ASNE Awards 2017
The American Society of News Editors announced April 4, 2017, the winners in the 2017 ASNE Awards for distinguished writing, digital storytelling and photography. The winning work is a collection of high-quality, high-impact journalism from news outlets of various sizes and platforms.
The ASNE Awards honor the best in print, digital and video content in 10 categories. The contest drew more than 350 entries.
"This year's winners of the ASNE Awards highlight great storytelling, collaboration and presentation across multiple content platforms," said ASNE President Mizell Stewart III, vice president of news operations at Gannett and the USA TODAY Network. "The awards are a testament to real, quality journalism and the dedicated newsroom teams that do this important work for the benefit of their readers and viewers."
With the exception of the Batten Medal and the O'Brien Fellowship Award for Impact in Public Service Journalism, which covered work published since 2015, the awards were given for work completed in 2016. All news organizations, news services and online-only news sites in the United States, including those without an ASNE member on staff, were eligible to enter.
Judging took place both online and on site at The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. Following are the winners and finalists of each category, along with remarks from the judges:
Batten Medal, honoring achievement in public service journalism
Josh Salman, Emily Le Coz and Elizabeth Johnson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune will receive $2,500 for winning the Batten Medal, which honors public service journalism in memory of revered reporter, editor and newspaper executive James K. Batten. The medal is intended to celebrate the journalistic values Batten stood for: compassion, courage, humanity and a deep concern for the underdog. The award is sponsored by a group of editors from the former Knight Ridder Inc.
Josh Salman Emily Le Coz Elizabeth Johnson
From the judges:
"This is data reporting at its best, using the records to illustrate beyond a doubt the racial biases that regularly come into play in sentencing. The shoe-leather reporting was equally impressive, delivering powerful anecdotes that reinforced what the data has already told us and bringing this important issue to life. All of this was packaged elegantly, and powerfully, for the web. Bravo!"
Burl Osborne Award for Editorial Leadership
Brian Colligan of The Virginian-Pilot will receive $2,500 for winning the Burl Osborne Award for Editorial Leadership, which recognizes editorial writing that is excellent journalism and makes a difference in a community. The award is sponsored by The Dallas Morning News in memory of Burl Osborne, who died in 2012.
From the judges:
"Brian Colligan led The Virginian-Pilot's editorial campaign on 'The Jailhouse Death of Jamycheal Mitchell' with passion and grit. He took up the mantle of a mentally ill man, jailed for stealing $5 of snacks from a convenience store, who never got his court-ordered psychological evaluation but rather was found dead in his cell 101 days later. Colligan pressed for investigations and transparency and reminded readers at every turn of the injustice done to this man.
"More than anything, this campaign got results. It forced the state to un-redact investigative reports. It unearthed a concealed jailhouse video. It prompted jail officials to resign under pressure. It coaxed a state police investigation. Most importantly, it gained the attention of legislators who might provide the only means for preventing another similar tragedy by reforming the state's mental health system."
Deborah Howell Award for Writing Excellence
Billy Baker of The Boston Globe will receive $2,500 for winning the Deborah Howell Award for Writing Excellence, which recognizes excellence in news and feature writing (except commentary or editorials) by an individual that's not done as breaking news. The award is sponsored by Advance Publications Inc., in memory of former editor Deborah Howell, who died in 2010.
From the judges:
"In 'The Power of Will,' Billy Baker used detailed reporting, beautiful writing and dramatic tension to craft a compelling narrative that holds its audience rapt until the very end.
"Baker tells the story of Will Lacey, a boy diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer that typically kills. He introduces us early to a doctor fresh into her oncology fellowship who loses a young patient to the disease and dedicates herself to patient survival. He shows us how Will's parents channeled their fear and love into a tenacious battle for a cure.
"Although Baker was familiar with the family for some time, it was news of a new drug that spurred him to reach into the past to report the details that support a narrative storyline. As with the best explanatory writing, Baker deftly teaches his readers about cancer drug trials and the repeated and brutal disappointments of new drug research. But this is no academic tome. He weaves that information into the Lacey family's journey and brings readers into emotional family moments with evocative language to describe their despair at each failure: 'Pat was full of fight with nothing to swing at. He had learned everything he could about relapsed neuroblastoma except how to beat it.' Baker brings home to each reader the shortcomings of our medical system from the slow pace of research to medicines so expensive that finding money for a cure becomes an all-consuming passion. Readers cheer for Will's survival as they race through this story. They are not disappointed."
