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Des Moines, Staunton, Asbury Park Design Studio Lead Third-Quarter Awards of Excellence

McLEAN, Va., Nov. 4 — U.S. Community Publishing today announced winners of its quarterly Awards of Excellence, which recognize the group’s best journalism for July through September 2014.

The Arizona Republic at Phoenix, Reno Gazette-Journal and Zanesville Times Recorder won top prizes for public service journalism. In the watchdog category, the Des Moines Register, Montgomery Advertiser and Lancaster Eagle-Gazette set the standard.

The highest-performing news organizations, as measured by award citations, were:

Division I
Des Moines Register (eight), The Arizona Republic at Phoenix (seven) and the Democrat and Chronicle at Rochester (five) had the most citations. Des Moines won the most categories (five).

Division II
The Post-Crescent at Appleton, the Coloradoan at Fort Collins and The Daily Times at Salisbury, with three citations each citations, led the way. Salisbury won three categories outright.

Division III
The News Leader at Staunton won eight citations, five of which were top winners in their respective categories. Seven other Division III sites earned a pair of citations each.

Design studios
The Asbury Park design studio earned four citations, the Des Moines studio three. Two of Des Moines’ went for first place.

Judges for the third quarter were:
– Paul d’Ambrosio, senior content strategist/news, Asbury Park Press
– Brady Aymond, content coach, Pensacola News Journal
– Jen Fusco, senior editor, Press & Sun-Bulletin at Binghamton
– Phillip Grey, reporter, The Leaf-Chronicle at Clarksville
– Kevin Hogan, senior editor/digital, Central New York
– Courtney Kan, designer, Phoenix design studio
– John Kelly, data/joint investigations editor, USA TODAY
– Mike Morones, staff photographer, Gannett Government Media
– Shannon Mullen, project reporter/watchdog, Asbury Park Press
– Suzanne Palma, team lead, Phoenix design studio
– Nick Penzenstadler, investigative reporter/project manager, USA TODAY
– Angy Peterson, creative director, Gannett Government Media
– Stephen Reilly, investigative reporter/data specialist, USA TODAY
– Chris Smith, senior editor, The Leaf-Chronicle at Clarksville
– Teresa Zwierchowski, planning editor, Pensacola News Journal

If you’d like to nominate a judge for future quarters, call Mackenzie Warren, who administers the awards programs.

Prize money
First Place winners receive the following prizes: For a First Place award where the newsroom is cited, the newsroom gets $250, through intra-company deposit. If an individual is named in the First Place award, that individual gets $250 through a payroll deposit. Up to four individuals may be cited and they will split the $250 prize. For winning entries that cite five or more staffers, the $250 will go to the newsroom.

Public service journalism
This category recognizes work that contributes to the community’s greater good and that is done by an individual, news staff or by the news organization as an institution.

The work could consist of journalism that address a community concern and prompts the community to address that concern. The effort could begin with journalism and then be furthered by a community leadership project in which your news organization champions a campaign or leads a conversation that identifies and weighs possible community action. Investigative and explanatory reporting may be elements of an entry, as may editorials or other opinion pieces. Print, digital and social media will often be used to help move the community forward. Efforts might include a public forum or an event, or a continuing campaign organized by or conducted under the auspices of the news organization that is based on the newsroom’s journalism. Entries should make clear the impact or results of the work.


The Arizona Republic at Phoenix (Winner)

For “Pipeline of Children,” which took readers to the scene of one of the biggest stories of 2014. It showed why immigrant children were flooding across our southern border and changing the tone of the debate about immigration issues not just in Arizona, but across the United States.

Judges said: A journalism tour de force. The Arizona Republic team demonstrates what can be done when a news organization dedicates itself to digging deep into a problem. The Republic’s reporting changed the discussion surrounding the influx of immigrant children into the United States. They found out what was happening and why. They forced those involved in the ongoing debate to recognize the human suffering and toll behind the issue rather than continuing to rely on tired, ill-informed stereotypical partisan hyperbole. The Republic took readers to the story and showed them what was happening with gripping writing, photography and videography.

To see the work: These are two video excerpts from the town hall.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (Finalist)

For the Democrat and Chronicle’s Unite Rochester’s efforts, and success, in bringing together the community to address and resolve issues of race and diversity head on.

Judges said: Unite Rochester is groundbreaking, timely and relevant community engagement that could and should be copied in other markets. In the latest installments of this two-year effort, Rochester’s journalists engaged residents and community leaders in two venues of racial discord, and brought people together to deal with concerns through fact-filled and empathetic coverage and public events. The resulting growth in understanding and the concrete impact highlighted in the two examples submitted this quarter are consistently seen in many additional examples available found on the project’s living, breathing digital presence.

To see the work:

Court Academy news story: Court Academy blogatorial: Court Academy editorial: Bhutan refugee follow-up:

The News-Press at Fort Myers (Finalist)
Janine Zeiltin, storyteller; Laura Ruane, writer; Mike Braun, writer and Melanie Payne, consumer columnist

For its ongoing efforts in reporting on and engaging readers and community leaders in action on the critical public safety issue of bicyclists being hit, hurt and sometimes killed in crashes with motor vehicles.

Judges said: The reporter-driven Share the Road initiative is an engagement home run. The News-Press seized on a critical safety issue impacting residents’ everyday lives and pressed for both conversation and action. The News-Press’ recognition here is for its ongoing, lively engagement of readers and stakeholders on the issue in its Sharing the Road Facebook page, where new stories, discussion items and quizzes and research studies. Relevant content from The News-Press and elsewhere is frequently shared and discussed in a way that not only highlights this important public safety issue, but keeps the discussion top of mind for motorists, cyclists and public officials who can make a difference.

To see the work:

Key links: Supporting articles: Supplemental: Topsy report – cycling:


Reno Gazette-Journal (Winner)

For the Reno Gazette-Journal’s tenacious pursuit of the public’s right to a public meeting that wasn’t public. A tweet set off a breaking news story from an illegal vote on terminating a school superintendent. News staff broke down the complex situation and editorials called for an investigation and for heads to roll.

Judges said: Reporters frequently encounter less-than-transparent meeting agendas and official action. But when it comes to a superintendent making $238,000 and hundreds of students’ lives, the public deserves to know rationale behind a termination. The news organization took the reins, called for an investigation and unraveled the personnel action. The district attorney agreed that laws were broken and results were swift with a settlement netting $9,000 in fines, $1,500 from the pocketbook of each board trustee. We particularly took notice of the “Fact Checker” piece that cleared the air about CPA vs. licensed CPA.

To see the work:

School board to pay for their own open meeting violations (Digital Sept. 09) Editorial: Washoe School Board should resign (Digital Sept. 24, print Sept. 25, 1A) Editorial: Fines are a warning to every public official (Digital Sept. 4, Print Sept. 4, 6A) Nevada AG: School board violated Open Meeting Law in Martinez ouster (Digital Sept. 2, Print Sept. 3, 1A) Martinez attorney says district broke open meeting law (Digital Sept. 23, Print Sept. 24, 1A) Editorial: School board must put controversy behind them (Digital Aug. 27, Print Aug. 27 8A) Editorial: School board needs to admit mistakes (Digital Aug. 2, Print Aug. 3 E1) RGJ asks AG to investigate other school board meetings (Digital Aug. 4, Print Aug. 5 3A) New video: Pedro Martinez returns to Washoe schools after ouster (Digital Aug. 1) Washoe school board takes beating over Martinez turmoil (Digital July 29-30, Print July 30, 1A) Fact Checker: Is Pedro Martinez a CPA? (Digital, July 30, updated Aug. 5, Print July 31 1A) RGJ asks for Open Meeting Law investigation to continue (Digital July 30, Print July 31 on 4A) Nevada AG investigating Washoe school board (Digital July 29, Print July 30, 1A and 4A) RGJ asks state for Open Meeting Law investigation (Digital July 24, Print July 25, 1A) Update: Possible reason for superintendent dismissal (Digital July 22, Print July 23, 1A) School Board president: Pedro Martinez on paid leave, not fired (Digital July 22, Print July 23, 1A)

Fort Collins Coloradoan(Finalist)
Kelly Lyell, reporter; Matt Stephens, reporter; Miles Blumhardt, editor; Eric Larsen, editor

For spurring informed public debate about a $254 million stadium proposed at Colorado State University. The news organization leveraged news analysis, editorials, letters and clinched feedback with a survey that yielded 6,500 responses.

Judges said: The Coloradoan has been in front of the stadium deal story for years, but as deadlines approached they again championed smart decisions. The clear cost analysis was coupled with strong editorials that offered a community-driven action plan for the university administrators. What made this entry stand out was the survey and digital presentation from engaged readers. This model can and should be replicated nationwide in communities facing tough economic development choices.

