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Detroit, Fort Collins, Staunton Lead First-Quarter Awards of Excellence

McLEAN, Va., May 8 — U.S. Community Publishing today announced winners of its quarterly Awards of Excellence, which recognize the group’s best journalism for January through March 2014.

The Arizona Republic at Phoenix, The Desert Sun at Palm Springs and the Iowa City Press-Citizen won top prizes for public service journalism. In the watchdog category, The Indianapolis Star, the Lansing State Journal and The Reporter at Fond du Lac set the standard.

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

Division I
Detroit (eight) and Fort Myers (five). Fort Myers had the most winners (three).

Division II
Fort Collins with five citations, led the way. Jackson, Miss., had four. Jackson and Palm Springs each had a pair of first-place winners.

Division III
Staunton earned four citations, while Iowa City, Lafayette, La., and Mansfield had three each. Lafayette, La., with two, was the only site to earn more than one first-place award.

Design studios
Asbury Park earned four citations; Des Moines earned three.

Judges for the first quarter were:

-David Crisostomo, executive editor, Guam
-Duane George, community editor, Guam
-Bob Stover, executive editor, Brevard
-Matt Reed, public interest editor, Brevard
-Alison Bath, content development director, Shreveport
-Randy Benson, local news editor, Alexandria
-Mike Kilian, executive editor, Salisbury
-Ted Shockley, Virginia editor, Salisbury
-Spencer Holladay, design team leader, Louisville
-Tracy Oksendahl, design team leader, Louisville
-Michelle Washington, assistant editor, USA TODAY
-Chris Mitchell, executive editor, Cherry Hill
-M.J. Fine, community conversation editor, Cherry Hill

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 intracompany 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 (Winner)

For the work by The Arizona Republic staff that led to the Arizona governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1062, which would have allowed businesses to legally refuse service to anyone on “religious freedom” grounds, effectively allowing them to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Judges said: “The Republic’s work averted a measure that would have allowed open discrimination against same-sex couples. Expert analysis, in-depth coverage, investigative reporting and strong editorials resulted in the Arizona governor’s veto of the controversial legislation that drew intense criticism from residents, activists, lawmakers and business interests both in Arizona and nationally.”

To see the work:

Detroit Free Press (Finalist)

For one of the most difficult and confusing issues facing Americans this year — the Affordable Care Act — was made easier for Detroit Free Press readers, thanks to Robin Erb’s comprehensive efforts. The Health Care Reform 2014 Decision Guide offered explanations, advice, tips, expert knowledge and answered readers’ questions.

Judges said: “Federal health-care reform was a contentious and complicated issue that had many Americans confused about what it would mean to them. The work by Robin Erb and the Detroit Free Press made a complex issue easier to understand so readers could make the best decisions regarding their health insurance, especially the extreme effort that went into answering submitted questions.”

To see the work:

The Courier-Journal at Louisville (Finalist)

For the work by The Courier-Journal staff that helped its community process the wave of mob violence in a single day, perpetrated by a roving band of middle-schoolers who terrorized and infuriated residents.

Judges said: “The Courier-Journal’s coverage helped its community through crisis by ensuring the public had the information it needed to review what happened and consider changes for the future.”

To see the work:


The Desert Sun at Palm Springs (Winner)

For the work by Brett Kelman, Drew Schmenner, Crystal Chatham and Robert Hopwood on a three-day “Marines in Distress” series that explored why since 2007 more Marines from the Twentynine Palms Marine Nase have died back home in non-hostile deaths than in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined.

Judges said: “This is an excellent public service project about dozens of Marines surviving war duty, only to come home and die from auto accidents and suicides. Great writing and FOIA work — poring through obituaries, death certificates and grave records — make this series a standout. The work revealed trends the base didn’t know, with alcohol abuse as a common symptom and post-traumatic stress syndrome a common theme in the deaths.”

To see the work:

Fort Collins Coloradoan (Finalist)

For the work by Pat Ferrier, Kevin Duggan and Eric Larsen on an affordable housing series that explored how Fort Collins was at risk of becoming another high-priced Colorado town and how median income-earners in the community are in danger of not being able to afford a home.

Judges said: “The Coloradoan’s coverage outlined the problem and evaluated the reasons to help readers understand the issue. It drove the community conversation and engagement, including a community meeting that featured experts and real people displaced in Fort Collins in an effort to find potential solutions. The coverage resulted in one anonymous donor helping a single mom struggling to make ends meet, who was featured in the coverage. The donor covered one month’s rent for the single mom and her 7-year-old son.”

To see the work:

The Shreveport Times (Finalist)

For the work by Devin White, Adam Duvernay and Mary Nash Wood on a four-part series that explored the impact hunger was having on residents, nonprofit groups and the community.

Judges said: “With one in six Caddo Parish citizens left without enough food to eat, The Times set out to show the impact of hunger on the community and to find solutions to address the problem. The Times also committed to doing its part to help, partnering with organizations to help those in need. The newspaper staff isn’t only reporting on hunger issues, staff members also have become active participants in helping those in need through volunteer work and donation collections.

To see the work:


Iowa City Press-Citizen (Winner)

For Josh O’Leary’s work about crime in the community. A year’s worth of reported crimes was compiled and analyzed, highlighting the sexual assault problem in Iowa City and the University of Iowa, and resulting in a digital database allowing readers to search crime by their neighborhood.

Judges said: Josh O’Leary used public data to better inform the community about crime, notably the low percentages of arrests after sexual assault reports. The database of reported crimes is easy to navigate so readers can take closer look at the crime problems where they live.

To see the work: Crime database:

Battle Creek Enquirer (Finalist)

For the work by Justin Hinkley, Jennifer Bowman, Olivia Lewis on how nonprofits raise and spend their money, and the lack of results the community is seeing despite $353 million in charity spending.

Judges said: “The Enquirer’s look into why the poverty rate in the community remains so high, even with hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable spending, was compelling, telling the breadth of the problem in the voices of individuals. The analysis of how nonprofits made and spent money helps readers decide how to best distribute their charitable contributions.”

To see the work:

The Leaf-Chronicle (Finalist)

For Philip Grey’s report and Chris Smith’s editorial on medical marijuana, specifically how low-THC cannabis oil can provide treatment to children with severe seizures.

Judges said: “Philip Grey showed readers an aspect of medical marijuana beyond the common perceptions, highlighted by the struggle of little girl and her family. His work, and an editorial on the issue by Chris Smith, helped lead to state lawmakers passing legislation to legalize low-THC cannabis oil.”

To see the work:

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 Indianapolis Star (Winner)
Ryan Sabalow, reporter, Robert Scheer, photographer and Steve Berta, editor

For a fascinating series about a deer breeding operation that has become a big taxpayer expense and threatens to endanger parts of our food supply.

Judges said: Four things stood out about this remarkable package:
Its subject matter, deer who looked like they are deformed, but which are actually much sought-after as game, and who are a significant public menace.The depth of the document research and reporting that gathered many perspectives. Excellent use of graphics, photos and videos to tell the story, such as the scatter graphic showing how problems are spreading.

To see the work:

This was a four-part series. The first two parts were published in March, 2014. The last two parts were published in April, 2014. ONLINE VERSION:
* The lazer-focus on the cost these deer breeders have on tax dollars and the potential that exists for endangering the food supply.
It is one of the most surprising and fascinating packages we’ve seen in a long time, and it is on a subject we never would have anticipated.

