a 1977 University of Evansville Plane Crash Were Felt by Many in Pittsburgh”
Judge’s comments: The plane crash, which killed 14 members of the university’s basketball team, was a tragedy that, for Pittsburgh residents, happened in another place at another time. But the story is a great example of how strong reporting and writing can make the past seem urgent and relevant. Honorable mention: Ginny Monk and Staton Breidenthal, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “Heart and Soul: Husband’s, Daddy’s Love an Ever-Fixed Mark”
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT FEATURE
Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic. First place: Sadie Dingfelder, The Washington Post Express, “Where Liberals and Conservatives Debate the Issues with Pile Drivers and Body Slams”
Judge’s comments: This is what we all should want from an enterprising features story. It’s a fun piece about a pro wrestling federation in Northern Virginia that should surprise anyone who sees it. It enlightens us to a world we’re unaware of. It’s written in a way that’s as entertaining as the subject matter. And it’s tapped into the zeitgeist. This is journalism that lives in the world outside ourselves and informs us of coming fads. Second place: Bobby Olivier, NJ Advance Media, “‘Whitney’ at 30: An Oral History of N.J.’s Greatest Pop Album”
Judge’s comments: All snobbery included, we’re not sure that we agree that this is New Jersey’s best pop album. (But, then, we’re a bit obsessed with the Misfits.). Having typed that, the piece makes us think that the headline might be right after all. The piece is written in a way that transfers the electricity and energy of the moments of creation. And while oral histories often are overdone, this was an appropriate
decision here, one that drives the pace and rhythm in a manner that pulls readers deeper into the story. Our only complaint is that it needs a companion piece on the Misfits. Third place: Rashod Ollison, The Virginian-Pilot, “From Foster Care to Visionary Theater Director, NSU’s Anthony Stockard is Giving the Program New Shape”
Judge’s comments: This story isn’t especially deep, informing or surprising. But the writing is so engaging and descriptive that it elevates a simple profile about a new hire into something that feels like it’s striving to be art. Honorable mention: Amy Kuperinski, NJ Advance Media, “The Man Who Directed ‘La La Land’ is a 32-Year-Old Wunderkind from N.J.”
Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words. First place: Joanne Kimberlin, The Virginian-Pilot, “In a Single Week, Chesapeake Family Buries One Son and Gives Birth to Another”
Judge’s comments: A family lost their 4-year-old son to cancer and, less than a week later, had a baby. The writer beautifully captured the emotions and wove in a thread about the family’s faith but never crossed into maudlin territory. Restrained and elegant writing. Second place: George Morris, The (Baton Rouge) Advocate, “For U-High Grads, Tragedy Created an Unbreakable Bond Called ‘The Tribe’” Judge’s comments: This tale of old friends reconnecting as one of them was dying felt authentic, showing their actions and revealing their emotions. Written with feeling but not melodrama, the story has the perfect tone. Third place: Sean Clancy and Kirk Montgomery, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “Shoutout for Sister: The Late Rosetta Nubin Tharpe Joins List of Nominees for Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame”
Judge’s comments: Lean and pithy, this piece packed a lot of information into a small space. Good energetic writing. Honorable mention: René A. Guzman, San Antonio Express-News, “‘NewsCat’ Brings Smiles Amid the Tragedy of Sutherland Springs”
A single story focusing on food, not including reviews or commentary. Can be a trend story, personality profile, narrative piece, how-to or other feature treatment of a food topic. Each entry consists of one story. First place: Brittany Britto, The Baltimore Sun, “Unpacking the Chicken Box: The Story Behind Baltimore’s Carryout Staple”
Judge’s comments: This accessible, deftly told story about a city’s love affair with carryout chicken is imbued with local flavor. The tale is told with a briskness that keeps the piece moving while revealing the history of an oft-overlooked favorite food. Second place: Emily Spicer, San Antonio Express-News, “San Antonio’s Latest Whiskey Imbued with Maverick, Alamo History”
Judge’s comments: Like the drink it lionizes, this story about whiskey is silky smooth. Lyrically written, it is clearly the work of an engaging storyteller who knows how to sprinkle in gems of memorable details that bring the tale to life.
Third place: Rashod Ollison, The Virginian-Pilot, “Virginia Beach Woman Brings Integrity to Soul Food with YouTube Videos”
Judge’s comments: The observations, the dialogue and the details in this story about a woman who has gained a huge following with down-to-earth cooking videos give us a sense of being in the room with her. Delving into the controversy about soul food adds depth to a well-written profile. Honorable mention: Kelly Brandt and Staton Breidenthal, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “It Starts With Mother: Making Vinegar is Fun, and It Takes Only a Starter and a Bare Minimum of Ingredients”
FEATURES SERIES OR PROJECT
Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts. First place: Rick Telander, Chicago Sun-Times, “A Season Under the Gun”
Judge’s comments: This series examines the affect of the rampant violence on Chicago’s West Side on high school teenagers through their basketball team. The teens’ stories are as shocking as they are matter-of-fact – for most of them, violent death is merely a part of life. Writer Telander gives readers a personal, insider look at kids coping with difficult lives. These stories – of youths finding joy within the carnage – go beyond headlines and crime statistics. Second place: Gary Harki and Joanne Kimberlin, The Virginian-Pilot, “The Execution of Ricky Gray”
Judge’s comments: Once reporter Harki was selected to witness an execution, he and colleague Kimberlin took on the task of looking back at the grisly murders that the man committed and at the process of putting a person to death. This compelling story is so well-written that readers are drawn in and carried along without effort. Without sensation or sentiment, we hear from those involved in the execution and are eyewitness to the final deed. Third place: Kristin Finan, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, “Heartbreak and Hope”
Judge’s comments: In this series, writer Finan gives a first-person account of her experience with the foster-care system – from her tween years and adding a foster mother to her later roles as a mom and wife. The roller-coaster experience of tragedy, love, joy and pain is expanded with loads of interviews, statistics and other research. Remarkable story – and a remarkable life! Honorable mention: Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “Dead Asleep: Babies at Risk”
A single story told in a narrative style, using techniques such as character development, use of dialogue, sense of place, scene building, narrative arc and adherence to theme. First place: Jenna Russell, The Boston Globe, “Alone and Untrained, a Mother Becomes Nurse for her Daughter with Disabilities”
Judge’s comments: This terrific story, written with extraordinary feeling and grace, takes readers deep into the life of a family and illuminates a much larger – and largely unknown – problem about health care for special-needs children. Second place: Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, San Antonio Express-News, “The Abortion Divide: Two Texas Women’s Stories Dramatize the Crucial Decisions at the Center of Their Lives”
Judge’s comments: A smart take on a hot-button issue, exceptionally reported and well-told. Third place: Staff, The Cincinnati Enquirer, “Seven Days of Heroin: This is What an Epidemic Looks Like”
Judge’s comments: This look at the heroin epidemic tackles a topic that we’ve all heard much about and sheds new – and sobering – light on it.
FEATURE SPECIALTY WRITING PORTFOLIO
Three stories by the same writer on one features specialty topic, such as arts and entertainment, fashion, food, health, religion, technology or travel. First place: Elizabeth Simpson, The Virginian-Pilot
Judge’s comments: Simpson weaves moving tales about health issues with gravitas and aplomb – the stories are beautifully structured, with sentences that land just so. Readers feel as though they know the subjects and are in the room with them. Powerful work that requires a deft pen to achieve. Second place: Bobby Olivier, NJ Advance Media
Judge’s comments: This entry shows fantastic range and know-how, and it’s breezily written and fun to read. Irresistible subject matter, too – the opening gambit on the story about the New Jersey man traveling to Germany with $15,000 in his pocket hooked us and didn’t let go. Third place: Brittany Britto, The Baltimore Sun
Judge’s comments: These enlightening stories, capturing fascinating facets of Baltimore’s African-American culture, show depths of reporting and research about seemingly whimsical topics. We never realized how much we wanted to know about the Crazy Legs dance, chicken boxes and “Baltimorese” – or “Bawlmerese.” Honorable mention: Silvia Foster-Frau, San Antonio Express-News
GENERAL COMMENTARY PORTFOLIO
A collection of three columns or essays by the same writer on any human interest or specialty topic, excluding editorials. First place: Emily Spicer, San Antonio Express-News
Judge’s comments: Spicer stands out because she takes on topics not everyone is writing about. And she produces compelling pieces you just can’t put down. Most notable: her column on Boob Glue. That’s right, Boob Glue. Don’t you want to know more? We can’t believe a newspaper ran this column but are so glad it did. Hilarious, a little outrageous but, above all else, informative. Spicer took readers on her sticky journey and bravely posed for some illuminating selfies, resulting in a column that no doubt had readers talking, laughing and, dare we say, uplifted? As soon as you finish reading these comments, please Google this column. It’s a scream. Second place: Bobby Olivier, NJ Advance Media
Judge’s comments: These pieces feel like a backstage pass and a front-row seat. Richly reported, skillfully written and thoroughly informed, this body of work seems destined to create more informed and culturally aware readers one brilliant column at a time.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT COMMENTARY PORTFOLIO
A collection of three columns, essays or reviews by the same writer on any arts and entertainment topic, including dining reviews but excluding editorials. First place: Matthew Odam, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman
Judge’s comments: It’s probably silly to use a word like “terroir” to describe food writing, but Odam has it. His coverage of Texas capital’s food scene has a healthy respect for what keeps Austin weird even as big-money increasingly drives the restaurant business there. Muscular criticism and sparkling detail mark these beautifully crafted reviews. Second place: David Zurawik, The Baltimore Sun
Judge’s comments: There was much to be outraged about in 2017 if you were a smart media columnist, as Zurawik clearly is. What matters in these pieces, though, is the cogency and careful fact-finding that balances his passion, expressed with clarion-voiced authority. Third place: Joe Gross, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman
Judge’s comments: Solid, smart film criticism that never condescends to its audience.