To see the work:

Coloradoan survey finds nearly 60 percent opposed: Column following AD’s firing: Fired AD reacts to claim that it wasn’t about the stadium: Decision lookahead: Stadium fundraising effort falls short: Entire text of Frank’s letter: Economist pans options: What would it cost to repair Hughes?:

Press & Sun-Bulletin at Binghamton (Finalist)
Steve Reilly, Investigative Editor

For an investigation into “passing the trash.” Bad teachers are usually forced to resign or fired for a reason, but in New York, they often cut deals with administrators to keep their records sealed in return for a quiet exit

Judges said: This report painted abuse of a public system in vivid, painful detail and should leave parents outraged. The methodical storytelling left bread crumbs for the state legislature to put an end to this shameful practice. This is a great watchdog project that could easily lead to new laws and at the least, keep teachers and administrators accountable.


Times Recorder at Zanesville (Winner)
Patrick O’Neill, staff writer

For reporting that explored the lingering environmental impacts of poorly-regulated 19th- and 20th-century coal-mining practices on the community, including sinkholes, tainted drinking water and displaced families.

Judges said: The Times Recorder’s in-depth explanatory reporting informed readers about the lasting effects of decades-old mining practices. Reporting on displaced residents shed new light on the state’s land reclamation process from the viewpoint of those most affected.

The Daily Advertiser at Lafayette, La. (Finalist)
Kristin Askelson, content director.

For community-connection efforts that led to the donation of more than $10,000 in school supplies to teachers who otherwise would have had to pay out-of-pocket for the expenses.

Judges said: The Daily Advertiser recognized a problem in the community and took immediate action, working as a community connector to arrange a system where individuals and companies could ‘adopt’ specific teachers and give them the supplies they need. The community’s teachers and school children are better off due to the newspaper’s efforts.

To see the work:

Photo gallery: Video:

Watchdog Journalism
This category recognizes investigative journalism that uncovers wrongdoing or malfeasance by individuals, businesses, charities, public officials, public agencies, institutions that serve the public, or by those who do business with the government or public. The work holds individuals, businesses, agencies and institutions accountable for their action or inaction. The work may protect the safety and welfare of individuals. Entries should make clear the impact or the results of the journalism.

A broad range of reporting techniques and resources are used to produce watchdog journalism, including database and records analysis in addition to comprehensive reporting and interviewing. Watchdog work uses both print and digital storytelling approaches and engages audience members.


The Des Moines Register (Winner)
Clark Kauffman, senior reporter

For a data-driven report about Iowa’s dysfunctional emergency medical system, which, on top of the breakdown in criminal background checks that Kauffman previously exposed, is beset with a critical shortage of trained personnel and ambulances in many parts of the state.

When Iowans dial 911 in a life-threatening medical emergency, there’s no guarantee help will arrive in time. That’s the frightening reality in many counties across the state, some of which have only a single EMT, and, incredibly, no ambulances, available around the clock. Through extensive use of data, Kauffman details an emergency medical system that seems to grow worse, and more unreliable, by the day. Things are so bad, the state no longer even bothers to keep track of which counties are dangerously undermanned. On the heels of this compelling, watchdog investigation, lawmakers are once more promising to take action. Like the Register’s readers, they know Kauffman will hold them accountable.

To see the work:

The Courier-Journal at Louisville (Finalist)
Andrew Wolfson, reporter

For Andrew Wolfson’s eye-popping exposé of a Kentucky district court judge whose prejudicial comments to defendants appearing in her courtroom for arraignment have to be heard to be believed.

Judges said: Maybe Sandy McLaughlin is bucking for Judge Judy’s job. How else to explain her bizarre conduct? After witnessing the judge’s antics at the arraignment of a man accused of stabbing his wife (the judge suggested the defendant, who was later exonerated, should have been the one who was stabbed), Wolfson obtained videotapes of dozens of other arraignments to see if McLaughlin often acted this way. What he found, and carefully laid out, was a shocking pattern of unprofessional behavior that clearly tips the scales of justice in her courtroom. Perhaps this gives voters ample reason to replace McLaughlin, who is up for re-election, with someone with a firmer grasp of the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

To see the work:

The Indianapolis Star (Finalist)
Tony Cook, reporter

For a report shedding light on the dual roles held by a little-known but highly paid consultant, who was crafting Indiana’s public health-care policy while simultaneously collecting $1 million from one of the state’s largest Medicaid vendors.

Judges said: Until Cook started asking questions, even state lawmakers weren’t aware that an architect of Indiana’s health-care exchange was on the payroll of one of the companies that stood to benefit from an overhaul of the state’s Medicaid program. Cook’s reporting put the consultant, and the elected officials who failed to detect the apparent conflict of interest, in the hot seat.

To see the work:


Montgomery Advertiser (Winner)
Kala Kachmar, state and government reporter; Mary Troyan, reporter, Gannett Washington Bureau

For the Montgomery Advertiser’s far-reaching probe into the central Alabama Veterans’ Administration facility. Kachmar and Troyan exposed wrongdoing, criminal behavior and mismanagement at all levels of the agency, leading to the recommended ouster of its director and the launching of a government probe.

Judges said: This is watchdog reporting at its finest, which used sources, leaked documents, shoe-leather pursuit and tenacity to dig deep into a malfunctioning agency. These stories exposed a VA employee taking recovering vets at the clinic to a crack house for a fix; sexual abuse of a vet by an employee; thousands of X-rays being “lost” or left unread; and a doctor who kept on falsifying records even after being caught and disciplined. This exposé led to congressional investigations, public outrage and a federal recommendation the local VA director be fired.

The Clarion-Ledger at Jackson, Miss. (Finalist)
Emily Le Coz, investigative reporter.

For an in-depth report of a woman from a prominent family who bilked the elderly in two states out of their savings.

Judges said: Le Coz tracked the woman across state lines, finding her in California even after state officials gave up. Her reporting led to the woman’s capture and return to Mississippi. Lawmakers are now considering new measures to close loopholes and protect the elderly from such scams. Emily was like a pit bull on these stories, hanging on until justice was served. This is what good journalism is all about.

To see the work:

Mississippi scam artist nabbed in California:

California residents say Palasini scammed them, too:

Palasini accused of orchestrating massive Ponzi scheme:

Nursing homes recommended Palasini, victims said:

Palasini back in Mississippi to face charges:

Palasini victims appeal to Medicaid:

Infomercial features Pat Boone endorsing Palasini:

The Times at Shreveport (Finalist)
Maya Lau, reporter

For a detailed look at how a Shreveport law that requires people to walk on sidewalks is really a law designed to give police authority to stop and question black pedestrians.

Judges said: This is a timely article in light of the Ferguson shooting and riots. Lau examined the broad authority Shreveport police have been given to essentially harass black citizens. Lau compiled a summary of court records that showed 93 percent of people stopped under the law were black. This raises serious questions about civil liberties and police abuse of power.

To see the work:


Lancaster Eagle-Gazette (Winner)
Spencer Roush, reporter

For a clear-eyed report on why a two-year-old homicide investigation was first confused to be an auto accident and then, after being classified as a homicide, the suspect was never charged.

Judges said: A combination of good storytelling and focus on details shows readers the pain from the victim’s daughter as she seeks justice two years after her mother’s killing. Roush deftly picks apart the inconsistencies in police and medical documents and recounts the runaround the daughter has gotten from prosecutors. One hopes this story pressures authorities to actively pursue the case.

To see the work:

Times Recorder at Zanesville (Finalist)
Patrick O’Neill, staff writer

For a shocking look inside the justice system and his story on how prosecutors cut a secret deal with a child molester without telling the mother of the victim.

Judges said: This is a finely crafted story about a woman who fought to bring her 7-year-old daughter’s molester to justice by searching the country for the police, who apparently couldn’t care less about this case. Once the man was extradited from a New Jersey prison, he was given a plea deal to serve two years – a deal the mother was never informed about. O’Neill’s probing got the sheriff to admit more could have been done and that “mistakes” were made.

Courier News at Bridgewater (Finalist)
Sergio Bichao, staff writer

For an eye-opening report on the failure of the Plainfield health department to inspect hundreds of food establishments, leaving schools, nursing homes, food stores and restaurant patrons at risk for deadly food-borne illnesses.

Judges said: Forget Ebola. This story is scarier. Bichao caught the health department falling down on its most basic job: inspecting food establishments. Even when its inspectors found problems at a restaurant, there was no record that a follow-up visit was ever made. The online map showed readers exactly which restaurants had been ignored over the years, and the few that had been inspected.

To see the work:

As we serve increasingly sophisticated audiences in an increasingly competitive media environment, innovation is part of everyone’s job. The point of this category is to reward journalists whose ingenuity led to better coverage and better outcomes for readers. Examples of appropriate nominations might be: clever uses of new storytelling tools, creative ways to engage audiences and other advances that create new value, particularly for subscribers; or an improvement in a process or structure that created greater capacity for doing good journalism despite constrained resources.