To see the work:

The Journal News at Westchester (Finalist)
Jorge FitzGibbon, Jon Bandler, Rich Liebson and Steve Liberman, reporters

For Westchester’s series illustrated how disability costs have become such a major portion of local government expenses that it is reducing the ability to provide quality fire and police service.

Judges said: This fiscal watchdog project identified a problem that can be corrected and, if authorities respond, it can result in improved public safety. The reporters used public data and documents to show how remarkably widespread the disability payments were and how that use was reducing the ability of municipalities to pay for people who could be on the street providing public safety. Remarkably, they also found numerous examples of individuals who reflect the brazen and sometimes comical use of the disability system. Favorite lesson learned: Don’t sneeze when you’re on the john.

To see the work:

Interactive database: Day 1 Mainbar: Sides: Day 2: Editorial:

The Des Moines Register (Finalist)
Jason Clayworth, reporter

For work on state officials dumping state employees from the opposing party and arrange separation payments in violation of state policy to keep them quiet. All hell breaks loose when the Register breaks the story and starts searching for who did what, why and who knew.

Judges said: Revealing what state officials had done in this case was a great starter story. Continuing the search and reporting on the participants’ motivations, getting the governor unaware on video at the airport and finding the attorney general office’s involvement was aggressive, smart and timely watchdog work at its best. Running the mugs of all those who signed the settlements appropriately pointed a finger at the culprits.


Lansing State Journal (Winner)

For an immediate investigation into Lansing’s public electric utility following a holiday ice storm that knocked out power for days to thousands of homes and businesses. Even while darkness lingered and residents demanded answers, the State Journal exposed mismanagement of the response. It documented a general manager who went on vacation during the blackout, poor emergency planning and no system for contacting residents or tracking their reports of outages. The reporting pressured the utility to act faster, triggered an outside performance review and held the top executive and his board personally accountable.

Judges said: What set this reporting apart was the depth of the crisis and the urgency with which the State Journal mobilized an investigation on behalf of its community. The staff employed nearly every watchdog reporting technique available including documents, interviews, photography, social media, graphic material to guide public action — and old-fashioned, relentless follow-ups.

To see the work:|dnmiss|umbrella|5

The Post-Crescent at Appleton (Finalist)
Donovan Slack, Washington bureau reporter

For an investigation by its Washington correspondent that pressured a 35-year congressman out of office after exposing his conflict of interest with a local defense contractor. Reporter Donovan Slack documented that U.S. Rep. Tom Petri enriched himself by investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in Oshkosh Trucks and using his office to defend Oshkosh from cuts or challenges to $3 billion in contracts.

Judges said: The Post-Crescent cinched the case against Petri with a front-page timeline that chronicled and compared his stock investments with his actions in Washington. Superb use of our expertise in the capital bureau.

The Clarion-Ledger (Finalist)
Jerry Mitchell, investigative reporter

For an investigation that helped stop the execution of a Mississippi woman. Four days before Michelle Byrom’s scheduled execution for killing her ex-husband, Clarion-Ledger reporter Jerry Mitchell revealed three confessions over the years from her son — confessions jurors never knew about.

Judges said: Mitchell’s outstanding writing stems from incredible shoe-leather reporting and interviewing. He confronted the son and tracked down two original jurors to ask their impressions of the confessions.


The Reporter at Fond du Lac (Winner)
Sharon Roznik, Colleen Kottke, reporters and Peggy Breister, editor

For in-depth coverage when school administrators cracked down on student publications, imposing censorship restrictions, the Reporter pounced with in-depth reporting and targeted commentary. They kept the spotlight on an issue that could have easily been dismissed as insignificant.

Judges said: What set this apart was the degree of sheer hell raised through stories, opinion pieces and video. They kept the spotlight on an issue that could have easily been dismissed as insignificant, but which their reporting and commentary showed was important. Rare among the watchdog entries, they included the “target’s” comments early on.

To see the work:

Star-Gazette at Elmira (Finalist)
Steve Reilly, CNY investigative editor

Prompted by the retirement of the city manager and a big check he cashed for unused sick and vacation time, Elmira decided to investigate that information for other managers. They found many managers were leaving with what amounted to large bonuses and that the city was continuing practice that many other cities had curtailed or eliminated.

Judges said: Simply being inquisitive and checking the records can reap big rewards. In Elmira it resulted in a clear, revealing story that showed how the city could save hundreds of thousands of dollars by changing the sick leave and vacation policies for managers, as other cities already had. The data compiled on all the Elmira managers who had retired provided a clear picture of the cost and the reporting of what other cities were doing provided comparisons for readers.

To see the work:

March 23: March 23:

The News Leader at Staunton (Finalist)
Cory Mull, sports reporter

Mull showed that in the world of high school sports where licensed gear is a big business, there is one entity not reaping the financial rewards: the schools who license their logos.

Judges said: Mull exposed several things in this series of stories, including the fact that high schools are profiting little from the licensing of their name and logos, and that the school’s logo had been ripped off by another school. It was refreshing to see a watchdog approach to this sports/business topic.

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.


Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (Winner)

For reader oriented coverage, The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle’s Passport to Innovation is a monthly, behind-the-scenes look at innovative area companies that invites reader participation.

Judges said: From breezy headlines, to slick online display to writing that avoids the cliches of business reporting, the Democrat and Chronicle staff has produced a reader-friendly feature that crosses all platforms.

This feature pops the moment you enter the site, with brief descriptions of the companies, easy access to individual stories, engaging photos and fluid writing. It is, quite simply, fun and approachable.

To see the work:

Detroit Free Press (Finalist)

For the new Freep Film Festival engaged the community with a four-day festival of films relevant to Detroit and Michigan, public screenings, panel discussions, reader feedback, social media and appearances by the subjects of films. The event drew 5,000 people.

Judges said: “One participant’s reaction to a film about the grounds crew at historic Tiger Stadium drew this response: ‘I was either crying or smiling during the whole thing.’ The screening also resulted in viewers passing around a baseball hat to support the crew.

Steve Byrne, Kathy Kieliszewski, Jewel Gopwani and the Detroit Free Press Staff demonstrate the power of reading engagement and participation while performing a service to the community in highlighting little-known history and personalities. Earning the paper some revenue surely doesn’t hurt either.

To see the work:


The Indianapolis Star (Finalist)
Amy Haneline, Michael Campbell, digital producers; Jennifer Imes, digital director

Buck Fever is a template for the paper’s long-form journalism, a menu of sorts for investigative work and components across all platforms.

Judges said: A video overview for each segment and photos that denote chapters in the series draw the reader in. Captivating storytelling does the rest. Amy Haneline, Michael Campbell and Jennifer Imes make this template look easy. But that’s the trick: it isn’t. Clever in both its simplicity and boldness, Buck Fever gives readers easy access to the complicated subject of trophy deer.

To see the work:


The Desert Sun at Palm Springs (Winner)
Brian Indrelunas, digital editor and Robert Hopwood, digital producer

For the three-day project by the Desert Sun at Palm Springs in long-form design showed the staggering amount of at-home fatalities among Marines at the Twenty-nine Palms Marine base.

Judges said: We were staggered by “Safe From War, Dead at Home”: the clean and efficient way it was presented online, the grim map of death, touching videos with scenes, such as a funeral program, that sympathetically make their case and interviews about soldiers who died, by their own hand or in accidents, at their “home,” an isolated Marine base. The fine detail in the stories was riveting and so were the video quotes, one of which describes a dead soldier as “10 feet tall and bulletproof” – in war, but not at home. Superb work. Brian Indrelunas and Robert Hopwood focused on the soldier at home and revealed the fact that car accidents and suicide killed more Marines at the isolated Twentynine Palms base since 2007 than war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

To see the work:

Green Bay Press-Gazette (Finalist)
Kevin Anderson, executive editor; Eric Litke, team reporter; Julie Riebe, digital desk manager, Green Bay

For Gannett Wisconsin Media produced a print and online package that took readers on a tour of troublesome potholes in the region acoss, asking readers to identify the worst ones.