Feature treatment of any sports topic. First place: Vahe Gregorian, Maria Torres and Jill Toyoshiba, The Kansas City Star, “Yordano Ventura’s Final Year Filled With Turmoil, Emotional Distress”
Judge’s comments: In a category with many strong entries, this was the clear winner. Gregorian and Torres explore the death of colorful Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura with in-depth reporting – from stateside as well as the Dominican Republic – and clever writing. “He acted out at opponents for having the temerity to hit the ball off him, or be hit by his pitches.” Toyoshiba adds illuminating photos. Second place: John Whisler, San Antonio Express-News, “Boxing and San Antonio: A Glove Affair”
Judge’s comments: This look at boxing in San Antonio is comprehensive, entertaining and elevated by Whisler’s writing chops. Consider this gem: “Where San Antonio ranks among America’s best boxing towns is a moving target, about as difficult to define as landing a punch to the chin of Ali in his prime.” Third place: Ed Miller, The Virginian-Pilot, “A Ref’s Life: One Long Day Under the Looking Glass With NBA Official Leroy Richardson”
Judge’s comments: Miller crafts riveting coverage of a day in the life of NBA ref Leroy Richardson. Honorable mention: David Hinojosa, San Antonio Express-News, “High School Football Preview: As His Father Heals, Somerset QB Focuses on Season”
The coverage of any A&E, lifestyle or specialty topic using a single video of not more than 8 minutes in length. First place: Vicki Cronis-Nohe, The Virginian-Pilot, “They May Not Have Homes, but Members of this Norfolk Choir Have Voices. And They Want You to Listen.”
Judge’s comments: One of the best things journalists can do is let people tell their own stories, and this piece does that. Members of a homeless choir – a community that isn’t always depicted in a positive light or allowed to speak for itself – are given a microphone and allowed to share a part of their lives not usually seen. Second place: Ulysses Muñoz, Algerina Perna and Karl Merton Ferron, The Baltimore Sun, “Still Dancing: Baltimore Club-Style Dance Has Legs”
Judge’s comments: This piece accomplishes much in under three minutes: It’s a cultural primer, a historical record, a provocative commentary – and it’s fun. The video leaves viewers with an understanding of an important slice of dance history in Baltimore while curious to learn more. Third place: Andre Malok and Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ Advance Media, “For Cash, Name the Candidates for N.J. Governor”
Judge’s comments: This video will make you laugh – and leave you a little afraid for the future of our democracy.
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through the integrated use of print, online, social media, video and any other platform. First place: Brittany Britto and Staff, The Baltimore Sun, “Keep the Beat: Baltimore Club-Style Dance Persists Past its Peak with Support of Local Dancers, Organizers”
Judge’s comments: Ack! There’s hard-to-read white type on a black background, but that’s the only thing we didn’t like about this online package. Beautifully executed storytelling captures the exuberance of this scene. The piece is well-written, with excellent editing and selection of photos and video. These journalists show rather than tell us about dance. It’s nearly perfect. Second place (tie): Brittany Britto and Staff, The Baltimore Sun, “Hold Up, ‘Hon’: Baltimore’s Black Vernacular Youthful, Dynamic if Less Recognized than ‘Bawlmerese’”
Judge’s comments: Every publication could steal this idea and apply it to the way that local people talk. It’s an evergreen piece that readers likely would come back to again and again. What better way to talk about how people talk than to hear them speaking. The video is a fine mix of scholarship and man-on-the street opinion. Love how the guy explains that he talks the way he does so he can communicate with his
family and friends and to belong. Second place (tie): Denise Watson and Vicki Cronis-Nohe, The Virginian-Pilot, “They May Not Have Homes, but Members of this Norfolk Choir Have Voices. And They Want You To Listen.”
Judge’s comments: If this story about a homeless choir doesn’t move you, you’re made of stone. This is a deceptively simple package that nails it. Well-written story and moving photos married with a video that pulled us in and hooked us until the end. Third place: Lauren Caruba and Carolyn Van Houten, San Antonio Express-News, “Life in Transition”
Judge’s comments: The opening to this piece about San Antonians who are transitioning to another gender, is nearly perfect. It quickly captures these individuals’ stories, and the photography is wonderful.
DIVERSITY IN DIGITAL FEATURES
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic that highlights the diversity within a publication’s audience. First place: Laura Bauer, The Kansas City Star, “Secrecy Inside Child Welfare System Can Kill: ‘God Help the Children of Kansas’”
Judge’s comments: This series – about problems faced by those dealing with the Kansas Department for Children and Families – was expertly presented and leaves readers wondering what can be done to protect children. Second place: Staff, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, “The Talk”
Judge’s comments: A powerful subject – a look at “the talk” that black parents have with their children about how to survive encounters with police – that is presented expertly. The writers put much thought into the digital presentation – video front and center, then stories below – because it was important to showcase the reason for the talk. Throughout the storytelling, there lies a beacon of hope – for justice, for
change, for understanding. Third place: Peter Smith, Nate Guidry and Laura Malt Schneiderman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Unsettled in America: Pittsburgh’s Latino Community is Small, Diverse, Growing – and Anxious”
Judge’s comments: Exceptional journalism that captures the long, drawn-out legal fights and the stories of survival of the city’s Latino population. Honorable mention: Jamesetta Walker, The Virginian-Pilot, “Sickle Cell Aside, Chesapeake WomanMaking Her Way in NYC Modeling Scene”
BEST SPECIAL SECTION
The best your publication has to offer in printed A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. First place: Staff, “Women to Watch,” The Baltimore Sun
Judge’s comments: This magazine-style special section featured a clean, consistent design and carried a great mix of stories. Second place: Jill Silva and Tammy Ljungblad, “Fish to Table,” The Kansas City Star
Judge’s comments: It was a close call between second and third places in this category. The Star gained the edge with more consistent writing. And we actually learned much about fresh seafood in the Midwest through these thoroughly interesting stories. Third place: Sam Hundley, Deborah Armstrong, David Simpson and Staff, “Lighten Up, Pilgrim. Maybe It’s Time to Ditch the Turkey,” The Virginian-Pilot
Judge’s comments: The story planning provided nice variety – not just standard-fare food writing – for this Thanksgiving special section. The mashed potato challenge was particularly enjoyable compared with most holiday recipe pieces. Honorable mention: Staff, “Dining Guide,” The Baltimore Sun
BEST NICHE PRODUCT
The best examples of a niche product – such as a magazine or special section – published at least two times a year. First place: Clay Barbour and Staff, Distinction, The Virginian-Pilot
Judge’s comments: This one has it all – stunning photography, crisp design and engaging writing. Loved the cover story about dogs who thrive in urban environments. This is a magazine you want to curl up with in a cozy chair and linger for hours. Second place: Mark Gauert, Anderson Greene and Staff, Prime, Sun-Sentinel
Judge’s comments: Stunning covers – of Deborah Harry and Bruce Springsteen – invite readers in. The mix of short takes and longer pieces keeps them there. Loved the piece on five places to escape to before the summer fades away. Overall, a strong effort. Third place: Staff, Arkansas Life, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Judge’s comments: The impressive covers lure readers in, and they find much to enjoy inside. Well-thought-out stories offer information as well as inspiration. Beautiful job. Honorable mention: Gabe Hartwig and Staff, Go!, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
DIVISION 3 | Circulation 200,000 and up
FINEST IN FEATURES SWEEPSTAKES AWARDS
These awards recognize the three publications that garner the most honors in the contest’s other 20 categories. First place: The Washington Post
Seventeen awards, including five firsts (Best Digital Features Presence, General Feature, Food Feature, Sports Feature and Digital Innovation), seven seconds (A&E Feature, Short Feature, Narrative Storytelling, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio, Video Storytelling, Best Niche Product and Headline Writing Portfolio), three thirds (Best Section, Narrative Storytelling and A&E Commentary Portfolio) and two honorable mentions (A&E Commentary Portfolio and Best Niche Product). Second place: Los Angeles Times
Seven awards, including three firsts (Best Section, A&E Feature and Features Series or Project), three seconds (A&E Commentary Portfolio, Integrated Storytelling and Podcast) and one third (General Commentary Portfolio). Third place: The Dallas Morning News
Five awards, including two firsts (General Commentary Portfolio and Podcast), two seconds (Best Features Digital Presence and Food Feature) and one third (Diversity in Digital Features).
The best regularly occurring printed features sections that focus on A&E, lifestyles or other features coverage. First place: Los Angeles Times
Judge’s comments: The three special themed sections in this entry – on the Oscars, “Hamilton” and road trips – are stunning examples of what a features section can do. The topics are explored from a wide variety of angles with wonderful photography and writing. Most of all, these sections are well-planned, organized and executed. The other sections entered here are equally delightful to read and feel like L.A. –
trendy, smart, eclectic. Second place: (Minneapolis) Star Tribune
Judge’s comments: The Star Tribune impresses with its ability to take on big subjects – such as the immigrants section – as well as with its great storytelling about everyday people – the vacuum cleaner kid. These sections are well-organized and well-written, and they capture that certain edginess of the Twin Cities. Overall, thorough and thoughtful. Third place: The Washington Post
Judge’s comments: What a joy to get lost in these sections. The sheer size and scope of these sections is impressive, and the execution is beyond reproach. Honorable mention: Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times
BEST FEATURES DIGITAL PRESENCE
The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. First place: Staff, The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com
Judge’s comments: A lively website, with exceptional writing, good photography and just enough attitude. Second place: Staff, The Dallas Morning News, GuideLive.com
Judge’s comments: Exciting and informative site. Third place: Staff, CNN, CNN.com/longform
Judge’s comments: Some of the best long-form journalism around.
Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic. First place: Dan Zak, The Washington Post, “After the Blast”
Judge’s comments: A stunning story – about a fire and explosion in the Texas town of West – that received the reporting and writing it deserved. It was particularly impressive how the writer wove together so many threads while keeping the reader’s interest engaged. Beautifully written. Second place: Christopher Spata, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, “Want to be Santa? Be Ready for Tough Questions and Heartbreaking Requests”
Judge’s comments: It takes a writer of true talent to approach this story about the things that department-store Santas hear with a delicate and graceful touch. A lovely feature. Third place: Thelma Glover, The (Portland) Oregonian, “City Police Cost 98-Year-Old Black Woman Her Home. Here’s Why She Won’t Get it Back.”
Judge’s comments: Writer Glover did a fine job of explaining and personalizing a complex history in this story about a woman who lost her home. An excellent example of why a features approach is often the most effective way to make readers feel the historic injustices of a complex situation. Honorable mention: Monte Reel, Bloomberg, “How to Rebuild Puerto Rico”
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT FEATURE
Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic. First place: Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times, “Artist John Wullbrandt Lost Vital Paintings in the Thomas Fire, But Found Renewal in Fighting the Flames”
Judge’s comments: Vivid writing, incredible details and a narrative structure combined to make this story feel like a dramatic piece of short fiction – in a good way. The headline foreshadows some of the events, but readers still can get swept up in the story and wonder, “What will happen next?” We didn’t want it to end. Second place: Peter Marks, The Washington Post, “Places, Please! A Behind-the-Scenes Look at How ‘The Front Page’s’ Cast and Crew Get into their Groove”
Judge’s comments: A great use of immersive storytelling. The video and audio clips were well placed as part of the online narrative, not online extras. Warm, funny and educational. It’s fun to see celebrities in their work element in a different way as well. Third place: Chris Riemenschneider, (Minneapolis) Star Tribune, “Prince Inc.”
Judge’s comments: Not all stories have a beginning, middle and an end – we won’t know for years what will happen with Prince’s estate. Great details and engaging writing throughout, with complicated issues explained plainly. Honorable mention: Michael Kaplan, New York Post, “This Artist is Making Mega-Millions Stealing People’s Work”
Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words. First place: Mike Hixenbaugh, Houston Chronicle, “Conjoined Twins Head Home But Face Challenges Ahead”
Judge’s comments: A well-done piece that left us wanting more. The story features excellent, simple sentence structures, and the writer places readers alongside a young couple dealing with conjoined twins. A great, great poignant story. Second place: Dan Zak, The Washington Post, “R.I.P. Gchat: You Let Us Pretend We Were Working – and That We Were Really Connecting.”
Judge’s comments: This clever and humorous piece was a pleasure to read. The story was enjoyable – and chuckle-inducing. Third place: Laura Reiley, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, “Publix No Longer Offers You That Free Slice of Meat at the Deli Counter”
Judge’s comments: Well-told story on a potentially dry topic – the delicatessen that no longer offers free samples of its products. The writer used fun phrasing and colorful, detailed writing. Honorable mention: Mike Fisher, Toronto (Canada) Star, “Find the Beating Heart of the Blues in Memphis”
A single story focusing on food, not including reviews or commentary. Can be a trend story, personality profile, narrative piece, how-to or other feature treatment of a food topic. Each entry consists of one story. First place: Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post, “Chefs Say a Dishwasher Can Make or Break a Restaurant. So I Signed Up for a Shift.”
Judge’s comments: Excellent sources, topic and execution in this interesting look at the job of dishwashers in the restaurant business. The story was educational and entertaining, and we hope the piece got passed around to many of the people doing this crucial job in restaurants. Second place: Leslie Brenner, The Dallas Morning News, “Dallas’ New Wave of Chinese Regional Dining is Sizzling Hot”
Judge’s comments: Excellent look at a trend – the emergence of more Chinese dining options in the Dallas area – that are making a mark on the culinary scene. Backed up by population statistics that show why this trend is a growing one in the Texas city. Third place: Brett Anderson, The New York Times, “At 91, Ella Brennan Still Feeds (and Leads) New Orleans”
Judge’s comments: Delightful profile of this important restaurant family matriarch, including the fact that she probably can’t cook but sure knows how to run a restaurant empire. Honorable mention: Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle, “Fired Up Chefs Embrace Open Flames”
FEATURES SERIES OR PROJECT
Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts. First place: Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times, “Dirty John”
Judge’s comments: A phenomenal story told in riveting words, with exhaustive research and interviewing. This might make online dating difficult for a while, because who really knows what’s lurking on the other end of that profile? Just exceptional. Second place: Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Wisconsin Trails on the Road”
Judge’s comments: The most personal and lovely travel story we’ve seen in a long time. Loved the pride that was taken in showing off one’s state and in doing so in such amazing detail. Third place: John Blake and Tawanda Scott Sambou, CNN.com, “This Could Be Awkward”
Judge’s comments: This one is hard to read and listen to because it’s so real. This is what journalism is supposed to do – make us uncomfortable and affect us. So well done. Honorable mention: Staff, The (Portland) Oregonian, “The Loneliest Polar Bear”
A single story told in a narrative style, using techniques such as character development, use of dialogue, sense of place, scene building, narrative arc and adherence to theme. First place: Patricia Callahan, Chicago Tribune, “Doomed by Delay”
Judge’s comments: Masterful storytelling of a mother and child’s journey when the personal intersects with bureaucratic failures. There’s strong reporting here, as well as an expert balance of scenes and detail with more explanatory passages. Callahan’s writing forces readers to put themselves in the shoes of Natasha Spencer – and it’s excruciating. Second place: David Montgomery, The Washington Post, “The Collision”
Judge’s comments: This exceptional story – about an incident and a Confederate monument – could easily have been reduced to outrage fodder but instead is given a humane, nuanced treatment. The citizens of Demopolis are fully realized. This treatment offers a complex understanding of our nation’s history of and current grappling with Confederate monuments. Third place: Monica Hesse, The Washington Post, “Lending a Hand at the End of a Pregnancy”
Judge’s comments: Writer Hesse sensitively explores a role unknown to most readers – the abortion doula. The story looks at how controversial abortion remains in our society while reflecting the incredible intimacy of the doulas’ work. Honorable mention: Craig R. McCoy, Philadelphia Media Network, “Horror on the Mountain: 11 Boys, 1 Ice Ax, and Unforeseen Heroism”
FEATURE SPECIALTY WRITING PORTFOLIO
Three stories by the same writer on one features specialty topic, such as arts and entertainment, fashion, food, health, religion, technology or travel. First place: Jason Nark, Philadelphia Media Network
Judge’s comments: Nark finds beautiful stories in everyday existences and brings them to life. Even when writing about something as seemingly absurd as deer urine, he spins a fascinating tale that could easily have devolved into potty humor. Second place: Geoff Edgers, The Washington Post
Judge’s comments: This portfolio is strong on storytelling. Edgers’ writing is elegant and precise. He lets stories unfold without getting in the way. Third place: Laura Reiley, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times
Judge’s comments: Reiley proves that food writing is more than covering restaurants and publishing recipes. She weaves history, personalities and delicious moments into her stories. Honorable mention: Bob Tedeschi, Stat
GENERAL COMMENTARY PORTFOLIO
A collection of three columns or essays by the same writer on any human interest or specialty topic, excluding editorials. First place: Cassandra Jaramillo, The Dallas Morning News
Judge’s comments: These are deeply thoughtful pieces about the struggle to balance assimilation and cultural pride in the writer’s immigrant family. The way she thinks through her identity and examines the way others in her family do helps illuminate the seminal American immigrant experience for a new generation. Second place: Will Bunch, Philadelphia Media Network
Judge’s comments: How lucky are Bunch’s readers because they get to view the upheavals of American society and politics through the compassionate, clear eyes of this masterful writer. Third place: Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times
Judge’s comments: With a population drawn from all corners of the world, a global entertainment industry and extremes of wealth and climate, L.A. is presented here as a snapshot of world and national trends. Honorable mention: Wei Chen, Houston Chronicle
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT COMMENTARY PORTFOLIO
A collection of three columns, essays or reviews by the same writer on any arts and entertainment topic, including dining reviews but excluding editorials. First place: Inga Saffron, Philadelphia Media Network
Judge’s comments: Through these columns, Saffron shows why publications need to pay attention to their community’s architecture and infrastructure. It’s important for diversity, for a city’s health and for its residents’ mental health. And Saffron’s writing gives a vitality to these stories, with such great phrasing as “parking your bottom,” “gritty around the edges,” and the sense of having to “pry” union membership numbers from the group’s secretive hands. Second place: Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
Judge’s comments: Chang’s movie reviews are more than reviews; they put the films in context of life experiences. Such reviews often are mere recitations of a film’s plot, and it’s wonderful that Chang elevates his work above that, with thoughts such as “Is there anything scarier than being a black man in America today?” and how “while mediocrities are a dime a dozen, a genuine, off-the-charts fiasco is something to cherish.” Third place: Hank Stuever, The Washington Post
Judge’s comments: Television criticism at its best. Stuever is a storyteller with a message. Honorable mention: Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post
Feature treatment of any sports topic. First place: Kent Babb, The Washington Post, “There’s Nowhere to Run”
Judge’s comments: “What would it be like,” asks former NFL star Larry Johnson, “for this to be the day for people to find out you’re not here?” It’s a stunning question, and it’s answered by this stunning story. We learn that it’s a miracle that Johnson is still here. He battles demons that he says are symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disorder linked to more than 100 former
football players. It’s heart-wrenching storytelling, with perfect pacing and wording. It’s raw, and it’s real. Second place: Howie Kussoy, New York Post, “Pop Stars, Athletes, Actors and Strippers: A Night Out with Floyd Mayweather”
Judge’s comments: Crude, rude, colorful, energetic and thoroughly entertaining. That describes this award-worthy piece and its subject, boxer Floyd Mayweather. At times, you’ll want to look away, but it’s hard to tear yourself from a story this engrossing. A funny, funky and fabulously descriptive feature, down to that mouthwash in a Hennessy bottle. Third place: Max Blau, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Knockout: The Fast Rise and Slow Fade of Boxer O’Neil ‘Supernova’ Bell”
Judge’s comments: The writing, in places, hits as hard as boxer O’Neil Bell must have in his glory days. The result is a story that is unflinching, direct, emotional and subtly detailed. Honorable mention: Dave McKenna, Deadspin, “The Kid Who Didn’t Die at Riverfront Stadium”
The coverage of any A&E, lifestyle or specialty topic using a single video of not more than 8 minutes in length. First place: Jessica Greif, The (Portland) Oregonian, “About a Boy”
Judge’s comments: A compelling story well told, elevated by the time put in – we see the subject over several years – and the details shared by him, his mom and doctors and advocates. One decision about his life offered a window into his larger journey, and we were left wanting to hear what his next chapter would be. Second place: Ashleigh Joplin and Katherine Frey, The Washington Post, “Meet Ella Murray: The 9-Year-Old with Skin as Delicate as a Butterfly’s Wing”
Judge’s comments: The video did a nice job of highlighting the problems of a family in a difficult situation. The narrative is well-paced, and we wanted to spend more time with the family and find out what happens next. Third place: Staff, Fusion, “Young Viejo”
Judge’s comments: “I feel good,” says a guy who loves being on the diamond. “That’s why I come here.” We felt great watching this story of older men playing baseball. It’s not just the high-production values, which are impressive. We don’t always acknowledge that older people still have all the same interest and passions they’ve always had. This story does.
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through the integrated use of print, online, social media, video and any other platform. First place: Nathan Eagle and Alana Eagle, Honolulu Civil Beat, “The Last Wild Place”
Judge’s comments: A gorgeous, lively, engaging, well-written, thorough and utterly fascinating look at a place most of us will never be able to go: the Northwestern Hawaii Islands. This multipart series uses every digital tool in the book – maps, video, music – to immerse readers and listeners in a remote and beautiful world. Second place: Christopher Goffard and Andrea Roberson, Los Angeles Times, “Dirty John”
Judge’s comments: The story and accompanying podcasts present a riveting mystery about a con man with a shocking ending. Well-done graphics, fine photojournalism and engrossing writing. The Facebook chat was a great way to engage readers. An amazing package that uses digital media to full advantage. Third place: Staff, The (Portland) Oregonian, “The Loneliest Polar Bear”
Judge’s comments: Quick videos that surprise viewers with polar bear sounds. Longer video interviews with tearful or determined vets and zookeepers. All that, plus interactive graphics, a well-told story and beautiful photojournalism distinguish this six-part series that took a year to research and create. It ends with ways to get readers engaged in fighting climate change and saving polar bears. Every aspect of
digital media is employed. Honorable mention: Staff, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “50-Year Ache”
DIVERSITY IN DIGITAL FEATURES
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic that highlights the diversity within a publication’s audience. First place: Panama Jackson, The Root, “How Trump Ruined My Relationship With My White Mother”
Judge’s comments: Wow. Just wow. This narrative had us shaking our heads and dropping our jaws. We could picture the scenes the writer described. We could hear the conversations the writer had with his mom. We could empathize with his feelings, torn and frustrated – and slightly guilty. A powerful column with a headline that doesn’t sensationalize – rather, it accurately nails the story in a few words and invites readers to find out why. Second place: James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “What Happened to Us?”
Judge’s comments: An incredible project with outstanding interactives. Tracking down everyone in your third-grade class and writing about it is no easy task. This is the anti “where are they now?” feature piece, a serious look at a tough time in history and how it’s affected the people in writer Causey’s class. Beautiful execution. Third place: Dawn Burkes and Tiney Ricciardi, The Dallas Morning News, “Women of Color on Television” Judge’s comments: The entries in this delicious subject – women of color in leading roles on TV – were hard to put down and thought-provoking. Honorable mention: Ileana Najarro, Monica Rhor and Jenny Deam, Houston Chronicle, “Deeper Underground”
BEST SPECIAL SECTION
The best your publication has to offer in printed A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. First place: Tim Campbell and Christy DeSmith, (Minneapolis) Star Tribune, “Fall Arts”
Judge’s comments: This special section’s variety of well-written stories and clean design set it above the competition even without the slick-magazine format used by the other entries. Particularly impressive are the feature stories and beautiful black-and-white portraits that anchor each of the major arts categories. Second place: Staff, San Francisco Chronicle, “Summer of Love”
Judge’s comments: This is an enjoyable commemorative magazine for those who remember the hazy, crazy days of 1967. Third place: Staff, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, “Fa La La La Love”
Judge’s comments: This holiday magazine captures the “Wow!” factor with its Vogue-like cover and elegant photo reproduction. Honorable mention: Craig LaBan, Philadelphia Media Network, “Craig LaBan’s Ultimate Dining”
BEST NICHE PRODUCT
The best examples of a niche product – such as a magazine or special section – published at least two times a year. First place: Melissa Aguilar, Jody Schmal and Staff, LuxeLife, Houston Chronicle
Judge’s comments: A stellar magazine, with stunning covers, engaging writing and gorgeous photography. It’s chock full of short reads – loved the look at unique earrings – and well-written narratives. The design is exquisite. Kudos to food writer Alison Cook for her yeoman’s effort on her top 100 restaurants in the city. She even tells you what to order! LuxeLife is lively, informative, interesting and fun to read. Second place: Tom Sietsema and Staff, Spring and Fall Dining Guides, The Washington Post
Judge’s comments: Food writer Tom Sietsema is a treasure, and his takes on the best dining spots in the D.C. metro area are must-reads. The crisp writing and stunning photography are literally mouth-watering. Third place: Staff, Bay, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times
Judge’s comments: A strong local magazine with a great voice. Well-written and well-edited, thispublication is executed perfectly. Honorable mention: Staff, The Luxury Issues of The Washington Post Magazine, The Washington Post Honorable mention: Sue Campbell and Staff, Star Tribune Magazine, (Minneapolis) Star Tribune
HEADLINE WRITING PORTFOLIO
A collection of three headlines and accompanying decks by the same writer for feature stories or columns. First place: Darel Jevens, Chicago Sun-Times
Judge’s comments: Deeper context on the “Mother!” movie review – “O, ‘Mother’: What Art Thou?” – elevates the clever word play. “Sesame seed fun” is just fun. And the Dear Abby headline – “So, Your Fiance? I’m Married To Him.” – shows that everything we do to engage audience matters, especially when you can generate new attention for an old-school feature. Second place: Panfilo Garcia, The Washington Post
Judge’s comments: Clever, engaging headlines without being cliche or punny for the sake of being punny. Third place: Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, CNET.com
Judge’s comments: There’s a next-level commitment to a theme in all three headlines.
New or improved online ventures, including websites, apps, social-media experiments or other ways to share information in the digital world. First place: Staff, The Washington Post, “The Lily”
Judge’s comments: This is whole new publication – aimed at bringing The Post’s stories to a wider audience and at focusing on stories important to women – that meets its intended audience where they are. Blown away by this initiative, from its content and platforms to its focused, well-defined personality. Second place: William Houp, The Virginian-Pilot, “The Newest Way to Get the Latest Stories: Message Us on Facebook”
Judge’s comments: A clever way to get readers to look at your stories through Facebook.
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through a podcast. First place: Staff, The Dallas Morning News, “My Aryan Princess”
Judge’s comments: This addicting podcast tells the story of Carol, the troubled informant who descends into the world of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, and her role in bringing down the gang. The podcast warned listeners that it would be a wild ride, and it truly is. Second place: Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times, “Dirty John”
Judge’s comments: The storytelling in this series has a soap opera-thriller feel to it, and the podcasters do a great job of hooking listeners. A captivating story where listeners root for all those involved and hope justice is served to Debra’s “Mr. Right/Mr. Wrong.” Third place: Joanne Kimberlin, Gary Harki and Randall Greenwell, The Virginian-Pilot, “The Shot”
Judge’s comments: Given the whodunit feel in this podcast – mixed with the voices of those still looking for Officer Victor Decker’s killer – we can see why this podcast received a five-star rating on iTunes. Listeners want to know what happened to Decker, even as they learn about his dark side. Honorable mention: Ian Coss, Heidi Shin and Qainat Khan, The GroundTruth Project, “The New American Songbook”
BEST COLLEGE FEATURES JOURNALIST
The top collegiate features journalists, based on an entry of up to three stories First place: Sam Fortier, Syracuse University
Judge’s comments: Fortier writes with an authoritative voice, weaving compelling narratives. We especially liked the human element in his stories, the many voices he corrals and the depth of reporting in the “St. Anthony’s Unanswered Prayer” piece. Second place: Natalie Schwartz, University of Maryland
Judge’s comments: Schwartz shares voices that her readers might otherwise not hear – Trump supporters on a liberal campus, a DACA student struggling with uncertainty about the future and transgender people learning to change their voices. She captures their stories well, propelling her narratives with well-chosen quotes. Third place: Hannah Neumann, Baylor University
Judge’s comments: Neumann has a nice voice, and the tale of post-traumatic stress disorder is informative and poignant. The story is nicely structured and makes good use of quotes and various voices.
10/12/11 Sharon Chapman for Venture Out Austin credit: Nell Carroll/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Jim is the retired features editor at The Virginian-Pilot, where he finished his career of 35-plus years in journalism. Along the way, he was a reporter, copy editor and designer. But the best part of the job was helping to tell engaging stories. He’s the co-author of the “Food Lover’s Guide to Virginia” (Globe Pequod Press, 2013). He spent time at the Salina Journal and Hays Daily News in Kansas, where he graduated from Fort Hays State University.
1st vice president
Margaret is an editor with Atlantic Media Strategies. She previously led a team of reporters at PBS NewsHour and ESPN, and was a features editor at the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News. Margaret is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
2nd vice president
is features editor at the Austin American-Statesman. She leads a team of passionate writers and editors who cover the culture and lifestyle of Austin, Texas. She previously was entertainment/food editor at the Statesman, leading the launch of Austin360 in print and online. She has also been assistant features editor at The Kansas City Star and Salem (Ore.) Statesman-Journal.
Emily is the features editor and The Spice of Life columnist at the San Antonio Express-News. In the many years she has worked at the paper, she has held various titles, including travel writer, fashion editor, real estate editor, and the most recent, business editor. She also worked for a year in the middle there as the public relations manager for Neiman Marcus San Antonio. Spicer graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1998 with degrees in journalism and Plan II (a liberal arts honors program.)
You’re heard of Kansas City barbecue — and perhaps the 2016 World Series champions, the Kansas City Royals. But did you know KC is also home to the world-class Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art? That the Kansas City Zoo spans 200 acres in Swope Park, one of the nation’s largest urban parks? That we have James Beard Award-winning chefs, a gaggle of food trucks and a fusion cuisine to satisfy all your cravings?
Plus — the beer! Our region is home to dozens of craft breweries and, of course, Boulevard Brewing Co., which was founded in 1989 and now has full or partial distribution in 31 states and Washington, D.C. We also have our fair share of distilleries.
A downtown renaissance includes the Sprint Center, a performing arts center designed by Moshe Sadie; a burgeoning arts community; and the latest fascination: a new streetcar line.
From Sept. 27-30, I invite you to bring your family to the annual SFJ conference so you can experience all this KC pride for yourself.
Our hotel will be just minutes from downtown and within walking distance to many attractions, including Union Station and Crown Center, which is home to Halls department store, Legoland, and fun shops and eateries.
You also can hop on our streetcar to check out the River Market, which hosts a large farmers market and unique food vendors.
If shopping is your thing, the most popular retailers mingle with local boutiques at the Country Club Plaza — a 10-minute Uber ride away. The outdoor shopping plaza is modeled after Seville, Spain, and is considered the country’s first suburban shopping center.
Here’s another bonus: fall is the most beautiful time of year in Kansas City. So please join us for a fun weekend in the heart of our great country.
Kathy Lu, President of SFJ
Assistant managing editor for features, Kansas City Star
Lisa Glowinski, SFJ president, 217.816.3343
Andrew Nynka, SFJ executive director, 347.260.3874
The Society for Features Journalism has honored three Pulitzer Prize winners and a host of other journalists as part of its 2016 Excellence-in-Features Awards contest.
Three newspapers also were recognized with the inaugural Finest in Features Sweepstakes Awards, which goes to those publications that received the most honors in the annual contest. The first-ever Best College Features Journalist in the Country also was named. Winners in the 19 categories were announced today.
More than 700 entries were judged in the contest, which honors the craft of feature storytelling and the people who do it for a living at news organizations in the United States and Canada. Winners will be recognized at SFJ’s national conference Aug. 10-13 in Austin, Texas.
SFJ President Lisa Glowinski said, “I am beyond impressed with the variety of winners this year. Excellent features journalism is truly alive and well – in print, online, on social media and in our readers’ lives.”
Pulitzer Prize winners who received SFJ awards included:
Lane DeGregory of the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, who placed third in General Feature of the large-newspaper division for “Dear Birth Mother.” She won a Pulitzer for Feature Writing in 2009.
Tom Hallman Jr. of The (Portland) Oregonian, who received an honorable mention in Short Feature in the large-newspaper division for “Trying to Make a Hood River Girl’s Last Birthday Party Special.” He won the Pulitzer in Feature Writing in 2001.
Alison Sherwood of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who placed first in Best Features Website, Digital Channel or App in the large-newspaper division for the newspaper’s Fresh channel. The Pulitzer board honored her in 2011 for Explanatory Reporting.
Several journalists won multiple awards in SFJ’s contest, including:
Michael Cavna of the Washington Post, who received a first place and honorable mention in Digital Innovation and a second place in Feature Writing Specialty Portfolio.
Carlos Frias, who was recognized in three categories – Best Features Website, Digital Channel or App; General Feature and Video Storytelling – for his work at the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post. Frias now is the food writer at The Miami Herald.
Winning the first-ever Finest in Features Sweepstakes Awards in the small-newspaper category (circulation of 90,000 or less) was The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post. The Post won seven honors, including three-first place awards. The (Nashville) Tennessean was second, and the (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union was third.
In the medium-size category (circulation of 90,001 to 199,999), the Finest in Features Sweepstakes winner was The Virginian-Pilot, based in Norfolk, which garnered 11 awards. Tied for second were the Baltimore Sun and TheKansas City Star.
The Finest in Features Sweepstakes honor in the large-newspaper category (circulation of 200,000 and above) went to The Washington Post, which won 16 awards, including six first-place honors. Second was the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, and third was the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Cody Stavenhagen of Oklahoma State University was named the Best College Features Journalist in the Country. The judges lauded him for a strong voice and said, “His stories were compelling and drew us from the lede to the end.” Other honored college journalists were Corey Williams of Auburn University, second; Matthew Lieberson of Vanderbilt University, third; and Baxter Barrowcliff of Columbia College in Chicago, honorable mention.
Jennifer Abella has been a copy editor at The Washington Post since 2000, when she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Currently the copy chief for Washington Post Magazine, she has held several positions at the paper, including features copy chief and deputy
copy chief of the universal news desk. In her spare time she is a pop culture junkie and Anglophile who blogs and manages social media for UNC’s annual Jane Austen Summer Program.
Q: Tell us about your current job.
I oversee copy editing and production for The Washington Post Magazine: I slot copy, oversee proofing, manage production deadlines, publish stories to the Web and compile our entertainment calendar.
Q: What are some of the favorites stories you covered?
We’ve done some great stories recently, including a mascot boot camp and an infographic about black superheroes going mainstream.
Q: How do you use social media?
I am on social media every day mostly for personal use, but also to support my volunteer work for the Jane Austen Summer Program in North Carolina. My work with JASP allows me to experiment — on a small scale — with concepts I’ve gleaned from working at The Post.
Q: Why is features journalism important to you?
I love learning about the personal angles of stories — not just policies or politics, but also the way they affect people’s lives.
Q: What is your favorite quote?
“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” – Jane Austen, “Pride and Prejudice”
It applies to anything you love, really — you don’t even feel it happening; it just happens.
Q: What kinds of media do you personally read for fun and news?
I am thoroughly addicted to Twitter, particularly news accounts that have a geeky/entertainment bent: The Mary Sue, Hitfix, IGN, Vulture, The Hollywood Reporter.
For fun, I read young adult literature as well as pop culture-centric nonfiction.
Q: What do you hope to get from SFJ conference?
I’d like to get back in touch with the roots of editing and working with writers to craft a strong narrative without losing the writer’s voice. I’m also really interested in the impact of social media on features stories. I’d love to learn more about crafting compelling social headlines for our content and how other publications enhance their long reads for the web in an age when readers have such short attention spans.
Amaris Castillo, Bradenton Herald
Amaris Castillo is a law enforcement/island reporter for the Bradenton Herald, where she has worked since 2014.
Castillo has a multimedia series called Bodega Stories, where she publishes stories and portraits of people who frequent her parents’ Latin market in Saint Petersburg, Fla. The project is her small way of preserving language and culture, which means a lot to her as a first-generation American.
Castillo was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Dominican parents and has a master’s from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s from the University of South Florida.
Q: Tell us about your current job.
As the law enforcement/island reporter for the Bradenton Herald, I am regularly sent out to cover breaking news situations such as shootings, fires and crashes. I also report on Anna Maria Island, a 7-mile barrier island that’s filled with challenges related to tourism and all that it brings to residents and business owners. There are three cities on the island, so my job is to keep track of what’s going on in each city. As the night reporter at my newspaper, I’m also called on to cover general assignment stories that range from graduation ceremonies to animal rights protests.
Though law enforcement and the island are my primary beats, I am always searching for interesting feature stories, as well as stories on the immigrant experience — one of my interests.
Q: What are some of the favorite stories you covered?
One is a series on a Honduran boy who crossed the border to reunite with his parents in Bradenton and the challenges he now faces as he seeks asylum. Another story I enjoyed working on was the historic and absolutely bizarre election tie-breaker in Bradenton Beach between an ousted mayor and current-mayor/former- vice mayor — it was one of those “only in Florida” stories where I witnessed an election tie broken through a deck of cards.
Though interviewing people who are grieving after losing a loved one is extremely difficult, I feel it is an honor to tell their stories. Some of my favorite stories have been about grieving and loss; I wrote a story about a grieving mother who lost her daughter to a heroin overdose just days prior to our interview, and I also recently sat down with a local family who lost four relatives in the Ecuador earthquake. It means a lot to have people willing to speak to me despite their overwhelming grief — I do not take this lightly and always do my best to treat what they tell me with great care.
Q: How do you use social media?
I use social media to share my work, as well as the work of my colleagues and other journalists I admire.
I also use social media as a reporting tool; there have been times where these networks have helped me reach a new source. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, I am able to dig and dig and dig until I am able to reach someone I need to speak to for a story.
Q: Why is features journalism important to you?
Features journalism is important to me because it stretches beyond the formulaic and cut-and-dried story. It allows journalists to expand and try to incorporate feeling and the essence of a source in the story — the exhausted eyes of a grieving mother, the nervous face of a graduate about to step onto the stage and receive his diploma. I am drawn to feature stories because they bring me in and make me feel as if I am a witness to what’s being done and what’s being said.
Features journalism not only informs the public, but it engages the public.
Q: What is your favorite quote?
“Nothing happens unless first we dream” by the late poet/writer Carl Sandburg.
Q: What kinds of media do you personally read for fun and news?
For news, I read the Bradenton Herald, Tampa Bay Times, The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, to name a few. I also listen to NPR and different podcasts on my commute to and from work.
For fun, I enjoy watching Buzzfeed videos and I enjoy reading cultural sites such as Remezcla. I also really enjoy reading independent media like The Mash-Up Americans and La Galeria Magazine.
Q: What do you hope to get from SFJ conference?
I hope to leave the SFJ conference inspired, rejuvenated and with tools on how to become a better storyteller. My newspaper is smaller compared to other area newspapers, and so I hope to learn and soak in as much as I can to bring this knowledge back to my colleagues.
I look forward to meeting features editors from all over the U.S. and asking them what makes a great feature story to them personally — what are some do’s and, most importantly, what are some don’ts? I am so excited to be in the same space as others who are passionate about features journalism and look forward to productive discussions and workshops that will be both challenging and stimulating.
Emily Gibson, The University of Texas at Austin
I was born in Baltimore, Md., and grew up reading preteen tabloids such as Tiger Beat and J-14. Thankfully, my taste in magazines and journalism evolved, but my appetite for it didn’t.
I measure my lifetime in what blog or project I was writing at the time (my first “novel” was written when I was in grade school and was called Lobster Face, my first middle school blog was about music and was called CantBeatIt, I currently co-run a magazine, etc.)
When I got to high school, I took a newspaper course and that small taste of newsroom experience confirmed what I already knew: that I was going to give this journalism thing a shot.
Q: Tell us about your current job.
I currently intern for The Austin Chronicle, I am the communications assistant for the UT School of Biomedical Engineering and I run my own magazine, SMEAR Magazine, which published online and in print (we are currently working on our second print issue.)
Q: What are some of the favorites stories you covered?
I wrote a story about Texas’ first theatrical wrestling league run completely by female-identified people, which was a really awesome experience. I also worked on a story about the Austin Music Census citing a lack of gender diversity in the Austin scene, and how women musicians in Austin responded to that.
Most recently, I did a story about front man John Pelant from a band called Night Moves, which was a good experience because I had wanted to do a long form music feature for some time.
Q: How do you use social media?
I use social media to start conversations. Whether it is a joke status I post on Facebook or a questioning tweet about a policy or a news event, my main goal is always to get people talking and comfortable talking to each other. I think that, at its core, that is the purpose of social media: to be able to talk to people and bring people from different backgrounds and perspectives together.
Q: Why is features journalism important to you?
Features journalism is what attracted me to the field. Being able to meet people from different backgrounds and tell their stories seems like such an ideal job that I often have to remind myself that it is something I am really working toward. I think it’s important to use these platforms to tell stories that make people think – to represent the unrepresented voices and to provide a different perspective on issues. The fact that I am pursuing a job where I can tell people’s stories that could possibly incite some sort of change is exciting to me, and it is important to me to become the best features journalist I can be so I can better represent these people and their stories.
Q: What is your favorite quote?
“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” – Chuck Palahniuk
Q: What kinds of media do you personally read for fun and news?
For news, I read The Austin Chronicle, The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and Texas Monthly. For fun, I typically like to read memoirs – the most memorable one I have read in the past year was “Slave: My True Story” by Mende Nazer, and I am currently reading “Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise” by Ruth Reichl. I also like to read music magazines, specifically Impose and Pitchfork. And fiction-wise, I typically enjoy books that are a little strange or dystopian – Chuck Palahniuk and Margaret Atwood, for example.
Q: What do you hope to get from SFJ conference?
I am extremely excited to attend the SFJ conference. I hope to learn about the industry from people working in the field and hear the stories of how they decided to pursue features journalism and their favorite stories they’ve worked on.
The Society for Features Journalism heads to Austin, Texas next year! You won’t want to miss three days of sessions filled with practical advice, great ideas for coverage and ways to keep adapting in the digital world.
The conference runs Aug. 10-13 and will draw on the faculty and facilities of the University of Texas at Austin’s renowned journalism school. Plan on meeting the top features editors and reporters from around the country!
What is it? An iPhone app for creating lists. It’s designed as a marketing tool for celebrities and brands (“The Office” writer B.J. Novak is one of the developers). But it could be a great tool for repurposing copy for the social media audience. It’s also great for extending the life of evergreen packages or finding a new audience for your recipes. You can share your lists on Twitter and Facebook.
How does it work? Download the free app (only available through iPhone) and sign in. Much like Facebook and Twitter, you can follow and be followed by folks. It’s pretty easy to create a list using the handy dashboard.
Make your list. Each item can have a photo, a comment (which can include a link). Your headline and read-in also can include a link.
Examples: PBS created a list to complement “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” episode on Barcelona. the Washington Post posted a list of “Creepy Internet Rabbit Holes.”
What is it? Some elegant interactive tools are being made using the Tableau Public tool, which is available at no charge. It’s free data visualization software that — with a little tutorial — you can build interactive maps, tools and other cool stuff.
How does it work? Using a data set you get (or building your own on Excel), building a graphic that tells your story well.
There’s almost too much here to digest (for quickie graphic tools, try canva.com) but if you have an enthusiastic journalist who wants to dabble in data, let them play around with this.
It’s pitched to investigative reporters for serious projects, but think of the way you can use it to round up restaurant inspection reports, compare school data, or even create.
There is a resource page to view videos that show you how to use the data or how to navigate the dashboard.
Lead image from “The Flood: What We Saw” published at thestate.com
Last week, my state gurgled under 20 inches of rain, roads buckles, dams split open, and at least several neighborhoods in my city were under water.
I’m no longer with The State, so I wasn’t able to discern the thinking behind its disaster coverage. But from my point to view it was stellar, with constant live updates paired with great individual storytelling opportunitieswith words, video and photos.
I thought about what digital tools might be helpful for getting through a disaster, and am sharing some good practices that you might employ if you have a similar situation.
The lead page of Lenny, a new newsletter by actress Lena Dunham.
Newsletters are the new black and white and read all over.
While social media networks continue to dominate news readers, newsletters are quietly grabbing fans, niche by niche.
Take Lena Dunham, of “Girls” fame. This week, she launched Lenny, a weekly newsletter that promises to be “a snark-free place for feminists.”
Newsletters bring customized content to readers. They arrive in an inbox, but they aren’t intrusive. You can sell them through sponsorships. They are easy to measure. They get traffic for your stories.
While Facebook tries to dominate the universe even more with its implementation of Instant Articles, it is throwing journalists a small piece of the social network with two new initiative, Mentions and Signal.
Facebook Mentions allows verified journalists (along with celebrities and other public figures) to broadcast live to his or her Facebook followers. It’s a good branding tool to show your readers how you’re covering the news or event.
First, create a professional Facebook page, much like you do with your personal account. The difference is that a Page allows you to get followers, who can see your activity and posts.
Have you tried Snapchat yet? Still don’t understand it?
Here’s a new reason to check it out? Incredible selfies.
One of Snapchat’s quirky features is the ability to write on top of the photo or video, or add emoticons or scribbles.
Now you can add special effects to selfies you take within the app. The feature, called Lenses, activates while the camera is open. Play along to create rainbows pouring out of your mouth, hearts on your eyes, and other whatnots.
Now why would you even consider such a selfie? To help promote a weird story or a columnist who is ready to cover something live.
Sofiya Ballin was one of the two 2015 Penny Bender Fuchs diversity fellows.
I started the SFJ fellowship with my mind on two of the largest reporting weekends on the horizon: Made In America and the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia.
I was feeling very journo’d out and I left full of fresh ideas for how I would contribute to the coverage. Meeting and sharing stories and ideas with reporters and editors across the country was exhilarating.
Though I’ve been at the Philadelphia Inquirer for almost a year, during the conference I was able to better understand what goes into producing the paper. More importantly, I understand better the challenges in our industry that go far beyond reporting stories.
Touring the Washington Post, listening to Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, and observing Michael Cavna and others share showed me how there’s no one way to tell a story and engage audiences. And that when it comes to the future of journalism, the pathway has to be filled with creativity, courage and many entry points.
Ada Tseng, one of two 2015 Penny Bender Fuchs diversity fellows.
It was such an honor to attend the 2015 Society of Features Conference as a Diversity Fellow. I’ve never walked out of a conference feeling so full of energy and new ideas.
From the very first panel — featuring The Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey, who talked about the value of creating personal newsletters; Atlantic Media’s Tim Ebner, who proposed creative ways of working with sponsors in order to fund journalism, and The Arizona Republic’s Megan Finnerty, who discussed using live events to build diverse communities — it was clear that this conference was going to be about change.
With change comes the anxiety of the unknown, but it also gives us an opportunity for self-analysis. As journalists, what are our core values that we can’t afford to compromise? What are some traditions that would be better left behind?
The Society for Features Journalism conference at the University of Maryland was a great success.
In case you didn’t make it, here’s a list of the digital tools we discussed during a Friday morning session with Betsey Guzior, engagement editor at Bizwomen, and Corey Takahashi, a multimedia instructor at Syracuse University, and at other sessions.
Here’s something to remember: “But what really helps to make a resume great is a concise sentence at the top, just
under the contact information and before the candidate’s experience. This is your shot to tell the hiring manager who you are and what you can do for the organization.”
Crowdrise is a great way to build support for the work SFJ does. Own main goal is to underwrite the costs of our diversity fellowship program and to launch a mentorship program for student journalists.
Thanks to about a dozen donors so far, we’ve raised $765 — almost enough to underwrite the total cost for one diversity fellow to attend our annual convention! We love having the fellows there because we get to learn from each other. It’s all about sharing.
So let’s keep it going.
Here’s what your donation will do for SFJ Diversity Fellows:
$35: Shuttle from the airport to the University of Maryland
$50: Underwrite the costs for a fellow to attend an SFJ panel discussion on how to help your newsroom make the transition to digital; or a session on ‘show-and-steal’ content ideas to drive traffic and engage readers; or training on how to sharpen your quick video skills.
$75: Shuttle to Washington for Q/A session with columnist Gene Weingarten and followed by a reception with editor Marty Baron.
$150: Foot the bill for one night at the conference hotel.
$1,000: Underwrite the total cost for one fellow.
$5,000-$10,000: Help SFJ launch a mentorship program that pairs professionals with college journalism students, including a weekend writing bootcamp in Washington D.C., distance learning and ongoing personal mentorship.
The SFJ Foundation is a 501c3, and your donations are tax deductible.
College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, University of Maryland
NOTE: A free continental breakfast will be served in the Knight Hall Atrium Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning from 8:30 to 9 a.m.
All sessions are in Knight Hall on the University of Maryland campus, except the Thursday afternoon/evening trip to the Washington Post, where we’ll hear four speakers, including Editor Marty Baron and two-time Pulitzer winner Gene Weingarten. We’ll have time between speakers (before dinner) for some small group tours of the Post.
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 26:
4-5:45 p.m. SFJ Board Meeting: Board and committee chairs
5-6 p.m. Registration, Knight Hall Atrium (a fairly short walk from the College Park Marriott, our conference hotel on the edge of campus).
Twitter and Apple are hiring journalists to create their own brand of news. And now, Twitter’s Project Lightning includes a plan for followers to keep track of live events, through curated tweets. Buzzfeed sat down with Twitter developers about the project.
“On Twitter’s mobile app, there will be a new button in the center of the home row. Press it and you’ll be taken to a screen that will show various events taking place that people are tweeting about.”
What does that mean for you?
If you are live tweeting the Oscars red carpet or the Emmys, will your tweets be included for larger consumption, or lost in the curation to larger outlets? The new curation will instantly load videos and have rich image content; and it will be easier to embed tweets across all Web platforms. That could be a great advantage for breaking news events.
Find out on Tuesday by following the Society for Features Journalism using the hashtag: #SFJ15
The Society for Features Journalism Excellence-in-Features Awards honor the craft of feature storytelling, and the people who do it for a living at news organizations and wire services around the country. Follow along as the Society for Features Journalism announces the winners on Twitter and Facebook, starting at 10 a.m. EST on Tuesday, June 23. The honorees include Pulitzer prize-winning journalists, national news organizations, and state and local reporters.
Are you still not an SFJ member? Join today!
Becoming a SFJ member is easy, and our members take advantage of year-long value. Join hundreds of features editors, journalists, and writers, who are making use of editorial resources and professional networks. An annual membership starts as low as $75 a year. Consider joining SFJ today!
Congratulations to the 2015 Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellows!
They were chosen on the basis of experience, multimedia and writing skills and what they could learn and give back to SFJ.
Sofiya Ballin is a features reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. She began her writing career at 17, crafting personal stories about growing up natural for natural hair website, The Coil Review, which ended after 7 years.
An award-winning journalist at Temple University, she also reported and edited for JUMP Philly music magazine, contributed pieces to Ebony.com, became a blogger for Huffington Post, interned at the Philadelphia Daily News, and freelanced for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Ballin joined the Inquirer’s features staff in 2014 after graduation. During her short tenure, she has interviewed mainstream artists and introduced readers to up-and-coming talents, written about trends such as cuffing season and the emergence of Black Twitter, covered major news events such as local Ferguson and Baltimore protests, photographed and produced digital fashion features, and contributed opinion pieces that speak to the millennial soul. Ballin aims to humanize all walks of life through mentorship and her work.
Ada Tsengis a writer and editor based in Southern California, and for the last decade, she’s covered pan-Asian arts and entertainment for Asia Pacific Arts, Audrey Magazine, XFINITY Asia, KoreAm Journal,LA Weekly and more. She hosts a podcast called Bullet Train where she turns silly episodes (about Japanese romance simulation games and “American Ninja Warrior,” for example) into serious explorations (of love and remakes, respectively). She has a series called “Haikus with Hotties.” She studied at UCLA and received her MFA in Writing and Literature at the Bennington Writings Seminars. And she loves writing long feature stories on topics that aren’t being covered in the mainstream media.
Join us for SFJ’s annual conference Aug. 26-29 at the University of Maryland for an array of sessions that will be filled with practical, usable information you can bring back to your newsroom.
The conference kicks off with an opening reception on the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 26. SFJ members get a discounted rate for the conference.
Conference sessions include:
– A Q&A with Washington Post Editor Marty Baron, whose newspaper was named the best in the business for digital innovation.
– Success stories on moneymakers in today’s newsrooms, ranging from newsletters to special events.
– Inspiration from a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner in feature writing, Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post, and his editor Tom Schroder who has a reputation for bring out the best in his writers.
– A panel discussion on the new ways publications have transitioned to “digital first” and how journalists who grew up on the print side are thriving and leading the revolution.
– A simple hands-on video how-to that will give you skills to use immediately after the conference.
– Tips on digital tools that are fun and easy to use for cool projects.
– The ever-popular Show and Steal sessions, which feature great ideas from newsrooms around the country.
– An awards ceremony to honor the winners of the Excellence in Features Journalism contest
Hotel stays can be arranged at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference center on the University of Maryland campus. Conference sessions will be in the Knight Hall in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism in College Park, just a short walk from the Marriott. We’ve arranged for a block of rooms at the Marriott with a rate of $149/night for a king or $159/night for two queens (an affordable option for attendees who want to share a room and share the cost).
When: Aug. 26-29, 2015, at the University of Maryland
Sponsor: Society for Features Journalism
Who is this for: Journalists of color who produce arts and features content for news organizations or those interested in pursuing careers in arts and features journalism.
What it covers: Travel and lodging costs to our annual conference, plus a $300 stipend for conference-related expenses.
Application deadline: May 22, 2015
The Society for Features Journalism is committed to developing news-gathering staffs representative of the multicultural communities its members serve. Toward this goal, SFJ is sponsoring the Penny Bender Fuchs Diversity Fellowship Program for journalists of color in conjunction with its annual conference at the University of Maryland. Programming will have heavy emphasis on multimedia, leadership and writing.
Welcome to the weekly feature highlighting a digital tool to leverage for lifestyle and arts and entertainment coverage.
The tools: Meerkat vs. Periscope
Where to find them: Apps for iPhone and Androids
What are they: Easy to-use live streaming to social media. Periscope is a tool fully integrated with Twitter, Meerkat is a standalone app that uses Twitter. Because Periscope is a Twitter-sanctioned tool, it’s easier to stream through it.
How they work: Both give you the ability to live stream from your smartphone to Twitter followers. Both also offer real-time live streams for you to view. Both apps allow viewers to respond with “love” buttons and share the live stream with others.
The difference is in the look of the screen. Periscope’s screen can be highly animated, with little “hearts” indicating viewers’ likes floating during the broadcast. On Meerkat, comments and likes are overlaid on the screen.
Plans for the 2015 Society for Features Journalism Conference at the University of Maryland Aug. 26-29:
We’ll start with an opening reception on the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 26, and offer a packed agenda of speakers and conversations that continues through noon Saturday, Aug. 29. Topics that are likely to be on our agenda: money making ideas to take home, new tricks for those moving into more digital content (everyone, right?), new storytelling techniques that resonate with digital readers. And much more.
We’ll stay at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference center on the University of Maryland campus. Conference sessions will be in the impressive Knight Hall in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism in College Park – just a short walk from the Marriott. We’ve arranged for a block of rooms at the Marriott with a rate of $149/night for a king or $159/night for two queens (an affordable option for attendees who want to share a room and share the cost).
We’re planning an outing one evening for kicks, but this is a roll-up-your-sleeves conference that promises lots of ideas and content for SFJ members to take home and put to use right away, whether your biggest challenge is boosting revenue, creating better content, or learning new tricks to connect with online readers.
What is it? A social media app that allows users to post anonymously; others “endorse” the posts to make them “hot.” Yik Yak communities primarily are around college campuses; the users are primarily students.
How does it work? People post observations; you can find “nearby” Yik Yaks. There are two options to view; one lets you see the newest posts; the other is to see the “hot” posts — those posted endorsed (liked) by others.
The search button lets you see featured topics, and “peeks,” which are other communities (again, mostly colleges).
You may include a username to Yik Yaks. That might be a good idea if you’re trolling for info as a reporter.
Digital Tool Tuesday: Useful (and offbeat) websites for features reporting
In this edition, some resourceful websites to use in lifestyle reporting, courtesy of The Journalist’s Toolbox, itself a great compilation of what journalists need to navigate reporting in the digital age.
Simply done, this is a timeline of the history of food. Want to know when “The Virginia Housewife” was first published? This timeline has that. Want to find out when the first dedicated baby food was produced; it’s got that, too. Click on the hyperlink and get a lot of well sourced material to mine for any food history story. Bonus: a page that outlines food prices in the past.
A USDA site, this includes great consumer information and personal tools for weight loss and increasing activity. Editors will find the Food-A-Pedia a useful tool to discover nutritional information on any food.
Now, we’re going to dissect this story apart and learn how it unfolded. Join us on Monday, February 23rd from 1-2 pm ESTfor SFJ’s first Story Club Twitter chat about “The Lost Sister,” a great piece by Nicole Brochu and photographer Joe Cavaretta, who tracked down this story and turned it around in record time.
To participate in the Story Club Twitter chat you can send questions to the SFJ listserv by 3 p.m. Friday, February 20th. Or, send them on Monday using Twitter and the hashtag #SFJStoryClub. Be sure to follow along next week!