The Des Moines Register (Winner)
Des Moines Register Staff and Gannett Digital

For the Des Moines Register staff and Gannett Digital’s partnership that struck gold with its interactive look at an Iowa farm family. Elements included a long-form story, virtual reality technology and 360-degree video.

Judges said: What resonates more with Iowans than their farming community? The Register connected with their readers and went a mile further with a one-of-a-kind journey through life on the farm. It’s a huge step forward for journalism and hopefully a sign of things to come in storytelling across Gannett.

To see the work:

The Arizona Republic at Phoenix (Finalist)

For Republic Media’s development of an informative and interactive mobile and tablet app based on its AZ Fact Check program.

Judges said: Who says watchdog reporting needs to be long and data-driven? Our elected officials need to be held accountable for everything they say, especially when their sound bites evaporate quickly in the digital media environment but still stick with their political base. The apps are informative, easy to use, reader-friendly and the facts are shareable on multiple social platforms. It results in a high degree of public service and reader engagement.

To see the work:

Azcentral’s AZ Fact Check app can be downloaded for free in the iTunes app store. Search for it there, or go to:

The News-Press at Fort Myers (Finalist)
Chad Gillis, environmental reporter

For taking a routine weather report and giving it charm and personality.

Judges said: Who doesn’t love Florida weather? Gillis capitalized on that by making his weekly weekend weather reports more than just text people read on a page. Digitally, Gillis walks readers and viewers through what to expect during the weekend with fun commentary and photos that are drawn with a childlike charm that helps pull off the idea.

To see the work:

Chad Gillis staff page: Weather report direct links: Social media


The Daily Times at Salisbury (Winner)
Laura Benedict Sileo, web production editor

For Salisbury’s creation of an Audience Analytics Committee to spread metrics communications among editors and reporters across four offices in three states.

Judges said: Metrics training is gaining traction across all newsrooms, but the need for communicating the analytics is also vital, especially when staffers are spread out across a region. The Daily Times took a simple idea — an email group — and gave editors and reporters an outlet to share insights, suggest ideas, and be brutally honest about what works and what doesn’t work with content. This idea gives reporters the chance to take ownership of their content and provide updates on the metrics and what else could work to increase engagement. The result is more traffic on the digital platforms and more communication among the staff, leading to better content and smarter strategies.

Press & Sun-Bulletin at Binghamton(Finalist)

For taking a staff member from another department and turning her into the “cranky customer” — pointing out things that were wrong or not showing up correctly on all digital platforms.

Judges said: Appointing a “cranky customer” from another department to monitor content on digital platforms was a smart use of resources for the Central New York Media Group following the rollout of Presto. As the nominator noted: This is modeled after the Voice of the Customer used in Lean Six Sigma; the idea caught on with other Gannett newsrooms represented at the Online News Association conference.

Statesman Journal at Salem (Finalist)
David Davis, managing producer, Digital; Victor Panichkul, Passions editor; Carlee Wright, entertainment reporter

For turning a standard interview into a playful, funny and creative video that plays off the award won by the subjects.

Judges said: When a talented duo wins an award for a creative video, it’s difficult to translate the work into words. The team from The Statesman Journal reworked the interview into a stop-motion video and turned the subjects into LEGO characters. The video gave the characters personality and injected humor and creativity into the package. The video also provided a great lead-in to the award-winning video.

To see the work:


The News Leader at Staunton (Winner)
Laura Peters, reporter and Griffin Moores, photographer

For Staunton’s series on the night crew. It was witty, entertaining and even had its own Spotify playlist.

Judges said: Staunton nailed it with this description: “Innovation isn’t just for larger news sites.” They were right. A reporter and photographer stayed up with the community’s overnight community and covered this “reverse 9-to-5” shift with readers in real time. The News Leader let readers pick where they should visit during the night, and staffers used short bookend first-person videos on Facebook to bracket the evening. It was hip, appealed to a younger audience and was just a great idea. (Judges also said: Awesome playlist, by the way. #nightmoves).

To see the work:

Longform story wrap up for the live event: Spotify URI for the collaborative music list (if you open Spotify desktop app, you can paste this whole URI in your Spotify search bar): spotify:user:wmramsey:playlist:002JCpV7Ed8qaJrhwQWZUU 1st person Facebook bookend videos taken with laptop: First one: Second one: Audio postcard: #coffeeondemand:

Times Herald at Port Huron (Finalist)
Mark R. Rummel, lifestyle editor and Bill Cusac, advertising

For Port Huron recognizing a problem — both in production and readership — and actually using the limitations as an advantage and increasing interest. In changing to an off-site printer, The Times Herald had to change the way it delivered certain content. It used this to its advantage, presenting the entertainment coverage in a spade-driven format that unleashes creativity.

Judges said: Trying to overcome obstacles, especially in print, is a universal problem for the media, but The Times Herald succeeded by not only taking advantage of the odd spadea placement, but also reformatting its entertainment section into an edgy, reader-friendly format. The result is a section that can be pinned to the wall, folded into a back pocket, or a calendar item ready to be clipped.

Home News Tribune at East Brunswick (Finalist)
Greg Tufaro, staff writer

For planning and executing two key events, while keeping Picasso pillars in mind, leading to a growing the connection between the community and media.

Judges said: Tufaro provided the extensive coverage of the annual all-star charity football game, and represented the paper at the game’s banquet. He also organized coverage of the top 100 football players in the area, with a celebration after. A local football star was the guest speaker for the event, which was attended by 99 of the 100 players, along with parents and family members.

To see the work:

On, search Snapple Bowl for 20 different stories, videos and photo galleries posted as part of this year’s coverage. The following video look demonstrates the power of what Tufaro accomplished:

Beat Coverage
This award is designed to highlight the local expertise relentless journalism for which we are known. Judges will look for mastery of a coverage area that has been determined to be essential to one or more of your news organization’s target audiences. Judges will give extra weight to examples where ongoing beat coverage led the journalist to break news and beat your competitors.


The Arizona Republic at Phoenix (Winner)
Craig Harris, reporter

For a series of reports on Arizona’s financially troubled Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, in which public records requests helped Harris document illegal raises being given to employees by an already embattled agency director.

Judges said: With each step in this unfolding story, Harris dutifully pursued records of questionable behavior by top officials entrusted with taxpayer money. Relentless, expert reporting like this demonstrates the irreplaceable value of skilled and experienced journalists at America’s news organizations.

To see the work:

The Des Moines Register (Finalist)
William Petroski, senior reporter

For reporting that led to a exclusive about an oil pipeline being quietly arranged across the state of Iowa. It includes thorough response from legislative leaders, state environmental groups and affected farmers.

Judges said: Careful working of his statehouse beat helped Petroski expose a statewide environmental, agricultural and property rights issue that deserves thorough public debate.

To see the work:

Detroit Free Press (Finalist)
Paul Egan, Lansing bureau team leader

For a series of reports on difficulties within the prison system, particularly with private food contractor Aramark, which has had to dismiss 80 employees over a wide range of offenses involving inmates. When the state responded by ordering Aramark fined, Egan uncovered that a previous fine was dismissed.

Judges said: Excellent beat sourcing keeps Egan up on all the latest developments in a series of bizarre incidents. His reporting has given the public and government officials a thorough account of serious problems.


Great Falls Tribune (Winner)
Eric Dietrich, reporter; David Murray, reporter; Jenn Rowell, reporter; Rion Sanders, photographer

For coverage of the death of a sheriff’s deputy during a vehicle pursuit, an investigation into the background of the suspect and coverage of the deputy’s funeral.

Judges said: Tribune reporters kept a clear eye on community needs as they pursued angles of this story driven by reader questions. A relentless pursuit of court records and criminal history led to a deeper dig into the broader problem of suspects in serious crimes being released into the community. The coverage was rounded out by poignant coverage of the funeral and the deputy’s survivors.

To see the work:

Aug. 15:
Aug. 16
Aug. 18
Aug. 21 (real time coverage of the funeral, including a CoverItLive Twitter feed and instant video from Joe Dunn’s funeral)
Aug. 22 (Full story on funeral, with video and photo gallery)
Aug. 22
Aug. 22
Aug. 23
Aug. 24
Aug. 26
Aug. 28
Sept. 7
Sept. 10

Poughkeepsie Journal (Finalist)
John Ferro, environmental reporter

For coverage of an oil spill response drill, bacterial contamination reports and water access reports that indicate a major employer could be leaving the area.

Judges said: The results of this persistent use of public records requests and public pressure demonstrate why such information is so important to keep public. Ferro’s attention to his beat repeatedly reveals major gaps in public safety, giving the public an opportunity to demand better of their government.

To see the work:

Springfield News-Leader (Finalist)
Claudette Riley, education reporter

For coverage of a gunshot fired in a local school, followed by a reader-focused series of investigative reports into prior incidents, school policies, parent concerns and the absence of the principal during the crisis.

Judges said: Riley deftly worked her schools beat to get to the bottom of serious issues involving weapons in schools and the school system’s ability to respond. The presentation of her work was reader-focused and left no stone unturned in addressing a scary issue for parents.