Judges said: Kevin Anderson, Eric Litke and Julie Riebe turned a routine winter story into an interactive shareable site for readers to find their way around potholes caused by winter weather. This one was near and dear to judges’ hearts. From the slick graphics to the engaging map to the update function on each reader’s entry, this project allowed the audience to not merely vent about a common problem but, with the news organizations, participate in a solution.

To see the work:

Reno Gazette-Journal (Finalist)
Jason Hidalgo, reporter

For a collection of print, online and interactive video reviews from the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Jason Hidalgo.

Jason Hidalgo’s “Technobubble” is a clever feature that even this non-gamer can appreciate. The author has a distinct voice that he modulates depending on the platform but one that is savvy and accessible to gamers and non-gamers alike.
It would have been easy to keep that voice limited to print and short online reviews, but this feature evolved into video reviews that utilize actual game footage. Said to be a huge investment of an experienced reporter’s time, in this judge’s mind, it has paid off.

To see the work:


Reviews of “Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare,” “Thief” and “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2”:
Reviews of “Titanfall,” “Dark Souls 2” and “Yoshi’s New Island”:
Reviews of “Toukiden: The Age of Demons,” “Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy” and “Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes”:

Expanded “Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare” review:
Expanded “Titanfall” review:
Expanded “Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes” review:

“Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare”:
“Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes”:

March 2, 2014, Arts and Entertainment tab, page 6M: “Dead or alive: Zombies, vampires and thieves invade games”
March 16, 2014, Arts and Entertainment tab, pages 9-10M: “Adventure time: Titanfall, Dark Souls 2 and Yoshi”
March 23, 2014, Arts and Entertainment tab, pages 9-10M: “Brains, brawn: Metal Gear, Layton, Toukiden”

Press & Sun-Bulletin at Binghamton (Finalist)
Meghin Delaney, education reporter; Kristen Cox Roby, editor; Neill Borowski, executive editor; Kristopher Radder, staff photographer

For a 10-part journey through the making of a high school musical.

Judges said: Meghin Delaney, Kristen Cox Roby, Neill Borowski and Kristopher Radder took an annual high school rite repeated all over the country, and personalized it for readers with good stories, social media elements, videos, even cast and crew bios, in a sort of newspaper playbill, if you will. This project even had an “after-show” party. While the “Phantom of the Opera” had finished its performances, I wanted to read the final installment, “In the blink of an eye.” To note that the musical’s director was the only one remaining in the auditorium of Union-Endicott High School, was to amplify that the show, indeed, must and will go on again next year.

To see the work:

“The Musical, Unmasked” stories, galleries, videos and online-only content can be accessed at our special series page:


Oshkosh Northwestern (Winner)
Karl Ebert, city editor and Jennifer K. Woldt, public safety reporter

For a thoughtful and useful interactive guide for readers on the whereabouts of recently released area sex offenders, coupled with stories that exposed both the fear and the myths about pedophiles and how they live.

Judges said: Karl Ebert and Jennifer K. Woldt, for a necessary but thought-provoking look at pedophiles in the area and smartly-written stories that explore the difference between real and perceived fear in the community.

Along with targeted writing that provided context, the Oshkosh Northwestersput together an exhaustive database of offenders and where they live, including photo galleries of offenders by zip code and number of offenders in each domicile. It’s an example of well-honed and well-presented data gathering that is also reader-friendly.

To see the work:

The News Leader at Staunton (Finalist)
Jennie Coughlin, data/online editor; Mike Tripp, chief photographer

For a lively Facebook forum for readers to identify and discuss historic downtown buildings.

Judges said: Jennie Coughlin and Mike Tripp, presented an engaging dialogue with readers about Staunton’s historic downtown that drew vibrant response and also became a standing history feature.

Gauging reader participation is often a challenge, but clearly Coughlin and Tripp knew what they had in engaging readers’ memories and sense of nostalgia regarding familiar architecture. One rensponse points to a sense of pride engendered by the project: “We sure are blessed to live in a city where not only is the landscape breathtaking, but the buildings, too.”

To see the work:

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.


FLORIDA TODAY at Brevard (Winner)
J. D. Gallop, religion writer

For written and video examples of religion reporter beat reporting.

Judges said: J.D. Gallop’s religion reporting goes beyond faith reporting of church suppers, minister profiles and typical discussions to show the impact and meaning of faith in everyday – sometimes extraordinary – life and situations. From space to The Beatles, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and more, Gallop draws the reader in with an intriguing perspective and skillfully written sentences. Of special note are Gallop’s accompanying videos — well shot and edited — which offer viewers an engaging alternative story form. Well done!

To see the work:

Boy Scouts: :

The Arizona Republic at Phoenix (Finalist)
Brandon Loomis, natural resources reporter

For environmental stories ranging from hottest year on record to impact of Colorado delta restoration.

Judges said: Brandon Loomis’ passion for and expertise in environmental reporting is evident in well-penned stories that not only inform but also educate Republic readers. Through his reporting, Loomis has demonstrated a wide-ranging knowledge of his subject exhibited in complex stories, such as a plan to restore the Colorado delta or the political controversy over gray wolves, to simple reports, such as on one of hottest summers on record. Each story is well-reporting and engagingly written, and supported with relevant video stories.

To see the work:

Colorado River flooding:

Drought/climate change:

Endangered species/wildlife


The Tennessean at Nashville (Finalist)
Jeff Lockridge,Vanderbilt football beat writer

For a series of stories detailing the tumultuous departure of Vanderbilt’s head coach.

Judges said: With a pithy writing style, excellent use of sources and well-demonstrated subject knowledge, Jeff Lockridge gave Tennessean readers a front row seat to the tumultuous departure of Vanderbilt’s head football coach. Through a series of stories, Lockridge followed the news from the coach’s job offer from Penn State to his departure’s impact on recruiting to the naming of a new coach with well-crafted stories offering rich details and context. It’s clear Lockridge has deep knowledge of Vanderbilt football and understanding of how events impact the program at every level.

To see the work:


The Clarion-Ledger at Jackson, MS (Winner)
Geoff Pender, political editor; Jimmie E. Gates, legislative reporter, Clay Chandler, legislative reporter

For Mississippi Legislature coverage.

Judges said: Inventive, smart and insightful coverage of Mississippi’s legislative session. Pender, Gates and Chandler found a way to elevate coverage of the legislature — its players, backroom happenings and issues — into shrewd reporting and engaging reading.

To see the work:

Examples of segments from our weekly legislative show:

The Burlington Free Press (Finalist)
Adam White, reviewing editor

For a selection of stories about skiing.

Judges said: From Olympic coverage to heli-skiing and a witty video on backcountry skiing, Adam White’s stories show a breadth of knowledge, good sourcing and enthusiasm for his subject. Skillful writing makes them a pleasure to read and White’s sense of humor and perspective is evident in all — especially the video.

To see the work:

Fort Collins Coloradoan (Finalist)
Madeline Novey, education reporter

For a A selection of higher ed and K-12 education stories.

Judges said: Novey’s stories are what education writing should be — critical, questioning and informative. Through her story selection it is clear that Novey knows her beat and has a passion for her subject. What sets her apart is her willingness and sense of responsibility to ask hard questions and expose questionable policies, decision-making and spending.


