Winners of 2022 Society for Features Journalism Excellence-in-Features awards

Featured

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 22 categories.

First place: The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette

Twelve awards, including four firsts (Arts & Entertainment Feature, Video Storytelling, Best Special Section and Niche Product), four seconds (Best Section, Best Feature Digital Presence, Video Storytelling and Diversity in Digital Features, two thirds (Features Specialty Writing, Video Storytelling and Short Feature) and two honorable mentions (General Features and Food Feature).

Second place: The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier

Eight awards, including five firsts (General Feature, Feature Series or Project, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio, Food Writing Portfolio and Diversity in Digital Features), one second (Narrative Storytelling), one third (Food Features) and one honorable mention (Arts & Entertainment Commentary Portfolio).

Third place: Deseret News

Eight awards, including one first (Arts & Entertainment Commentary), four thirds (General Feature, Narrative Storytelling, Arts & Entertainment Commentary and Sports Features) and two honorable mentions (General Commentary Portfolio, Feature Series or Project and Sports Feature).

Fourth place: Austin (Texas) American-Statesman

Four awards, including two firsts (Best Section and Features Digital Presence) and two seconds (Arts & Entertainment Portfolio and Best Special Section)

BEST SECTION

The best regularly occurring printed features sections that focus on A&E, lifestyles or other features coverage.

First place: Austin (Texas) American-Statesman

Judge’s comments: “From music profiles to the ‘Deep Fried I-35’ to a quirky feature on the plywood ‘Couch Potatoes’ outside a North Austin furniture store, the Statesman’s Austin 360 is a brash, lively and fun read with great variety.”

Second place: The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette

Judge’s comments: “A strong sense of place infuses every beautifully photographed story in The Gazette’s features section. From a bracket challenge based on Colorado’s most picturesque peaks to a feature on a leather shop inside a working ranch, the features here offer a wonderful escape.”

BEST FEATURES DIGITAL PRESENCE

The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. 

First place: Austin360, Austin (Texas) American Statesman

Judge’s comments: “If you don’t know anything about Austin, Austin360 is the place to start. It gives the insider’s perspective without being pretentious (a la Matthew McConaughey). We love how it has used Instagram videos to really showcase the staff’s fun personalities and to grow followers – more than 104K as of this writing. Kudos to the staff for their energetic work through these hard times.”

Second place: OutThere Colorado, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette

Judge’s comments: “We appreciated the balance of useful guides (hot springs, ‘easiest’ fourteener) and newsy stories that OutThere Colorado provides. It’s also interesting that OutThere has a completely different approach to Instagram, where it doesn’t share stories but stunning photos of Colorado scenery taken mainly by photographers who live or work in the state. The photos are properly credited and accompany an inspirational quote. Altogether, this publication combines a celebration of the state’s beauty and what to know if you live there or want to visit.

Third place: Mickayla Miller, LNP | LancasterOnline, “Mickayla Miller trending/scene reporter”

Judge’s comments: “Though Mickayla Miller just started as the trending/scene reporter in August 2021, her stories show she has the pulse on what’s fun in Lancaster County, Penn. We appreciate how she uses her own tweets in posts. From festivals to free events to interviews to viral moments, Mickayla keeps her audience’s interests in mind.”

GENERAL FEATURE

Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic.

First place: Jennifer Berry Hawes, The (Charleston) Post and Courier, “I am Omar: A quest for the true identity of Omar ibn Said, a Muslim enslaved in the Carolinas”

Judge’s comments: “Incredibly ambitious and truly riveting. I was engrossed, entertained and I learned so much. By the end, I wanted to applaud Omar for his resiliency and efforts to send his message out and I wanted to applaud these journalists – and their editors! – for committing to such a project that has righted a historical myth and inspired a new generation of teachers.”

Second place: J. D. Gallop and Finch Walker, Florida Today, “Breaking the Barrier: Diverse Superheroes”

Judge’s comments: “Well researched, well-sourced and well-written feature with a diversity of voices on a topic off the news.”

Third place: Dennis Romboy, Deseret News, “Pulling U.S. troops from Afghanistan a complicated question for slain Utah soldiers’ families, veterans”

Judge’s comments: “Moving, well-explored topic with just enough facts and figures to ground the story and explain the context. We were legit drawn into reading graf after graf through to the end.”

Honorable mention: Stephanie Earls, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “Community, family mourn homeless man who died on sidewalk next to busy Colorado Springs street”

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT FEATURE

Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic.

First place: Seth Boster, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “In Colorado desert, 65-foot-tall tank offers otherworldly experience | Colorful Colorado”

Judge’s comments: “A fascinating exploration of a musical treasure unknown to most of America. That’s what good stories do: surprise and enlighten. But the writing elevates this with prose that helps us understand why the subject is so special. It’s patient but engaging writing.”

Second place: Stav Ziv, Forward, “After a house is destroyed in a fire, a Jewish artist finds a way to preserve its spirit”

Judge’s comments: “There’s poignancy in this piece, taking a very simple story about a simple practice and using it to relate the power of nostalgia in the sense of place, and a place where we come from.”

Third place: Tracey O’Shaughnessy and Bill O’Brien, (Waterbury, Conn.) Republican-American, “Memoir from Beyond the Grave”

Honorable mention: Todd Price, (Montgomery, Ala.) Advertiser, “An Alabama folk artist brings to life stories of honky-tonks, angels and evil spirits”

SHORT FEATURE

Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words.

First place: Doug MacCash, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate | NOLA.com, “Softsoap brand body wash: The fragrance that will ‘cover a lot of sins’”

Judge’s comments: “Some might say that a “Mardi Gras” named Softsoap is an easy target – something that’s easy to make fun of. What’s hard… is to do it well. Doug MacCash does it beautifully. ‘Hearn would have certainly appreciated the translucent, purple, syrupy texture, the abundant, hard-to-pinpoint floral bouquet and the satisfying lather. As I do. It’s clear to me that the product is not meant to echo the olfactory outrages of Mardi Gras, it is meant to be their antidote! No one put it better than my wife, who, upon getting a whiff of the fragrance, said, ‘Well that should cover a lot of sins.’” No argument here!

Second place: Erin Negley, LNP | LancasterOnline, “This Strasburg Township family built a log cabin in their backyard; here’s how” 

Judge’s comments: “The beauty of this story is its range – which is relatively narrow: a family reassembles an old log cabin on their property… with logs that were first assembled a very, very long time ago. There were no instructions; there were stops and starts. But the dedication of these family members to getting it right makes for a delightful reader’s journey.”

Third place: Karen Hendricks, TheBurg (Harrisburg, Penn.) “Signs of the Times: Marty Mummert creates hand-painted signs the old-fashioned way – one at a time”

Judge’s comments: “Stories about craftmanship can be challenging. A reader’s assumption might be: If they’re writing about it, it must be good, right? In this story, the joy is in the details of a man who knows the source of his joy.”

Honorable mention: Seth Boster, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “The walk and emu that helped heal a Colorado Springs woman’s heartbreak | Glimpses”

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.

First place: Laura Hayes and Michael Loria, Washington City Paper, “Life on the Line: D.C. Cooks Confront COVID-19 Risks, Lack of Job Security”

Judge’s comments: “Laura Hayes and Michael Loria’s well-reported, humanizing piece about the struggle of restaurant workers during the pandemic gives an unvarnished look at the risks the employees face and struggle of the business owners. Great details: ‘Picture wearing a mask on a regular day, but standing over a wok that’s 700 degrees.’… ‘There’s no social distancing in kitchens. Boxing seven people standing next to each other in a small space all day long trying to cook, clearly that’s a bad idea.’ … ‘We don’t have the luxury of being able to stay home.’”

Second place: Todd Price, The American South, “Black chefs stirred the pots for New Orleans’ cuisine. But today, they are hard to find”

Judge’s comments: “The piece explores why there are so few Black chefs in a predominantly black food town. Price does a deep dive into history and talks with those shaping the city’s restaurant scene today. The writing is vivid – ‘Now if all the Black executive chefs in New Orleans went out for dinner, they wouldn’t even count as a large party.’ – and ‘French, Spanish, Cajun, Italian – all these ethnic groups live in New Orleans, but they are not running the kitchens of the best restaurants in the city,’ he wrote. ‘The single, lasting characteristic of Creole cuisine is the Black element.’”

Third place: Hanna Raskin, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “Unpublished 1936 guide to Black life in Charleston reveals the city’s first restaurant critic”

Judge’s comments: “Hanna Raskin explores how the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Writers’ Project’s South Carolina Negro Writers’ Project provides a flawed, censored, but still fascinating look at life and Black restaurants in South Carolina. The guidebook, created to document the country and encourage citizens to tour it, is ‘only surviving record of most of the restaurants featured in it.’ She draws you in from the start with how lost history affects the way a community sees itself and how individuals see their families.”

Honorable mention: Ian McNulty, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, “At Mosca’s, a false alarm, a timely reminder of what matters, a lot of garlic.”

Honorable mention: Ian McNulty, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, “Saints and Red Beans.” 

Honorable mention: Seth Boster, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “In Colorado’s San Luis Valley, a mission behind ‘mountainous grub’ | Craving Colorado”

FEATURES SERIES OR PROJECT

Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts. 

First place: Tony Bartelme and Lauren Petracca, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “The Greenland Connection”

Judge’s comments: “From hiking onto a melting ice sheet to flying with NASA scientists, Tony Bartelme and Lauren Petracca went above and beyond to tell a story we all need to read and see (the photos are breathtaking).”

Second place: Staff, The (Nashville) Tennessean, “Hallowed Sound”

Third place: Jennifer Tormo, Maggie Heyn Richardson and Benjamin Leger, 225 Magazine, “Pizza Party”

Honorable mention: Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News, “Vaccines and religion”

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.

First place: Katya Cengel, Alta Journal, “Michaela’s Shadow”

Judge’s comments: “Beautifully structured, heartbreakingly sourced with everyone you hoped you’d hear from … except the one person this story was about.”

Second place: Jennifer Berry Hawes, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “The journey of one pregnant woman who almost died of COVID-19”

Judge’s comments: “Fantastic structure that kept us guessing what was going to happen without being dramatic or cloying, only hopeful. Pacing was excellent and this was a very narrow miss at first place. Keep up the amazing work!”

Third place: Chad Nielsen, Deseret News, “The dreams he carried”

Judge’s comments: What a heartbreaking and beautifully told story. So much deep research and sourcing really made the star of this story come alive.”

Honorable mention: Geoff Ziezulewicz, Military Times, “How a military jail failed to protect a suicidal sailor from himself”

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: Jennifer Berry Hawes, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “Jennifer Berry Hawes portfolio of stories”

Judge’s comments: “Two stories and a major project that work to correct and fill in missing parts of a troubled history, told with grace, care and strong narrative writing. We didn’t want these stories to end, and we want regular updates on the people we feel like we got to know a little bit. I appreciate the visuals used as part of the storytelling, particularly the videos and the map that explained part of the history in the story of Omar ibn Said.”

Second place: Matthew Leimkuehler, The (Nashville) Tennessean, “Matthew Leimkuehler feature writing portfolio”

Judge’s comments: “Every part of these stories will draw readers in, from the detailed and compelling narratives to the video and other visuals. The richness and strength of the Nashville music community and history is baked in, and the writer knows when to let his subject’s voices have the mic.”

Third place: Seth Boster, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “Seth Boster Portfolio”

Judge’s comments: “We’re never going to race across a frozen lake or scramble up a mountain before dawn, but we enjoyed meeting some people who do. And it was lovely to go behind the scenes of a big-time athlete to meet the woman providing very critical support. Lively writing and focused narrative in all three entries.”

Honorable mention: Andrew Silverstein, The Forward, “Andrew Silverstein Portfolio”

FOOD WRITING PORTFOLIO

Three stories, columns or reviews by the same writer on any food topic.

First place: Hanna Raskin, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “With Charleston Wine + Food Festival on hiatus…; With Charleston hospitality staffing app mixing up labor market, our critic worked a shift; Unpublished 1936 guide to Black life in Charleston reveals the city’s first restaurant critic”

Judge’s comments: This trio of entries embodies the best of what food writing can be. All of the stories are incredibly well sourced and highly detail oriented, while remaining utterly engaging to the reader. The above-and-beyond effort of pulling a shift as a restaurant server to explain the way a gig economy works was particularly bold and compelling.

Second place: Laura Hayes, Washington City Paper, “Washington City Paper Food Editor Laura Hayes’ Impactful Submissions”

Judge’s comments: “This submission demonstrated the author’s wide range of talent. Whether it was a meaty enterprise piece, a colorful profile or a highly detailed roundup, each was expertly executed.”

Third place: Suzy Fleming Leonard, Florida Today, “Restaurant owner takes vaccine advice from God; Florida craft breweries law; COVID fatigue is real”

Judge’s comments: “These well-written entries provided an excellent snapshot of the pandemic’s impact on a community. The writer’s deep dive into Florida’s Byzantine beer distribution laws provided impressive clarity to a complex subject.”

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: Mike Hirsch, The (Allentown, Penn.) Morning Call, “The unexpected peace in knowing how you will die; Could vortexes in Sedona save my life; Reimagining fall as a season of life.”

Judge’s comments: “In his beautifully written “Your Call” columns in The Morning Call, Mike Hirsch chronicles his own ALS diagnosis with honesty, humor and so much grace. His deep gratitude and love for his family, friends and high-energy dog shine through in these columns, as does his appreciation for everyday moments and encounters with strangers who become fast friends. At every turn, Hirsch’s writing is so lovely. His descriptions of the “natural cathedral” of the autumn woods in the Adirondacks took our breath away. So did the contents of his prayers.”

Second place: Keith Spera, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, “Columns by Keith Spera”

Judge’s comments: “As we read Keith Spera’s tributes on NOLA.com to the Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts, the Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees and the long-running show “NCIS: New Orleans,” we kept thinking about how much New Orleans readers not only deserved these pieces but also NEEDED them. With great style, use of telling details and a clear sense of place, Spera crafted end-of-an-era pieces that conveyed the grief and gratitude of generations of New Orleans residents. Bravo!”

Third place: Tracey O’Shaughnessy, (Waterbury, Conn.) Republican-American, “Sunday Reflections”

Judge’s comments: “At a time when divisiveness is rampant across the country, Tracey O’Shaughnessy’s nuanced and thoughtful “Sunday Reflections” columns bring people together by making them smarter. While taking on topics like the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and religion’s role in politics, O’Shaughnessy manages to strike a balanced tone that helps readers of all persuasions think hard and consider new perspectives. Her offhand references to Greek mythology, medieval poetry and the “Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature” also are downright fun!”

Honorable mention: Jennifer Graham, Deseret News, “Jennifer Graham columns”

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: Lottie Elizabeth Johnson, Deseret News, “Lottie E. Johnson criticism”

Judge’s comments: Lottie E. Johnson writes on a variety of music and keeps us fascinated. We especially  enjoyed her second piece on ‘Summer of Soul.’ It makes us really want to watch this music documentary.”

Second place: Eric Webb, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, “Eric Webb portfolio”

Judge’s comments: “Eric Webb makes us feel as if we were actually in attendance at these concerts. He has a love of live music and it shines through his writing.”

Third place: Herb Scribner, Deseret News, “Herb Scribner commentary portfolio”

Judge’s comments: From movies to video games to music, Herb Scribner knows his topics. We especially enjoyed his piece on Brandon Flowers.”

Honorable mention: Maura Hogan, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “Three columns by arts critic Maura Hogan”

SPORTS FEATURE

Feature treatment of any sports topic.

First place: Jason Wolf, The Buffalo (N.Y.) News, “He had no memory of it whatsoever: How Chuck Crist’s family discovered he had CTE”

Judge’s comments: “The great stories, the ones that rise above news, require access. Jason Wolf clearly brings not just journalistic skills, but his ability to get people to talk with him, in this piece. A great opening that hooks the readers. He trusts his reporting, structure and writing to tell the story. Not overwritten, slowly letting readers ‘feel’ this story.”

Second place: Jason Wolf, The Buffalo (N.Y.) News, “A hockey whodunit: Is this $10,000 puck the first goal in Sabres’ history?”

Judge’s comments: “A fascinating story well told. Jason Wolf takes first and second place in his category. Great for him. But even better for the readers of the Buffalo News who get to read his work.”

Third place: Ethan Bauer, Deseret News, “Lineage on the line.”

Judge’s comments: “Taking us behind the scenes of a person we believe we know simply because they put on a uniform. A reminder of the person behind that uniform.”

Honorable mention: Dick Harmon, Deseret News, “In autumn of life, Roger Reid feels blessed caring for wife who has Alzheimer’s”

VIDEO STORYTELLING

The coverage of any A&E, lifestyle or specialty topic using a single video of not more than 8 minutes in length.

First place: Skyler Ballard, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, HIGH AND DRY | Colorado in Drought: Part 2, The Present.”

Judge’s comments: “This beautifully filmed and profoundly moving video focuses on Gary Paul, a self-described ‘at least’ fifth-generation rancher in Yoder, Colorado, as he details the effects of an ongoing drought on his land, livestock, and livelihood. Paul remains stoic for most of the roughly five-minute runtime, making his breakdown after the two-minute mark all the more striking. ‘Sometimes it makes me feel like a failure,’ he says, his voice cracking with emotion. Interspersing clips of Paul performing ranch duties with bird’s-eye shots of his barren surroundings, producer, cinematographer, and editor Skyler Ballard captures the scale of the crisis, highlighting the human impact of natural disasters that are only set to become more frequent and severe as climate change advances.”

Second place: Katie Klann, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “LIFE: The Pie Queen.”

Judge’s comments: “This video highlights pastry chef and drag queen Martin Howard, who managed to parlay his two passions into a successful business at the height of the pandemic. As his alter ego, Chocolatina Q. Dessert, Howard delivers homemade pies to customers in Denver, Colorado, capping his house calls with a song performance. With her blond beehive, dramatic eyeliner, and endlessly quotable turns of phrase, Chocolatina Q. Dessert is a riveting protagonist. Splicing together footage of Howard rolling dough, doing his makeup, and breaking into a Barry Manilow number before a birthday boy, cinematographer and editor Katie Klann crafts a character-driven narrative that tells a heartwarming story about finding joy when and where you least expect it.

Third place: Skyler Ballard, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “LIFE: A museum of whimsy and wonder”

Judge’s comments: “In this video, artist and photographer Karin Winter describes her passion for collecting knickknacks. ‘The inspiration … is really growing up in Europe,’ she says. ‘I’m Dutch, and I moved to the United States when I was 21 years old.’ During the pandemic, Winter began building her collection in earnest and has since dubbed it the Museum of Whimsy and Wonder. Cinematographer and editor Skyler Ballard’s camera lens lingers on walls overrun with paintings, shelves cluttered with Japanese lusterware, and display cases filled with taxidermied animals. Eccentrically decorated as it is, Winter’s house makes for a visually interesting subject.”

Honorable mention: Rob Landers, Andrew Atkins and Suzy Fleming Leonard, Florida Today, “5 James Beard-nominated chefs at Disney Springs”

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: Jennifer Berry Hawes, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “I am Omar: A quest for the true identity of Omar ibn Said, a Muslim man enslaved in the Carolinas”

Judge’s comments: “This is a remarkable piece that keeps the reader enrapt as the narrative moves across continents and throughout history. Jennifer Berry Hawes skillfully and patiently unfolds this awesome tale with the precision and detail of a historian. She assembles Omar’s story by conjuring all five senses, weaving scenes from Dakar past and present, pre-Civil War America, and even from the hull of one of the last slave ships to cross the Atlantic and land on Charleston’s shores. It’s a riveting and painful examination of our shared history. It’s also a reminder of the power of journalism to unearth these oft-forgotten histories, while also connecting them to the stories we need to hear today.”