To see the work:

breaking news: URL – Sunday enterprise mainbar with links to other elements: Monday enterprise mainbar with links to other elements:


Daily Press & Argus at Livingston (Winner)
Lisa Roose-Church, staff reporter; Alan Ward, multimedia editor; Gillis Benedict, staff photographer; Wayne Peal, staff reporter

For a series of reports on a road-rage homicide, the history of those involved, the court actions that followed and the deeper issues surrounding road rage and its dangers.

Judges said: Every step of the way, from initial report to photos to subsequent followups, The Press and Argus demonstrated aggressive pursuit of information from all sources. Almost every followup story has within it some blockbuster new nugget — evidence of critical digging by reporters who had a community obligation to stay on top of the story.

To see the work:

The following link contains samples of multimedia coverage of the event, photo galleries and video. The following link is multimedia of 911 audio paired with scene photos.

The Jackson Sun at Jackson, Tenn. (Finalist)
Jordan Buie, online/social media editor; Nichole Manna, reporter; Megan Smith, photographer

For coverage of the Holly Bobo disappearance and the recent discovery of her body, including reports on the upcoming court case and reaction from relatives of the accused.

Judges said: The Sun’s ongoing reports about the Bobo case led them well beyond breaking news and into much deeper coverage, particularly the perspectives of a suspect’s relative who was able to shed a new light on the people who are accused of Bobo’s murder.

To see the work:

Holly Bobo page:

Sample video:

The News Leader at Staunton (Finalist)
Calvin Trice, reporter

For a body of work that includes coverage of closing housing units, a gas line planned near residential properties and decisions involving child immigration.

Judges said: Trice’s strong personalizations of his articles are textbook applications of how to use “real people” sources to get deeper and better information. In many of these cases, the technique led to important discoveries on issues that affect many readers.

To see the work:

Behind our breaking news — Shelter to close: Exclusive — Apartments condemned: Controversial gas line changes route, exclusive: Homeowners worry about plans, personal connection: Scoop on big immigration issue locally:

Content Programming: Breaking News
This category is designed to reward smart, deliberate packaging and delivery of breaking news content. It’s important to note that “breaking news” can be spot events or big natural disasters, but it can also be news you break exclusively based on ongoing reporting. Judges will weigh three factors: 1) How the content was tailored for audiences on various platforms, as appropriate; 2) how the time of day and week influenced the editing choices and 3) how your team shaped the breaking news coverage to the specific concerns of each of your target audiences.

To see the work:
**Nov. 9, 2013, 1A, 6A, 7A Common Core **Nov. 30, 2013, 1A, 7A Struggling students connected to tutors Cut and paste video ID into browser: 2842352850001 Nov. 6, 2013, 1A, 5A Reported threats at school frustrate parents Oct. 9, 2013, 1A, 5ADressed to Live (Cornell tech/fashion students team up) October 21, 2013, 1A CU researcher’s ultra-thin glass is 2 atoms thick


Detroit Free Press (Winner)

For Detroit’s coverage of August’s historic flooding.

Detroit owned this story with its mobile and social-first coverage that got the information to commuters facing potentially dangerous drives home — letting them know road conditions and closures. Through social media the Detroit Free Press was able to get readers involved in informing the public by sending in photos as well as updates of what they were seeing. The creation of the #floodaggedon hashtag made it easy for those relying on social media to quickly find information as well as share. Their quick turnaround of an 8-page special section that gave flooded-out readers all the need-to-know information on what to do after the flood put them over the top in this category.

To see the work:

The Arizona Republic at Phoenix (Finalist)

For Republic Media’s staff coverage as they jumped into action when their coverage area was caught off guard by extensive flooding from a massive storm. The team kept readers up-to-date on road closures and conditions on all platforms, as well as covered the aftermath impact on businesses and the community.

The staff of the Arizona Republic at Phoenix did an amazing job covering the massive storm that caught the Phoenix area by surprise on the morning of Sept. 8. Their use of Storify, push alerts, social media and rolling updates on closures and conditions got the need-to-know information out to readers quickly and efficiently. Follow-up coverage on the impact as well as real-people stories helped round out the extensive coverage.

To see the work:

Storify with more info from day of record-breaking coverage: Rolling updates throughout the day: Road closures: School closures: Forecast for the rest of the day: Storm one for the record books: Governor declares statewide emergency: Flooding gallery: Reader gallery and photo wall: Columnist E.J. Montini weighs in: Historic Arizona flood photos: Top 10 Arizona tweets: Main airport flight updates: Suburban airport updates: Businesses impacted by flooding: FOLLOW-UP: Mesa storm brings flood of heartbreak for families: Storm causes millions in damages to Mesa schools: How the Mesa flood happened, and why: Recession delayed Phoenix flood-control plan:

The Courier-Journal at Louisville (Finalist)

For The Courier-Journal’s real-time coverage of a shooting at a local high school.

What a fantastic example of a newsroom jumping into action and working together to cover breaking news. Being on the scene enabled the staff to get the information quickly, securing interviews that added impact and emotion to the story. Louisville’s social media efforts in covering this event were spot on. In the nomination, they state that “Twitter is the platform for the news, Facebook is the emotional platform.” We couldn’t agree more. The C-J staff used both of these platforms perfectly in this situation.

To see the work:


The Clarion-Ledger at Jackson, Miss. (Winner)

For The Clarion-Ledger’s breaking news coverage of a high school football player taken from the field after showing signs of exhaustion, and the sudden death of the player from a rare disorder.

Judges said: It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. That was certainly this case with this entry. The initial coverage by Riley Blevins was simply a status update on a player who had seemingly fallen ill at a high school football game a couple of days prior. But the subsequent coverage of the story as it unfolded is what set this entry apart. When Walker Wilbanks passed away from a rare disorder, The Clarion-Ledger team took ownership of the story, walking that fine line between getting all of the facts out and portraying Wilbanks in a personal light. Quotes from his teammates gave readers an insight on the red-head who seemed to be loved by all. Stories on the rare disorder known as hyponatremia shed some light on what happened that fatal Friday night. The Clarion-Ledger did a wonderful job of covering every aspect of the tragic event without being smothering.

To see the work:

All stories:

St. Cloud Times (Finalist)

For the St. Cloud Times’ coverage of a first-year North Dakota State University student going missing on a Saturday night in Fargo and the subsequent discovery of his body.

Judges said: Powerful coverage of a missing person case-turned-tragedy across all platforms. From the outset, the St. Cloud Times staff took ownership of the story and it showed in their reporting. Reaching out to anyone who knew the missing student, the staff was able to provide a personal connection. Subsequent coverage of his body being discovered and the ruling that his death was a homicide was handled very well. The Times also did a wonderful job of bringing the story to social media.

To see the work:


The Greenville News (Finalist)
Amy Clarke Burns, reporter; Anna Lee, reporter; Mykal McEldowney, photographer

For coverage of a Labor Day night shooting at a law enforcement center.

Judges said: A late-night shooting on a holiday certainly didn’t stop The Greenville News team of Amy Clarke Burns, Anna Lee and Mykal McEldowney from providing up-to-the-minute coverage of a bizarre event. From the moment Burns received a tip that shots were fired at a Greenville Law Enforcement Center, the team went to work. They were able to get the news out quickly through social media and the trio kept readers informed with 16 updates in the early morning hours.

To see the work:


The News Leader at Staunton (Winner)

For The News Leader’s coverage of an F-15 fighter jet crash in its community that quickly became a national story.

You know you are doing something right when your small staff can own a national event – and cover it better than the national media. The News Leader’s use of social media and constant updating is a perfect example of how to cover breaking news — pushing important breaking news out to readers through social and mobile platforms in a timely fashion while using their print editions for more in-depth and insightful pieces.

To see the work:


Telegraph-Forum at Bucyrus (Finalist)

For the Telegraph-Forum staff’s coverage of four homicides in their community over a holiday weekend.

Four homicides over a Labor Day weekend didn’t seem to phase the small staff of the Telegraph-Forum. They jumped into action to cover the deaths with a digital-first approach. Hampered by no publication on Monday, the team kept the community constantly updated through social media and all digital platforms. The amount and quality of the work produced in such a short time frame with limited resources is simply amazing.

To see the work:

Herald Times Reporter at Manitowoc (Finalist)
Jordan Tilkens, digital desk producer; Suzanne Weiss, journalist; Sue Pischke & Matt Apgar, photojournalists; Sarah Kloepping, videographer

For The Herald Times’ multiple stories and videos to tell the story of more than 40 animals that were rescued from a home — and for rallying the community, through reporting, to help raise money for the humane society to care for the animals.

Judges said: From start to finish, readers are pulled into the story of these neglected animals. By bringing light to the immediate need of the humane society, donations to help the animals flowed in — what a great way to reach out to the community. Way to know your readership and play to what they engage with. Nice work!