The Daily Town Talk at Alexandria (Winner)
Leigh Guidry, education reporter

For a series of stories about Louisiana College and questionable decisions and practices by the president.

Judges said: Determined, relentless and eye-opening, Leigh Guidry’s stories about Louisiana College are an example of how a reporter, editor and local news organization can make a difference. While others may have noticed or talked about problems at the college, Guidry and her editor put those observations into action, painstakingly pursuing leads and gathering information and sources to expose questionable decisions and practices by the college’s president. An excellent example of watchdog reporting on the beat.

To see the work:

Feb. 22: Feb. 27 March 2 March 3 March 5 March 9 March 12 March 13 March 16 March 19 March 21 March 24 March 25 March 27 March 29 March 30

The Reporter at Fond du Lac (Finalist)
Laurie Ritger, Sharon Roznik, reporters; Carlos Munoz, digital desk producer; Aileen Andrews, photographer/videographer

For a series of stories about Wisconsin’s sturgeon season.

Judges said: Interesting, captivating and imaginative coverage of what for many readers is an important aspect of Wisconsin living. In-depth stories offered good details and information, while shorter pieces showed the fun and spontaneity of the season. Overall excellent, seasoned coverage.

To see the work:

Iowa City Press-Citizen (Finalist)
Sara Agnew, reporter

For a series of stories covering topics ranging from features to breaking news at the University of Iowa.

Judges said: Solid reporting, engaging writing and the ability to find a good story are what sets Sara Agnew’s higher education reporting apart. Agnew’s clear and engaging writing, knowledge of her subject and ability cultivate sources are evidenced in the wide-range of stories she offers readers. Great work.

To see the work:

90 Feb. 28:;; March 1:; March 9:; March 13:;;; March 29:;

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


The Des Moines Register (Winner)

For the immediacy and thoroughness of coverage informing readers of an overnight fire that destroyed a landmark Des Moines building.

Judges said: This entry demonstrates the value of commitment to digital urgency, no matter the hour. The Des Moines staff mobilized at about 1 a.m. on a Saturday and never stopped rolling on all platforms through a remarkable night and subsequent day of digital coverage that set mobile traffic records. The 10 pages and 20 stories in the Sunday print edition answered every conceivable question a reader might have.

To see the work:
Full coverage is here:

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (Finalist)

For reader-oriented digital coverage of a Western New York blizzard.

Judges said: In Rochester, blizzards are part of local lore. It is a smart news organization, then, that knows to remind readers on digital platforms that mega-supermarket Wegmans is remaining open, to shoot video of local landmarks before the storm and then again during the blizzard, and to create online graphics featuring the all-important snowfall total. The print headline spoke for all readers: “Enough.”

To see the work:

Coverage: Annette Lein video:

Detroit Free Press (Finalist)

For flexibility in staying with the fast-changing story of court rulings regarding gay marriage in Michigan.

Judges said: What makes this coverage worthy of recognition is how the staff scrambled on a Saturday to stay with a story that changed drastically twice in the wake of a Friday court ruling. Twitter, blogs and video all helped capture the euphoria of early-morning marriages, which was tempered somewhat by the issuance of a stay that The Free Press reported first. The twists and turns were all packaged effectively in the Sunday print edition.

To see the work:


Journal and Courier at Lafayette, IN (Winner)

For careful coverage across multiple platforms of a fatal shooting at Purdue University.

Judges said: Amid a flurry of rumor, misinformation and fear, the Lafayette crew reported on this tragedy authoritatively and responsibly. Each tool and platform came into play effectively, all the way through to a compelling narrative and stunning vigil photo in the print edition. This is how a news organization owns the big story.

The Clarion-Ledger at Jackson, MS (Finalist)

For thorough coverage of the death of Jackson’s mayor, an unusual political figure whose passing generated deep reflection in the community.

Judges said: Reporting staff didn’t merely report on a death, it put that death into political and social context on deadline — no easy feat. Digital and print coverage evoked plenty of emotion but stood out because Jackson’s reporters and editors examined Chokwe Lumumbaa’s brief but unifying impact on a community with many needs.

To see the work:

Springfield News-Leader (Finalist)
Dean Curtis, multimedia editor; Christine Temple, Sarah Okeson, reporters; Matt Peterson, AME-Production

For thorough and sensitively done coverage of a community horror story — the broad-daylight abduction and subsequent killing of a young girl.

Judges said: What stands out in this entry is how it avoids the tabloid-style breathlessness to which digital-age media is often prone. The facts are all here, the range of interviews and video work is impressive, and yet the staff never loses sight of community sentiment. One headline, “Parents holding kids a bit tighter,” says it all.

To see the work:

Link to Facebook posts – — Coverage:


The News-Star at Monroe (Winner)
Tabby Soignier, senior sports reporter

For “A Legend Lost,” a comprehensive and engaging package of coverage on the death of a legendary Louisiana high school football coach.

Judges said: The passion, the depth and the richness of this entry made the newspaper, website and social media posts synonymous with the discussions occurring at every barber shop, in every household. Senior sportswriter Tabby Soignier’s frank and laugh-out-loud funny column cut to the chase of why Coach Shows was feared, revered and beloved.

To see the work:

The Jackson Sun at Jackson, TN (Finalist)

For thorough and timely coverage guiding West Tennesee readers through an unusual ice storm.

Judges said: Reader-focused information and effective use of social media provided a true service to a region utterly disrupted by wintry weather. Throughout the day, Jackson’s journalists helped readers look ahead to the unfolding challenges caused by the storm, with Facebook posts pointing the way to need-to-know details.

To see the work:



The News-Messenger at Fremont (Finalist)

For coverage of a shooting in a bar that left three men including an off-duty police officer dead.

Judges said: Two effective steps make this entry worthy of recognition: 1. A focus on the humanity of the lives lost through quickly developed profiles that serve to resonate in a small community. 2. A commitment to telling the story in video as well as text, which paid off with an interview with a survivor of the violent incident.

To see the work: Photo gallery March 9: Video March 10: Photogallery March 10: Videos of survivor speaking and news conference March 11: Photogallery, March 12: Video, March 17: Photo gallery, March 17: Photo gallery, March 17:

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 Journal News at Westchester (Winner)
Liz Johnson food editor; Megan McCaffrey food writer

For a food blog that targets hungry readers in a new sophisticated manner.

Judges said: This is content that demonstrates understanding of how readers make decisions in the digital age. Improvements to the Small Bites blog give it the utility of an app. Readers can drill down in their restaurant search to 36 categories that reflect their lives and interests — “Watching the Game;” “Girls’ Night Out;” “Waterfront.” Timely posting, a map that suggests restaurants and dishes as specific as “Snow Day recipes” are all contributing to enormous increases in visits.

To see the work:

To see Restaurant navigation, use the drop-down menus at Note the “Restaurant Quick Links” on the right sidebar at To see recipes by holiday, season or course, use the Recipes drop-down menus at Snow day: HVRW map: Instagram takevoer: (Scroll down to March)

Detroit Free Press (Finalist)

For clockwork precision across platforms in coverage of the North American International Auto Show.

Judges said: The gears all mesh in this coverage of a high point on the Detroit calendar. Editors considered carefully the value of each platform and planned and assigned content appropriately as a result. Waves of reporters not only tweeted developments but promoted the news site’s content. Stories ranged from serious enterprise to insight into the region’s car-crazy culture.