Second place: Seth Boster, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “Once a place of ruin and hard memories, Colorado Springs native restoring childhood landmark”

Judge’s comments: “By making space for stories like this one, The Gazette plays a crucial role in helping residents reclaim their families’ histories. And Seth Boster so artfully tells this family’s through the lens of redemption and redevelopment. Boster is a natural storyteller who honors his subject’s memories with empathy and understanding. This story is rich with detail but it keeps its momentum till the final line.”

Third place: Car Shapiro and Ilhy Gomez Del Campo Rojas,  Jerk magazine (Syracuse University), “Exposed and Empowered”

Judge’s comments: “This personal essay is a wonderful reminder to write about what gives us fear and makes us vulnerable. Car Shapiro’s examination is unflinching and honest. It’s also a celebration of the uncomfortable moments that are uniquely human—a perfect subject for a writer to connect with their audience!”

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, “Exposure”

Judge’s comments: “We felt like an armchair traveler while reviewing this entry of gorgeous photographs that we suspect will, or already have, win honors on their own. Bravo!”

Second place: Mathew Odam, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, “Matthew Odam Austin360 Dining Guide”

Judge’s comments: A true dining guide with plenty of background on the culinarians who make Austin Austin. Matthew Odam has mastered his beat and uses original, thoughtful language to describe their work.”

Third place: Kelli Bozeman, Hoa Vu and Melinda Gonzalez, InRegister Magazine (Baton Rouge, La.), “InRegister Weddings”

Judge’s comments: “The enchantment of weddings is captured in this guide. We especially liked the wedding shorts in the back of the book.”

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: Staff, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “OutThere Colorado Winter Guide”

Judge’s comments: “This seasonal winter guide, with a focus on outdoor activity such as camping and skiing, goes beyond listings to include an impressive lineup of news, feature and travel writing.”

Second place: Karen Taylor Gist and Andrea Daniel, Times Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, “InsideOut New Orleans Home and Garden tab”Judge’s comments: “This solidly written, well-designed home and garden section shows off New Orleans’ amazing range of historic, renovated and contemporary homes.”


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: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Eighteen awards, including five firsts (Best Features Digital Presence, Feature Series or Project, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio, Arts & Entertainment Commentary Portfolio and Integrated Storytelling), five seconds (Best Feature Digital Presence, Narrative Storytelling, General Commentary Portfolio, Video Storytelling and Best Niche Product), four thirds (Food Feature, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio, Food Writing Portfolio and Integrated Storytelling) and four honorable mentions (Best Features Digital Presence, General Features, Diversity in Digital Features and Niche Product).

Second place: Chicago Sun-Times

Second place: Chicago Sun-Times

Twelve awards, including four firsts (General Commentary Portfolio, Sports Features, Best Special Section and Headline Writing Portfolio), three seconds (General Feature, Sports Feature and Best Special Section), three thirds (Feature Series or Project, General Commentary Portfolio and Digital Innovation) and two honorable mentions (Arts & Entertainment Feature and Short Feature).

Third place: San Antonio Express-News

Eight awards, including one first (Food Criticism), four seconds (Best Section, Food Criticism, Feature Series or Project and Headline Writing Portfolio), two thirds (Best Feature Digital Presence and General Features) and one honorable mention (Food Feature).

Fourth place: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Nine awards, including one first (Narrative Storytelling) two seconds (Arts & Entertainment Commentary Portfolio and Video Storytelling), three thirds (Food Criticism, Sports Feature and Diversity in Digital Features) and three honorable mentions (Narrative Storytelling, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio and Sports Feature)

BEST SECTION

The best regularly occurring printed features sections that focus on A&E, lifestyles or other features coverage.

First place: Arts Staff, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Arts + Culture section

Judge’s comments: “Bold, graphic and well-designed, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Arts + Culture Sunday section is loaded with style, but the stories also have substance, including features on how local artists are grappling with the pandemic and social justice issues.”

Second place: Emily Spicer, San Antonio Express-News, S. A. Life

Judge’s comments: “S.A. Life has a clean, crisp design and engaging photography that pulls you into a fun and surprising mix of stories, ranging from “must hug” toys (Squishmallows) to edgy cuts and color at the Toxic Salon.”

Second place: Amy Bertrand and Gabe Hartwig, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Judge’s comments: “The St. Louis Post-Dispatch got our attention with a full-page, towering Zombie cocktail and then closed the deal with its illustrated guide to “King Lear” — a fun and creative approach to an arts journalism story.”

BEST FEATURES DIGITAL PRESENCE

The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. 

First place: Staff, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “The Block Project”

Judge’s comments: “This entry will prove to be a great time capsule of life one year into the pandemic. The design is user-friendly on a computer, the photos and videos capture the spirit of the neighborhoods and hearing from the people of the community was necessary. Our only wish was for more! We hope the newsroom follows these neighborhoods and continues to build out the maps for a more expansive picture.”

Second place: Polly Higgins, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Eat Pittsburgh”

Judge’s comments: “A wonderful design that really does provide a culinary tour of some of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. We appreciate the use of maps, the beautiful (and tempting) photos and the guide to costs. I hope this project continues to grow to include even more places.”

Third place: Emily Spicer, San Antonio Express-News, Taste

Judge’s comments: “Vibrant food coverage of San Antonio’s food scene that has thousands of followers across various social media platforms.We appreciate how the Instagram account has a distinct personality.”

Honorable mention: Laura Schneiderman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Passenger revolt over Shanksville”

GENERAL FEATURE

Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic.

First place: Joanne Kimberlin, The Virginian-Pilot, “Looking for Leroy”

Judge’s comments: “This inspiring and insightful narrative is about an unhoused man who was a regular neighborhood presence, then went missing. A neighborhood chat group pieced together bits of information, revealed throughout the story. It becomes a community tale, ending on a hopeful note. Lovely craftsmanship.”

Second place: Patrick Finley, Chicago Sun-Times, “Back from the brink”

Judge’s comments: “Written with muscle and verve, Patrick Finley’s story tracks a former football phenom who suffers from depression but, with help from his friends, comes back from the brink. Great use of dialogue and quotes throughout.”

Third Place, Rene Guzman, San Antonio Express-News, “The Chancla has become a venerated symbol of Mexican American culture and here’s why and how”

Judge’s comments: “Originality and humor vaulted this story to the top. The author explains how flip-flop sandals mean something special, and a bit scary, to Mexican Americans, and uses pop culture as a jumping off point. Well-told.”

Honorable Mention: Laura Malt Schneiderman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Paralyzed: The last massive vaccine rollout — for polio — started in Pittsburgh”

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT FEATURE

Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic.

First place: Douglas Perry, The (Portland, Ore.) Oregonian, “Marv and Rindy Ross scored pop stardom with Quarterflash, flamed out, then found their true musical path”

Second place: Mary Carole McCauley, The Baltimore Sun, “A new family, a school and a tuba: how Richard Antoine White went from being homeless in Sandtown to the New Mexico Philharmonic”

Third place: Ben Crandell, South Florida Sun Sentinel, “South Florida tribute bands”

Honorable mention: Stefano Esposito, Chicago Sun-Times, “Rock and roll survivor”

Competition Comment: “Really strong category, showing the range of tightly focused local interest pieces that reveal truths of the past to expansive examinations of pop culture moments. In the end, the feature on pop act Quarterflash, by the Oregonian, stands out the most. It felt like a surprising history of a song/band we all are familiar with, but know virtually nothing about, and told in a way that kept us wanting to get to the next sentence.”

SHORT FEATURE

Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words.

First place: Carlos Frias, The Miami Herald, “‘The original Twitter.’ Meet the Hialeah liquor store owner whose signs amuse and offend”

Judge’s comments: Carlos Frias is the master of many things, and the short feature is one of them. The subject –a liquor store marquee–might seem a little … quiet. But the store owner and his sign turned out to be a gold mine. Robert Gewanter has turned the marquee into a place “to comment on all manner of political and pop culture zaniness.” Who knew a liquor store might also be a comedy club? This is a light and bright feature in the best possible way.”

Second place: Tom Hallman Jr., The Oregonian, “Goodbye, goodbye”

Judge’s comments: “How best to remember the guy who ran a sundries shop? Tom Hallman knows how– by reminding us that the people we interact with on a regular basis become part of our community whether we realize it or not. “Choo was part of a community, that nebulous thing that has nothing to do with our families, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Instead, it’s made up of strangers who slowly and unexpectedly become part of our daily life.”

Third place: Mark Gauert, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “When you wish upon a seashell”

Judge’s comments: Is a day at the beach remarkable in South Florida? It is, if you and your community and your town and your state are trying to emerge from pandemic lockdown. Mark Gauert reminds us that beauty is not to be taken for granted.”

Honorable mention: Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times, “The cat that broke things”

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.

First place: Carlos Frias, The Miami Herald, “’Cuban’ beer is being sold in Miami. Is it a communist invasion or clever capitalismo?”

Judge’s comments: Carlos Frias explores the history of knockoff Cuban beer in South Florida and the ongoing struggle between competing companies to capitalize on the nostalgia and pride of Cuban exile beer-drinkers. A fascinating, briskly paced tale of food memories, the lingering Cuban political divide and aggressive marketing.”

Second Place: Christina Tkacik, The Baltimore Sun, “Inside Ekiben’s six-hour trip to make a special dish for customer dying of cancer”

Judge’s comments: “Christina Tkacik’s story goes straight to the heart of the way that food connects people, making them feel loved and nurtured. Beautiful writing about beautiful people and much more than a restaurant story.”

Third place: Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “701 pierogies in 7 hours: For this Polish family, it’s tradition”

Judge’s comments: “The heartwarming tale of a family cooking project that is really a tribute to their immigrant heritage. Gretchen McKay tells this story in a witty and loving way while in the process offering up a primer on pierogies, Polish immigrants and family.”

Honorable mention: Paul Stephen, San Antonio Express-News, “Instagram a crucial tool for San Antonio chefs, restaurants, affecting menu choices, plating and even chefs’ hygiene”

FOOD CRITICISM

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, “Review: At Pinkerton’s Barbecue in downtown San Antonio, the honeymoon’s over”

Judge’s comments: “An ideal example of a restaurant review. Deeply informed. Brisk writing with moments of clever wordplay. And a clear vision all the way to the kicker.”

Second place: Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, “Review: Mixtli is still good after Southtown move, but it’s no longer San Antonio’s best restaurant”

Judge’s comments: “With aplomb, Sutter tackles the difficult subject of describing a restaurant that has changed and while still good was better before. Making the balanced opinion clear to the reader required great skill.

Third place: Carol Deptolla, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “At Milwaukee’s Tavolino, a successful Italian restaurant rises from the pandemic”

Judge’s comments: “A smart and focused review.”

Honorable mention: Ian Froeb, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Dixon’s BBQ delights with brisket, burnt ends and irresistible ribs”

FEATURES SERIES OR PROJECT

Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts. 

First place: Staff, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “20 Years Later: Pittsburgh stories”

Judge’s comments: “Talk about ambitious! The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s coverage of the 20-year anniversary of 9/11 — with a chilling review of what happened aboard United Airlines Flight 93 before it crashed in a field in southwestern Pennsylvania — was both smart and powerful. The 18 separate submissions with this entry were all so different and so thoughtfully executed, down to the very last photo caption. Particularly compelling were the exploration of Tom Ridge’s legacy, the look back at 9/11 through local journalists’ eyes, the long-term impacts of 9/11 on Pittsburgh International Airport, and the tick-tock of the final moments aboard Flight 93.”

Second place: Mike Sutter and Chuck Blount, San Antonio Express-News, “52 Weeks of Food Trucks”

Judge’s comments: “This 52-part celebration of food truck fare in San Antonio is both ambitious AND delicious! I want to eat the lobster rolls, the brisket grilled cheese sandwich, the fish and chips — all of it! It’s easy to understand why this yearlong series would be such a hit with readers, and it’s wonderful to see the incredible diversity of the food truck operators. Mike Sutter’s and Chuck Blount’s engaging and conversational writing styles — in concert with their strong photography skills — make the whole package sing. Here’s to eating, drinking and being merry!”

Third place: Stephanie Zimmermann and Tom Schuba, Chicago Sun-Times, “What’s in your weed?”

Judge’s comments: “This Chicago Sun-Times investigation by Stephanie Zimmermann and Tom Schuba — tackled nearly two years after recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois — looked like SO MUCH WORK, and boy, did that work pay off. The result is a fun-to-read, data-driven deep dive into the world of the new, legal cannabis industry. The investigation revealed that many joints sold in Illinois are contaminated with mold and yeast, and that consumers cannot be sure they’re getting cannabis that is as potent as the label claims.”

Honorable mention: Douglas Perry, The Oregonian, “The Obsession”

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.

First place: Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “New Milwaukee doctors fight pandemic while facing their own fears”

Judge’s comments: “What a piece of service journalism. Deeply sourced, chronologically told (which was the right choice) and full of reflections from a population we don’t hear from enough, especially in this vulnerable way. An easy pick for first place because of the subject, a winner for the crisp, compelling writing.

Second place: Steve Mellon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “On a damp day, painful memories at the Flight 93 Memorial”

Judge’s comments: “A great idea beautifully executed. This well-written piece demonstrates perfectly how good journalists work to find the stories that are around us every day.”

Third place: Theoden Janes, The (N.C.) Charlotte Observer, “He spent 40 years not knowing who rescued him from that plane crash. Then, on Christmas…”

Judge’s comments: “Compelling, exciting, connective story about humanity that checks all our boxes: moving, well-written and a bonus “happy” ending.”

Honorable mention: Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “A Wisconsin mom gave birth in a COVID-19 coma before slipping to the brink of death”

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: Anya Sostek, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Anya Sostek | Health”

Judge’s comments: “All three of Anya’s stories are gripping tales with fascinating detail. She conveys complex medical information in a clear and easy-to-understand way. And each feature is perfectly paced — satisfying as both a narrative and a medical story.”

Second place: John-John Williams IV, The Baltimore Sun, “John-John Williams IV Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio”

Judge’s comments: “This entry had three smart feature stories that tapped into often-underserved communities. The Black Thanksgiving story was particularly rich with sources and detail.”

Third place: Jeremy Reynolds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jeremy Reynolds | Classical Music Beat”

Judge’s comments: “This portfolio shows versatility, great ideas and good writing.We especially enjoyed the dissection of what makes an earworm and the behind-the-scenes look at the audition process for the symphony.”

Honorable mention: James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “I got vaccinated, but my wife may not; My wife was skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccination; A silent byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic”

FOOD WRITING PORTFOLIO

Three stories, columns or reviews by the same writer on any food topic.

First place: Carlos Frias, The Miami Herald, “Carlos Frias: a Miami food-writing portfolio”

Judge’s comments: “Carlos Frias’ work is informative and well informed, offering deep insights into one of America’s most complex culinary cultures.”

Second place: Phillip Valys, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “Phillip Valys Food Portfolio Trends Commentary”

Judge’s comments: “Phillip Valys’ writing takes in the culture and economics of food while also providing the service element of a good reviewer.”

Third place: Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Gretchen McKay | Food Beat”

Judge’s comments: “A winning mix of curiosity and culture brought this entry to life.”

Honorable mention: Daniel Neman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Daniel Neman columns”

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: Ismael Pérez, Chicago Sun-Times, “A selection of 3 columns”

Judge’s comments: “In these powerful columns for the Chicago Sun-Times, Ismael Pérez shares his personal experiences as an “anchor baby,” a “mestizo,” a gay Latino man and a son of an addict. He writes with so much candor and courage, and he never simply writes about himself. Instead, he deftly weaves his own experiences into the larger tapestry of life in America right now — and he does so in such a likeable and open way that he’s bound to make readers of every walk of life and political persuasion think differently about the world around them.”

Second place: Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Gene Collier | In a sea of heartache, an obit with an edge, GOP talking point of the week? Tough one, Pain from 0-to-10 pain question exceeds the actual pain”

Judge’s comments: “With his beautiful writing style, keen sense of humor and eye for telling details, columnist Gene Collier has a knack for making his readers feel like long-lost friends. His range is amazing; in the columns submitted for this contest entry, he shared a moving tribute to a woman who died unnecessarily from COVID-19, skewered the GOP’s bizarre talking points with comedy and clarity, and crafted a funny (yes, funny!) piece about the pain levels he’s been enduring after an injury. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette readers are fortunate to have a columnist and pal like Collier in their corner.”

Third place: Mark Brown, Chicago Sun-Times, “A selection of 3 columns”

Judge’s comments: “Mark Brown writes that he’s ‘not exactly known for being warm and friendly’ — but his columns betray him as a big-hearted observer with an enormous amount of empathy for his story subjects. It’s almost impossible not to feel a lump rising in the ol’ throat while reading about the life lessons he learned from grieving family members who lost loved ones to COVID-19. His “Lost Time List” about all the things he’s dreaming of doing again after being cooped up during the pandemic is a thing of beauty, and his piece about the Chicago man who jumped into Lake Michigan every single day for a year is a masterpiece.”

Honorable mention: Aisha Sultan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Columns by Aisha Sultan”

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: Jeremy Reynolds, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Jeremy Reynolds | Classical Music Beat”

Judge’s comments: “This razor-sharp writer clearly understands the power and scope of a review. Reynolds doesn’t just assess a performance: he relates its history and backstory; asks insightful questions of performers and audiences alike and explains his critiques. His ledes are arresting. His commentaries include truly memorable lines. And he has the rare gift of being able to make a subject like opera — which many might find intimidating or boring — entertaining, informative and accessible.”

Second place: James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Truth in what the ESPN crew said about Milwaukee; During Pride Month, celebrate common ground; Milwaukee’s Kwanzaa celebration”

Judge’s comments: “James. E. Causey seems to have the talent and the guts to take on tough topics, including intraracial gender bias and racial equity in his own hometown. His spirited writing, strong reporting, excellent sourcing and smart arguments make him a must-read.”

Third place: Mal Vincent, The Virginian-Pilot, “Mal Vincent portfolio”

Judge’s comments: “What a confident voice, what incisive observations, a breadth of experience Mal Vincent brings to his commentaries. His writing is inviting, thoughtful and very enjoyable to read. He makes excellent use of the first person to share a sliver of the knowledge he’s gained and the experiences he’s had in what must have been a long and successful career.”

Honorable mention: Theoden Janes, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, “Collection of articles: Theoden Janes”

SPORTS FEATURE

Feature treatment of any sports topic.

First place: Patrick Finley, Chicago Sun-Times, “Patrick Finley, ‘Back from the brink’”

Judge’s comments: “An amazing story that starts with trust. This reporter had to get access to tell this story. That gets to credibility. And then given that trust and access, Patrick Finley crafts a gripping story that is full of humanity.”

Second place: Rick Telander, Chicago Sun-Times, “Rick Telander, ‘Maris, Mantle, Martin and me’”

Judge’s comments: “Only a great writer can take what is a moment and turn it into something grand: Personal, a story full of characters and history, and allow the reader to come along for the ride.”

Third place: Lori Nickel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “It took a hustler, a native son, a priest’s blessing and a city hungry for sports to bring the Bucks to Milwaukee”

Judge’s comments: “Wonderful idea that began with a simple question: How? The story answers the question that most readers had not thought to ask. But once done with this story, a reader gets a sense of history and community.”

Honorable mention: Jim Owczarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “What happened to the coin that determined the fate of the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns in 1969?”

VIDEO STORYTELLING

The coverage of any A&E, lifestyle or specialty topic using a single video of not more than 8 minutes in length.