To see the work:

Headline: Animals rescued from ‘disgusting’ residence. Headline: Humane Society seek donations in wake of animal rescue. Headline: Rescued animals: Many readied for adoption; some already have found new homes. Headline: In the operating room: Rescued dog gets needed surgery.

Content Programming: Planned Content
This category is designed to reward journalists for smart, deliberate packaging and delivery of planned coverage. The work rewarded in this category could range from how you present a recurring section to how, over all, you approach a passion topic or target audience is approached over a longer period. Judges will weigh three factors: 1) How the content was tailored for audiences on various platforms, as appropriate; 2) how the time of day and week influenced the editing choices and 3) how you connected the content to target audiences and passion topics. It’s important to note there will be cases where the smartest packaging and delivery for our readers did NOT have components on every single platform. Judges look for precise and purposeful choices, which you should explain in the entry.


The Des Moines Register (Winner)
Jason Clayworth, investigative reporter/video producer; Charlie Litchfield, photographer/documentarian; Amber Eaton, online project editor

For The Des Moines Register’s series of stories on the ever-disappearing school districts in rural America — and the impact on those small communities.

Judges said: Another year of school signals a new beginning — a fresh start — for students, teachers and parents alike. But as the Des Moines Register points out in this series of stories, it could also mean the beginning of the end for a lot of schools in rural America. In the last decade alone, as the Register reports, 29 schools have been shuttered in Iowa. Reporters Jason Clayworth and Charlie Litchfield do a wonderful job of telling the stories of these “Lost Schools” and the stories of more to come. Following a couple of families gives the series a more personal feel, and puts faces to the story. Branding it digitally through a Facebook page and the hashtag #LostSchools will bring awareness to the story across the country, as most people can relate to the subject. Really looking forward to following this series as it continues to develop.

To see the work:

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (Finalist)

For coverage of former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and his battle with cancer.

Judges said: Due to his popularity as a Hall of Fame quarterback with the Buffalo Bills, Jim Kelly’s bout with cancer was a well-chronicled one in the national media. But the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and specifically reporter Sal Maiorana, brought it to a personal level. The longform story and accompanying video of the exclusive interview with Kelly was very well-done and left these judges wanting more. Wonderful tribute to a wonderful athlete.

To see the work:

Longform of whole project: **iPad project can be found in the Rochester Magazine app. Directions: 1 Go to the App store and download the free Rochester Magazine app. 2 Tap the app to access the magazine storefront. 3 Find the Kelly Tough icon and tap on it to buy and download.

The Journal News at Westchester (Finalist)
Megan McCaffrey, food writer and Liz Johnson, food editor

For interactive and innovative coverage of the area’s favorite breakfast sandwich.

Judges said: You had us at bacon. In all seriousness, who would have ever guessed asking readers to submit their favorite bacon, egg and cheese sandwich locations would lead to such a widespread conversation across all platforms? Utilizing social media as the driving force, food writer Megan McCaffrey and food editor Liz Johnson took readers on a tour of the best breakfast stops in the Westchester area. The photos accompanying the final story had our stomachs growling. Wonderful use of getting the readers involved and owning a subject as simple as breakfast. One question though, does Rocky’s deliver?

To see the work: story: Readers vote on Twitter post: Crowd-sourcing post on the blog: Crowd-sourcing on Instagram: Most liked Instagram ever:


St. Cloud Times (Winner)
Kirsti Marohn, reporter and David Unze, reporter

For series of stories on soldiers wounded during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the daily battles they face.

Judges said: The front-page photo of Iraq veteran Tony Larson and his collection of “feet” for every occasion was a powerful image that simply set the tone for what was to come. The captivating storytelling, including some very powerful quotes, keeps the readers wanting for more. The St. Cloud Times team of Kirsti Marohn and David Unze bravely tackled a subject that is unfortunately forgotten by many. Their stories remind us of the ugly side of war, and the fallout that our soldiers deal with once they rotate back to America. The infographics and photos help reinforce the stories. Not only did the staff completely knock it out of the park with stunning print coverage, they dominated digitally. The Scars of Service section online and Facebook page provides heart-wrenching visual images and a sounding board for others in the same situation. The #ScarsOfService hashtag brings all of the stories together in one place. Simply put, the St. Cloud Times stepped up on a very delicate issue and owned every second of it.

To see the work:

The online content is available here: The Facebook page is at:

The Post-Crescent at Appleton (Finalist)

For Post-Crescent Media’s coverage of a local boy with incurable cancer wanting only one thing — tons of mail…and he got it.

Judges said: In a shining example of Picasso at its finest, the Post-Crescent at Appleton staff made a local boy’s simple request turn into a national phenomenon. When Julie Gilkay wrote of Beckett Roerdink’s birthday wish of getting mail, nobody could have envisioned the days to follow. Tens of thousands of birthday cards and presents later, Roerdink and his story went viral. Fantastic use of social media to get the story out, and just like that it spread like wildfire. The reporting was heartfelt, and at times emotional. The accompanying videos breathed life into the story. We had to press pause and step away from the computer when the postal workers sang “Happy Birthday” to Beckett. All in all, a wonderful job of connecting a community (and beyond) to a family in need. This story truly embodies what it means to be a journalist.

To see the work:

Landing page: Videos, photos, artist profiles, columns, stories:

Green Bay Press-Gazette (Finalist)
Pete Dougherty, Packers beat reporter and Evan Siegle, photographer/videographer

For story on Green Bay legendary quarterback Bart Starr.

Judges said: Pete Dougherty did a wonderful job of framing the story, and the first six graphs were just the beginning of what was to come as he visited with Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala. Dougherty does a great job of taking us back to Starr’s high school days in Montgomery, talking to former teammates and painting a picture of what it was like back in those days. In addition to the wonderful print package, the story appeared in longform on the Press-Gazette digital platforms and included video interviews with Starr and his teammates. It was great storytelling with great emotion.

To see the work:


The News Leader at Staunton (Winner)
Laura Peters, reporter and Griffin Moores, photographer

For Staunton’s coverage of overnight workers in their community.

Judges said: Reverse 9 to 5 – brilliant. Real-time reporting. Audience engagement. Targeting and reaching a younger audience — wow. Just wow. Once we got past the brilliance of the plan, we delved into all the pieces that made for a truly engaging and fun content – videos, social interaction, allowing the community to decide where the reporter and photographer were heading, the long-form wrap up presentation and the audience engagement made is truly an shining example of planned content executed perfectly.

To see the work:

Longform wrap up: Spotify URI (if you open Spotify desktop app, you can paste this whole URI in your Spotify search bar): spotify:user:wmramsey:playlist:002JCpV7Ed8qaJrhwQWZUU First-person Facebook bookend videos:

Oshkosh Northwestern (Finalist)
Karl Ebert, city editor; Joe Sienkiewicz, multimedia editor; Noell Dickmann, digital content provider; Sean McKeown, Wisconsin Design Team Leader, Des Moines studio

For the Oshkosh Northwestern’s very visual and compelling package to honor the 100th anniversary of World War I, done with help from the Oshkosh Public Museum.

Judges said: Can we just say we are not the typical audience for war anniversary stories, but when we opened the PDF of the July 20th front page, we were immediately drawn in. The war-era presentation accompanied by historic photos caught our eyes and we had to know more. We jumped into the content and were immediately engaged. The sidebars — especially the Letters Home From Oshkosh Soldiers was brilliant and helped to complete a beautiful and compelling package. Great job, team!

To see the work:

The Advocate at Newark (Finalist)
Emily Maddern, reporter and Jessica Phelps, photographer

For the Newark Advocate’s coverage of a young Air National Guard captain who was killed just days before his second anniversary. The Advocate staff covered the accident as well as the funeral with a touching story and beautiful photos.

Judges said: Reporter Emily Maddern accessed readers’ emotions with such a touching piece and tribute to a young National Guardsman whose life was cut short. Paired with Jessica Phelp’s beautiful photos, the entire package was emotional and compelling. It was beautifully presented not just in the digital long form but also in print.

To see the work:

Narrative Writing/Voice
This category recognizes outstanding writing from any coverage area. The category honors powerful and tightly written news and feature stories as well as columns, blogs, profiles, longer narratives and any examples of evocative writing regardless of platform.

The work will exhibit strong subject knowledge and be based upon complete and sometimes analytical reporting. Key components will typically be clarity, a sense of place, context and detail. Where appropriate, characters will be well-developed and pacing will lead readers through longer pieces. The writing may move readers emotionally, prompt them to think or drive them to act.


The News-Press at Fort Myers (Winner)
Amy Bennett Williams, storyteller

For an account of a family that ended up homeless on the streets of Fort Myers, to illuminate an article about the broader problem of housing homeless families, as opposed to individuals.

Judges said: The story was so gripping, with so many vivid details and quietly emotional tugs, that we were drawn easily from section to section, eager to see how the family made it to safety. Excellent storytelling, artfully woven with important points about Fort Myers’ homelessness issues.

To see the work:

Long form Folo Supplemental Tweets Facebook It’s tough being homeless in Southwest Florida, and even tougher if you’re a family trying to stay together. ICYMI Sunday: It’s tough being homeless in Southwest Florida, and even tougher if you’re a family trying to stay together. Thanks to the generosity of people like you, Lannie, Shanda and their three children, ages 5 to 13, are getting the help they need to go from homelessness to being on their way to getting back on their feet. They were featured in The News-Press on Sunday and had come to Fort Myers with promises of jobs and housing, which fell through and left them out on the streets. Read the latest on how they’re doing and who’s helping them in this Field Notes column by storyteller Amy Bennett Williams.

Detroit Free Press (Finalist)
Mitch Albom, columnist

For the story of a family living in poverty in Detroit, despite their longstanding connections to a successful celebrity (Stevie Wonder), as part of a series of reports illustrating the problem of poverty in Detroit.

Judges said: Albom’s use of narrative tools — detailed description, anecdote and quote — bring the reader along into the home. We can hear the family talking and we can see the inside of their home, which serves here as a jarring picture of poverty in Detroit.

The Des Moines Register (Finalist)
Kyle Munson, columnist and Andrea Melendez, visual journalist

For a series of articles documenting one couple’s struggle to have a child, told in serial form.

Judges said: An excellent idea and well-executed, applying serial narrative to a sensitive and dramatic problem that touches many lives. Great detail, great quotes and great suspense in this project.

To see the work:


The Burlington Free Press (Winner)
Brent Hallenbeck, reporter

For a feature story on a local band whose singer goes through medical gender reassignment, and along the way this artist’s singing voice shifts from female to male.

Judges said: Hallenbeck scores big here, exploring the transgender issue through the prism of a band that has to cope with the changes as one of their female singers becomes male. Staying in Tune is written in a way that qualifies foremost as simply good storytelling.

To see the work: (longform)

Great Falls Tribune (Finalist)
Kristen Inbody, reporter

For a day-in-the-life profile of a bus driver on an early-morning rural route.

Judges said: Inbody delivers a slice of a very different life, introducing the reader to a dedicated driver of a schoolbus with a 155-mile route, picking up 14 children from pre-school to high-school ages in the lonely open spaces of Montana. Written in a way that makes readers feel they’re on the bus, experiencing the gravel and jarring rutted roads, it’s an eye-opening story about the realities of living in big-sky country.

The Greenville News (Finalist)
Lyn Riddle, staff writer

For an in-depth account of a shooting spree that left several people dead. The report fills in the gaps as much as possible in the events leading up to the incident.

Judges said: Riddle grabs readers’ attention from the scene-setting lede as she tries to explain a nearly-unfathomable outburst of violence that took four lives, including the shooter’s, in what seems like suicide-by-cop. In setting up the personalities and events leading up to a 38-minute spasm of mayhem, she walks a fine line between dispassionate observer and empathetic writer, never veering into florid prose while managing to keep an edge on the proceedings that drives the reader forward.


Daily Press & Argus at Livingston (Winner)
Brian Beaupied, sports reporter

For Livingston’s in-depth report on the risks referees undertake when officiating sports events, in response to the a soccer ref who was punched to death during a game.

Judges said: Beaupied delves into a compelling topic — the increasingly dangerous job of refereeing amateur sports. Starts strong, doesn’t relent, told in a strong narrative voice that displays great knowledge of the topic, eliciting informative and emotionally tinged quotes that consistently move the story.

Media Network of Central Ohio (Finalist)
Jessie Balmert, enterprise reporter

For an extended profile of a drug addict now seeking recovery.

Judges said: Strong, matter-of-fact writing about one person’s battle with drug addiction, amplified by explanatory material culled from various sources, perfectly placed to emphasize the narrative. A very long read about a depressing subject, made fascinating by the writer’s superb construction and avoidance of any preachiness.

To see the work:

The News-Star at Monroe (Finalist)
Barbara Leader, senior writer

For the story of an abuse victim, what she endured and the impact on her family.

Judges said: Written in a way that compels you forward, even as you want to look away from the sickening abuse and find yourself cringing at the rationalizing of both the victim and the abuser’s supporters. Uncomfortable reading made possible by the writer’s skill in keeping you in place. An important and educational piece of work.

To see the work:

Short Form Writing/Voice
As we package and promote more of our content in smaller snapshots, short-form writing is critical. This award is designed to recognize a distinctive voice as expressed through short-form written text. Examples of short-form writing include text messages, push alerts, headlines, packaging in e-mail newsletters and activity on social media channels, to name several. The work submitted is not confined to any one of these. The work may be from a single journalist, or may be from more than one journalist. Judges will be looking for clarity, precision and brevity. But they will also be looking for a distinctive voice that helps set the journalist or the news organization apart from competitors and connects with target audiences.


The Des Moines Register (Winner)
Danny Lawhon, online content manager/sports

For The Des Moines Register’s coverage engaging, informing and generating conversations with fans during the Iowa Division I college football games. The live blogs and Twitter posts go beyond general description and dive into the Hawkeyes’ fan base.

Judges said: Live blogging a big event, especially major college sports, has become the norm in journalism. Lawhon takes it a step further. He: 1) engages the reader by taking a seat in front of the TV, simulating a fan’s perspective on the game; 2) drives conversation by utilizing his Hawkeye knowledge; and 3) stays on top of the coverage the rest of the Register’s team is providing. The result is in the metrics. Readers are sticking around for his analysis as well as watching the game.

To see the work: (which got a thumbs-up from readers at 11:24 a.m. here (and reaction here, 2:40 p.m. mark)

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (Finalist)
Justin Murphy, reporter

For Rochester’s unique handling of the annual Puerto Rican Festival. The event was covered by the same reporter three years in a row. This time, he wanted to try something different.

Judges said: Murphy went into this assignment ready for anything. During Rochester’s Puerto Rican Festival in 2012, he tweeted on foot. In 2013, he experimented with Vine. This year, he came up with a plan to strategically use Twitter and Vine and cover by bicycle. Murphy rode around the city for three hours — in the rain — documenting with tweets and about a dozen Vine videos. Throughout the night, he answered questions from Twitter readers and picked up about 100 new followers. In the past, the festival has gotten rowdy, and Murphy was prepared for that this year. Instead, police action and preventive community education by festival officials resulted in a night with only one formal arrest. It was a brief in the paper, making it truly a short-form story capturing a moment in time for this event.

To see the work:

The News-Press at Fort Myers (Finalist)
Chris Umpierre, staff writer

robbing a beachside joint — not for the money — for the food.

Judges said: Umpierre was given the weird news story assignment of the year –naked burglars on the prowl — and he ran with it. Umpierre and his fellow staffers tweeted “the heck out of it” as his nominator said, and shared it with as many global media organizations as possible. Many picked it up and created a fun conversation. For example … RT @davidplazas: Article has it all: naked fit burglars on beach with hamburgers, peppers left at bathhouse. @ChrisUmpierre To date, however, as The News-Press notes, none of the culprits has been caught.

To see the work:

Video: Story – supplemental: Tweets: Facebook: What makes someone decide to break into a restaurant in their underwear and steal some burgers and peppers before going commando? SW Florida Crime Stoppers is hoping you can help them find out. Want more naked hamburglars? Surveillance video has now been released. You’ve been warned. READ THE FULL STORY: Police are still looking for more information. “They were nude. Look at the pictures,” Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson said during Thursday’s monologue. “Apparently, they only took the meat. Well, they’ve already got the buns!”


The Desert Sun at Palm Springs (Winner)
Robert Hopwood, digital producer

For The Desert Sun’s “10 Picks” feature, which as they perfectly put it: hit a sweet spot for readers.

Judges said: Several things distinguished this entry. The first was newsroom engagement. Each week, Hopwood polls the newsroom for 10 staff picks on a topic ranging from favorite happy hours to music. The second was the way all platforms were incorporated into the catchy weekly feature. The third, is the clear results Hopwood sees: Each week, the feature has at least 1,000 page views, but it has become increasingly more. For example, the “10 Picks for Breakfast in the Coachella Valley” installment had more than 18,000 page views (desktop + mobile) in one week.

To see the work:

The Post-Crescent at Appleton (Finalist)

For Post-Crescent Media’s fun and lively coverage of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his girlfriend, Olivia Munn, in Packers country.

Judges said: When Rodgers and Munn appeared in downtown Appleton for the quarterback’s Ford truck commercial shoot, the Post-Crescent staff got creative. Instead of a taking a traditional coverage route, staffers mobilized to give their audience a close-up view of the couple in an unexpected setting. Through tweets, Facebook posts, a Vine video, a photo gallery and a short story, staffers had fun with the situation. Clearly, it paid off: The photo gallery is the year’s top performing gallery on, and, accounting for 1,136,896 page views and more than 71,000 viewers.