To see the work:

Fort Myers News-Press (Finalist)
Chad Gillis, environmental reporter; Andrew West, photojournalist; Guy Tubbs, videographer; Mike Donlan, graphics team leader

For sophisticated and enlightening coverage of Native Americans in the Everglades region.

Judges said: Good planned content becomes an “event” for readers, not simply through compelling writing, stunning art and strong multimedia work but through elements that help readers see its relevance. This entry succeeds at that through a variety of cues, and also through a reporter’s moving column about his quest to gain the trust of a Native American elder.

To see the work:

Landing page: iPad publication: Voices of the Everglades Story page: Photos Galleries: The Land Bobbie C. Billie Tribe Life Osceola Clan The Future Videos: Voices of the Everglades: Behind the Scenes Voices of the Everglades premieres on March 23 Voices of the Everglades: Tribal Life Voices of the Everglades: LeRoy Osceola Voices of the Everglades: Fishing, Gigging and Roasting Gar Voices of the Everglades: Sofkee Voices of the Everglades: Medicine Man Bobbie C. Billie Social links: March 21 Promo March 22 March 23 March 24 March 25


Press & Sun-Bulletin at Binghamton (Winner)
Meghin Delaney, education reporter; Kristen Cox Roby, features editor

For inspiring and continuing coverage of the creation of a high school music in a Binghamton suburb.

Judges said: The play’s the thing in this months-long commitment to building audience in the key area of local families. The reporter essentially went back to high school for four months, trading tweets with cast members and learning intimately their lives, their personalities and their dreams. The attention to detail is exquisite, the writing electric. You can’t help but care about this series until the final curtain drops.

To see the work: “The Musical, Unmasked” stories, galleries, videos and online-only content can be accessed at our special series page:

Tallahassee Democrat (Finalist)

For coverage of Florida State’s national championship that matches the passion level of the local fan base.

Judges said: An intensity of commitment helps this coverage succeed on all platforms and even beyond. Curated social media kept football fans in the moment. Live video coverage set the stage. Page upon well-designed page greeted readers of the regular paper and an extra edition. And all this was followed by a hardcover book.

To see the work:
The wall: redirects to

Poughkeepsie Journal (Finalist)

For long-planned coverage of the death of a local musical legend.

Judges said: If the key to victory is in the preparation, this entry was bound for recognition a full seven years ago. That’s when Poughkeepsie created multiple pieces of online content for the day folk singer Pete Seeger died. When that day (night, actually) came, all that content went online with great immediacy. Good use of social media, video and content for a commemorative print section served both local readers and other Gannett sites.

To see the work:


The Daily Advertiser at Lafayette, LA (Winner)

For the high degree of energy and reader involvement evident in coverage of the local university’s first trip to the March Madness tournament.

Judges said: When you throw your readers a party to celebrate an important community moment, that’s a sign of how effectively you are working to connect with your core audience. Toss in a video contest, a selfie of your basketball team that receives hundreds of retweets and wall-to-wall well-planned digital and print coverage, and you’ve won your bracket.

News Journal at Mansfield (Finalist)
Rob McCurdy, reporter; Dave Polcyn, multimedia editor; Jason Molyet, photographer;
Melissa Ramaley, online editor

For touching coverage of the lifelong bond between a couple who died within hours of each other.

Judges said: This entry succeeds because it finds the extraordinary in the ordinary. A true commitment is shown here to pursuing a story that did not have to be told but that reflects the values and experiences of much of the audience in an older community. In print and on video, this appealing package makes readers take a look.

Home News Tribune at East Brunswick (Finalist)
Greg Tufaro and Harry Frezza, staff writers

For the passion and completeness of a New Jersey wrestling blog that serves a niche audience extremely well.

Judges said: East Brunswick demonstrates how digital content can draw traffic by catering effectively to the deep interests of a relatively tiny segments of readers. This blog became the No. 1 source of wrestling tourney information and results, supplemented by blog posts giving an inside perspective that’s of value to the people most passionate about this sport.

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.


Fort Myers News-Press (Winner)
Janine Zeitlin, staff writer

For an excellent look into a group of convicted sex offenders and their struggle to find a place where they legally can live.

Judges said: In a field full of excellent work, we felt this was clearly the best. It was a gutsy subject to tackle, knowing that readers likely would have little sympathy for the subjects of the story.

Each element of the package worked. Janine Zeitlin’s storytelling was compelling. A key factor in our decision was the outstanding video that featured one sex offender telling his story.

To see the work:

Story links: Homeless sex offenders describes living in the woods Police hand out trespass warnings to homeless sex offenders Social Links Feb. 3 Feb. 5

The Tennessean at Nashville (Finalist)
Tom Wilemon, reporter

For the action of a group of people who work out at a local YMCA is credited with saving the life of a woman.

Judges said: Reporter Tom Wilemon was blessed with a heartwarming story to share with readers and he told it beautifully. We loved the first two graphs: “She was withering away before their eyes.
They watched her slog through marathon workouts every weekday morning at the Green Hills YMCA, her emaciated body leaning on the rails of the Stairmaster.” That hooked us and the rest of the story was just as well told.

To see the work:

Detroit Free Press (Finalist)
Jeff Seidel, staff writer

For a look at Olympic ice dancers who train in Detroit.

Judges said: Jeff Seidel’s work was both comprehensive and beautifully written. He wasn’t writing about ice dancing — he was writing about people who happen to ice dance.

The coverage stretched over 13 days and was consistently very good. But what really sold us were two stories in the package: his profile of gold medal favorites Meryl Davis and Charlie White that opened the coverage and the story on the relationship between the mothers of the two skaters written from the Olympics.


The Star Press at Muncie (Winner)
Thomas St. Myer, reporter

For a moving story of a local woman’s mastectomy after learning she has breast cancer.

Judges said: This is a story that certainly connected with readers. We all know someone who has battled cancer. This entry stood above the rest because all of the pieces worked together to tell the story in a compelling manner. The narrative from reporter Thomas St. Myer was outstanding, capturing big and small moments perfect, like the patient requesting a Pepsi after surgery because “it’s sweeter” than Coke.

We felt the photo gallery from photographer Jordan Kartholl was a key component of this package. The gallery was not used as a place to empty the camera of dozens of images. Instead the gallery captured an emotional story. The video also was excellent work, letting the patient tell her own story while weaving in live shots of her speak with some of the still photos from the package.

You cannot look at this package without being moved.

To see the work:
Photo gallery, Sonya Paul faces breast cancer: Video, Sonya Paul faces breast cancer:

Argus Leader at Sioux Falls (Finalist)
Steve Young, reporter

A mother deals with the emotions of having a son who has been in a coma for 14 years following a shooting accident.

Judges said: Reporter Steve Young was given an emotional story to tell and he told it well. He captured both the emotions of the mother as she visits her son and the mixed feelings of family members on the best course of action.

To see the work:


Courier-Post at Cherry Hill (Finalist)
Kevin Shelly, reporter and John Ziomek, photographer

A look at the life of a New Jersey woman who was born with deformed limbs and suffers from a rare disease.

Judges said: The life of Erica Baker, the subject of this story, has been filled with tragedy. This package by reporter Kevin Shelly and photographer John Ziomek does an excellent job of explaining those tragedies while capturing what appears to be the incredible spirit of Miss Baker. The story, photo gallery and video all work well together to tell a great story.

To see the work:


News Journal at Mansfield (Winner)
Rob McCurdy, reporter

For the story of an Ohio couple who was married for 66 years and died 39 hours apart

Judges said: At first glance, it might seem that a four-part series on one couple, even a couple who had been married for 66 years and died 39 hours apart, was too much. It wasn’t. Reporter Rob McCurdy told the story beautifully. When we finished this series, we felt like who knew this couple, who lived ordinary lives in an extraordinary manner.