Dori J. Maynard Award for Justice in Journalism
Eli Saslow of The Washington Post will receive $2,500 for winning the Dori J. Maynard Award for Justice in Journalism, which celebrates journalism that overcomes ignorance, stereotypes, intolerance, racism, hate, negligence and indifference. The award is sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in memory of Dori J. Maynard, who was an ASNE board member and a strong advocate for news and newsroom diversity.
From the judges:
"Eli Saslow's 'white flight of Derek Black' is a superbly written tale of a man born into white supremacy who walks away from the white nationalist cause that he was born to lead. With deep, penetrating reporting and nuanced, deft writing, Saslow expertly chronicles Black's transformation and unmasks his struggle as 'the heir' to the movement. Judges marveled at the level of access yielded by Saslow's reporting and celebrated the richness of his writing. Saslow delivers for readers a poignant, nonjudgmental story of a complex man in a complicated world. Judges believe Dori Maynard would celebrate this fine piece of journalism."
Frank A. Blethen Award for Local Accountability Reporting
The staff of The Salt Lake Tribune is the winner of the Frank A. Blethen Award for Local Accountability Reporting, which recognizes outstanding work done by a news organization that holds important local institutions accountable for their actions. The staff will receive $2,500 for winning the award, sponsored by The Seattle Times in honor of Frank A. Blethen, who has been The Times publisher and CEO since 1985.
From the judges:
"The award goes to The Salt Lake Tribune for its relentless coverage of how Brigham Young University and Utah State University botched investigations into sexual abuse complaints. Their reporting highlighted example after example of how victims were vilified.
"The Tribune showed how the policies, campus police and the Title IX office at BYU, created to protect victims, actually subjected female students to an inquisition by the Honor Code office where the women had to explain their behavior. At USU, reporters found that university authorities had failed to follow up on complaints that a football player had assaulted female students. Their reporting led to 10 more women coming forward. The Tribune journalists, who took on arguably the most powerful institutions in the state, drove widespread reforms, including a sweeping overhaul of how BYU treats sexual assault reports, policy changes at USU and criminal charges against a former football player."
Mike Royko Award for Commentary/Column Writing
Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press will receive $2,500 for winning the Mike Royko Award for Commentary/Column Writing, which recognizes excellence in writing by an individual that expresses a personal point of view. The award is sponsored by the Chicago Tribune in memory of legendary columnist Mike Royko, who died in 1997.
From the judges:
"Stephen Henderson writes with grace, clarity and humanity, an exceptional combination at any point in time but one that is especially valued amid the unspooling tumult of 2016. That he writes with such experience and insight about his native Detroit in no way diminishes his ability to write about the national political scene and the human condition, both of which he did in this year's extraordinary entry. In fact, Henderson's range may be the most impressive part of his portfolio, which he deftly uses to the benefit of his readers."
O'Brien Fellowship Award for Impact in Public Service Journalism
The Panama Papers reporting team, The Center for Public Integrity's International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, McClatchy, the Miami Herald and more than 100 other media partners are the winners of the O'Brien Fellowship Award for Impact in Public Service Journalism. This award recognizes public service work that helps solve community or societal issues, leading to changes in laws, regulations or other demonstrated results. A $2,500 cash prize will be awarded, sponsored by the fellowship at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
From the judges:
"The Panama Papers is recognized with the inaugural O'Brien Fellowship Award for Impact in Public Service Journalism because of the breadth of its reporting, the strength of the partnership that yielded this effort and the global impact that resulted."
Punch Sulzberger Award for Online Storytelling
Malia Politzer and Emily Kassie of The Huffington Post are the winners of the Punch Sulzberger Award for Online Storytelling, which recognizes excellence and innovation in the use of digital tools to tell news stories. They will receive $2,500 for winning the award, sponsored by The New York Times in memory of former publisher Arthur Ochs "Punch" Sulzberger, who died in 2012.
From the judges:
"Visually stunning, cleverly presented and richly reported, 'The 21st Century Gold Rush' is a masterstroke in high-end digital storytelling that is easy to navigate and understand. Not only were the reporters able to capture readers in a delicate story via the written word, but also the interwoven photos, facts and widgets led the readers' attention by the hand, winding them through the story. This deeply reported piece gracefully dissected a complicated, layered issue with evocative, compelling visuals and infographics complementing the storytelling."
Breaking News Writing Award
The staff of the East Bay Times (Bay Area News Group) is the winner of the Breaking News Writing Award for coverage of the tragic Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, California.
From the judges:
"East Bay Times' hustling, comprehensive and rapid-fire digital coverage of the Oakland warehouse fire captured every available detail of this horrendous tragedy in the first 18 hours, including quickly breaking investigative reporting on failures by fire inspectors. The Times organized the complex and continually expanding stories well for its readers and produced an excellent graphic with photography that reveals what the warehouse looked like on the inside. From strong reporting and photography to capturing the unfolding fire on social media, the staff's tireless efforts were reflected in its exhaustive coverage. This was digital storytelling at its best, nicely packaged and easy to follow. Impressive!"
The staff of The Dallas Morning News is the winner of the Photojournalism Award, which rewards photography that captures the sense of a community with powerful and meaningful images that provide an understanding of the community in the context of news.
From the judges:
"The Dallas Morning News' 'July 7th Shooting' is a showcase of compelling breaking news photography woven with poignant, touching imagery that documents the aftermath. The viewer is placed in the middle of a breaking news situation, a harrowing, horrific shooting playing out in the streets of Dallas, despite incredible danger and unknown circumstances and personal risk to the photographer. Not only did the staff give the viewer a range of visual perspectives, but also the viewer can follow the mood and tone as the story changed from a peaceful protest to a spot news event."
A group of news leaders and journalism professionals around the nation determined finalists and winners. In addition to the ASNE Awards Committee Co-Chairs George Stanley of Gannett and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Brian McGrory of The Boston Globe, judges include:
- Eddie Alvarez, Miami Herald
- Nancy Barnes, Houston Chronicle
- Cate Barron, Pennsylvania Media Group
- Peter Bhatia, The Cincinnati Enquirer
- David Boardman, Temple University
- Peter Canellos, POLITICO
- Alfredo Carbajal, Al Dia (The Dallas Morning News)
- Paul Cheung, NBC News Digital (with The Associated Press at the time of judging)
- Rick Christie, Palm Beach Post
- Lucy Dalglish, University of Maryland
- Randy Essex, Glenwood Springs (Colorado) Post Independent
- Jason Fields, The Holocaust Museum
- Kim Fox, Philadelphia Media Network
- Teresa Frontado, WLRN
- Manny Garcia, Gannett / Naples Daily News
- Kyndell Harkness, Minneapolis Star Tribune
- David Haynes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
- Jennifer Hemmingsen, The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
- Mandy Jenkins, Storyful
- Karen Magnuson, Rochester (New York) Democrat and Chronicle
- Chris March, Twitter Moments
- Kevin Merida, The Undefeated (ESPN)
- Jerry Micco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Mark Morrow, The Boston Globe
- George Papajohn, Chicago Tribune
- Karen Peterson, The News Tribune (Tacoma, Washington)
- Mitch Pugh, The Post and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina)
- Amy Pyle, Reveal from The Center for Public Integrity
- Martin Reynolds, Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education
- Kevin Riley, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Mark Russell, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)
- Rene Sanchez, Minneapolis Star Tribune
- Norberto Santana Jr., Voice of Orange County
- Nicole Schuman, freelance
- Debra Adams Simmons
- Mizell Stewart, Gannett / USA TODAY Network
- Tasha Stewart, WCPO
- Nicole Stockdale, The Dallas Morning News
- Joyce Terhaar, The Sacramento (California) Bee
- Hollis Towns, Asbury Park Press (Neptune, New Jersey)
- KC Wildmoon, Storyful
- Mike Wilson, The Dallas Morning News