To see the work:

Fort Collins Coloradoan (Finalist)
Sarah Kyle, reporter and Jennifer Hefty, producer

For The Coloradoan’s coverage of the city’s sesquicentennial, using staff expertise and the readers’ memories to compile a package that was highly engaging and informative.

Judges said: Kyle and Hefty led a highly-creative effort to capture what makes 150 years so memorable — the city’s history and the memories of the residents. They also immersed themselves into the community to build the effort, promoting the content through events and crowdsourcing. The end result was an engaging and thoughtful package devoted to the community they serve.

To see the work;

Fort Collins’ most infamous moments: Then and Now slider gallery: Readers reminisce: Population growth map: main landing:


The News-Star at Monroe (Winner)
Andy Lefkowitz, social media editor

For Andy Lefkowitz’s crafting of creative Storify content, weaving the public’s social-media posts with his own witty commentary about the first day of school.

Judges said: Lefkowitz chose a simple topic yet delivered with the diverse points of view of teachers, students and parents. He told the story through the nervous emotions of elementary school students to the empty-nest thoughts of parents, and captured the witty posts of older students. Everybody related to the situations in the story, and he did it in a concise manner that translated from desktop to mobile platforms.

To see the work:

The Ithaca Journal (Finalist)
Bruce Estes, senior editor/regional enterprise/CNY; Dave Bohrer, senior editor/Ithaca; Keith Kraska, copy editor/CNY; Chris Feaver, news editor/CNY

For a selection of catchy and witty headlines that ranged from July 4 holiday fodder to coverage of poisonous weeds.

Judges said: Each headline was written in a way that drew the audience into the story. Drive Text Busted was a smart play on words. Wicked Weeds was a good use of alliteration. Overall, this selection of headlines did exactly what they needed to do: grab attention.

To see the work:

July 2, 1A, Estes Danger on your deck Ithaca-area fire experts tell how to safely// fire up your grill this holiday weekend July 10, 1A Bohrer Making a difficult par Historian tells story of famed golf architect Robert Trent Jones (Dave B.) July 17, 1A Kraska A matter of life and limb Cornell to remove beloved, but dying// Magnolia tree for safety of visitors July 22, 1A Kraska Do you want to eat that? Cornell scientists watching your food intake July 26, 1A Estes Degrees of difficulty High school equivalency degree tests get tougher July 31, 1A Feaver Heavenly light shines Dryden United Methodist Church restores stained-glass window Aug. 1, 1A, Estes Wicked weeds Poisonous giant hogweed spreading in Tompkins region Aug. 25, 1A, Estes Drive Text Busted Texting-while-driving tickets// increase across New York Sept. 18, 1A Kraska Looks like a million CNBC program features Danby’s Private Hotel + Pure Food, rated as the top bed and breakfast in the Ithaca area

The News Leader at Staunton (Finalist)
Mike Tripp, photojournalist

For Mike Tripp’s excellent photography collected in Instagram, utilizing snapshots from daily life and big events while adding his own “voice” in the social-media account.

Judges said: Tripp uses Instagram perfectly, providing context with the news events he covers and adding his own personal touch and personality to the page.

To see the work:

Submissions may consist of a single photo or photo gallery, or of a collection of work. Photos can illustrate all subject areas covered by the newsroom, but judges will add particular weight to coverage that ties directly to passion topics or the needs of target audiences. Photos should tell the news at a glance, convey emotion, drama and personality, and give audience members a sense of place. Photo galleries may contain music or dialogue.


The Arizona Republic at Phoenix (Winner)
Michael Chow, photographer/videographer

For a portfolio including images from the Republic’s “Pipeline of Children” series and coverage of the Sept. 8 flooding in Phoenix.

Chow was a clear winner for the range shown in this portfolio. The Sept. 8 flooding shows a quick response to breaking news, capturing the most iconic image of the day. The photo told the story, clear by its prominent use in a front-page wrap, communicating the magnitude of the day’s events and its impact on the community. Photos from the “Pipeline of Children” project demonstrate Chow’s willingness to tackle difficult situations — in his own words: “Being an American in a third-world country already makes you a target because you’re perceived to have money. Carrying cameras only reinforces that.” He didn’t shy away from the task, and his result was stunning photographs that showcase intimate moments, emotions and challenges of children streaming from Central America to the United States.

To see the work:



The Des Moines Register (Finalist)
Christopher Gannon, visual journalist

For Gannon’s work on the five-part “Harvest of Change” series.

Judges said: Gannon’s ability to gain the trust of his subjects over the course of three months shows dedication. The resulting images are intimate, compelling and simply beautiful documentary photography. The reader is drawn into the homes of three families, capturing the simplicity and sometimes struggle of rural life through natural moments in their day-to-day work in Gannon’s extensive portfolio.

To see the work:

Or peruse the full series, which includes five longform stories, at

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (Finalist)
Max Schulte, photo editor

For Schulte’s photography, photo editing and coordination of a photo staff that produced 125 photos related to the funeral of a young Rochester Police Department officer killed in the line of duty.

Judges said: The visual report for this significant news event was some of the most extensive and emotional we’ve seen, matching the obvious impact this funeral had on the community of Rochester. It is clear that Schulte’s scouting of locations allowed the photo staff to capture the range of intimate moments it did. The print design shows careful photo editing to allow the images maximum impact on the page and the online gallery took the reader into the event from beginning to end.

To see the work:


The Daily Times at Salisbury (Winner)
Jay Diem, photographer

For an extensive collection of images from the Eastern Shore’s pony-penning events.

Judges said: The sheer volume of high-quality images set Diem’s work apart. The stunning photographs show great technical skill with lighting and composition. Rich detail, candid moments and coverage over the course of an entire week took the community into the heart of the event.

To see the work:

Gallery: Monday beach walk Gallery: Southern herd roundup Gallery: The swim Gallery: The auction Gallery: The swim back

Montgomery Advertiser (Finalist)
Mickey Welsh, photographer

For a portfolio of images from the third quarter, highlighted by a portrait of Edward Moye, who lives on the streets of Montgomery. Ala.

Judges said: Welsh’s portrait of Edward Moye was one of the most memorable images we looked at. The emotion captured in Moye’s face is accentuated by the tight crop, immediately drawing the reader into his story. The portfolio also contained sports images showing Welsh’s value as a staff photographer.

To see the work:

Alabama West Virginia game galleries: St. James vs. Park Crossing: Edward Moye on the street:

Green Bay Press-Gazette (Finalist)
Evan Siegle, photographer

For a pair of striking images of the Press-Gazette’s Girls Track Athletes of the Year.

Judges said: Siegle took what could have been an ordinary assignment and made it into something memorable. Instead of shooting the track stars at the high school track, he showed great planning, shooting them in personally meaningful settings. The beauty of the photographs is in the control of light and unique compositions.


The News Leader at Staunton (Winner)
Griffin Moores, photographer

For a collection of images that took readers into intimate moments in the lives of those within their community.

Judges said: Moores captured the mood of each story well with his keen eye for details and composition.

To see the work:

Squalid living conditions (Lindsey Huffman, who works with the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center, breathes through her shirt as she goes room to room looking for residents’ pets in a recently condemned apartment building.) Homeless but safe at night (Donnell Norman steps through the front door of the Valley Mission at 9 p.m., right as curfew begins.) Escape found in park’s creek (Lis Hicks, 11, left, grimaces as she leans into cold running water emptying into a creek at Gypsy Hill Park while her sisters Suli Hicks, 8, center, and Soyla Hicks, 8, play beside her.)

Media Network of Central Ohio (Finalist)
Jessica Phelps, photographer

For Phelps’ work capturing the life of a drug addict.

Judges said: The collection of images was impressive for Phelps’ commitment to gain the trust of her subjects. She was able to capture a broad range of emotions and scenes to tell a more complete story of addict Michele Dobos.

To see the work:

Home News Tribune at East Brunswick (Finalist)
Mark Sullivan, staff photographer

For a collection of work demonstrating Sullivan’s great range, resulting in many memorable photographs.

Judges said: Sullivan’s work ranged the full spectrum, from a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony to the New Jersey Festival of Ballooning to Rutgers football games. Sullivan captured numerous high-quality images of events important to the local community.

To see the work:

Video Journalism
Where video was previously combined with photojournalism, it now stands in its own category. Judges will be looking for great storytelling, which could range from breaking news to features to mini-documentaries. They will also weigh technical aspects of the video, including sound, lighting and editing choices. This category is not just the province of video specialists with high-end gear; judges understand that reporters who produce videos on their iPhones can create compelling video storytelling too.


Detroit Free Press (Winner)
Ryan Garza, photographer

For a five-part series profiling the unique residents of Michigan’s Upper Penninsula.

Judges said: This series is a well-crafted piece of videojounalism. The videos are paced well with an impressive variety of action, interviews and angles, combining video and stills. The audio always adds to the story, never distracts. Reporter John Carlisle has a charming on-air presence, bringing humor and authority to the start of each piece, followed by colorful conversation and reporting. With a variety of subjects and stories, these videos showcase the charm and oddities of the communities of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

To see the work:

The Arizona Republic at Phoenix (Finalist)
Steve Benson, cartoonist; Michael Chow, photographer/videographer; David Wallace, photographer/videographer

For “Faces of Arizona,” which combines a unique set of skills at the Arizona Republic to create a community outreach project that is brilliant in its simplicity and inspiring in its execution.

Judges said: Each video in this series shows editorial cartoonist Steve Benson drawing a caricature of a member of the Arizona community. Photographers Michael Chow and David Wallace use time-lapse video and audio interviews with the subjects to create a feel-good collection of videos showcasing community members’ voices, stories and genuine feelings of appreciation. It’s heartwarming at the end of each piece to see the subject happy with their caricature, and one assumes, happy with their time with the Arizona Republic staff.

To see the work:

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (Finalist)
Annette Lein, photographer

“Blue: Saying Goodbye to Officer Pierson” documents the funeral of a Rochester police officer.

Judges said: Annette Lein used a elegant combination of emotion, tight editing, a variety of shots, pre-planning and music. She collected “end of watch” audio and the moon rising over the Rochester library the night before the officer’s funeral. Despite being positioned high up and away from the funeral procession, she was able to use audio from the spouse and a combination of videos and stills to tell an emotional but restrained story.

To see the work:


Asheville Citizen-Times (Winner)
Katie Bailey, photographer/videographer

For “Archery on horseback with the Horse Warriors of Shaman Hill,” which showcases the philosophies and archery on horseback classes offered by the subjects of this piece.

Judges said: This is a classic daily video piece, showcasing interviews with colorful subjects, environmental audio and action shots of the horses trotting and the arrows flying. It’s tightly edited, follows a good story arc and is technically sound. A great pace throughout, from the horn and drums blaring to start the piece, to the shots of Claire Fraden teaching the class how to shoot, to the class yelling in unison when they release their arrows.

To see the work:

Fort Collins Coloradoan (Finalist)
Erin Hooley, photographer

For “Organic Alternatives’ busy retail marijuana operation,” which profiles the timely, booming business in Fort Collins.

Judges said: Erin Hooley interviews owner Steve Ackerman to reveal the ins and outs of this big new business. With video of the plants being harvested, trimmed for packaging and sold to local customers, this video gives a detailed look at a busy company. It’s a timely piece that only the local community could produce so well. Lighting, audio, steady video and a nice addition of still imagery makes for a well-produced video story.

To see the work:

The Post-Crescent at Appleton (Finalist)
Dan Powers, photojournalist

For “Great Greenville Catfish Races exciting for all ages,” a quick piece on a family-friendly community event.

Judges said: This is a nicely shot, quick-hit story. Dan Powers worked with the scene, not in spite of it. What could have been a pretty static video of kids sitting in chairs looking at long water tanks is actually energetic, vibrant and visually dynamic.

To see the work:



The News Leader at Staunton (Winner)
Griffin Moores, photojournalist; Mike Tripp, photojournalist; Patricia Borns, reporter

For a portfolio of work from the team at The News Leader at Staunton.

Judges said: This team produced a video miracle — a compelling video from a public hearing about a pipeline. The Condemned piece was also very well done — a great mix of video and stills. Our skin crawled at some points! Each of the four pieces was produced well, composed nicely and had minimal audio problems. The condemned story, in particular, elicited a powerful, visceral reaction from us, which we consider Mission: Accomplished for any videojournalist.

To see the work:

Fresh Air summer: Condemned apts. news video: Pipeline spurs citizen action: Postcard profile: Ubon Herlong

Herald Times Reporter at Manitowoc (Finalist)
Sarah Kloepping, videographer

For “Life inside Holy Family Convent,” a three-part video package taking viewers behind the walls of a convent in Manitowoc, Wis.

Judges said: This is an extensive look at daily life for the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. It’s well-produced, shot well and highlights the history and lifestyle of a unique part of the Manitowoc community. Such a great variety of interviews, video of the grounds and community, and stills.

To see the work:

No second finalist was selected.

This category recognizes print or digital design or presentation. A premium will be placed on conveying information and subject understanding through design. An entry should be bold and eye-catching as well as clear and easy to navigate. The tone of the design should be appropriate for the subject and the context of the work being showcased.


The Des Moines Register and Des Moines Design Studio (Winner)

For the Des Moines Register’s five-part series “Harvest of Change,” which took an in-depth look into the lives of four Iowa farm families at the center of demographic, technological, economic and environmental change. The entry included multi-page print packages and a deep-dive digital experience.

Judges said: This entry particularly stood out for the powerful use of photography to engage the reader. The print and digital elements showed an ability to sustain an engaging and uniform package over multiple days. There was a smart use of graphics and breakouts to provide additional information and layers to refer to accompanying coverage, and very well organized and dynamic inside pages.

To see the work:

The Arizona Republic at Phoenix and Phoenix Design Studio (Finalist)
Suzy Palma, team leader, Phoenix Design Studio

For the Arizona Republic’s wrap cover following historic flooding Sept. 8 in Phoenix. The large display of the photo showing commuters’ cars submerged on the freeway across the wrap brought the reader into the disruption of an entire metro area.

Judges said: An impressive cover, it demonstrates a quick reaction by editors and designer to a major breaking news event in order to showcase the stunning photography work and communicate just how historic the day was. Key breakout numbers drove home the magnitude of the storm and it’s aftermath.

To see the work:

Asbury Park Press and Asbury Park Design Studio (Finalist)
Jennifer Meyer, designer

For a conceptual illustration on the Asbury Park Press’s Table section, on a story highlighting local restaurants serving crab.

The “Grab a crab” cover stood out for its clever concept. The integration of the story components into the illustration is seamless. The cover demands attention. Subtle details like the treatment of refer and breakout demonstrate an attention to detail while the overall presentation shows an great range of skill.

To see the work:


The Daily Times at Salisbury and Asbury Park Design Studio (Winner)
Hannah Burkett, designer, Asbury Park Design Studio; Shawn Yonker, college sports reporter, Salisbury

For the Daily Times Sports annual college football preview cover, done in conjunction with the Asbury Park Design Studio.

Judges said: The cover uses a smart balance of typography and illustrative techniques to enhance and integrate the content. All of the details from the image toning to give the feel of a different era to the use and headline placement make for a simple, but engaging page that really jumps out at you.

Poughkeepsie Journal and Asbury Park Design Studio (Finalist)
Hannah Burkett, J.J. Alcantara, Thomas Piatchek, Asbury Park Design Studio; Dan Pietrafesa, Players section coordinator, Poughkeepsie Journal.

For a collection of recreational Sports pages for the Poughkeepsie Journal’s Players section, done in conjunction with the Asbury Park Design Studio.

Judges said: Each cover, whether using photography or illustrative concepts, makes great use of the content provided and works together seamlessly. Take, for example, Tommy Piatchek’s cover “Classic countdown.” The designer made great use of the photography and turned the page on its side to give it the size and space it deserved. The simple illustrative approach to the typography was an intelligent and clever way to tell the story perfectly.

The Burlington Free Press and Asbury Park Design Studio (Finalist)

For a collection of Burlington Free Press news pages and covers, done in conjunction with the Asbury Park Design Studio, that used a variety of techniques to tell the most important story of the day.

Judges said: The collection had a great variety of photography and conceptual visuals that serves the reader well in a way that integrates everything from the photos to headlines perfectly.

To see the work: Long form for 9/7


The Daily Advertiser at Lafayette, La. and Des Moines Design Studio (Winner)
Sean McKeown, designer

For a collection of University of Louisiana poster pages, done by the Advertiser at Lafayette, La., in conjunction with the Des Moines Design Studio.

Judges said: McKeown-Young maintained a concept over the course of multiple UL football games, while still providing the readers with a fresh visual experience each day. Some pages were turned on their side to better accommodate the photos, while the little illustrative touches of the fleur-de-lis gave a real Louisiana feel.

Oshkosh Northwestern and Des Moines Design Studio (Finalist)
David Lafata, designer, Des Moines Design Studio and staff, Oshkosh Northwestern

For a series of covers for the EAA AirVenture convention in Oshkosh, done in partnership between the Oshkosh Northwestern and the Des Moines Design Studio.

The series of dynamic, engaging covers showed a variety of techniques to accommodate the range of photos available and smart headline typography and placement. For example, the “Skytypers” and “Full Speed Ahead” covers share common typography treatments and refers, but gave readers a fresh approach each day.

The News Leader at Staunton and Nashville Design Stuidio (Finalist)
Merry Eccles and Lindsey Turner, designers

For a collection of Sunday news pages and covers — resulting in the collaboration of Staunton and the Nashville Design Studio — that made great use of photography to tell the week’s most important stories.

Judges said: The covers stood out for their attention to photography. The “In Too Deep” cover in particular gave the photo maximum play by integrating the headline and flag into it.