To see the work:

1) Romance Blooms:

2) Faith & Family:

3) Together in Eternity

4) Life in the Settlement

The News Leader at Staunton (Finalist)
Brad Zinn, staff writer

This is a story of white man from a from a family that was prominent in the history of the area coming to terms with the fact that he has cousins who are black.

Judges said: Writing about race still can be a senstive subject, especially in the South. Reporter Brad Zinn did a remarkable job of telling the story of a local coach, a white man who grew up in the days of segregation, coming to terms with the fact that he has black cousins. The quality of the storytelling made this story a winner.

To see the work:

The Leaf-Chroncle at Clarksville (Finalist)
Philip Grey, multimedia journalist

The story of retired Army Sgt. Sidney Brown, his desire to earn paratroopers wings and his work today in trying to earn recognition of the original platoon of black airborne troops.

Judges said: This could have been a routine profile as part of his paper’s Black History Month coverage, but reporter Philip Grey made it much more than that. Philip wove the personal story of Sgt. Brown with the Army’s history of segregation and how that changed over the years. It was a story well told.

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)
Christopher Pratt, journalist and Annah Backstrom, editor/breaking news

While a historic building in downtown Des Moines was burning down in the wee hours, Christopher Pratt and Annah Backstrom were on the scene, tweeting dramatic photos and developments by the minute.

Judges said: The photos plunge readers into the middle of a chaotic scene: flames engulfing the Younkers building. Christopher Pratt and Annah Backstrom shot the blaze from every angle, updating its progress as they went. At 2:51am, Backstrom tweeted: I was at 6th and Walnut. Flames visible. Appears top floor of building gone.” Two minutes later: At 7th and Mulberry, visible ash and debris in intersection. A minute passes: Police/fire have area blocked off well. Sound of water on flame very loud. Smells acrid. With few tools, Pratt and Backstrom did an excellent job of engaging our senses.

To see the work:

The Journal News at Westchester (Finalist)
Erik Shilling, reporter

Erik Shilling live-tweeted Kerry Kennedy’s drugged-driving trial with one eye on the stand and the other on the media coverage.

Judges said: With his pithy observations about the press corps, the Kennedy clan and the trial itself, Erik Shilling captures the essence of the media circus surrounding the case. Here’s one tweet that lets readers experience the scene from afar: “Kennedy’s $500/hour expert on the stand. One reporter nearby idly does a crossword. Another shops for pillows. Joseph P. Kennedy II here.” In less than 25 words, Shilling conveys more about the moment than any photo could.

To see the work:

Detroit Free Press (Finalist)
Mitch Albom, writer

Mitch Albom sat on a couch watching Michigan State defeat Delaware in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and more than 3,600 readers sat virtually by his side as he chatted on ScribbleLive about the game and other matters.

Judges said: If Mitch Albom had gone to Spokane, he might have pounded out the kind of game piece he’s done countless times before. Instead, he had readers hanging on his every word in real time. Readers got a chance to bounce their observations off of him and each other, creating a sense of community without having to suit up. It was an elegant way to engage an audience without draining resources.

To see the work:


The Clarion-Ledger at Jackson, MS (Winner)
Brian Tolley, executive editor; Sam R. Hall, AME/digital; Harold Gater, online editor; Alex McDaniel, social media editor

To capitalize on March Madness, Executive Editor Brian Tolley and his team built brackets from four divisions of newsmakers with Mississippi roots politicians, celebrities, athletes and personalities and had readers vote online for their favorites.

Judges said: The idea behind Mississippi Madness is delightful, but the Clarion-Ledger’s execution set it apart from the competition. Each matchup had just enough information about the competitors to enlighten the clueless while rewarding those in the know. From Gov. Phil Bryant and blues guitarist B.B. King to retired quarterback Brett Favre and James Meredith, the first African-American student to attend Ole Miss, the series zeroed in on some of the state’s most influential and beloved figures. The result is educational, entertaining and engaging.

To see the work:

The following examples are from the first round of voting. Each subsequent round followed the same style.

Fort Collins Coloradoan (Finalist)
Kevin Duggan, local government reporter

Kevin Duggan makes government accessible with tuned-in tweets on everything from breaking news and weather to municipal waste and marijuana.

Judges said: Council meetings can be dry affairs, and it can be hard to get through a long story on routine agenda items. But with his informed, lively live-tweets, Kevin Duggan reminds us that routine agenda items are the things that often most affect citizens’ day-to-day lives. His March 11 series is a good example: A photo shows a room filling up with Larimer County residents who want answers about the odor at the asphalt plant. Then, over the course of the meeting, Duggan sums up in short blasts the main points made by the county health department, residents and the plant’s owner, before teasing the in-depth piece to follow in the Coloradoan.

The Greenville News (Finalist)
Melissa Hall, engagement editor; Dave Hennigan, news editor and Bill Fox, new media editor

After a 4.1-magnitude earthquake shook parts of three states at 10:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, the Greenville News’ online team presented the most pertinent facts and commentary to readers right away.

Judges said: At an hour when many journalists are off-duty for the night or hurtling toward a print deadline, The Greenville News gathered information from a number of sources — government agencies, other news organizations and ordinary citizens — to give a comprehensive view of a startling event. With professionals prioritizing the most important information, rattled readers could find quick answers in one convenient place.

To see the work:

Storify page: Poll:


The Daily Advertiser at Lafayette, LA (Winner)
Bill Decker, columnist

Bill Decker puts Lafayette’s history into context daily with an archival photo and a short copy block in the newspaper.

Judges said: Bill Decker makes great use of the newspaper’s archives and other resources. In just a few sentences, he is able to express deep institutional memory and genuine hometown pride, along with a bit of wit. A typical example is Jan. 3’s, which shows a baseball play-by-play board atop The Daily Advertiser’s building. Decker uses the lineups to establish that it was the seventh game of the 1926 World Series, and then gives a punchy summary of the game. His authoritative voice carries the day even when he doesn’t have much information to go on. The Feb. 13 photo shows a baseball team from the early 1900s: “The sport caught on, but the striped pants didn’t.”

The Ithaca Journal (Finalist)
Dave Bohrer, senior editor/Ithaca

Five front-page headlines draw readers into stories about local initiatives and institutions.

Judges said: Dave Bohrer’s front-page headlines pop. “A Is for Apple” invites readers into a story about a nutrition report card that allows parents to learn what food their children are selecting at the school cafeteria. “Feeling their oats” runs above a photo of Grainful, a local startup that specializes in grains. The headlines pair well with the photos and stories without resorting to lame puns.

News Journal at Mansfield (Finalist)
Todd Hill, reporter

Todd Hill uses Twitter to blast short, sharp facts about Mansfield, Ohio’s weather.

Judges said: In a memorable winter, Todd Hill’s tweets stood out for being informative and tightly written. One typical example is a pertinent data point: “Mansfield’s Lahm Airport set record low temp for Jan. 6 of 13 degrees below zero at 11:32 p.m., topping 12 below set in 1924. #njnow.” Another reminds readers what the weather means for them: “Be aware that in this expected bitter cold and harsh winds, frostbite can occur in just a few minutes. Serious stuff. Cover up. #njnow.” Weather updates should always be this relevant and accessible.