First place: Vickie Connor, The (Portland, Ore.) Oregonian, “The Venderia”

Judge’s comments: “Well-produced, intimate, and charming. A nice, tight example of lifestyle feature journalism on video.”

Second place: Alexandra Wimley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “In Focus: Pittsburgh Rhinos Blind Ice Hockey”

Judge’s comments: “Heartfelt, powerful, and well-produced, this video engages the viewer and shines light on the community. Audio transitions could be smoother, and soundbites from parents and coaches will round out the story.”

Third place: Samantha Swindler, The (Portland, Ore.) Oregonian, “Smallest Park”

Judge’s comments: “This is a big, well-produced and deeply reported piece on something so small. The play of scale and size is very compelling here. The story runs a bit long but is engaging.”

Honorable mention: Staff, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “Let’s Go, South Florida: This delicacy costs $500 an ounce and is illegal to import. We take you to the one spot where you can get it”

INTEGRATED STORYTELLING

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: Laura Malt Schneiderman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Passenger revolt over Shanksville”

Judge’s comments: “Clearly-presented and compelling treatment of history. Although the project mined events whose details are already well-known, this presentation gave us those details in gripping and creative ways, from the use of historical photos to audio to transcripts from the victims and terrorists’ own last moments. The information was brutal to read and hear, but was moving and compelling all the same.”

Second place: Staff, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Abuse of Trust”

Judge’s comments: “The staff did a great job taking a difficult, complicated issue and breaking it down clearly with excellent use of timelines, cast of character lists and a very creative presentation of the players’ connections to each other (it’s great that even on mobile view, the graphics showing all the various players’ connections to each other still works. Great job there). It was a great example of breaking down a complicated scandal into understandable and digest-able pieces.”

Third place: Lauren Rosenblatt, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “COVID unemployment interactive: Those out of work during the pandemic faced hard quest for state jobless aid”

Judge’s comments: “Clean and clear presentation that managed to distill a global crisis into personal terms that brought the COVID epidemic home to readers. Great use of video and interactives to tell the personal stories of some of those most affected by pandemic-driven unemployment. Hope the reporters have a chance to follow up with some of these sources a year or two later; We would bet readers would love to know how they’re doing.”

Honorable mention: Samantha Swindler, The (Portland, Ore.) Oregonian, “Mr. Gresham”

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: Denise Watson, Saleen Martin and Lisa Vernon Sparks, The Virginian-Pilot/Daily Press, “Confederate monuments in Hampton Roads”

Judge’s comments: “This series reveals the tensions, emotions and complications that arise when a community truthfully reckons with its racist roots. The reporters and photojournalists—community members themselves—exquisitely and unflinchingly capture the tenacity of those who hope to build a more hopeful future.”

Second place: Aisha Sultan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Aisha Sultan stories”

Judge’s comments: “It’s clear from these dispatches that Sultan is trusted as a community narrator. She has brought to life so artfully the anxieties and fears, and also the joys and new beginnings that 2021 has meant to folks in St. Louis.”

Third place: Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “He invests in residential rental properties in Milwaukee — from Stanley Correctional Institution”

Judge’s comments: “This is the kind of uncommon story that makes local reporting so vital to our communities. At its core, Daykin’s report is about a man who, like many of us, has found meaning and purpose in his work—only while currently serving a long prison sentence. This story comes to life with honesty and empathy. It’s also just plain interesting to learn about this man’s journey and to be inspired by it!”

Honorable mention: Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “How an MLK meme split the Thomas Merton Center and co-founder Molly Rush”

BEST SPECIAL SECTION

The best your publication has to offer in printed A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. 

First place: Staff, Chicago Sun-Times, “’Rising from the ashes’ — marking the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire”

Judge’s comments: “A superlative section, anchored by a masterful account of the Great Chicago Fire. Truly authoritative, it contains a well-rounded selection of stories, with terrific design that delivers impact. Well-conceived and executed — a knockout!”

Second place: Robert Herguth and Bryan Barker, Chicago Sun-Times, “Chicago’s murals and mosaics”

Judge’s comments: “A spectacular print payoff to an excellent idea. Over two years, the Sun-Times documented public murals and mosaics in neighborhoods across Chicago through a weekly feature that invited reader submissions. Then it pulled the best of it together in this well-designed and thematically organized full-color, 52-page section. Just … wow!”

Third place: Ian Froeb and Gabe Hartwig, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The STL 100”

Judge’s comments: “A lively, inviting and useful section.”

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: Mark Gauert, Cassie Armstrong and Anderson Greene, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “Explore Florida and the Caribbean”

Judge’s comments: “Excellent magazine about travel with a good mix of general travel features and news you can use (calendars, recipes). Strong design, headlines and photography. Good variety of bylines, including a few by the editor, who obviously knows this territory very well.”

Second place: Staff, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Goodness: “February 21 & December 5, 2021”

Judge’s comments: Good variety of features, short pieces and letters from readers in this uplifting section. “We bet readers really look forward to this coming out (and a few said so in their letters). Nice job!”

Third place: Mark Gauert and Anderson Greene, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “City & Shore PRIME Magazine”

Judge’s comments: “Another strong niche product from this publication, with a nice focus on women in one of the issues reviewed here. Strong design and content.”

Honorable mention: Staff, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Business of Pittsburgh: January 10 & July 4, 2021”


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 22 categories.

First place: Los Angeles Times

Eighteen awards, including six firsts (Best Section, Arts & Entertainment, Short Feature, Food Criticism, Food Writing Portfolio and Video Storytelling), four seconds (Arts & Entertainment Feature, Arts & Entertainment Commentary Portfolio, Sports Feature and Best Special Section), six thirds (Podcast, General Feature, Food Feature, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio, General Commentary Portfolio and Sports Feature) and two honorable mentions (Narrative Storytelling and Best Special Section)

Second place: NJ Advance Media

Eight awards, including two firsts (General Feature and Best Section), three seconds (General Feature, Integrated Storytelling and Diversity in Digital Features), one third (Video Storytelling) and two honorable mentions (General Feature and Food Writing Portfolio)

Third place: Boston Globe

Six awards, including three firsts (Feature Series or Project, Narrative Storytelling and Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio), one second (Best Section), one third (Integrated Storytelling) and one honorable mention (Food Feature).

Fourth place: San Francisco Chronicle

Seven awards, including one first (Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio), two seconds (Food Feature and Digital Innovation) two thirds (Narrative Storytelling and Food Writing Portfolio) and one honorable mention (Narrative Storytelling)

BEST SECTION

The best regularly occurring printed features sections that focus on A&E, lifestyles or other features coverage.

First place: Staff, Los Angeles Times, “Faking It”

Judge’s comments: “Stellar work, from the inventive story ideas to the excellent execution. The Oscars preview is always a must-read section, and the Latino Culture Gap section is revealing. Loved the Food section, with its creative illustrations and exemplary writing.”

Second place: Staff, Boston Globe, “Boston Globe Arts”

Judge’s comments: These sections shine in writing, photography and design. What a treat for Globe readers to get such incisive and entertaining work on a daily basis.

Third place: Features Section, Seattle Times, “The Mix best sections 2021”

Judge’s comments: “These sections feature solid and creative coverage, with clean design, good writing and excellent story selection.”

Honorable mention: Melissa Aguilar and Staff, Houston Chronicle, “Houston Chronicle Features Sections”

BEST FEATURES DIGITAL PRESENCE

The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. 

First place: Staff, Newsday, “Newsday’s FeedMe restaurants coverage”

Judge’s comments: “It’s clear from the quality and variety of the coverage as well as the tenor of the conversation among writers and readers that FeedMe is indispensable to its community. The staff have reflected the history of Long Island’s foodways and abundance of flavors in ways that are approachable and joyful.”

Second place: Staff, Upstate Unearthed, upstateunearthed.com

Judge’s comments: The deep and nuanced exploration of this well-known topic—the great outdoors!—through the lens of our modern lives is superbly expressed in Upstate Unearthed. The writers, editors, photographers, designers and social media editors should be very proud!”

GENERAL FEATURE

Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic.

First place: Brittney Davies, Joe Atmonavage and Matthew Stanmyre, NJ Advance Media, “The great boat lift of 9/11”

Judge’s comments: “Wow, what a tale. A 9/11 story I knew so little about. Incredibly researched and sourced. Beautifully organized, thoughtfully told and riveting from the start.”

Second place: Keith Sargeant, NJ Advance Media, “My father was a war hero who saved lives and I never knew”

Judge’s comments: “Wow. What an emotional ride. Personal, investigative journalism to uncover the truth about one’s dad. Honest, raw and gracefully done.”

Third place: Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, “She was dying of COVID-19. Her last hope would save her or kill her”

Judge’s comments: “So moving and well written. Incredibly dramatic, action-packed. Explains not just the immediate impact of the patient, but what her illness meant to her family — emotionally and financially — as well as to her doctors and nurse.”

Honorable mention: Adam Clark, NJ Advance Media, “The $1 million gamble”

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT FEATURE

Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic.

First place: Daniel Hernandez, Los Angeles Times, “The lowrider is back”

Judge’s comments: “This feature brings readers into L.A.’s contemporary cruising scene, which enjoyed a resurgence during the pandemic — it was a safe escape. It also details that scene’s rich history and includes many distinctive voices. The photos accompanying the story are great, too.”

Second place: Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times, “How a Compton artist’s lost prison painting found its way to the Hammer Museum”

Judge’s comments: “Renowned prison artist Wash’s story has been told before. By focusing on single painting, and the artist’s attempt to track down the original and create a new version, this feature reveals new details about the artist’s life inside and out of prison.”

Third place: Rebecca Alter, Vulture, “Boys, Interrupting”

Judge’s comments: “This short, engaging profile introduced the comedy trio before they broke through to the mainstream on Saturday Night Live. It’s smart about comedy and social media and accessible to readers who may not be well-versed on one or the other.”

Honorable mention: David Chiu, The New York Times, “Overlooked No More: Jobriath, Openly Gay Glam Rocker in the ’70s”

SHORT FEATURE

Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words.

First place: Daniel Miller, Los Angeles Times, “L.A. mystery: The mourning doves stopped singing. What happened to them?”

Judge’s comments: “A beautifully written lament for the mourning dove is both a nostalgic personal reflection and a warning about climate change. Daniel Miller grapples with the absence of the dove’s call, and shows how he comes to understand it foretells greater environmental perils.”

Second place: Kristen Hare, Tampa Bay (Florida) Times, “This queen fostered a new generation of drag in Orlando”

Judge’s comments: “This sensitive obit — written with warmth and compassion — opens cinematically to reveal layer by layer the life and death of a drag queen who is so much more than her stage presence.”

Third place: Lane DeGregory, Tampa Bay (Florida) Times, “’How are you?’ A phone call lets seniors know someone cares”

Judge’s comments: “Dialogue, most of it one-sided, propels this slice of life inside a senior center, where a cheerful volunteer calls to check in on fragile and lonely elderly people.”

Honorable mention: Thomas Floyd, The Washington Post, “A 9/11 survivor wanted nothing to do with ‘Come From Away.’ Now she’s seen it a dozen times.”

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.

First place: Lea Konczal, Texas Monthly, “The Pig’s Last Stand: America’s First Drive-in Celebrates One Hundred Years”

Judge’s comments: “By the end of Lea Konczal’s affecting, melancholy story about the Pig Stand and its longtime owner and champion, Mary Ann Hill, the reader may be close to tears. For Mary Ann, her customers and employees, this place is like a family. Bravo for this grave and eloquent profile that captures the Pig Stand and the people who aren’t sure what they’ll do when it’s gone.”

Second place: Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, “San Francisco Chronicle: The Prisoner”

Judge’s comments: “We couldn’t stop reading Esther Mobley’s story about the red wine blend with the prison-themed marketing strategy. It’s a great angle that illuminates the history of blended wines, the trap that companies find themselves in when social movements collide with their outdated and troublesome branding, and the national conversation around race and incarceration. Beautifully done and very thought-provoking.”

Third place: Stephanie Breijo, Los Angeles Times, “Take a peek inside the Sugar Lab, L.A.’s 3-D-printing candy shop”

Judge’s comments: “Stephanie Breijo takes us on a brisk and fascinating tour of a candy factory that uses 3-D printing tech to mold unique treats. The process and its history are all clearly explained in detail, yet the story never loses the whimsical charm that’s appropriate for a story about candy. Sweeeet!”

Honorable mention: Devra First, Boston Globe, “Slade’s Bar & Grill: a real Boston story”

FOOD CRITICISM

A single story, such as a restaurant review, that offers opinions about a topic or restaurant in the food industry.

First place: Lucas Kwan Peterson, Los Angeles Times, “We should pay more to eat in restaurants”

Judge’s comments: “Strong opinion, deep reporting, a thorough examination of the restaurant industry in the fog after COVID’s darkest days. Lucas Kwan Peterson covers so much ground in this piece, but leaves nothing behind. 2021 was the year of asking existential questions about the industry, both as an owner and as a customer. This article is the framework on which those answers might be built for a more sustainable future. Should we pay more as customers? Yes. Should we cover the industry more thoughtfully as writers? Your answer is right here.”

Second place: Hanna Raskin, The Food Section, “Into the Awards Void”

Judge’s comments: “You could argue that Hanna Raskin’s piece exploring the relevance of the James Beard Awards is an insider exercise. Outside the industry — the owners, the chefs, the writers — who follows the Beards? (More than we think.) But this piece goes much deeper, exploring how culture and social movements shape who gets awards and why, and how efforts to reform the awards create problems of their own. The point about how even modest restaurant progressivism in conservative areas carries disproportionate risks rang bells in my head, it was so clear. This is how you draw widening circles around smaller points, with sound logic, clearly articulated.”

Third place: Erica Marcus, Newsday, “Long Island’s best pizza”

Judge’s comments: “We value food writing that asks the big philosophical questions. I’d argue that in Newsday’s circulation area, the questions don’t get much bigger than, “Where can I get a good slice around here?” Erica Marcus answers that question with authority, a story told in 12 parts that accomplish the impossibly simultaneous tasks of depth and brevity. Every capsule tells a story: part history, part travelogue, part pizza education. The reader service piece is not dead! And coming out of the pandemic, it might be one of the strongest ways to reconnect readers with the restaurants they love and the connections they need.”

FEATURES SERIES OR PROJECT

Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts. 

First place: Penelope Overton, Jenna Russell and David Abel, Boston Globe, “The Lobster Trap”

Judge’s comments: “Where have all the lobsters gone? This project chronicles the highs and lows of New England lobstering through the compelling lens of the families whose livelihoods depend on the critters. The Globe team brought the drama to what could have been a dry story about climate change, leaning into the human storylines that are illustrated with strong visuals and enhanced with digital map-graphics that make the science as easy-to-digest as the prized crustaceans.”

Second place: Staff, Honolulu Civil Beat, “Hawaii Grown”

Judge’s comments: “Hawaii’s sky-high cost of living took new prominence during the pandemic, when the state (which imports 80% of its food) struggled to feed its own population. What can be done to change? The Honolulu Civil Beat’s year-long project breaks down the causes-effects and showcases solutions through stories about grassroots farming efforts, experiments and failures. It was an ambitious undertaking complemented with Facebook Live panel discussions, calls-to-action and fun elements “including a reader recipe contest featuring home-grown ingredients. It’s all organized in a lively digital section front.”

Third place: Lane DeGregory, Tampa Bay (Florida) Times, “Who wants to be a cop?”

Judge’s comments: “Who WANTS to be a cop these days? That’s the headline that grabs the reader and doesn’t let go through the Tampa Bay Times’ eight-part series that chronicles a class of new police recruits making their way through the academy. Lane DeGregory’s effortless storytelling commands the reader’s attention, from the mandatory pepper spray to the eyes through the self-doubt that comes with botching knock-and-enter drills. A fresh POV on a topic that has enduring national significance.”

Honorable mention: Staff, Philadelphia Inquirer, “Wildest Dreams: An Anthology of Black Inheritance.”

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.

First place: Evan Allen, Boston Globe, “Under the Wheel”

Judge’s comments: “Writer Evan Allen, a new mom fearful that she will pass her family’s history of violence onto her daughter, sets out to answer an ambitious question: Is violence inherited like other traits? She focuses on Anthony Pledger, a federal inmate who began committing crimes at age 7, and she weaves his story with hers. It’s an incredible feat of reporting: The “interviews” amounted to more than 2,000 pages of correspondence between the reporter and the inmate, and the resulting story is compelling, eye-opening, tragic and forceful. It’s also gorgeously written with an ending that is both resigned a nd hopeful.”

Second place: Lane DeGregory, Tampa Bay (Florida) Times, “Twelve Hours in a Florida COVID-19 ICU”

Judge’s comments: “Masterfully told by one of the best narrative writers in the business, this story follows a trauma nurse named Jen on a harrowing day as the delta variant floods her hospital with ICU patients. We see Jen do the impossible – try to offer care for those who are too far gone. We hear telling dialogue that moves the story along, and handpicked details which convey Jen’s inner struggle about whether she should leave her position. The ending is both quiet in tone and loud in emotion. It’s a heart-wrenching story told matter-of-factly, and that gives it even more power.”

Third place: Matthias Gafni, San Francisco Chronicle, “One hiker’s peak of desperation”

Judge’s comments: “A 57-year-old man sets out to scale Boundary Peak in Nevada, a 13,000-foot mountain that can be conquered in one day. Then he slips and falls off the trail, and we are thrust into a nail-biting adventure as he tries to find his way out. On the fifth day, the man is near delirious when he sees three of his closest friends about to rescue him. Or are they a hallucination? Reporter Matthias Gafni gives us a wild narrative that readers simply can’t put down.”

Honorable Mention: Tyrone Beason, Los Angeles Times, “A Black Reporter’s Road Trip to the Inauguration, and a Search for America’s Soul”

Honorable mention: Jason Fagone, San Francisco Chronicle, “The Jessica Simulation”

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: Dugan Arnett, Boston Globe, “Stories examining the human conflict boiling deep within law enforcement amid a nationwide reckoning over police abuse”

Judge’s comments: “Richly reported and nuanced stories off the police beat at a time when policing in America was under heightened scrutiny. A respected police chief reveals his conflicted past in a harrowing narrative that reads like a thriller. A story with a simple premise — Who would want to be a police officer today? — is remarkably complex. And a Black suburban police chief tries to be a beacon for reform. Dugan Arnett excels at painting intimate portrayals of large and urgent issues.”

Second place: Adam Bernstein, The Washington Post, “Three obituaries: Fanne Foxe, Cloris Leachman, Cicely Tyson”

Judge’s comments: “The art of the obit at its finest: Detailed reporting, cultural context and just enough reverence for the subject. The death of Fanne Foxe — the stripper who brought down Wilbur Mills — likely would have gone unnoticed but for Adam Bernstein’s advance reporting. The result captures in glorious detail the classic D.C. scandal. Cloris Leachman and Cicely Tyson are vividly remembered.”

Third place: Jaweed Kaleem, Los Angeles Times, “Starving cows. Fallow farms. The Arizona drought is among the worst in the country”

Judge’s comments: “A sense of place is strong in this portfolio of consequential stories: Drought in Arizona; troubling signs at Lake Mead; an iconoclastic rancher trying to breed more efficient cattle. Together they reveal the real issues of climate crisis through the people who work the land and the water.”

FOOD WRITING PORTFOLIO

Three stories, columns or reviews by the same writer on any food topic.

First place: Jenn Harris, Los Angeles Times, “The next time you order takeout, call the restaurant”

Judge’s comments: “All three are well-told, informative with straightforward, clear writing. Delivery app story lays out the issues in a concise way. The cacio e pepe features delightfully spare writing peppered with lively, fun quotes. Love this lede: “Las Vegas — Two halves of a split lobster tail intertwine like lovers. Both sides arch upward, balancing atop a mound of noodles tangled around bean sprouts and shards of green onion.” Captures the joyful, over-the-top reason these chefs love LV.”

Second place: Brad A. Johnson, The Orange County (California) Register, “Saucedo, Blu Skybar and 50 Best Places to Eat Tacos”

Judge’s comments: “50! That’s a lot of tacos. Fun ledes that draw you in and then comprehensive, solid reviews that tell diners what they need to know. Great descriptions that capture the mood and style of the place. Love this lede: A brass ensemble with a remarkably nimble tuba player honks from the jukebox at Saucedo in Garden Grove while a rhythmic, percussive “thwack thwack thwack thwack” emanates from the kitchen. The latter, we can tell by peering through the pass, is the restaurant’s lone chef, chopping carne asada with a large cleaver as orders for more tacos stream in.”

Third place: Soleil Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, “San Francisco Chronicle: Soleil Ho”

Judge’s comments: “Takes chances with her writing. The stories have lots of detail and color that put you in the place and allows you to truly imagine how the food tastes. Vivid.”

Honorable mention: Sharyn Jackson, (Minneapolis, Minn.) Star Tribune, “Food reporting: Sharyn Jackson”

Honorable mention: Jeremy Schneider, NJ Advance Media

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: Michelle Singletary, The Washington Post, “When Personal Finance is Personal”

Judge’s comments: “Singletary’s pieces carry commonly relatable themes as they also focus on the minority experience. Many can relate to being a caregiver for a loved one or sending a child off on their first real job interview, but Singletary combines these experiences with her unique perspective, telling stories that are filled with emotion and facts. Each piece is enjoyable on its own, but we’re guessing Singletary’s readers look forward to the next installment.”

Second place: Laura Yuen, (Minneapolis, Minn.) Star Tribune, “Features columnist Laura Yuen”

Judge’s comments: “You feel Yuen’s pain as she’s taunted by a woodpecker amid the pandemic. And her discussion of the Chinese experience in the U.S. sheds light on a topic not often discussed. Yuen’s pieces pull at heartstrings while sharing diverse perspectives.”

Third place: Erika D. Smith, Los Angeles Times, “A solution for gentrification in South L.A.? ‘Don’t sell your damn house!’”

Judge’s comments: “Whether she’s talking about her own frustration with the Black community’s reluctance to get vaccinated or sharing another’s story about gentrification, Smith’s pieces are filled with emotions, and she does an excellent job of using real-life scenarios to explain complicated subjects.”

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: Simi Horwitz, The Forward, “Three film reviews”

Second place: Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, ‘The Disciple’ is already one of the year’s best movies. Does Netflix know — or care?”

Third place: Laurie Hertzel, (Minneapolis, Minn.) Star Tribune, “Books: Laurie Hertzel”

Honorable mention: Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle, “Joey Guerra, arts commentary”

SPORTS FEATURE

Feature treatment of any sports topic.

First place: Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, “Game Changers/Breaking Grass Ceilings: Why more women are coaching in men’s professional sports”

Judge’s comments: “A well-researched and well-told all-encompassing look at women in coaching. It hooks you from the beginning and keeps you until the thoughtful ending.”

Second place: Nathan Fenno, Los Angeles Times, “What makes Katie Ledecky the most dominant Olympic swimmer?”

Judge’s comments: “A perfect example of an athlete profile. By the end you know her and admire her accomplishments.”

Third place: David Wharton, Los Angeles Times, “Beneath the bling: Lakers championship rings feature many special surprises”

Judge’s comments: “It’s a profile of a jeweler and a basketball team told through a simple ring. Well, not so simple. So well told and described you almost didn’t need the graphics, but they were wonderful as well.”

Honorable mention: James Causey, Slate, “The Great Migration of Henry Aaron”

VIDEO STORYTELLING

The coverage of any A&E, lifestyle or specialty topic using a single video of not more than 8 minutes in length.

First place: Staff, Los Angeles Times, “How my mental illness became my superpower”

Judge’s comments: “Seamless integration of form and content. Production is expertly handled and story is sensitively told. There is news value to this. Would be good to weave broader public health data and trends into this narrative. Why does this type of mental health model matter? How does it alleviate shortage and inaccessibility in Los Angeles?”

Second place: Scott Vogel, Chris Ware and Susan Yale, Newsday, “The story behind Shuga Pie in Babylon”

Judge’s comments: “Vibrant and well-produced lifestyle segment that captures the fun parts of the community. Would be more engaging and powerful to focus more on the founder’s story rather than just the food.”

Third place: Andre Malok, NJ Advanced Media, “N.J. community embraces young man with autism who lost both of his parents”

Judge’s comments: “Nice tribute to a community fixture. It was important to hear from E.J. himself, which we thought this piece did well.”

Honorable mention: Annie Boos, The (Syracuse University) Newshouse, “The Comeback Year”

INTEGRATED STORYTELLING

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: Jackie Varriano, Jade Yamazaki Stewart and Taylor Blatchford, The Seattle Times, “The Seattle Times Great Pie Package”

Judge’s comments: “Beautiful photos and videos with this yummy package about apple pies. Great team effort and research to bring Seattle Times readers everything they need to know about baking, buying or eating a pie for Thanksgiving, including how-to instructions for three different skill levels for bakers. I finished this package thinking even I could bake (or buy) a great pie and appreciate all the attention to detail that goes into the best. Nicely done. Bookmarked!”

Second place: Staff, NJ Advance Media, “A pickle(ball) in paradise”

Judge’s comments: “Great use of audio, photos and graphics to tell the story of the pickleball conundrum. Terrific story!”

Third place: Jeneé Osterheldt, Boston Globe, “A Beautiful Resistance”

Judge’s comments: “Terrific series with nice audio interviews. We enjoyed the nice variety of sources and the many different ways they told their stories about being part of the fabric of Boston.”

Honorable mention: Meghan Giannotta and Rachel Weiss, Newsday, “Working Dogs of Long Island”

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: Salma Abdelnour, Pam Kaufman, Everyday Health, “Too Many Doctors Are Misdiagnosing Disease on Skin of Color”

Judge’s comments: “A wonderfully written and researched read on how racism in dermatology is compromising the care that Black patients get for diseases and conditions that affect the skin.”

Second place: Amy Kuperinsky, NJ Advance Media, “I’m tired of being afraid”

Third place: Kamal Morgan, Upstate Unearthed, “BLK in the ADK”

Honorable mention: Nhari Djan, The Newshouse (Syracuse University), “Social Media Support”

BEST SPECIAL SECTION

The best your publication has to offer in printed A&E, features and lifestyle coverage. 

First place: Staff, NJ Advance Media, “The long shadow of John List”

Judge’s comments: “A fascinating look at one of our country’s most notorious crimes on its 50th anniversary. The reporting and writing are first rate. And though it’s not a whodunit, it’s gripping from beginning to end.”

Second place: Staff, Los Angeles Times, “101 Best Restaurants”

Judge’s comments: “Chock full of fantastic mini-reviews, features and photography, this is the ultimate guide to eating out in Los Angeles. A must-have section for any tourist or resident.”

Third place: Melissa Aguilar and Nadya Shakoor, Houston Chronicle, “Houston Gives”

Judge’s comments: “A beautifully designed publication showcasing Houston’s philanthropic community. The features are well written, and there is a LOT of content, all displayed with wonderful artwork and photography.”

Honorable mention: Staff, Los Angeles Times, “Unshaken”

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: Sue Campbell, Star Tribune, StarTribune Magazine

Judge’s comments: “Amazing photography, great covers and nice variety of story topics. Especially strong profile stories and regional travel content. Smart design.”

Second place: Melissa Aguilar, Jody Schmal and Nadya Shakoor, Houston Chronicle, Page Magazine

Judge’s comments: “Strong themed section about food and impressive travel content. Nice photography.”

Third place: Newsday Staff, Newsday, FeedMe Magazine

Judge’s comments: “Attractive design and nice mix of food stories. The fold-out guides on burgers and cocktails were great news we could use– something we’d want to have on hand if we were in the area.”


COMBINED DIVISIONS

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: “Headline writers wear many hats on their … heds? Darel’s equally comfortable working a deep profile (‘Sesame’ seeds), an old-school Dear Abby (Upstairs neighbor springs a leak, then blows a gasket) and a TV review (What to suspect when you’re expecting). The first engages wordplay to pull us into the Sesame Street backstory. The second brings just the right amount of salty razzmatazz for Dear Abby’s target audience. And the third? It’s just one of those moments when a pop-culture touchstone can be retooled to fit a story with the wicked tweaking of just. one. word.”

Second place: Greg Anglin, San Antonio Express-News

Judge’s comments: “”Headline” is the right word to describe the banners for Sports columnists. You have to get into their heads, live in their worlds just long enough to draw out the deeper meanings behind the sports news they’re reacting to. And then you have to make those headlines entertaining, and then you have to make them fit. Greg is equal parts mind-reader, performer and broadsheet navigator on this set of heds. The turnaround wordplay on “fancy passing/passing fancy” feels like a wicked on-court juke. The “double bubble” hed melds the drama of COVID with the procedural realities players face because of it. And the CWS vaccine hed tells the full story in an 8-word main and a 9-word deck. It’s smart, concise and blunt, and it conveys the emotion of the column.”

Third place: Thomas Floyd, The Washington Post

Judge’s comments: “In the days of multitasking-by-necessity, it’s not always a given that a headline writer understands the subject as well as this. Each of the three heds shows a craftsperson with an understanding of Sports writing, Sports readers, and Sports headlines. The mullet head is as form-follows-function as the haircut it describes: business in front, party in the back. And the hed on the story about the football kicker shows how a good headline writer pulls the essence of the story to the top even when the heart of the story’s buried on the jump.”

DIGITAL INNOVATION

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 Newshouse (Syracuse University)

Judge’s comments: “This was an amazingly competitive category! The best of these entries are sophisticated and nuanced. Some of them are fun; all of them are visually striking. In the end, the weight of history represented in “Visualizing 81” carried the day. It is a remarkable work, a history that, I suspect, many in Syracuse are unfamiliar with. It is a history that we should all learn, and it’s an inspiration for other publications that want to present readers with an unvarnished version of community history. This mixed-media event should be studied across the country.”

Second place: Food & Wine Staff, Alex Fong and Paula Friedrich, San Francisco Chronicle, “Best Day Ever”

Judge’s comments: “I dare you to resist the charms of “The Best Day Ever in Chinatown.” The photos, the curation (morning/afternoon/night/late night), the multiple options and the bright graphics will lure any reader into this series. If your publication is dedicated to dining out, we’d suggest you steal this concept!”

Third place: Jesse Howe, Chicago Sun-Times, “Through the flames”

Judge’s comments: “The art of map making (and map-reading) may be fading with the rise of the digital age. “Through the flames,” however, mixes the best of the old and the new worlds, taking readers on a rather breathtaking journey through a city that was devastated by fire. The Great Chicago Fire has a place in American history and mythology. This work brings the facts and the sadness very much into the 21st century.”

Honorable mention: Jonathan Harris and Hanna Martin, Upstate Unearthed (Syracuse University), “Live Oaks and Dead Folks: Exploring Oakwood Cemetery and its Loyal Caretakers”

BEST PODCAST

The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through a podcast. 

First place: Soleil Ho, Justin Phillips, Erika Carlos, Téa Price, San Francisco Chronicle, “Extra Spicy”

Judge’s comments: “While food is the throughline for this podcast, we appreciate how the hosts go beyond that by covering — among other things — the minimum wage debate, Chinatown’s identity, and their own perspectives of the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. It’s not just a pod about food; it’s also about our current culture and states of mind.”

Second place: Jamila Paksima, Yvonne Latty and Jordan Gass-Poore’, Southern Poverty Law Center,  “Sounds Like Hate: Collateral Damage Part I and II”

Judge’s comments: “What makes this podcast so powerful are the stories of the people featured and how they fit into the ways our system disenfranchises voters. It’s an important and undercovered topic.”

Third place: Staff, Los Angeles Times, “The Trials of Frank Carson: first 3 episodes”

Judge’s comments: “We appreciate this deep narrative dive into a controversial local personality. There’s a lot to cover and the podcast did its best to lay it all out.”

2022 SFJ Excellence-in-Features contest deadline extended!

Featured

Designed by Jim Haag

The 34th annual Society for Features Journalism Excellence-in-Features contest, which honors the craft of feature storytelling and the people who do it for a living, is taking entries for 2022.

All entries – other than those in the Best Features Digital Presence category – must have been published in print or online between Jan. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021.

The writing contest is open to journalists working for legacy and new media (including nonprofit), whether you’re a freelancer or full-time employee.

First-place winners in each category will receive $300. Winners will be announced in June. We are not having an in-person conference in 2022.

The cost of each entry is $45 for all professional writing, online and video entries, and $60 in the Niche Product, Features Digital Presence and Best Section categories.

To enter, go to https://betternewspapercontest.com and search for Society for Features Journalism.

Deadline to submit is through Friday, March 25March 11, 2022. If you have any questions, please email sfjcontest4@gmail.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 one 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 Feature 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 Podcast

The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through a podcast. One entry consists of links to three podcasts 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 2021 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 Terry Bertling, 15042 Preston Hollow, San Antonio, TX 78247.

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 Terry Bertling, 15042 Preston Hollow, San Antonio, TX 78247.

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 2021 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 Terry Bertling, 15042 Preston Hollow, San Antonio, TX 78247.

2021 SOCIETY FOR FEATURES JOURNALISM EXCELLENCE-IN-FEATURES AWARDS

Featured

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: The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier
Ten awards, including six firsts (Arts & Entertainment Feature, Food Feature, Features Series or Project, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio, Integrated Storytelling and Diversity in Digital Features), two seconds (Food Criticism and Food Writing Portfolio) and two honorable mentions (General Feature and Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio)

Second place: The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette
Nine awards, including three firsts (Best Section, Sports Feature and Best Special Section), three seconds (Best Features Digital Presence, Food Feature and Video Storytelling), two thirds (General Commentary Portfolio and Diversity in Digital Features) and one honorable mention (Video Storytelling)

Third place: Austin (Texas) American-Statesman
Eight awards, including four firsts (Best Features Digital Presence, Short Feature, Food Criticism and Arts & Entertainment Commentary Portfolio), three seconds (Best Section, Diversity in Digital Features and Best Special Section) and one honorable mention (Features Series or Project)

Fourth place: The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal
Four awards, including one first (Food Writing Portfolio), one second (General Commentary Portfolio), one third (General Feature) and one honorable mention (Sports Feature)


BEST SECTION
The best regularly occurring printed features sections that focus on A&E, lifestyles or other features coverage.

First place: The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette
Judge’s comments:
These sections feature a number of fresh, local packages that showcase great writing and compelling imagery. The design and photography are outstanding. The layout for Weekend Six Pack, the photo of the artist C.H. Rockey and the food photography are magazine-quality. Likewise, the photo essay on the Colorado Rockies captures a range of destinations in images and pithy captions. The profile of photographer John Fielder is a well-written, behind-the-scenes take on a local beloved figure. The Life in 2020 thought piece by Amanda Hancock is a lovely meditation on boredom.

Second place: Austin (Texas) American-Statesman
Judge’s comments:
This publication excelled in its coverage of the twin challenges of 2020 – the pandemic and the reckoning after George Floyd’s killing. Though these topics can be tough fare for an arts and entertainment section, Austin360 rose to the occasion with well-reported packages on the experience of being a Black musician in Austin and a deeply reported piece on the struggles restaurateurs and club owners faced after the lockdown. The annual Austin Food Guide was another standout, focusing on grocery stores and how we procured food in 2020, with special attention to the city’s signature and lesser-known food products. The “Are You Happy” feature was a clever person-on-the-street piece in the vein of the Humans of New York photoblog. Overall, this was an engaging and inventive collection of features in a challenging year for feature writers.

Third place: (Greensboro, N.C.) News & Record
Judge’s comments:
These sections demonstrated admirable creativity and adaptability during the pandemic. The “Nutcracker” story shows how local companies worked to take the holiday classic online. Other sections feature online activities to weather the pandemic and profiles of local musicians in the “Meet a Musician” feature. The highlight is the story about a pick-your-own strawberry farm that reinvented its business and partnered with a shelter to sell $30,000 worth of fruit that would have died on the vine because pickers fell ill with COVID-19. “Farmers are an adaptable bunch because it’s always something,” the story notes. The same might be said of newspapers.


BEST FEATURES DIGITAL PRESENCE
The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage.

First place: “Austin360,” Sharon Chapman, Eric Webb and Amanda O’Donnell, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman
Judge’s comments: Whether you’re going out on the town – in one of America’s most vibrant cities – or staying home, Austin360 is the perfect guide. The website is easy to navigate, and it, the Facebook page and Twitter feed are filled with entertaining and information info. The Food & Drink section is particularly engaging. If you want to have a good time in Austin, this is your ticket.

Second place: “OutThere Colorado,” Staff, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette
Judge’s comments: This was a close second. The site is gorgeous and a joy to spend time with. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast in Colorado, we can’t imagine a better place to get all the information you need. We loved the feature on the road trip that teaches you about the state’s history. You’ll find features, breaking news, a detailed calendar, an informative podcast and even a store (and, yes, we’d love to have the “Campfires, Coffee & Colorado” long-sleeved T-shirt).


GENERAL FEATURE
Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic.

First place: April Capochino Myers, Benjamin Leger and Jennifer Tormo, 225 Magazine, “In the Gray Area”
Judge’s comments: Unexpected. Unprecedented. Those words describe both the subject matter and the writing of this quietly compelling story about an organization in Baton Rouge, La., that helps juvenile offenders return to society. Organization stories – no matter how noble – are rarely this forceful. But this surprising feature manages to question the universal tenets of forgiveness and grace.

Second place: Joseph Capozzi, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, “Hit by a Boat in the Ocean, He Watched His Arm Fall Off. Now Carter Viss Tells His Tale of Survival.”
Judge’s comments: This is the kind of story that sticks with you – for weeks, if not months. Extremely well-reported, it tells the tale of a life-threatening accident from many points of view. While tragic, the piece doesn’t take the all-too-easy route of a tearjerker. The clean but compassionate writing states the facts and points no fingers while celebrating a physical and spiritual redemption and its lasting ripple effects.

Third place: Tessa Duvall, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, “Breonna Taylor’s Mother Endures National Spotlight To Make Sure Black Women’s Lives Matter”
Judge’s comments: This gut-wrencher captures the voice of a bereft mother’s relentless campaign to clear her daughter’s name. Almost against her own will, the mother is driven to become a leader in the fight for racial equality. Wisely, the writing is quiet but compelling, allowing a powerful woman’s voice to be heard.

Honorable mention: Tony Bartelme, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “Ghost Bird: Few Will Ever See S.C.’s Elusive Black Rail. Will Climate Change Make It Vanish Forever?”


ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT FEATURE
Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic.

First place: Jennifer Berry Hawes, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “No Plays. No Prom. No In-Person Classes. From a Pandemic Come New Ways To Live Senior Year.”
Judge’s comments: This story never loses sight of the interiority of the teenagers trying to get through the last months of their senior year at a public magnet school in South Carolina. The perspective rarely shifts away from the teens, who have to navigate what already would have been an emotional time for them but now must do so during a pandemic. The details are rich, even when the students in the story feel
stagnant. The pangs of disappointment – canceled performances, canceled prom – land harder because of the writing. And, in the absence of an in-person crowd, a poetry reading over Zoom becomes an intense moment, even for readers.

Second place: Rachel Gallaher, Gray, “Boundless Possibility”
Judge’s comments:
A thoroughly enjoyable read about an architect who imagines spaces that strengthen the communities that occupy them. It’s the type of story that, we imagine, would compel readers to think more critically about the spaces they live and work in as well. And the selected quotes from the architect tend to linger after you’ve finished the story.

Third place: Kiran Misra, Zora, “South Asian Girls Are the Stars – Not the Sidekicks – in Desi Chick Lit”
Judge’s comments: This is a story about an emerging genre, “Desi chick lit,” and its impact on South Asian girls and women. Those tales are interwoven with the writer’s personal experience. More broadly, it’s a story that expands and complicates the conversations around representation.

Honorable mention: Erin Negley, (Lancaster, Pa.) LNP | LancasterOnline, “Visuals Made Verbal: Audio Describers Use Words To Explain Art for a Blind Audience”


SHORT FEATURE
Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words.

First place: Bronte Wittpenn, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, “ ‘Just Ask for the Magic Man’: Jessie Thibideaux Shines Shoes on Congress Avenue”
Judge’s comments: A beautiful example of bright and tight writing. In only 600 words, Bronte creates a wonderful profile of a man often ignored – the shoeshine guy. The key to her story is the judicious use of details and quotes. Our favorite? “I would compare shoe shining to an artist painting a painting,” Jessie Thibideaux says. “He’s taking his time, he’s making sure the colors are right, the patterns are right, the balance is right. I see an empty canvas I’m about to turn into a masterpiece.”

Second place: Kate Stevens, inRegister, “Hang Time: LSU Architecture Grad Elyse Marks Scales Manhattan’s Tallest Buildings”
Judge’s comments: If you’re afraid of heights, this piece might not be for you. Kate takes readers to the top of New York’s tallest buildings, exploring what would compel a young woman to hang off the side of them. The descriptions are spot-on and, in just a few words, tell an irresistible story about someone with an unusual occupation.

Third place: Ryan Lenora Brown, The Christian Science Monitor, “The National Archives Built From a Crumpled Napkin”
Judge’s comments: Ryan takes us to Africa for a feature about the national archives of Somaliland. The writer tells a story that almost didn’t happen – the seeds of the museum could have as easily been thrown away as used as the basis for the archives and library.

Honorable mention: Emma Schkloven, Houstonia, “Bug-Eye Beauty: The Tricky Craft of Insect Taxidermy”


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.

First place: Hanna Raskin, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “SC Victims of COVID Won’t Be Here To Make Favorite Holiday Dishes, But Left Recipes Behind”
Judge’s comments: Everyone has that dish, made by that person. Hanna stoically memorializes victims of COVID-19 through stories about their signature recipes. It’s a powerful feature because of its quiet starkness, made all the more immortal with the accompanying original recipe cards, often in the person’s own careful handwriting.

Second place: Seth Boster, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “‘We’re Not Gonna Let You Shut Down’: On the Plains East of Colorado Springs, Signs of Hope and Resilience”
Judge’s comments:
Seth brings unthinkable moments to life in his feature about what happens when a guy named Rush lands in a small town called Rush and sets up a cafe that’s soon serving as a literal lifeline for food and supplies during the pandemic.

Third place: Laura Hayes, Washington City Paper, “Delivering Food in D.C. Has Always Been a Tough Job. Then Came a Pandemic.”
Judge’s comments: Laura tells the story of pandemic-weary food-service-delivery drivers in a halting series of anecdotes that both entertain and enrage.

Honorable mention: Kim O’Donnel, (Lancaster, Pa.) LNP | LancasterOnline, “Pickle Primer: Water Bath Canning a Great Way To Try Pickling Cucumbers, Green Beans, Peppers”


FOOD CRITICISM
A single story, such as a restaurant review, that offers opinions about a topic or restaurant in the food industry.

First place: Matthew Odam, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, “Surf and Mirth: Deckhand Oyster Bar Swims to its Own Beat”
Judge’s comments: The characters resonate as memorably as the food in Matthew’s vivid take on this restaurant. The review is filled with sharp observations and descriptions, which are detailed enough to paint a picture – surely readers who venture to this restaurant will take note of whether the owner is donning those “loudly checkered golf pants.”

Second place: Hanna Raskin, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “Our Critic Dined in a Downtown Charleston Restaurant To See If It’s Worth It for the Wary”
Judge’s comments: To review a restaurant is one thing, to review yourself – awkwardly, tepidly dining at a restaurant amid the pandemic – is quite another. But Hanna deftly balances both, and the work shines. A favorite moment from her review: “Steamed clams and sweet corn, served over brawny strands of spaghetti, bulged with the same vibrant energy that was animating the happy-to-be-back staff.”


FEATURES SERIES OR PROJECT
Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts.

First place: Tony Bartelme, Chloe Johnson and Glenn Smith, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “Rising Waters”
Judge’s comments: We learned so much reading this stellar series, and we’re sure readers felt the same way. The insurance story is enlightening, and the installments are readable. The extras, especially the video and the comic book, are exceptional. It’s an exquisite piece of service journalism told in an entertaining and arresting manner.

Second place: Staff, The (Syracuse University) NewsHouse, “COVID on Campus”
Judge’s comments:
Even though this series was inspired by a New York Times feature, it’s still an extremely innovative piece of journalism. The stories offer a sense of community, and the vignettes are perfect, allowing strong voices to shine. The subjects are diverse and have interesting tales to tell. And we love, love, love the illustrations by Samantha Currier. This series will help students remember what they – and all of us – lived through in 2020.

Third place: Sara Israelsen-Hartley, Deseret News, “Radon: The Radioactive Killer”
Judge’s comments: The numbers in this exceptional series are staggering: One in three Utah homes has dangerous levels of radon, and the state’s leading kind of cancer is lung cancer, even though 90 percent of Utahns don’t smoke. The stories are well-researched, informative, easy to understand – and so important to the people of the state. The series was produced with the University of Southern California Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s National Fellowship, and the partnership paid off. The accompanying extras are first-rate. Our favorite is the staffers writing about getting the results of their home radon tests. Ending the project with what homeowners and residents can do is a great example of service journalism.

Honorable mention: Staff, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, “COVID-19 Hits the Austin Music Scene”


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.

First place: Evan F. Moore, Chicago Reader, “This Land Is My Land”
Judge’s comments: This story is an impressive and moving account of one man’s journey to reclaim a part of his family’s land and history. Though told as a personal narrative, the scope of the story is wide – Evan deftly uncovers America’s forgotten and ugly history in the Tulsa Massacre and violence against Black Americans, while simultaneously celebrating Black communities and entrepreneurship. A moving narrative arc paired with one of the most impactful issues of our time make this feature a winner.

Second place: Devon Heinen, New Statesman America, “Nobody To Call: The Plight of Indigenous Suicide in Alaska”
Judge’s comments:
This feature explores a tough topic with sensitivity and care. The family at the center of the story immediately draws readers in, and Devon keeps them invested through deft character development and scene building. The personal stories are balanced with clear information about the availability of mental health professionals in Alaska as the high rates of suicide trend. The article highlights an issue that’s pressing without trying to find easy answers.

Third place: Joseph Capozzi, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, “Hit by a Boat in the Ocean, He Watched His Arm Fall Off. Now Carter Viss Tells His Tale of Survival”
Judge’s comments: This feature is well-written, the quotes are well-chosen, and strength of the
storytelling makes the piece feel short even though it is long. Joseph takes what could be a small accident and makes it feel big by following the people whose lives it changed. The sense of place, scene building and narrative arc are excellent and turn this story into a cinematic-like experience.

Honorable mention: Maggie Galehouse, TMC News, “Making Muscles with the Most Expensive Drug in the World”


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: Jennifer Berry Hawes, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier
Judge’s comments: These are powerful stories of people, masterfully told. Even when writing about personalities who lived centuries ago – as she did in a deeply reported, deftly constructed project about long-neglected Black landmarks – Jennifer manages to summon their humanity. As finely crafted as that ambitious piece is, the two contemporary tales are even better – one about a sheriff’s fall from grace after a traumatic sniper incident and the other about the healing process that drew people and a dog together after a bicyclist’s fatal accident. In each case, Jennifer works the story tirelessly, winning the trust of her subjects and staying with the tale through its natural denouement. This is superb work that subtly commands the reader’s empathy without any false notes of sentimentality or lazy writing.

Second place: Lois M. Collins, Deseret News
Judge’s comments:
Covering the most important health story of a generation, Lois goes deep into one family’s trials and finds surprising angles in stories about how contact tracing works and the importance of human touch. These stories are smart and skillfully done.

Third place: Matthew Leimkuehler, The (Nashville) Tennessean
Judge’s comments:
There are – and we’re estimating here – about 8 million stories in the fabled “Music City” of Nashville, but Matthew goes beneath the surface and reaches deeper to plumb the human dimension in these nicely rounded tales.

Honorable mention: Jennifer Berry Hawes, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier


FOOD WRITING PORTFOLIO
Three stories, columns or reviews by the same writer on any food topic.

First place: Dahlia Ghabour, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal
Judge’s comments: These stories display top-shelf writing and deep reporting. The story on Black barbecue and Black restaurant culture is a reminder that you can find great things in neighborhood joints that often are overlooked. The story on haunted bars and restaurants is exceptionally well done. That story is, we’re sure, a big hit with readers. (That said, non-alcoholic bourbon is an affront to mankind and a sign of a civilization in decline, but nevertheless the story is excellent.)

Second place: Hanna Raskin, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier
Judge’s comments:
This is a solid package of food-related COVID-19 stories, but the feature about comfort-food recipes left behind by virus victims stands out. It’s a brilliant way to tell a difficult story. It’s not easy to find unique feature angles for COVID coverage, and this is a triumph in that regard.

Third place: Ian McNulty, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate | NOLA.com
Judge’s comments:
Ian’s writing takes us to various eating spots and does so without wasting words. He does a stellar job of humanizing the COVID crisis. These stories make us want to plan a New Orleans trip, and we’re sure local readers saw familiar names and faces in the coverage.

Honorable mention: Sierra McClain, (Salem, Ore.) Capital Press


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: Tracey O’Shaughnessy, (Waterbury, Conn.) Republican-American
Judge’s comments:
We all know what’s been going on the past 18 months. We’ve read about the pandemic, about hospital beds, about death. In the meantime, we continue to think and write about many of the rituals of daily life: family discords, rituals turned upside down. And it is often difficult to tell these stories in a way that doesn’t seem like something you’ve written or read dozens of times before. Enter Tracey O’Shaughnessy, who has an amazing ability to draw us into stories we thought we knew and a gift to write about the everyday and make it sound beautiful. Here is some of what she has to say about “virtual” grieving: “Now even grief is delivered virtually. Death, always gussied up and prettified, now seems less real than ever. It is delivered on the same platter that amuses, entertains and distracts us. ‘I still can’t believe it,’ we say, only this time, doubt seems more justified than ever.” In a column about someone who is ill but does not die, she notes: “For me, miracles are less external than internal, less someone else’s life spared and more your own reset.” And there’s this, in a piece about our great pandemic failure: “… we blew it. We blew it because our restlessness exceeded our rationality. The feverish need to exit from the pandemic as if it were a too long ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl sent us spinning out of control.” These are, now, common situations, but Tracey writes about them with language that draws us in and with ideas that make us stop to examine our own frame of thought. And that’s amazing.

Second place: Maggie Menderski, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal
Judge’s comments:
Maggie’s work allows us to accompany her on her journeys – looking for wild horses, searching for a town called Love, spending time at the First Unitarian Church in Louisville, Ky., which had opened its doors as a “resting place for protesters” after it was announced that no charges would be filed in the killing of Breonna Taylor. Maggie’s work lets us follow her planning, her expectations and, sometimes, the details of how she goes about her job. But at no point does she make the story merely about herself. She is our guide through poignant, dramatic moments, and her storytelling makes us equal partners in the process. That’s a gift.

Third place: Seth Boster, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette
Judge’s comments:
Anyone who can compel us to take a great interest in, well, miller moths is a writer who has something going on – something good. Seth writes about everyday moments that might make assignment editors ask, “Are you sure that is column fare?” But Seth knows better. He knows that there is poetry in small moments of life – like killing miller moths. “I have killed by backhand,” he writes. “I have killed by shoe. By unimportant mail. Many magazines have been sacrificed.” Seth, you speak for us all, and we thank you.

Honorable mention: Doug MacCash, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate | NOLA.com


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: Eric Webb, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman
Judge’s comments: Eric, you had us at “feminine power.” Or maybe it was “Georgia O’Keefe.” (In truth, it was the word “gynecological,” but we were raised in a Victorian household, and we find there are some words we still cannot say out loud.) We loved the piece on “Saint Cloud” for a jillion reasons. It’s a review. It’s a (brief) chronicle of the plague year(s). It has some great sentences: “We had to cut spring off at the stem and stick it in a vase, and then summer came and dried the petals all up, so now we’re sitting in the dying days of a Texas summer waiting to see how fall and winter will express their own distinct stillness and sorrow.” We wish we could write like that. We wish we could think like that. For now, we will have to rely on you, Eric. Keep it coming.

Second place: Tracey O’Shaughnessy, (Waterbury, Conn.) Republican-American
Judge’s comments:
Somewhere deep down inside of us, we harbor a certain snobbery about urban areas that are not: 1) Los Angeles, 2) New York, 3) San Francisco, 4) Chicago, or 5) Washington, D.C. Is there art anywhere else? Are there critics anywhere else? Do we need to go to re-education camp to rid ourselves of these absurdist notions? Um, yeah. Tracey, after reading about the “Victorian Radicals,” we wanted to jump into a time machine to see this exhibition – with you as our guide. (At least we have your words to cling to.) Consider this line: “What Rossetti and his besotted band of backward-looking aesthetes loathed was the thrum of industry that blackened the land, de-fenestrated craftsmen and turned art into consumerist kitsch.” True for that era and true of this moment in time.

Third place: Keith Spera, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate | NOLA.com
Judge’s comments:
We’re showing our age, and we don’t care. Eddie Van Halen was a guitar god. Forget his lifestyle or his politics (did he have any politics?), he has a place in the pantheon of insane shredders. And then there’s this: “For all his pyrotechnic talent, Eddie respected the first rule of rock star guitar: Solos should be subservient to the song. The whole was what mattered. Guitar riffs and solos were critical, but melody was just as important.” Keith, you have mastered the art of the tribute.

Honorable mention: Herb Scribner, Deseret News


SPORTS FEATURE
Feature treatment of any sports topic.

First place: Seth Boster, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “The Mighty Penguins: In Dead of Winter, Hockey Club Awakens Sleepy Town West of Colorado Springs”
Judge’s comments:
Seth tackles an interesting topic with masterful writing. The piece also features beautiful photography and design.

Second place: Madeleine Davison, The (Syracuse University) 61% Project, “Faces: How Sports Culture Undermines Athletes Long After They Graduate”
Judge’s comments: This story showcases solid reporting, clean writing and great design.

Third place: Jerry DiPaola, Trib Total Media, “Surrounded by Family, Clint Hurdle Goes Back to School While Embracing New Life”
Judge’s comments: This piece about Clint Hurdle, a former major league baseball player and
manager, features fine, confident writing.

Honorable mention: Hayes Gardner, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, “Reclaimed Worth: A Standout Baseball Player’s Journey from Desperation to Recovery”


VIDEO STORYTELLING
The coverage of any A&E, lifestyle or specialty topic using a single video of not more than 8 minutes in length.

First place: Sean Stipp and Chris Benson, Trib Total Media, “The Riverkeeper”
Judge’s comments:
This is an excellent video, with the main subject, a public servant, breaking the fourth wall and connecting directly with the public he serves. The B-roll is beautifully shot, and the interview is well-framed. This is an excellent way to introduce readers to the public servants who make their communities better.

Second place: Skyler Ballard and Katie Klann, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “Love Land: Elevation, 12,050 Feet”
Judge’s comments: This is a fun, charming and whimsical video full of character, action, compelling B-roll footage and human emotion. A piece like this demonstrates that the subject matter need not be heavy nor melodramatic to engross the audience.

Third place: Sean Stipp and Chris Benson, Trib Total Media, “The Return of the Clark Bar”
Judge’s comments:
This is a compelling and well-reported example of community history told
through video and animation. Most impressive is the deft use of motion graphics and the retouching of old photographs. The documentary style is well-executed and helps connect viewers with the history of their community.

Honorable mention: Skyler Ballard and Katie Klann, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “The Violin Maker”


INTEGRATED STORYTELLING
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: Tony Bartelme, Chloe Johnson and Stephen Hobbs, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “Rising Waters”
Judge’s comments: These journalists took a big topic – climate change – and made it not only extremely local but also extremely understandable. For example, what’s more understandable than a comic book? Through the use of excellent reporting, graphics, video and photos, we get a picture of the struggles that Charleston, S.C., is facing. This package is everything integrated storytelling should be and a service to readers.

Second place: Staff, (Lehigh Valley, Pa.) LehighValleyLive.com, “Blue to Red in 30 Miles: What 1 Pa. County Road Tells Us About the American Electorate”
Judge’s comments: This package has it all – stellar photos, engaging videos, solid reporting, good storytelling and informative graphics that get to the heart of what’s going on.

Third place: Staff, The (Syracuse University) NewsHouse, “High Stakes: The Risks and Rewards of Legalizing Marijuana”
Judge’s comments: The reporting encapsulates the topic as a whole, and the social-media elements are especially fascinating. So much so that we bet many readers found the stories through social media. This is an all-around success.


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: Jennifer Berry Hawes, The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, “Forsaken History: In Charleston’s 350th Year, Key Places and Stories in City’s Racial Past Long Neglected”
Judge’s comments: These discovery-of-forgotten-history stories not only feature rich, detailed, descriptive writing but also are the result of painstaking and sometimes painful research. The presentation, timelines, photos and maps are all superb, and the addition of newsletters is a great way to engage the community and keep the conversation going.

Second place: Deborah Sengupta Stith, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, “Monday Music Mashup”
Judge’s comments: This is a cool idea and a great way to encourage important conversations during the pandemic. The discussions, sometimes frank and brutal, are a refreshing change from what we normally expect from newspapers.

Third place: Seth Boster, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, “A Colorado Transgender Man’s Journey to Father’s Day: Lessons of Silas”
Judge’s comments: A terrific piece that provides a touching and human insight into the rarely seen world of a transgender family. After reading this, there is no doubt that Silas is anything but a man, father and husband and is so deserving of an extremely cool Father’s Day gift.

Honorable mention: Olivia Zimmerman, The (Syracuse University) 61% Project, “My Dorm Room Was a Place That Gave Me Anxiety”


BEST SPECIAL SECTION
The best your publication has to offer in printed A&E, features and lifestyle coverage.

First place: “OutThere Colorado Winter Guide,” Staff, The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette
Judge’s comments: This user-friendly – and fun to read – guide to winter recreation in Colorado meets the pandemic head-on, with tips on how to stay safe and ideas on what to do when the temperatures are dipping, the flakes are falling and the virus is threatening. The beautiful design makes it a pleasure to look at, too.

Second place: “Austin Food Guide: A Look at Where We Get Our Groceries These Days,” Addie Broyles, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman
Judge’s comments: News publications do a great job of providing guides to local restaurants, but what do we do when the eateries are shut down? The American-Statesman has a creative answer: a look at where we get our food, from local markets to farmers markets. The idea is brilliant, and we’re hoping it catches on – even after restaurants are up and running again.

Third place: “The Stay-Put Cookbook,” Kim O’Donnel, Chris Emlet and Jenelle Janci, LNP | LancasterOnline
Judge’s comments:
Readers stuck in their homes must have loved this cookbook, with recipes for simple dishes like beans and pizza dough and instructions for more fancy fare like spatchcock chicken. The gorgeous photos are mouth-watering. And we loved the pro tips, especially this one for a galette: “Let the dough know who’s boss.”


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: “InsideOut,” Karen Taylor and Andrea Daniel, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate | NOLA.com
Judge’s comments: This is a well-done section featuring tips on home decor and gardening. Love the Cool Stuff page, with its spotlight on locally found home-accent items. And the Real Estate transfers – which list recent home sales, including the price – are surely a hit with readers. In a year when we were all quarantining in our homes, this section gives ideas on how to make your spaces – both interior and exterior – brighter.

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: NJ Advance Media
Fourteen awards, including four firsts (Features Series or Project, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio, Sports Feature and Best Special Section), seven seconds (Arts & Entertainment Feature, Narrative Storytelling, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio, Arts & Entertainment Commentary Portfolio, Integrated Storytelling, Diversity in Digital Features and Best Special Section), one third (Integrated Storytelling) and two honorable mentions (Narrative Storytelling and Digital Innovation)

Second place: The Virginian-Pilot
Eleven awards, including four firsts (Arts & Entertainment Feature, Food Feature, Diversity in Digital Features and Best Niche Product), two seconds (Best Section and Food Feature), four thirds (Food Criticism, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio, Diversity in Digital Features and Headline Writing Portfolio) and one honorable mention (Food Writing Portfolio)

Third place: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Ten awards, including two firsts (Best Features Digital Presence and General Commentary Portfolio), two seconds (Sports Feature and Video Storytelling), four thirds (Arts & Entertainment Feature, Features Series or Project, Best Special Section and Best Niche Product) and two honorable mentions (Best Section and Diversity in Digital Features)

Fourth place: South Florida Sun Sentinel
Six awards, including four seconds (Short Feature, Food Feature, Food Writing Portfolio and Best Niche Product), one third (General Commentary Portfolio) and one honorable mention (Best Niche Product)


BEST SECTION
The best regularly occurring printed features sections that focus on A&E, lifestyles or other features coverage.

First place: The San Diego Union-Tribune
Judge’s comments:
The “Faces of the Arts Shutdown” series shows what it means when the local paper has your back. This ambitious project is a case study in how human-centered storytelling, intimate and vibrant portraiture, and dynamic and intentional design work together to capture the heart of a community living and leaning on one another during extraordinary times. Each of the staff members who contributed to this monthslong survey lives up to the promise of what it means to be a hometown features journalist.

Second place: The Virginian-Pilot
Judge’s comments:
The breadth and depth of the stories covered on these pages are a testament to The Pilot’s commitment to its community – its history, its culture and its identity. The features staff members push themselves and their readers with stories that examine past sins (an 18th-century church’s participation in the slave trade) and that give voice to a new generation of activists. They also delight us with the sounds and colors and tastes of their community in their arts and food coverage. These writers and editors skillfully build upon a legacy of journalism excellence we’ve come to know from this
southeast Virginia paper.

Third place: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Judge’s comments:
The Post-Dispatch capitalizes on a key feature that distinguishes it from any other media in town or nationally – the voice of its journalists. The features staff members are clear and present on its pages, and they have cultivated a dynamic conversation with readers. It’s apparent everywhere: from the inside of the entertainment tabloid, where staffers get to be their authentic selves, to the cover stories they curate, which showcase the diversity of creativity alive in their community. It’s a special bond that’s strengthened through this work.

Honorable mention: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


BEST FEATURES DIGITAL PRESENCE
The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage.

First place: Staff, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Judge’s comments:
This is a lovely presentation, with a great use of still photos and videos, and the writing is tight.


GENERAL FEATURE
Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic.

First place: Tom Hallman Jr., The (Portland) Oregonian | OregonLive, “Redemption, Love and Acceptance Come 45 Years After Two Brothers Graduate From High School”
Judge’s comments: This story of two brothers from the wrong side of the tracks who were picked on in high school manages to have both a happy and a sad ending. Packing emotional punch, the piece shows how bullying works, how humans redeem themselves and how kindness eventually might overcome meanness.

Second place: Maureen O’Donnell, Chicago Sun-Times, “‘A Faithful Caretaker of the ‘Faithful Departed’”
Judge’s comments: This entry tells why Sandra Bartusiak has become a caretaker of graves, branching out from her husband’s and her family’s resting places to those of near-strangers. It takes what could be creepy subject matter and, by showing her motivation, instead makes what she does understandable and even relatable.

Third place: Richard Marini, San Antonio Express-News, “Thanks to Social Media and Good Samaritans, Reba the Costco Hen Went From Instacart Stowaway To Facebook Celebrity”
Judge’s comments: This brite exemplifies the best of quick-hit feature writing. It’s a rollicking yarn with a happy, feel-good ending. This kind of story looks simple to execute but takes a certain skill. Bonus points for integrating video into the story.

Honorable mention: Aisha Sultan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “How Did Mary Engelbreit Get So Woke? St. Louis Artist Known for Cute Drawings Isn’t Holding Back”


ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT FEATURE
Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic.

First place: Denise Watson, The Virginian-Pilot, “Moving a Masterpiece: How Museums Move Rare, Large, Fragile Art from One Museum to the Next”
Judge’s comments: A simple thing, like moving art around the world, is brought to life in this extremely well-written, highly engaging piece. A great read for all audiences.

Second place: Bobby Olivier and Aristide Economopoulos, NJ Advance Media, “Silent Stages: After Seven Months, New Jersey’s Most Iconic Venues Are Still Closed and Fighting for Their Lives. See Inside the Devastation.”
Judge’s comments: This feature captures the mood and essence of 2020 – through the lens of music venues and their struggle to stay in business. The photos bring the words to new heights.

Third place: Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “ ‘Four Dead in Ohio’: How the Kent State Shooting Changed Music History”
Judge’s comments: This is a wonderfully crafted piece that connects the dots of top musical acts and the tragic 1970 Kent State shooting.


SHORT FEATURE
Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words.

First place: Maureen O’Donnell, Chicago Sun-Times, “Pound Cake Another Pandemic Loss, Long the Queen Dessert at Many Funeral Repasts”
Judge’s comments: With many funeral services on hold during the pandemic, a Chicago funeral home operator craved his favorite dessert. The resulting story is funny and sweet. Maureen’s descriptions of the repast food are mouth-watering, the gentle humor is much-needed, and the care that these community members show one another is touching.

Second place: Phillip Valys, South Florida Sun Sentinel, “Gator Bites and Bikinis: Jay’s Sandbar BBQ Feeds Hungry Boaters Aboard Fort Lauderdale’s Only Floating Restaurant”
Judge’s comments: What a charming story about an offbeat family that peddles food on the water from a boat. The piece seems to embody the freedom we all long for, especially during the pandemic, and features great quotes and color.

Third place: Ken Goe, The (Portland, Ore.) Oregonian | OregonLive, “Coronavirus Rules Don’t Keep Woman From Dying Wish to Stand on Oregon Beach”
Judge’s comments: A mysterious dying woman has a last wish: to see the ocean. The story is a sad, lovely, elegantly told tale of kindness and the meaning of life.

Honorable mention: Stefano Esposito, Chicago Sun-Times, “Failure to Launch”


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.

First place: Matthew Korfhage, The Virginian-Pilot, “The Cutty Sark, Maybe the Last Great Ocean View Waterfront Dive, Closes This Week After 60 Years”
Judge’s comments:
This engaging writing is full of great details – a gray horseshoe mustache,
mysteriously wet shoes – that pull readers along. Matthew wisely lets the bar’s fans and owners tell this story in their own words. It’s tightly written and well-structured, and the piece puts us inside the bar.

Second place (tie): Matthew Korfhage, The Virginian-Pilot, “How a Child of Virginia Slaves Became the Oyster King of New York and a Favorite of the Queen of England”
Judge’s comments:
This tightly told tale packs a ton of history into the story of one man’s double life, which led him to earn his fortune in one world and to live in another. The feature is fascinating and well-structured.

Second place (tie): Phillip Valys, South Florida Sun Sentinel, “In Quarantine, a Fort Lauderdale Mother and Son Find Solace and Instagram Success in Dumplings”
Judge’s comments: Ostensibly about a viral social media account, this story is actually about family in all of its complicated glory. The piece features tragic surprises and also a bit of humor.

Third place: Jeremy Repanich, Robb Report, “Waste Not, Want Not”
Judge’s comments:
The details in this story make it a winner. The writing is spare, and there’s a fascinating explanation of how the chef turns what would go to waste into, of all things, ice cream.


FOOD CRITICISM
A single story, such as a restaurant review, that offers opinions about a topic or restaurant in the food industry.

First place: Ian Froeb, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Fear, Grace and Vegan Poutine: Notes on the End of the Restaurant Beat as I Know It”
Judge’s comments: This is an elegant meditation about the strangeness at the start of the pandemic and the importance of restaurants in our lives.

Second place: Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, “In Shutting Down Restaurants, Coronavirus Stole from San Antonians Our Rituals, Our Comfort Zones”
Judge’s comments: This is criticism of the highest order and reminds us of the cultural importance of restaurants.

Third place: Matthew Korfhage, The Virginian-Pilot, “Richmond’s Adarra, Named Among the Best New Restaurants in America, Can Briefly Make You Forget the Pandemic”
Judge’s comments: This review vividly paints a vivid portrait of a restaurant and the weirdness of life during COVID.

Honorable mention: Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, “Review: The Magpie Restaurant Aims Small, Scores Big with Korean-Inspired Food on San Antonio’s East Side”


FEATURES SERIES OR PROJECT
Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts.

First place: Staff, NJ Advance Media, “24 Hours in Crisis: The Battle Against the Coronavirus Is Testing New Jersey in Every Imaginable Way”
Judge’s comments: There was a point in the pandemic when all the days began to glaze together. This is a show-stopping staff effort to create a time capsule of a single day – April 21, 2020 – as told through dozens of well-reported vignettes, which are both poignant and arresting. Drone footage, powerful portraits and an evocative digital presentation unite to deliver an immersive experience. This is how history should be documented.

Second place: Josh Dulaney, Paige Dillard and Nate Billings, The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman, “Life After Death”
Judge’s comments: Lest we forget there are people left behind after a loved one’s sudden death, this series brings their experience to the front, as told sometimes decades after the fact. This is engaging storytelling, and each chapter in the series has companion video and audio elements that elevate the project.

Third place: Steve Mellon and Nate Guidry, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Jazz in the Age of COVID-19”
Judge’s comments: This lively series captures the reality of the shutdown for jazz musicians who are missing their craft. Candid interviews mesh with have-to-hear-it-yourself videos in a project that is a virtual performance.

Honorable mention: Chuck Blount and Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, “52 Weeks of Pizza”


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.

First place: Mark Patinkin, The Providence (R.I.) Journal, “On Ventilators in NYC, Their Odds Bleak, Two Patients Saved by an R.I. Doctor and Nurse”
Judge’s comments: Mark artfully pulls off a difficult storytelling trick – juggling two narratives at once. Thanks to expert use of dialogue, description and pacing, we become invested in the characters and cheer the rare triumphs. More than a few moments induce tears.

Second place: Matthew Stanmyre, NJ Advance Media, “My Friend Jay. He Went From Class President to Drug Dealer – Then Dead at 16. My Desperate, Personal Search for Answers.”
Judge’s comments: This is a heartfelt and thoughtful exploration of race, identity and friendship. It could have been just a collection of memories, but Matthew offers up a thoroughly reported and deeply moving piece.

Third place: Lauren Caruba, San Antonio Express-News, “Night Shift on the COVID Unit”
Judge’s comments:
Lauren skillfully uses dialogue again and again to plunge us into scenes. She also captures key details, like a wife saying goodbye to her dying husband: “His wife placed one hand, then the other, on the glass. She put her head against her hands and sobbed.”

Honorable mention: Spencer Kent, NJ Advance Media, “Crossroads of a Pandemic: The Worst Pandemic in a Century Has Ravaged Newark and its Black Community. It Was a Tragedy Decades in the Making.”


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: Spencer Kent, NJ Advance Media
Judge’s comments:
This outstanding portfolio contains three gripping narratives about the early stages of the pandemic, and the stories provide an in-depth look at the unfolding tragedy. The dialogue and scene setting are strong. The first focuses on a single patient and the long struggle to keep him alive; the second tells of the mental-health effect on nurses, doctors and other health-care providers; and the third chronicles a woman trapped in Wuhan, China, and her eventual journey back to the United States.

Second place: Adam Clark, NJ Advance Media
Judge’s comments:
In-depth reporting gives insights into both the struggle of students during remote learning and the suicide epidemic among young people during the pandemic.

Third place: Denise Watson, The Virginian-Pilot
Judge’s comments:
These are fascinating slices of history tied to today’s racial justice movement. One story we found unforgettable was the search for relatives of enslaved people based on the original bill of sale.


FOOD WRITING PORTFOLIO
Three stories, columns or reviews by the same writer on any food topic.

First place: Carlos Frias, The Miami Herald
Judge’s comments:
These stories highlight the range of Miami’s food culture. Carlos demonstrates extensive reporting and a keen eye for the details that immerse readers in a story. You can smell the coffee; you can feel the mosquitos biting your skin. Each piece is a lovely read.

Second place: Phillip Valys, South Florida Sun Sentinel
Judge’s comments:
Finding something new to report during the pandemic – especially on the food scene – was sometimes difficult. These stories shine because they go beyond the obvious and reveal people you might not have known about. And, in a welcome change from so much of what we saw this past year, Phillip is even able to have some fun.

Third place: John-John Williams IV, The Baltimore Sun
Judge’s comments:
This is strong mix of news and features about the intersection of food and the city’s Black community.

Honorable mention: Matthew Korfhage, The Virginian-Pilot


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: Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Judge’s comments:
The thing we love most about these columns is that they’re built from passion but informed by reporting. And while the reporting is essential, it’s never really noticeable – in a good way. The details are sprinkled into the stories at the right moments, never sacrificing the personality or the emotion that makes these pieces so readable. And there’s purpose here, not only in relating to topical matters but also in trying to help us all better understand the world.

Second place: Mark Patinkin, The Providence (R.I.) Journal
Judge’s comments:
There’s mastery in this work. The writing is stark but powerful – it transports us to places we’ve only wondered about. The reporting that goes into these pieces isn’t easy, but it never reads as though it was an effort. There’s a wonderful flow and pace to the writing, but the hallmark is that it takes us somewhere we haven’t been and leaves us feeling as though we’ve been there. (Note to the writer: The margin between first and second place was razor-thin.)

Third place: Mark Gauert, South Florida Sun Sentinel
Judge’s comments:
In the time of COVID and social protest, there’s comfort in reading these pieces about mundane things. Mark gives us columns that are pleasant. But beyond that, he understands how to bring us into something simple and to skillfully show us the magic in these everyday moments.

Honorable mention: Aisha Sultan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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: Théoden Janes, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer
Judge’s comments:
These are smartly observed, self-aware stories with the perfect balance of context and narrative. Théoden knows his community as well as he knows the acts that come to perform for it. He also has proven willing to tangle honestly and critically with last year’s efforts at live music – both its reliefs and its foibles.

Second place: Bobby Olivier, NJ Advance Media
Judge’s comments:
This is evocative, well-informed criticism. Bobby’s knowledge and entertaining style make these pieces a joy to read.


SPORTS FEATURE
Feature treatment of any sports topic.

First place: Adam Clark, NJ Advance Media, “The Hero We Deserve: How Gritty Emerged From Darkness To Show Us The Way”
Judge’s comments: We thought Gritty, the beloved mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers ice hockey team, was a passing fad – a social media moment – but we devoured every word of this story and are now a convert. We love the cheeky tone; we love the presentation – those eyes will haunt us forever.

Second place: Jason Mackey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Why Pittsburgh Is Remembered as the ‘Mecca of Negro League Baseball’”
Judge’s comments: This story does a great job of taking the news of the day and turning it into a thoughtful feature that explains the historical importance to the community.

Third place: Joe Freeman, The (Portland, Ore.) Oregonian | OregonLive, “‘We Can’: How Mitch Canham Has Quickly Brought Oregon State Baseball ‘Family’ Closer Together”
Judge’s comments: We love how this feel-good feature unabashedly shows the emotional side of the players and coaches and how they were able to come together by being willing to be vulnerable.

Honorable mention: Théoden Janes, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, “Can He Be the Hornets’ Head Coach and the Dad He Always Wanted To Be – at the Same Time?”


VIDEO STORYTELLING
The coverage of any A&E, lifestyle or specialty topic using a single video of not more than 8 minutes in length.

First place: Brooke Herbert, The (Portland) , Ore.) | OregonLivelcom, “A Parking Lot Prom and Backyard Graduation: Tigard Senior Reimagines Milestones During a Pandemic”
Judge’s comments:
It is clear from this entry and others in this category that The Oregonian is truly embedded in its community. It’s a testament to the role of local features reporting. In this video, Brooke stuns with a touching portrait of a young woman on the precipice of her independent life. Brooke flexes her artistry in the way she marries gorgeous angles and cinematography with solid narrative architecture. She allows her subjects to shine in all their prom-dress and school-spirit glory. She reminds us that even the simplest stories – such as one revolving around a singular moment in a young person’s life – can be powerful and should be told.

Second place: Andrew Rush, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Kids Talk About 2020”
Judge’s comments: This is a smart, well-executed video. This diverse cross-section of young voices was able to translate a brutal year with the honesty and utter lack of bullshit that can come only from a kid. The journalists behind this video and the kids and their parents should be proud.

Third place: Samantha Swindler, The (Portland, Ore.) Oregonian | OregonLive.com, “Out-of-Work Strippers Are Delivering Food Through Boober Eats”
Judge’s comments: This video stands out for capturing such a bawdy topic with both sincerity and compassion – the business owner, staff and adult dancers-turned-food delivery babes deserve nothing less.

Honorable mention: Samantha Swindler, The (Portland, Ore.) Oregonian | OregonLive.com, “The Searchers: Idaho Couple Finds Drowning Victims for Families in Oregon”


INTEGRATED STORYTELLING
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: Staff, The Cincinnati Enquirer, “Holding On: How the Pandemic Hit Home”
Judge’s comments:
Bravo to The Cincinnati Enquirer for crafting such an enduring and unforgettable record of 2020. This ambitious effort to chronicle the unsettling year includes beautifully written profiles of ordinary people and a masterfully produced 50-minute documentary film. The package resonates far beyond the state of Ohio and speaks to Americans everywhere.

Second place: Staff, NJ Advance Media, “24 Hours in Crisis: The Battle Against the Coronavirus Is Testing New Jersey in Every Imaginable Way”
Judge’s comments:
Talk about ambitious! This collaboration by more than three dozen journalists chronicles a “typical” Tuesday in New Jersey in April 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. The breadth of reporting captured on this single day is both intimate and expansive, and the fact that this multifaceted special report was published just a week later is awe-inspiring.

Third place: Adam Clark, NJ Advance Media, “The Hero We Deserve: How Gritty Emerged From Darkness To Show Us The Way”
Judge’s comments: This deep-dive profile about Gritty, the enigmatic mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers ice hockey team, is masterful. Adam packs in comedy and nuance at every turn, and the end result is perfection. Every aspect of the story’s design is perfect as well, including the huge, unblinking eyes at the outset, the black background, the orange subheads and flourishes, the flawless photo and tweet choices – and the hilarious photo captions.


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: Joanne Kimberlin, The Virginian-Pilot, “Afghan Activist in Newport News Caught Between Heart and Homeland as Peace Talks Begin With Taliban”
Judge’s comments: This is a superbly constructed story about Sarina Faizy, an Afghan activist living in Virginia. We were hooked from the opening sentences: “From a house in Newport News, Sarina Faizy watches events on the other side of the globe. A foot in both worlds. A knot in her stomach.” In the piece, Joanne paints a picture of Faizy in her American home (yes, sometimes she breaks taboo and goes swimming!) and interweaves her current life with her role as a teenage, female member of Kandahar’s provincial council. The tone is upbeat but honest about the brutalities that await women such as Faizy if the Taliban regain power.

Second place: Robin Wilson-Glover and Tennyson Donyea, NJ Advance Media, “Making Black Lives Matter”
Judge’s comments: Amid historic protests calling for racial justice across the nation, these two NJ Advance Media staffers talked to 50 New Jerseyans and asked them what should be done about systemic racism in police forces. The resulting answers are hopeful and as diverse as the people giving them.

Third place: Denise Watson, The Virginian-Pilot, “‘I Guess That Was Our Little Protest’: Hampton Roads Natives and Residents Remember the 1960 Sit-Movement.”
Judge’s comments:
These are engaging first-person accounts by activists who took part in the 1960 sit-in movement across the South to protest racial injustice.

Honorable mention: Steve Mellon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “How Come No One Remembers 46 Black People Kidnapped in 1933?”


BEST SPECIAL SECTION
The best your publication has to offer in printed A&E, features and lifestyle coverage.

First place (tie): “Another Day in Crisis,” Staff, NJ Advance Media
Judge’s comments:
Our two first-place winners take different approaches, but each is equally powerful. For this section, NJ Advance Media sent out more than 35 journalists to document one historic day during a historic pandemic. The photos and stories are riveting, and the breadth of the subjects is impressive. There is strong writing throughout – how can you stop reading with a lede like this? “The dead man’s skull is visible through the open door of the crematorium furnace. And that, somehow, is not the most jarring part of this scene.” Then there’s this: “The burnt orange light sneaks over the horizon. Normally, this would be another splendid sunrise at the Jersey Shore, a Springsteen song yet to be written. But today, barely anyone has come to greet it.” With this section, the staff created a compassionate record of the painful, confusing and strange time that still hasn’t ended.

First place (tie): “My Friend Jay. He Went From Class President to Drug Dealer – Then Dead at 16. My Desperate, Personal Search for Answers,” Matthew Stanmyre and Staff, NJ Advance Media
Judge’s comments:
Matthew goes back to his childhood to tell a personal story of a best friend who died. In the most recent chapters, he still is trying to make sense of the death and checks in to see how his friend’s family is doing. It’s compelling writing that is both personal and relatable. Here is how he describes their friendship: “How do you explain why two grade school boys become best friends, other than a mysterious combination of personality, temperament and ridiculous good fortune? For Jay and me, we just clicked. We were similar, easygoing kids who liked sports; we both had mom and dad at home; and we both toed a line of being mostly well-behaved, but with enough mischievousness to keep life interesting.”

Second place: “25 Women to Watch 2020,” Staff, The Baltimore Sun
Judge’s comments:
This section is engaging, both in print and online. The women are, of course, talented and compelling. The profiles are short but packed with tons of detail, and the photography pulls readers in. It’s refreshing to see a group that is not divided by age or other criteria. The accompanying stories – about topics such as how the pandemic has affected women disproportionately, day care and turning pain into protest – provide a wider look at the world women navigate.

Third place: “Top Workplaces: Stranger Things. Much Stranger. Working in the Upside Down,” Staff, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Judge’s comments: How do you rank top workplaces when a lot of people are suddenly working from home – and all of this happens right in the middle of the survey that will be used to create this annual list? The Post-Gazette used a “Stranger Things” theme and composed stories about what was happening as the pandemic erupted. The pieces capture a strange moment in time and manage to also look forward.


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. We love the sense of place and the variety of stories, which cover topics such as dining, furniture making, river snorkeling and how to lower the temperature in conversations during these high-adrenaline times. But there’s more: hog farming, pinot noir makers, folk art and kayaking. There is much going on in Virginia, and it’s told in these pages in engaging stories, lovely photographs and beautiful design.

Second place: “Explore Florida & The Caribbean,” Mark Gauert, Anderson Greene and Cassie Armstrong, South Florida Sun Sentinel
Judge’s comments: These sections are beautiful and filled with great information. You’ll find lively writing and – did we mention? – gorgeous photography. The magazine addresses the pandemic head-on, and the result is a publication that is great for both armchair travel and thoughtful planning. Just one question: When can we go?

Third place: “The Business of Pittsburgh,” The Business Department, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Judge’s comments:
A monthly report on the business of a city is a smart way to cover a scene. The Post-Gazette’s staff finds plenty of personal stories and trend pieces about the entertainment economy and investing during a time when most businesses are shut down and no one knows what will happen next. The news often was not good, but this publication also offered stories of innovation and hope.

Honorable mention: “City & Shore Prime,” Mark Gauert and Anderson Greene, South Florida Sun Sentinel

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: Los Angeles Times
Fifteen awards, including two firsts (Best Section and Features Series or Project), six seconds (General Feature, Arts & Entertainment Feature, Food Feature, General Commentary Portfolio, Sports Feature and Best Special Section), four thirds (General Feature, Food Criticism, Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio and Best Special Section) and three honorable mentions (General Feature, Video Storytelling, Best Podcast)

Second place: Boston Globe
Eleven awards, including five firsts (General Feature, Narrative Storytelling, General Commentary Portfolio, Diversity in Digital Features and Best Special Section), three seconds (Food Criticism, Narrative Storytelling and Food Writing Portfolio), one third (Arts & Entertainment Commentary Portfolio) and two honorable mentions (Arts & Entertainment Commentary Portfolio and Integrated Storytelling)

Third place: San Francisco Chronicle
Six awards, including two firsts (Best Features Digital Presence and Integrated Storytelling) and four seconds (Best Section, Features Series or Project, Arts & Entertainment Portfolio and Digital Innovation)

Fourth place: Star Tribune News
Six awards, including three firsts (Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio, Best Niche Product and Digital Innovation) and three honorable mentions (Best Section, Short Feature and Feature Specialty Writing Portfolio)


BEST SECTION
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:
Attention-grabbing illustrations, classy color palettes, fine photography and pristine design abound in these sections. The feature department treats readers to smart writing, insightful commentary and timely glimpses into the lives of everyday Angelinos. One section highlights 42 Black-owned businesses and contains a compelling essay about being Black in LA and a well-crafted profile of a Black father and son who own a plant nursery. The stories in the Food section – including a fantastic and easy crepe recipe – are delicious. The Image section features a well-done portrait of the founders of the clothing brand Kids of Immigrants. And, this being LA, the Calendar section offers up sharp movie-related features.

Second place: San Francisco Chronicle
Judge’s comments:
These feature sections are visually stunning and full of content to help readers better navigate the city. An excellent dining guide offers advice on how to eat “ethically, safely, deliciously” during the pandemic. A compelling section called The Throughline offers perspectives on the city’s post-pandemic future – transportation, urban design and sustainability. Smart book and film reviews accompany a calendar of artistic events for readers in the Datebook section.

Third place: Houston Chronicle
Judge’s comments:
It is fitting that this newspaper, which serves perhaps the most diverse big city in the nation, does a fine job of highlighting diverse voices throughout its feature sections. There is a compelling mix of story forms: reviews, commentary, Q&As and profiles, in addition to fantastic photography. We love the Zest section, which offers portraits of Houstonians working to maintain a sense of normalcy while hunkering down during COVID-19, and the Renew section, which provides readers with tips on how to reduce stress amid the pandemic.

Honorable mention: (Minneapolis, Minn.) Star Tribune News


BEST FEATURES DIGITAL PRESENCE
The best your publication has to offer in digital A&E, features and lifestyle coverage.

First place: Michael Gray, San Francisco Chronicle
Judge’s comments:
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by media sites these days. These digital offerings are different – they’re easy to navigate, with gorgeous photography, and smart and useful content. We hope the city of San Francisco points visitors to the offerings on this website and the publication’s Instagram accounts. There’s so much information that you could plan five trips and still have more to do – and eat.

Second place: Staff, Newsday, “FeedMe”
Judge’s comments:
The only problem with these offerings – and it’s not a bad problem at all – is how hungry you’ll be after consuming both the website “FeedMe” and the accompanying Instagram account. Smart, necessary pivots caused by the pandemic make for a beautiful and useful guide filled with expert information.


GENERAL FEATURE
Feature treatment of any A&E, lifestyles or news topic.

First place: Evan Allen, Bob Hohler and Neil Swidey, Boston Globe, “The Virus’s Tale”
Judge’s comments:
When future generations try to figure out how we let the pandemic get so out of control, they need look no further than this outstanding piece that chronicles the beginnings of the COVID-19 spread in Massachusetts. The story is a tour de force in terms of both reporting and writing. It’s a tragic tale of health-care officials who were initially stymied by inaction and a lack of testing and then, despite their best intentions, were forced to play catch-up with a virus that already was raging by the time they figured out that it was here. The story covers the mess from all angles – health providers, politicians, patients and the clergy. The stellar writing is tight. We especially loved this passage that describes how Dr. Clarisse Kilayko began to see similarities in the symptoms many of her patients were experiencing: “Kilayko had been thinking of each of her patients as unconnected, stars scattered across the sky. Suddenly, she saw the constellation.” As we read the story and as the constellation became clear, we were shocked, angry, saddened, horrified – and proud that such outstanding journalism is still being done.

Second place: Maria La Ganga, Los Angeles Times, “A Family Wonders If They Should Hope a Loved One With COVID-19 Lives or Help Him Die”
Judge’s comments: While the first-place story takes the coronavirus pandemic and looks at it in a big way, this feature does the opposite. It focuses on the members of one family in the Mission Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles that is trying to make a decision that is being played out over and over across the country: Do they hope the patriarch lives or do they help him die? We get to know the health providers who are trying to comfort the man and the family that ultimately must decide his fate. The piece is filled with humor and sadness, and the beautifully paced ending made us weep.

Third place (tie): Claire McNeill, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, “Life While Black, As Told by One St. Petersburg Couple”
Judge’s comments: Much of what makes this story a winner happened long before the writer began putting words to paper: The brilliance stems from the idea to focus on one Black couple and have them detail some of the racist incidents they’ve experienced over a lifetime. We get to know Tori and Khyre Edwards, a St. Petersburg, Fla., couple, and we get to know some of the injustices they’ve faced. The structure is simple: We see Khyre at age 7, when on the playground he’s castigated and told: “This is the stuff you guys always do.” We see Tori at age 8, when she learned that her last name meant “white hair” and then realized that the name probably belonged to the white slave masters who’d owned her family. We continue to see the couple at different ages, faced with more racist acts, and it’s this cumulative effect that gives the piece its power. 

Third place (tie): Talya Zax, The Forward, “Philip Roth Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: A Writer, a Stonemason, an American Friendship”
Judge’s comments: This story is intimate – the unusual friendship between Philip Roth, the liberal Jewish author, and the caretaker of his New England house, Russ Murdock, a conservative Christian stonemason. Russ is left to dispose of Roth’s home and contents after the writer’s death. The details are chosen carefully, and each illuminates one of the story’s two main characters. We see Roth’s brown clogs still resting by the door weeks after his death; Russ doesn’t have the heart to move them. When Russ realizes that no one sees the value in the author’s shoes, he takes them home. The story also is universal – we all have experienced the death of someone close and had to watch the gradually fading away of that person’s earthly possessions.

Honorable mention: Molly Hennessy-Fisk, Los Angeles Times, “ ‘So Many Bodies … I Lost Count’: The Grim Business Moving Latino Coronavirus Victims as Death Toll Spikes”
Honorable mention:
Ben Fox Rubin, Suruchi Kapur-Gomes and James Martin, CNET, “In India, an Indestructible Toilet May Be the Key to Saving Lives”

Honorable mention: Christopher Spata, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, “What Does a Raised Fist Mean in 2020?”


ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT FEATURE
Feature treatment of an arts and entertainment topic.

First place: Krithika Varagur, 1843, “The Fight to Save A 44,000-Year-Old Painting”
Judge’s comments:
This standout piece features an awe-inspiring subject (the earliest known figurative paintings), immersive reporting (we would not have climbed that ladder) and a deep knowledge of the subject. And it’s all presented in an approachable style.

Second place: Ashley Lee, Los Angeles Times, “40 Black Playwrights on the Theater Industry’s Insidious Racism”
Judge’s comments: We can’t stop thinking about this story. The feature is a feat of reporting, although the writer’s voice is almost absent. Five – or even 10 – black playwrights talking about their experience with racism in the theater world would have made a powerful story. Forty is something else. Which leads to an inescapable conclusion: This has happened to everyone.

Third place: Jay Cridlin, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, “‘Believe in the Pencil’: At the Florida
Orchestra, the Music’s in the Margins’”

Judge’s comments: Well-sourced and fascinating, this feature reveals something that is invisible to classical music audiences but crucial to the players onstage.

Honorable mention: Verne Gay, Newsday, “Lending Her Voice: Radio’s Ana Maria Caraballo Has Become a Lifeline for LI’s Latinos During Pandemic”


SHORT FEATURE
Tight, bright writing of fewer than 1,000 words.

First place: Lane DeGregory, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, “When Vivian Was 6, She Met a Cute Boy Named Ray. 86 Years Later, This Is Their Story.”
Judge’s comments: Great storytelling is not dependent on having unlimited space, even in this online world. This writer, a well-known master of long-form journalism, shines here in the short form. Why? The structure. Lane’s choice to focus on specific years allows her to efficiently tell this story and to do so with emotion. She picks out key moments and key voices to let the reader feel the journey. Could she have made this a 3,000-word story? Of course. Would it have made it any better? No. Great job.

Second place: Thomas Floyd, The Washington Post, “A Retired Engineer’s Latest Sculpture Is a Bicycle, Back-Scratcher and Cookie Dispenser – All in One”
Judge’s comments: In this world of enterprise, data-driven stories and investigative series, we sometimes need to be reminded that readers also want to be surprised. This tale does just that. Anyone reading this story will tell someone else “you gotta read this” because it’s an unexpected tale in a sea of hard news. Thomas perfectly captures his subject and his project.

Third place: Rheana Murray, Today.com, “Changing the Narrative of Black Fatherhood”
Judge’s comments:
Why does this story linger in our soul? It’s a story about photographs and the photos themselves. And it stays with us because it’s thoughtful without going over the top.

Honorable mention: Jenna Ross, (Minneapolis, Minn.) Star Tribune News, “Shall We Dance? A Minnesota Arts Center Finds Ways To Gather People in the Pandemic — With Drive-Ins, Boat-Ins and ‘Polka Pods.’”


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.

First place: Lisa Gray, Houston Chronicle, “What’s Eating Monica Pope”
Judge’s comments: This is an incredibly detailed and compassionate profile that beautifully illustrates the complexities of life on the other side of the plate.

Second place: Daniel Miller, Los Angeles Times, “The Hottest Free Agent in L.A. is a 69-Year-Old Waitress From Now-Closed Nate ’n Al’s”
Judge’s comments: This well-sourced, tightly written profile is a perfect example of a feature story created during the pandemic that remains touching, personal and engaging without becoming a hard news piece driven by news of the coronavirus.

Third place: Jackie Varriano, The Seattle Times, “Meet the Mystery Woman Who Co-Founded Krusteaz in Seattle … and Whose Story Has Been Lost to History”
Judge’s comments: This deeply researched read shines a bright and overdue spotlight on an unsung innovator and her contributions to a historic American brand.

Honorable mention: Marc Ramirez, The Dallas Morning News, “In DFW, the Improbable Rise of Malort, the Liqueur People Love to Loathe”


FOOD CRITICISM
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, “OC’s Best Places to Eat 2020: And the Restaurant of the Year Is … Thai Avenue”
Judge’s comments: We love the straightforward, conversational tone of this piece by one of the best food writers in the business. Brad doesn’t overwrite. Reading one of his reviews is like talking to a friend. We especially love this sentence: “Thai Avenue is every family-run restaurant in 2020. Their story and struggles are interchangeable with countless others.”

Second place: Devra First, Boston Globe, “Once We Ate Together in Restaurants. That Feels Like Another Era.”
Judge’s comments: This is a heart-breaking, poignant time capsule of the restaurant world in 2020. Devra puts into words the feelings many of us have about our favorite places: “They provide joy and nourishment. They bring us together. They give us spaces to celebrate the happy occasions, and when we are lonely, they are oases, offering companionship and a little bit of care.”

Third place: Lucas Kwan Peterson, Los Angeles Times, “When It Comes to Restaurants, Whose Dish Is It Anyway?”
Judge’s comments: This is a fascinating topic explained in a compelling way.
Honorable mention: Tan Vinh and Bethany Clement, The Seattle Times, “Love Wings or Hate
Wings? Our Two Restaurant Critics Debate While Taste-Testing Some of Seattle’s Best”


FEATURES SERIES OR PROJECT
Feature treatment of any lifestyle, A&E or news topic that has multiple parts.

First place: Staff, Los Angeles Times, “The Chicano Moratorium: 50 Years Later”
Judge’s comments:
This is an exceptionally well-done and eye-opening series about the 1970 protest against the Vietnam War, and the presentation is gorgeous. The writing, especially the “Loss of Innocence” story by Daniel Hernandez, is evocative and clear.

Second place: Robert Morast, Sarah Feldberg and Alex Fong, San Francisco Chronicle, “The Throughline”
Judge’s comments: This is an incredibly ambitious project that asks: What kind of world do we want to live in? It includes an interesting assortment of topics and suggestions, as well as a great presentation in print.

Third place: Matthew Sedacca, New York Magazine, “Biography of a Building”
Judge’s comments:
This project is informative, deliciously gossipy and a delightful read. It’s a fun way to tell the history of New York – by uncovering the stories of the city’s buildings. And the photos are gorgeous.

Honorable mention: Staff, Bloomberg Businessweek, “Cruising, Covid-19 and Catastrophe”


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.

First place: Evan Allen, Bob Hohler and Neil Swidey, Boston Globe, “The Virus’s Tale”
Judge’s comments:
This story is a remarkable accomplishment for a newsroom. Reporters convinced the story’s most critical characters to cooperate, understood the context of a pandemic still unfolding and crafted a skilled narrative under time pressure. The resulting piece provides readers with an important broader view of what happened when COVID-19 arrived in Massachusetts and how officials failed to curb the spread.

Second place: Neil Swidey, Boston Globe, “‘You Don’t Understand, Captain. He Has a Gun’: The Hijacking of Flight 1320”
Judge’s comments:
Highly skilled use of detail, foreshadowing and pacing put readers into the cockpit for this re-creation of a 1970 hijacking that changed how we experience flight security. Be sure to read to the end.

Third place: Joshua Sharpe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “The Imperfect Alibi: The Forgotten Suspect, the DNA and the Church Murders That Haunted a Detective”
Judge’s comments: Much true-crime reporting is out there, but rarely does the reporter play such an important role as in this piece. This investigation into the 35-year-old killing of two Black worshippers in their church leads police to a suspect they’d long overlooked.


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: Jenna Ross, (Minneapolis, Minn.) Star Tribune News
Judge’s comments
: Wow – these stories are packed with emotion. Jenna has a wonderful way of capturing her subjects’ personalities and passions.

Second place: Margo Vansynghel, Crosscut
Judge’s comments:
These are well-written, engaging and fascinating projects, from a piece on drive-by dances to one on selfie walls. This is a skillful look at how to cover the arts outside of traditional institutions.

Third place: Brittny Mejia, Los Angeles Times
Judge’s comments:
Brittny gives us good, interesting reads with loads of humanity and empathy. The look at postal workers and grocery clerks was refreshingly different COVID coverage.

Honorable mention: Laurie Hertzel, (Minneapolis, Minn.) Star Tribune News


FOOD WRITING PORTFOLIO
Three stories, columns or reviews by the same writer on any food topic.

First place: Tan Vinh, The Seattle Times
Judge’s comments:
This is exactly what a portfolio winner should demonstrate: a broad, skilled and engaging command of the subject. The bánh mi deep dive shows an appreciation and knowledge of the subject and finds a broad vocabulary to describe it. We love the line “I bleed Team Seattle Deli.” The sardine piece shows a well-rounded food writer who’s comfortable making something unusual seem relatable. The pandemic reopening is an example of on-the-ground reporting that unearths details and personalities you could never get by simply calling around.

Second place: Kara Baskin, Boston Globe
Judge’s comments:
These stories examine the real-world engines of restaurant life in America, including a simple, family-run eatery in the mill city of Lowell, Mass., that thrives thanks to exceptional customer service; the pandemic’s toll on the mental health of vulnerable restaurant workers who often cannot access therapy or medication; and the shame and stigma that often stops guests from visiting food pantries – and the people who are trying to change that.

Third place: Len Berk, The Forward
Judge’s comments:
Len is the Anthony Bourdain of lox – a keen observer of humanity, a shrewd insider and a compassionate storyteller. This is hardly conventional food writing, but it connects, informs and entertains.


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: Jeneé Osterheldt, Boston Globe
Judge’s comments:
If there were a 2020 time capsule, we would add these three columns to help people in the future understand what was happening in our country that year. Through her columns about an America burning after George Floyd was murdered and her own mother’s words, Jeneé helps us understand how our country has barely come to terms with its racist ways. In the column about the best friends who find time to be together in the middle of a pandemic, we see hope and resilience – when death could be just a virus away. Emotional, raw and honest, Jeneé hits all the right notes.

Second place: Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times
Judge’s comments:
Through Gustavo’s columns, we learn about varied Latino perspectives. We learn about responsibility. We learn about celebrating family. These columns are insightful and wonderful reads.

Third place: Joy Sewing, Houston Chronicle
Judge’s comments
: These are touching works about humanity – the ode to The Third Ward is lovely, and the column about fostering and adopting children is revealing and honest.

Honorable mention: Stephanie Hayes, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times


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: Sophie Haigney, The New Yorker and The Nation
Judge’s comments:
Sophie’s portfolio demonstrates a command of language and ideas, and her work feels at once scholarly and accessible – and that’s not easy to pull off. Her essay on the landline as it is depicted in works of fiction is the best kind of cultural analysis; it takes the prosaic and elevates it to something spiritual.

Second place: Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle
Judge’s comments:
Lily’s love of her local theater arts community pulses through the pieces in this portfolio. Descriptive and funny, her reviews are stellar examples of writing that encourages readers to seek out the art in question. Special recognition goes to her piece about the “nicest guy in SF theater” – a vulnerable piece of work deployed to celebrate an everyday member of the community and interrogate the author’s very work. These pieces are void of ego and full of heart.

Third place: Ty Burr, Boston Globe
Judge’s comments:
Ty’s portfolio of film criticism is a joy to read, both fun and thoughtful. The final line of his “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” review is phenomenal and sticks with readers. Each piece demonstrates a deep expertise in and passion for the world of film.

Honorable mention: Jeneé Osterheldt, Boston Globe


SPORTS FEATURE
Feature treatment of any sports topic.

First place: David Gambacorta and Mike Sielski, The Philadelphia Inquirer, “The Sensei and the Lawsuit”
Judge’s comments: An unflaggingly direct and emotional read powered by a history- and detail-rich path that shows us former Phillie Gus Hoefling from childhood to cancer treatments. Cutting this story by even one line would have seemed almost impossible – it’s such superb storytelling. As a bonus, the piece illuminates and hammers home such a startling, maddening reality: that if a man so into pushing the limits of mind and body can fall victim to the insidious and continued lure of tobacco products and advertising, anyone can.

Second place: David Wharton, Los Angeles Times, “At Age 60 and Paralyzed, She Tried To Row Across The Pacific”
Judge’s comments:
How sadly appropriate, reading and judging this tragic yet beautiful story during an Olympics summer. We get a complete yet succinct look at Angela Madsen’s life story. It’s one of incredible strength, as she powers through the worst of times to gain fame and find love – all making the details of her death on this ill-fated journey even more bittersweet. The piece paints a hard-to-look-at but impossible-to-put-down portrait of a woman whose grit and goals drove her until the end..

Third place: Ileana Najarro, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times, “In Tampa, the Pigeon Men Flock to a Beloved Sport”
Judge’s comments: It’s a good day for readers when they learn something they didn’t know about another culture, and this story delivers a colorful, heartfelt education about “the pigeon men” and los palomas ladronas. As detailed so beautifully here, there are layers of history, family and cultural pride with every flight, and the nod to simpler days strikes a chord in troubled times. How could you not want to dig in after this graf: “They are the palomeros of Tampa, the pigeon men. Their birds – las palomas ladronas (the thieving pigeons) – steal the hearts of impressionable birds and capture the love of the men who raise them.”
Honorable mention: Lindsay Dodgson, Insider, “Female College Athletes From Across the US Say They’ve Been Bullied, Manipulated, and Psychologically Abused by Their Coaches”


VIDEO STORYTELLING
The coverage of any A&E, lifestyle or specialty topic using a single video of not more than 8 minutes in length.

First place: Drea Cornejo, The Washington Post, “After Years of Living in Motels, a Family Finally Got Their Own RV. Then COVID-19 Came.”
Judge’s comments: This is a well-done story that looks at an Orlando, Fla., family who lost its RV amid the coronavirus economic shutdown and was forced to live in hotels and, at times, its car. Listening to the mom will break your heart; hearing from the two kids will make you break down.

Second place: Hannah Tran, Colorado Voices: Rocky Mountain PBS, “A Dream Deferred”
Judge’s comments:
This is an emotional piece about Mija Peak, a Korean immigrant who reconnects with her youthful passion of performing a traditional Korean dance. It’s been more than 45 years since she last danced, and her performance on stage is both beautiful and heartwarming.

Third place: Izabela Cardoso, Fernando Teixeira and Meg Teckman-Fullard, Insider, “An 86-Year-Old Is One of the Last Greek Bakers Who Makes Phyllo Dough by Hand. He Turned His Kitchen into a Tourist Attraction.”
Judge’s comments: A fascinating look at one of the few people in Greece who still makes his own phyllo dough by hand. The most amazing part: The dough is rolled and pulled until it is wafer thin – in fact, you can read words on a piece of paper lying beneath it.

Honorable mention: Claire Collins, Makada Easter and Erik Himmeslbach-Weinstein, Los Angeles Times, “How Black Culture Made Roller Skating Popular”


INTEGRATED STORYTELLING
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: Robert Morast, Sarah Feldberg and Alex Fong, San Francisco Chronicle, “The Throughline”
Judge’s comments: This wildly ambitious project looks at how the coronavirus and the Black Lives Matter movement will influence San Francisco’s future – its bike paths and city layout, its artists and artists, its education, its search for racial justice. Using print and online resources, the result is a vibrant, thought-provoking and entertaining piece of stellar work that looks at what the city could be. We often say that journalists write the first draft of history; with this glorious project, The Chronicle is writing the first draft of the future.

Second place: Project Team, Center for Public Integrity, Grist and The World, “Growing Food, Sowing Trouble”
Judge’s comments: Farmers have made amazing gains in production with the use of fertilizers, but this series looks at the toll that takes on humanity and the environment. The writing is stellar, and the photography is engaging. The project is exquisitely done, with thoughtful stories, radio segments and a video. And what a video! If you think this topic sounds dry, we challenge you to watch the video and not laugh – at least once – while you’re also worrying about what we’re doing to our world. This is public service journalism of the highest order.

Third place: Joshua Barajas, Courtney Vinopal and Molly Finnegan, PBS NewsHour, “Mementos: The Things That Helped Us Survive 2020”
Judge’s comments: An antique brass menorah, Legos, empty toothpaste tubes. What do those things have in common? They – and many other interesting items – were all part of an innovative project to mark the craziness that was 2020. PBS NewsHour asked artists and writers to share a memento that encapsulated the time, and the result is an online time capsule that is inspiring, funny and touching. In videos, some folks shared their time-capsule memento, and we especially loved seeing Gloria Estefan laughingly talk about buying a Hazmat suit so she could hug her grandson on his birthday.

Honorable mention: Jeneé Osterheldt, Boston Globe, “A Beautiful Resistance”

Honorable mention: Staff, Newsday, “Pandemic Self-Care – At Home”

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: Jeneé Osterheldt, Boston Globe, “A Beautiful Resistance”
Judge’s comments:
A beautiful online presentation of this series accompanies lovely, evocative essays, videos and photography on Black culture and history in the United States. The project is well-packaged and easy to navigate. While so much of the media’s coverage has focused – and rightly so – on the longstanding historical injustices visited upon Black Americans, this project explores a little-addressed corner of what it means to be Black in America: The joy, resilience and history as told by the Black Americans living it.

Second place: Molly Solomon and Erin Baldassari, KQED, “Sold Out: Rethinking Housing in America”
Judge’s comments: These reporters take a current issue – the U.S housing crisis – and place it in the context of the history of housing, homeownership and inequality. The result is a fascinating, eye-opening look at the history of single-family zoning. We, as a country, know too little of the story of racism in public policy regarding home ownership, and this project does an excellent job of providing context in a format that is easily and widely accessible.

Third place: Michael Cavna and David Betancourt, The Washington Post, “Creative Trailblazers in a Year of Reckoning”
Judge’s comments: These essays do an excellent job of highlighting the creativity and passion behind Black creators in comics – especially during a year that saw the losses of both Rep. John Lewis and actor Chadwick Boseman. Comics and graphic novels may be growing in popularity and as legitimate storytelling media, but these essays make it clear they would not have gotten to that point without the input, dogged determination and vision of Black creative types who were trailblazers in that aspect of pop culture.

Honorable mention: Staff, The Hechinger Report, The Washington Post and NBC News, “Gifted Education’s Race Problem”


BEST SPECIAL SECTION
The best your publication has to offer in printed A&E, features and lifestyle coverage.

First place: “Dispatches from the Edge,” Globe Magazine Staff, Boston Globe
Judge’s comments:
If the date of publication wasn’t on this section, you might guess that it was produced several months into the pandemic. Nope. The staff at the Boston Globe quickly identified some of the major themes from these strange times – that would end up lasting for months – and produced a smart, well-reported special section in a week, all while dealing with the personal effects of the virus and lockdown.

Second place (tie): “Let’s Eat, Philly!” Staff, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Judge’s comments:
This was such a strong category. You expect a beautiful, mouth-watering dining guide when you look to the Los Angeles Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Both deliver that. They also both capture, chronicle and celebrate the struggles and resilience of the people and restaurants in their city’s storied food scenes. It’s incredible work by both staffs.

Second place (tie): “101 Restaurants, Dishes, People and Ideas 2020,” Bill Addison, Patricia Escárcega and Martina Ibañez-Baldor, Los Angeles Times
Judge’s comments: This was such a strong category. You expect a beautiful, mouth-watering dining guide when you look to the Los Angeles Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Both deliver that. They also both capture, chronicle and celebrate the struggles and resilience of the people and restaurants in their city’s storied food scenes. It’s incredible work by both staffs.

Third place: “Women in Sports: Game Changers,” Alice Short and Sammy Jo Hester, Los Angeles Times
Judge’s comments: What an inspiring section! We loved the breadth of the women profiled – from trailblazers to the next generation. This section features compelling writing, gorgeous photography and beautiful design. We love that the idea started with sports photo editor Sammy Jo Hester, an athlete, along with many from the Times staff who produced the section. What a way to celebrate International Women’s Day – this section is one to revisit year-round.
Honorable mention: “The Page,” Staff, Houston Chronicle


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: Star Tribune Magazine, Sue Campbell, (Minneapolis, Minn.) Star Tribune News
Judge’s comments:
Compelling themes and local stories, both serious and light-hearted, grace each issue. You get a sense of place with these magazines, which are beautifully designed and feel good to hold, thanks to plenty of heft. We enjoyed the mix of looking forward, looking back and being of the moment, all at the same time.

Second place: FeedMe, Staff, Newsday
Judge’s comments:
What a treat for Long Island food lovers – the magazine is packed with gorgeous photography and well-written and curated stories. We would keep this in our car and use it to eat our way through the area, starting with those 26 pizza places and maybe alternating with the seafood shacks – but, of course, leaving enough room for the ice cream sandwiches. The foldouts in each issue are a surprising and satisfying addition.

Third place: Inspired, Staff, The Dallas Morning News
Judge’s comments: Launching a section dedicated to feel-good stories in March 2020 is either the worst or the best timing ever – but we’re going to say that it’s both. We always hear that readers want good or uplifting stories, and this section delivers, without ignoring what else was happening during those strange times. Many of the stories, as you might expect, have a pandemic tie-in. The sections feature a nice variety of people and efforts in the community, both in stories about people helping others and in pieces about those processing a tough year.

COMBINED DIVISIONS

HEADLINE WRITING PORTFOLIO
A collection of three headlines and accompanying decks by the same writer for feature stories or columns.

First place: Felicia Murray, The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman
Judge’s comments:
These headlines speak for themselves: “Reassigned Seats: Bethany Church Raises Funds Through Former Sanctuary Chairs Transformed into Art,” “Dad Spares No Effort: Oklahoma Man Builds Backyard Bowling Alley So Son Can Practice” and “Soothing Slideshow: OKC’s Trombone Man Brings Joy with Strolling Concerts.” They’re clever while working on more than one level. All three marry with the visuals and make us want to devour the stories.

Second place: Robert Fouch, Newsday
Judge’s comments:
These headlines are a close second: “Firm Commitment: 5 Reasons Why Some LIers Have Shed Pounds During Quarantine,” “Creepy, Kooky and Cool: Long Island Halloween Houses Decorated for a Drive-by” and “In Our Time of Knead: LIers Share Their Daily Bread as Homemade Loaves Trend.” The heads on the two stories related to the pandemic are particularly strong – clever and appealing.

Third place: Nadia Hussein and Anisa Rawhani, The Virginian-Pilot
Judge’s comments:
These headlines work well both with the art and in tight spaces: “DaBaby Not So Lil’: He’s One of the Few ‘Baby’ Rappers Proving to be More than a Radar Blip,” “These Milkshakes Will Bring You to the Yard” and “A Nutty Idea: A Suffolk Farmer Has Invented a New Kind of Coffee Made from Peanuts, and We Tasted It.”


DIGITAL INNOVATION
New or improved online ventures, including websites, apps, social-media experiments or other ways to share information in the digital world.

First place: Sue Campbell, Tim Campbell and Connie Nelson, Star Tribune News, “Virtual State Fair”
Judge’s comments: So what do you do when the pandemic closes down your state fair? The Star Tribune News decided to stage their own fair online, and it’s brilliant and it’s a blast. For 11 days, the staff hosted online chats, concerts, food demos and other fun stuff. There’s even a butter-carving DIY video! And we couldn’t resist the amateur talent contest. We hope this becomes an annual event, even when the real-life fair reopens.

Second place: Nicole Fruge and Daymond Gascon, San Francisco Chronicle, “Class of 2020 – A Senior Year Like No Other”
Judge’s comments: This is a brilliant idea that any publication could do, though it would be tough to pull it off as gracefully as The Chronicle has. It’s like an online yearbook for high school seniors. The staff followed seven teens in their last year of high school and captured those tumultuous months through videos, photography and stories. It’s masterfully done.

Third place: Staff, Newsday, “The Gratitude Game”
Judge’s comments: This is wildly creative. The staff created an online Gratitude Game to be played during our locked-down Thanksgiving, although it could be used at any time of the year. It’s a fun way for family and friends to share memories and stories, and we hope this one catches on around the country. Newsday, we are grateful to you.

Honorable mention: Joshua Barajas, Anne Davenport and Vanessa Dennis, PBS NewsHour, “CANVAS”

Honorable mention: Staff, NJ Advance Media, “NJ Is Open”

Honorable mention: Anthony Del Col, Josh Adams and Walt Hickey, Insider, “News Comics”


BEST PODCAST
The coverage of any A&E, features or lifestyle topic told through a podcast.

First place: Max Kutner, Audible, “Radicalized”
Judge’s comments:
This podcast keeps us on the edge of our seats – it’s thrilling, entertaining and informative. What can we say? It really packs a punch!

Second place: Alexander Adams, Lisa Bartfi and Pamela Kirkland, LWC Studios – Lantigua Williams & Co., “70 Million: Season 3”
Judge’s comments: This is a well-researched podcast – numerous facts and complicated issues are explained – but it’s done in such a way that manages to be both informative and entertaining.

Third place: Molly Solomon and Erin Baldassari, KQED, “Sold Out: Rethinking Housing in America”
Judge’s comments: Affordable housing isn’t the most exciting topic to write or talk about, but this podcast goes beyond the expected. It’s informative while also being entertaining.

Honorable mention: Frank Shyong and Jen Yamato, Los Angeles Times, “Asian Enough”

2021 SFJ Excellence-in-Features awards now open!

Featured

An update on the contest. The pandemic has slowed our usual process. We’re in the judging process and plan to announce winners by late August or early September. Thank you for your patience!

Sharon Chapman

Earlier: The 33rd annual Society for Features Journalism Excellence-in-Features contest, which honors the craft of feature storytelling and the people who do it for a living, is taking entries for 2021!

First-place winners in each category will receive $300, so don’t miss this chance to enter.

All entries – other than those in the Best Features Digital Presence category – must have been published in print or online between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020.

The writing contest is open to journalists working for legacy and new media (including nonprofit), whether you’re a freelancer or full-time employee.

Winners will be announced in June.

The cost of each entry is $45 for all professional writing, online and video entries, and $60 in the Niche Product, Features Digital Presence and Best Section categories.

To enter, go to https://betternewspapercontest.com and search for Society for Features Journalism.

Deadline for entries: February 18, 2021 has been extended to April 5, 2021!

If you have any questions, please contact Sharon Chapman at schapman@statesman.com.

2021 Categories

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 2020 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 Sharon Chapman, Austin American-Statesman, 305 S. Congress Ave. Austin, TX 78704. Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 18, 2021.

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 Sharon Chapman, Austin American-Statesman, 305 S. Congress Ave. Austin, TX 78704. Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 18, 2021.

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 2020 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 Sharon Chapman, Austin American-Statesman, 305 S. Congress Ave. Austin, TX 78704. Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 18, 2021.

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.

Deadline extended! SFJ Excellence-in-Features contest knows you need more time

Featured

Update: The new deadline for the contest is March 7, our final extension!

———————

The 32nd annual Society for Features Journalism Excellence-in-Features contest, which honors the craft of feature storytelling and the people who do it for a living, is taking entries for 2020.

All entries – other than those in the Best Features Digital Presence category – must have been published in print or online between Jan. 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2019.

First-place winners in each category will receive $300. Winners will be announced in June and honored at SFJ’s national conference in St. Petersburg, Fla., in October.

The cost of each entry is $45 for all professional writing, online and video entries, and $60 in the Niche Product, Features Digital Presence and Best Section categories.

To enter, go to https://betternewspapercontest.com. The deadline for entries is Feb. 22, 2020.

For questions, contact the contest co-chairs:
* Jim Haag, retired features editor at The Virginian-Pilot, 757.639.2675, visitwithjim@gmail.com.
* Sharon Chapman, features editor at the Austin American-Statesman, 512.445.3647, schapman@statesman.com

CATEGORIES

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.