To see the work:

Jan. 2
Heads up: Wind-chill values of 30 below zero for Mansfield, Ohio by Monday night. Coldest temps in years. #njnow
Jan. 4
First wind chill warning in decades issued for Richland Co., winter storm warning primarily for blowing snow, which will be major. #njnow
Jan. 3
Temps forecast to bottom out around 21 degrees below zero Monday night/early Tuesday in Mansfield, with winds of 15-25 mph. #njnow
Jan. 4
Be aware that in this expected bitter cold and harsh winds, frostbite can occur in just a few minutes. Serious stuff. Cover up. #njnow
Jan. 6
Mansfield’s forecast low temp for Tuesday morning is 15 below. Doesn’t look like we’ll get as cold as 1994. #njnow

Jan. 6
Under the Weather: Getting to know the polar vortex via @MansfieldNJ #ohwx
Jan. 6
The next 24 hours will be the coldest of this cold spell for Richland Co., Ohio. Improvement by late Tuesday afternoon. #njnow
Jan. 6
Post office: “Winter is not a new issue for the U.S. Postal Service.” Mail being delivered today/tomw. #njnow
Jan. 7
Mansfield’s Lahm Airport set record low temp for Jan. 6 of 13 degrees below zero at 11:32 p.m., topping 12 below set in 1924. #njnow
Jan. 8
The village of Hell, Mich., froze over this week. #njnow

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.


Fort Myers News-Press (Winner)
Andrew West, photojournalist

For photographs made during an eight-month project that looked inside the lives of Native Americans in the Everglaes region

Judges said: Engaging photographs by Andrew West took readers inside the life and culture of the Seminole and Miccosukee Indians. The captivating portraits and stunning aerials made these photographs stand out above the rest.

To see the work:

Landing page: iPad: Voices of the Everglades Story page: Photo Galleries: The Land Bobbie C. Billie Tribe Life Osceola Clan The Future

Detroit Free Press (Finalist)
Mandi Wright, photographer

For a collection of photos that documented Michigan’s trial on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.

Judges said: The compelling photographs made during and after the trial showed a range of emotion for those involved in the case. The photographer clearly spent time covering several angles of this historic event to give readers an inside look at the families involved in the case.

To see the work:

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (Finalist)
Jamie Germano, photographer

For a photograph of an officer consoling a woman who had just learned relatives had been killed during a triple homicide.

Judges said: The photographer captured a gripping moment as a police officer holds a distraught woman. The compassion and pain displayed in this photograph grabs the reader by the heartstrings.


Asheville Citizen-Times (Winner)
Erin Brethauer, multimedia editor

For a weekly series of photo stories that take a closer look at different areas and people in the community.

Judges said: This is an enterprising series of photos stories that engage readers and introduce them to different areas of the community. Erin’s ability to turn everyday moments in an interesting and delightful photographs is what makes this series so compelling.

To see the work:

Fort Collins Coloradoan (Finalist)
Erin Hull, photographer

Photographer Erin Hull A collection of high school sports action and reaction photos.

Judges said: This is a nice collection of images from on the court and off the court. The photographer looked for different angles to make interesting photos that caught our eye and told the story.

Ashevillle Citizen-Times (Finalist)
Erin Brethauer, multimedia editor

For a series called ‘Living Portraits’ that focused on the good, hard-working people that live in public housing.

Judges said: The photographer did a nice job of capturing the character in the people she photographed. The meaningful portraits of residence living in public house display messages of pride and love.

To see the work:


The Advocate at Newark (Winner)
Jessica Phelps, photographer

The photographer traveled with a group local of doctors and volunteers to Haiti to document their work improving conditions for an area still reeling from a devastating 2010 earthquake.

Judges said: Jessica’s compelling images not only highlighted the good work being done by local doctors and volunteers, but also gave readers a glimpse into the devastation that still remains four years after the earthquake.

To see the work:

Photo galleries Video

Herald Times Reporter at Manitowoc (Finalist)
Sue Pischke, photojournalist

For a photo essay on ice caves formed by frozen waterfalls along Lake Superior’s red sandstone cliffs.

Judges said: Sue’s photos of the icicles and the people who visited them are stunning. She used a creative eye to frame and capture many interesting angles of the ice caves.

To see the work:

Photo Gallery:

The Daily Advertiser at Lafayette, LA (Finalist)
Leslie Westbrook and Paul Kieu, photographers

Photographers Leslie Westbrook and Paul Kieu. Several days of Mardi Gras celebrations that included courir de mardi gras, parades and a formal ball.

Judges said: Photographers captured the fun and revelry of Mardi Gras celebrations in Lafayette, Louisiana despite bad weather. Our favorite was the photo of the icicles hanging from a statue on the parade route. The interesting angle captured our attention.

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)
Brian Kaufman, photographer

For “Packard: The Last Shift.” A look back at the storied history of the home of the Packard Motor Car Co. through interviews, archival footage, photos.

Judges said: Artfully and masterfully produced, the Free Press personalizes the decrepit Packard Plant, which once housed ornate architecture and produced top-notch vehicles and today stands partially demolished and draws graffiti artists, homeless people, thieves, etc. The documentary leaves no stone unturned, incorporating interviews with former workers and executives and archival footage and photos in stark contrast with its current sad condition. A fantastic piece of video journalism.

To see the work: (Password: PackardPa$$)

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (Finalist)
Donyelle Davis, backpack journalist

For Heroin’s toll: ‘It takes over.’ An in-your-face examination of the impact of heroin addiction from actual users and their loved ones.

Judges said: Kudos to Donyelle Davis for going beyond the basics and earning the trust of an addict willing to speak frankly about, not to mention demonstrate, his crippling drug use to produce a strong, emotional look behind the curtain of a national epidemic.

To see the work:

Fort Myers News-Press (Finalist)
Guy Tubbs, videographer

For “Voices of the Everglades.” This video takes viewers deep into the heart of the Everglades and into the world of the Seminole and Miccosukee Indians, recording voices that have been mostly silent until now.

Judges said: A rich and educational exploration of the indigenous people who inhabit the Everglades. Using sights and sounds, tales and facts, the viewer comes away with a greater appreciation of the sacrifices generations of the native people have made in an attempt to blend cultural traditions with modern challenges. Each video inspired me to learn more, and I did.

To see the work:

Judges said: A rich and educational exploration of the indigenous people who inhabit the Everglades. Using sights and sounds, tales and facts, the viewer comes away with a greater appreciation of the sacrifices generations of the native people have made in an attempt to blend cultural traditions with modern challenges. Each video inspired me to learn more, and I did.


Fort Collins Coloradoan (Winner)
Erin Hull, photographer

For “A Record Season: Following the Fossil Ridge boys basketball team,” Photographer Erin Hull chronicles the journey of seniors on the Fossil Ridge High School boys basketball team through their final season from the beginning to the heartbreak at the end, when the team came up one game short of a title.

Judges said: This video captured the drama, suspense, happiness and heartache of the final season of seniors on the Fossil Ridge boys basketball team. Erin’s use of varied angle shots, transitions and actual game footage creates buy-in from the viewer and keeps them riveted to find out how the Sabercats’ season ends.

To see the work:

The Star Press at Muncie (Finalist)
Jordan Kartholl, photographer

For coverage of Ball State University students helping local Alzheimer’s patients regain memory using music.

Judges said: A compelling look at a research project that seems to restore memory to Alzheimer’s patients through music. Jordan’s conversational voiceover, participant statements and dramatic footage of Gene Hart’s apparent breakthrough combine for a strong package that leaves viewers wanting to learn more about the project, the research and Mr. Hart.

To see the work:

The Desert Sun at Palm Springs (Finalist)
Crystal Chatham, photographer; Marilyn Chung, video editor and Brett Kelman and Drew Schmenner, reporters

For “Safe from War, Dead at Home.” A compelling look at the issues of deaths due to vehicle accidents and suicides among Marines at Twentynine Palms.

Judges said: The Desert Sun’s 9-minute, 19-second video gives dramatic insight into the all-too-common occurrence of suicides and accidents fueled by risky behavior by Marines at the Twentynine Palms base. Marines, family members and military officials not only explain the problem, but also seek solutions. Interviews with a Marine who finds ways to deal with the trauma of war and the widow of a Marine who committed suicide as a result of issues he faced upon returning home are particularly compelling. This yearlong project puts a real face on a tragic issue that could very well be playing out on military bases across the U.S.

To see the work: All Marines coverage at


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

For an in-depth three-part video package takes viewers inside a local hospital’s state-of-the-art cath lab that most people don’t have the opportunity to see. Doctors, patients and employees explain procedures and give a sense of the life-saving work being done at the center.

Judges said: In the video package, the paper took what could have been a mundane topic and drew the reader in with interesting facts, statistics and real-people stories. Seamless transitions between interviewer, subject and scenes from the lab made the video informative without being formulaic. Great storytelling, visuals and interview subjects give this video an added boost to its educational value for the community.

To see the work:

Home News Tribune at East Brunswick (Finalist)
Jason Towlen, photographer

For coverage of a family displaced by Hurricane Sandy finally returning home. Videographer Jason Towlen focuses on one of hundreds of families who lost homes in Superstorm Sandy, and allows them to tell their story of survival, redemption and resilience.

Judges said: This was an impactful inside look at a family who refused to surrender to a natural disaster and Jason’s incorporation of stunning photos from the storm as well as stills from the family’s rebuilding process made the reader care about the mother and her three daughters. The video put a human face on an innocuous tragedy in an artistic and compelling way.

To see the work:

Video: Family displaced by Sandy finally back home

Video: Funeral for Spotswood firefighter Joseph Bove

Video: Fire guts Edison School

The Jackson Sun at Jackson, TN (Finalist)
Megan Smith and Kenneth Cummings, photographers; Jordan Buie, online/social media editor; Nichole Manna, reporter

Kilgore Flares – Dangerous Work. The Jackson Sun investigated the Feb. 22, 2014, explosion that happened at the Kilgore Plant in Toone, Tenn., and looks at the inherent dangers of workers at the plant the local residents are aware of and accept.

Judges said: This tight, concise look at the problems that have plagued the company leading up to the explosion that killed one worker invites viewers to see and hear how despite the dangers of working at a flare company, it remains a way of life for many residents. It is a poignant view of tragic circumstances that ties together all of the facts and faces into a tidy, informative package.

To see the work:

Kilgore Flares – dangerous work:

Tractor-trailer crash on I-40:

Memorial ride for Holly Bobo:

Basketball seniors:

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.


Fort Myers News-Press and Nashville Design Studio (Winner)
Michael Babin, studio chief; Lindi Daywalt-Feazal, designer; Phonethip Liu, designer; Mike Donlan, graphics team leader; Wes Hulette, web applications developer

For Michael Babin, Lindi Daywalt-Feazal, Mike Donlan, Phonethip Liu and Wes Hulette’s design of a series about the Seminole and Miccosukee Indians in the Everglades.

To see the work:

Landing page: iPad:

Asbury Park Press and Asbury Park Design Studio (Finalist)
Dana Stewart, designer

For Dana Stewart’s collection of news pages.

Judges said: This entry epitomizes bold A1 design. The designer’s excellent use of color and headline typography draws the reader into the page and refuses to let go. It doesn’t matter if there is big breaking like four dead in a fire or an economic story concerning the future of the Jersey Shore, each page feels special and offers an informative visual treat.

The Courier Journal at Louisville and Louisville Design Studio (Finalist)

For a collection of sports pages covering the NCCA Tournament.

Judges said: It is obvious that the Louisville readership loves college basketball and it shows in the design of the special sections. Each special section looks like it was designed for basketball fans by a basketball fan. The covers are exciting and dynamic, celebrating the successes of the teams.

The Des Moines Register and Des Moines Design Studio (Finalist)
Liv Anderson, Mark Marturello, Zach Thompson, Karla Brown-Garcia, Nancy Goheen, designers, Des Moines Design Studio

For Liv Anderson, Mark Marturello, Zach Thompson, Karla Brown-Garcia and Nancy Goheen’s collection of news and sports pages.

Judges said: There are two aspects of the entry that stand out. The first is the A1 design of a fire that destroyed an iconic downtown building. This was a big story to Des Moines readership and the magnitude of the story is shown by the design of its front page. This is A1 design at its best. The second aspect is the two special sections covers. Each eye-catching cover is rich with texture and color. These covers are just simply visually stunning and beautiful.

To see the work:


Poughkeepsie Journal and Asbury Park Press Design Studio (Winner)
Jose Soto and Thomas Piatchek, designers, Asbury Park Design Studio

For Jose Soto and Thomas Piatchek’s collection of pages covering recreational sports.

Judges said: These pages are as unique and interesting as each of the sports they are meant to cover. While these are inside pages, the illustrations are bold and unexpected forcing the reader to stop turning the page. The headline type treatments are restrained, fitting well into the overall design and story of each page.

Poughkeepsie Journal and Asbury Park Design Studio (Finalist)
Suzy Palma, Joanne Walsh, Abby Westcott, designers, Asbury Park Design Studio

For Suzy Palma, Joanne Walsh, and Abby Westcott’s collection news pages.

Judges said: This entry shows that even stories that do not have an obvious visual angle can still be illustrated in a compelling and interesting way. These bold and creative pages let the concept of the centerpiece drive the page without cluttering it with frivolous elements.

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

For the Burlington Free Press and Asbury Park Design Studio’s collection of news, sports and feature pages.

Judges said: This entry stands out for the pairing of beautifully simple typography with great photography or clever illustrations. The size and format of this paper often required the headlines and other elements to be place on top of the photo or illustration. But the designer’s typography placement did not detract from the photo; instead the placement enhanced and supported the overall design of the page.


Stevens Point Journal and Des Moines Design Studio (Winner)
Scott Williams, sports reporter; Sean McKeown-Young, team leader, Des Moines Design Studio

For Scott Williams’ and Sean McKeown-Young’s pages about Olympic athletes.

Judges said: Simply put, this entry is ambitious and awesome. The photo collages on these pages are masterfully executed and exciting to look at.

The News Leader at Staunton and Nashville Design Studio (Finalist)

For a collection of entertainment tab covers.

Judges said: This entry is vibrant and full of energy. Each cover is teeming with visual impact and enthusiasm.

Iowa City Press-Citizen and Des Moines Design Studio (Finalist)
Brandon Neasman, Andy Rohrback, Karla Brown-Garcia, Erin Baker Crabb, Adam Drey, designers, Des Moines Design Studio

For Brandon Neasman, Andy Rohrback, Karla Brown-Garcia, Erin Baker Crabb and Adam Drey’s collection of news pages and tab covers.

Judges said: There are two parts of this entry that standout. The first is the A1 about the success women’s basketball coach. It was quite ingenious and creative to list all the wins of the coach’s career on the cover. The second aspect is the tab covers. Taking the nameplate of the section and altering it be incorporated into the design adds an extra level of cohesiveness and dynamic to the page.

To see the work:

Jan. 18: Jan. 23: Jan. 30: Feb. 11: Feb. 13: March 15: March 28: