2016 contest results

Here is the final list of winners for the 2016 contest. Sign up on our Facebook page to receive alerts about the 2017 contest.

GROWTH AND ENVIRONMENT REPORTING

First Place: Staff, San Jose Mercury News.
Second Place: Lance Williams and Katharine Mieszkowski, Center for Investigative Reporting, Emeryville, Calif.
Third Place: Staff, Denver Post.

The staff at San Jose Mercury News earns first place for coverage of California’s drought.

“The ‘State of the Drought’ represents explanatory journalism at its best. The reporters did a masterful job of presenting the scary realities of how California’s drought is turning waterways to dust, killing wildlife, forcing communities to spend millions on desalination plants and fueling year-round wildfires,” the judge wrote.

“The newspaper balances those unbelievable challenges with stories about the shortsighted push of some communities for unfettered growth, fights over nonviable senior water rights and greedy property owners who exploit a two-decade-old ballot measure that flies in the face of sensibility. The San Jose Mercury News served its readers well with this body of work. It’s why we do what we do.”

Second goes to Lance Williams and Katharine Mieszkowski for their series “The Secrets of the Drought.”

“A well-written, authoritative series by the Center for Investigative Reporting that exposes how weakened open records laws allow the wealthy and privileged to waste water while ordinary citizens are gorged with fines. A great example of how an aggressive push for public records can shine light on abuse, even when disclosure is limited,” the judge wrote.

“Lance Williams and Katharine Mieszkowski did not back down from the attempts of the water agencies to thwart their reporting. This series sparked independent investigations and a citizen drought posse that forced the mainstream media to follow the Center’s lead on this topic of water hogs.”

The staff at the Denver Post takes third place with coverage of the harmful environmental impacts of Colorado’s mining industry.

“The Denver Post’s dogged reporting of Colorado’s toxic legacy of mining chronicles how the lack of any inspection program or a dedicated source of cleanup funds has allowed hundreds of old mines to leak toxic contaminants into waterways without repercussions. The newspaper informs readers that the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s spill of toxic wastewater into the Animas River was just the tip of the iceberg. We find out that this problem has wreaked havoc on waterways and people across the state for years, impairing more than 1,600 miles of streams and rivers and destroying ecosystems in the path of this toxic waste.”

The judge continued, “I found myself shaking my head at the lax regulations and lack of urgency this problem attracted before the Animas disaster. The Denver Post provided an incredibly important public service to its readers by uncovering the scope of the problem. What an embarrassing oversight by state and federal regulators whose responsibility it is to protect the public and the environment – a revelation only made clear by The Denver Post’s reporting.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “this category was full of impressive entries. The quality of work this year made it very challenging to pick just three winners. I applaud all of the contestants who put the time and effort into exploring these complex issues. I selected the three winners based on impact, the depth of reporting and community importance.”

Judged by Dan Telvock, environmental reporter, Investigative Post (Buffalo, N.Y.). 27 entries.

IMMIGRATION AND BORDER REPORTING

First Place: Chad Blair, Mark Edward Harris and Cory Lum, Honolulu Civil Beat.
Second Place: Sanjay Bhatt and Rami Grunbaum, Seattle Times.
Third Place: Mauricio Pena, Omar Ornelas and Robert Hopwood, Palm Springs Desert Sun.

Chad Blair, Mark Edward Harris and Cory Lum earn first place for their project on the migration of Micronesians.

“A look at a little-known slice of America’s immigration debate, this entry is a clear winner due to its breadth and depth, multimedia component and multiple bylines,” the judge wrote. “The authors took a humane and intelligent view of Micronesia’s crippling emigration problem, and conversely Hawaii’s immigration challenge, while ensuring that policy angles were also well covered.”

Second place goes to Sanjay Bhatt and Rami Grunbaum for their project on the EB-5 visa, starting with this central piece.

“Good reporting reveals that a quirk in the U.S. immigration system, the handing out of EB-5 visas to rich foreigners, is not helping the economically challenged parts of the Puget Sound area that it is supposed to,” the judge wrote.

Third is awarded to Mauricio Pena, Omar Ornelas and Robert Hopwood for “Death in the Fields,” a three-part look at the plight of California farmworkers.

“The authors picked their way through complex data to show the danger of heat-related deaths for agricultural workers in California, suggesting that the phenomena is underreported by officials. Good use of graphics.”

Judged by Alistair Bell, Americas desk editor, Reuters. 18 entries.

BREAKING NEWS

First Place: Staff, San Bernardino Sun.
Second Place: Staff, The Oregonian.
Third Place: Andrew Theen, The Oregonian.

The San Bernardino Sun takes first place with coverage of a December terror attack that left 14 dead and 22 wounded (1, 2, 3).

“Top-notch reporting and presentation of story that updated continuously and had the entire country holding its breath,” the judge wrote.

The Oregonian nabbed second for coverage of the Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s resignation (1, 2, 3).

“Even when you know something has to happen soon, putting together so many story lines into a cohesive package in difficult. But this staff made it look easy,” the judge said.

Third place goes to Andrew Theen of The Oregonian for a piece about a pile-up on Interstate 84 involving more than 20 vehicles.

“Great job covering a distant news event,” the judge wrote. “Heart-stopping photos, good narrative, very good presentation and good continuing coverage.”

Judged by David Bailey, managing editor, Arkansas Democrat‑Gazette. 26 entries.

EXPLANATORY REPORTING

First Place: Anna Griffin, The Oregonian.
Second Place: Allison Schaefers and Dana Williams, Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Third Place: Lee van der Voo and James Gordon, Investigate West, Seattle.

First place goes to Anna Griffin for Our Homeless Crisis.

“This series rose above the other entries because of its thoroughness and the importance of the topic, not just to Portland but to the country,” the judge wrote.

Allison Schaefers and Dana Williams win second with their series on Hawaii’s taxi industry, including a database of filed complaints.

“An in-depth look at the taxi regulation system in Hawaii and how the consumers are being cheated,” the judge wrote.

Third goes to Lee van der Voo and James Gordon for reporting on the housing market in Portland, Ore., and the investors behind it.

“Great use of data and shoe leather reporting to explain why the housing market is exploding in Portland.”

The judge added, “This was an extremely robust category. There were at least 10 entries that were strong competitors for winning.”

Judged by Joel Kaplan, associate dean for Professional Graduate Studies at the Syracuse University Newhouse School. 45 entries.

PROJECT REPORTING

First Place: Staff, Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
Second Place: Jennifer Brown, The Denver Post.
Third Place: Jason Blevins, The Denver Post.

The staff at Corpus Christi Caller-Times wins first place for a project on domestic violence.

“Gripping narratives, a chilling 911 audio slide show and a comprehensive resource for community solutions and help,” the judge wrote. “The depth of this multiple-part digital and print package reflected the complexity of how a community deals with domestic violence. The staff is to be commended for getting so many victims or their families to share their heartbreaking stories.”

Second place goes to Jennifer Brown with “Transgender in Colorado.”

“Surgeries, schools, religion and suicides,” the judge wrote. “Those are just a handful of the topics explored in this poignant project. The scope of the reporting and research exemplified project reporting. Moving videos captured the multifaceted issues faced by transgender individuals and their families. Excellent video storytelling.”

Jason Blevins grabs third for a project on Colorado teen Kailyn Forsberg.

“A moving narrative unfolded in multiple installments detailing one young girl’s desire and determination to overcome a paralyzing ski injury,” the judge wrote. “The moving narration and documentary video storytelling illuminated how she and her family are overcoming obstacles as their small ski town rallies to help.”

Judged by Maria De Varenne, news director, Nashville Tennessean. 38 entries.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

First Place: Mike Baker and Daniel Wagner, Seattle Times.
Second Place: staff, Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Third Place: Noelle Crombie, The Oregonian.

Mike Baker and Daniel Wagner of the Seattle Times snag first place with “The Mobile-Home Trap.”

“This is a devastating and sickening portrait of a mobile home industry powerhouse, the revered and fabulously wealthy icon who controls it, and the customers whose lives have been ripped apart,” the judge wrote.

The staff at Las Vegas Review-Journal earns second place for coverage of their own paper’s sale to a mysterious new company, which was later revealed to be tied to casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

“Gutsy and pugnacious examination of the machinations behind the sale of the Las Vegas Review-Journal,” the judge commented.

Third place goes to Noelle Crombie for her investigation into pesticides in marijuana.

“A smart investigation into the wink-and-nod regulation of the chemicals used in the production of medicinal pot.”

Judged by Casey Frank, investigations editor, Miami Herald. 34 entries.

NEWS WRITING

First Place: Everton Bailey, The Oregonian.
Second Place: Emma Penrod, Salt Lake Tribune.
Third Place: Brian M. Rosenthal, Houston Chronicle.

Everton Bailey is awarded first for a piece on Jan Moffatt’s shooting by her husband, plus two videos.

“Deep reporting and great storytelling brings home the tragedy of domestic violence. It’s told with tremendous detail and hits on the irony of the victim facing the choice of whether her attacker – her husband – should die,” the judge wrote.

Second place goes to Emma Penrod for “Fissure in booming Utah city divides residents, swallows dreams.”

“It would have been easy to pass on this story, but the reporter dug into a complex environmental issue that affected many people’s lives,” the judge wrote.

Brian M. Rosenthal earns third for “As the Blanco River raged, a Wimberley couple held on for dear life.”

“The reporter found the right survivor to tell the story of this deadly flood. The story was deeply reported, but the tale of one woman who clung to life while her husband was swept away made for compelling writing,” the judge wrote.

Overall, the judge wrote, “there were many top-notch entries in this category. It was difficult to narrow it down to three top stories. Many others also were winners.”

Judged by Dan Bowerman, assistant managing editor, Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa. 91 entries.

FEATURE WRITING, SHORT FORM

First Place: Daniel Brown, San Jose Mercury News.
Second Place: David Olinger, Denver Post.
Third Place: Erik Lacitis, Seattle Times.

Daniel Brown earns first place with his article on “Surprising Swifties,” unlikely fans of pop star Taylor Swift.

“From beginning to end, this story never ceased to surprise and delight – superb use of quotes, clever writing, and hilarious anecdotes,” the judge wrote. “This story stood out from the other entries partly because of its novelty but mostly because of the seamless manner in which it was crafted.”

Second goes to David Olinger for a piece about a child with stiff skin syndrome.

“It’s one of the great ironies of newspaper feature writing: Stories about children struggling against rare diseases have become so common that they often feel cliched,” the judge wrote. “This writer avoided that trap with extensive reporting and efficient writing that never veered off into melodrama.”

Erik Lacitis snags third place with a feature on a Seattle couple who left their estate to the U.S. federal government.

“This entry raised more questions than answers about the couple it profiled. But good stories are sometimes like that,” the judge wrote. “In the end, the writer assembled a captivating portrait of a refugee who probably believed he owed everything to the nation that gave him a new life.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “about a dozen stories rose above the rest. They stood apart for their unique subjects, the difficultly of the reporting and the authors’ insights. As the deadline for judges neared, the top dozen entries were winnowed down to seven. They were ranked, then read and reread, read again and moved up and down the list, until the top three finalists became clear – a position they achieved because of the strength of what they evoked: laughter, empathy and gratitude.”

Judged by Stephen Deere, reporter, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 76 entries.

FEATURE WRITING, LONG FORM

First Place: Mark Baker, Eugene Register-Guard.
Second Place: Kirsten Crow, Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
Third Place: Bud Elliott, Central California Life Magazine.

Mark Baker captures first place with “Eugene is Syrian’s safe haven” about a math teacher who fled the war-torn country and settled in Oregon (1, 2, 3, 4).

“Well-researched and digs deeply,” the judge wrote. “Excellent!”

Kirsten Crow takes second for a piece on the Corpus Christi mayor’s daughter, whom she put up for adoption.

“I loved the emotion about relationships and love, elegantly delivered!” the judge wrote.

Third place goes to Bud Elliott for a feature on the state of water in central California.

“Something we all need to think about – beyond Central California!” the judge wrote. “Bravo!”

Judged by Iris Krasnow, journalism professor, American University in Washington, D.C. 97 entries.

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT WRITING

First Place: Amy B Wang, Arizona Republic.
Second Place: Ellen Fagg Weist, Salt Lake Tribune.
Third Place: Sam McManis, Sacramento Bee.

First place goes to Amy B Wang for “Letter pressed: Inside the national spelling bee.”

“There were a lot of really great entries in this category, but this is the clear winner,” the judge wrote. “The writer captured great little details and managed to write a big national story and a nice local one all in the same piece.

“It’s awfully long for a newspaper story (how many jumps on this one?) but compelling to the end. And the quiz is a great sidebar.”

Ellen Fagg Weist takes second place with her preview of the musical “The Book of Mormon” opening in Salt Lake City.

“A preview of a touring Broadway play never deserves A1 centerpiece coverage – unless it’s ‘The Book of Mormon’ coming to Salt Lake City,” the judge wrote. “It would have been real easy to get snarky, or to get defensive, but the writer does a nice job of playing it straight and talking to credible sources who can put it all into context. … Fabulous job on this story.”

Sam McManis earns third place with an article on a pageant in Laguna Beach recreating classic paintings.

“Oh, how cool is that?” the judge wrote. “At first, I wondered about the point of doing this story, since the pageant has been going on for decades and readers no doubt are aware of it; then I Mapquested California and realized Laguna Beach and Sacramento are hundreds of miles apart, and it all made a lot more sense. I like how the writer calls it out for the gimmick it is but acknowledges that it’s a gimmick that really works. I also enjoyed the comments from the kids who had to practice standing still.

“The writer shows just enough knowledge of art to sound knowledgeable without sounding snobby. This story is just a delight.”

Judged by Tom Szaroleta, lifestyle editor, Florida Times-Union. 48 entries.

BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL REPORTING

First Place: Lee van der Voo and James Gordon, Investigate West, Seattle.
Second Place: Marjie Lundstrom and Phillip Reese, Sacramento Bee.
Third Place: Francesca Lyman, Investigate West, Seattle.

First place goes to Lee van der Voo and James Gordon, who submitted “How Cash Sent the Portland Home Market Spinning” and the sidebars “26 Investors Who Have Way More House Than You” and “Methodology for Our Report on Cash Buyers.”

“This deeply reported and well-written feature explains the rise of a complex economic trend (equity home ownership) in a way that is understandable by all,” the judge wrote. “It brings transparency to cash home sales in the region. It also provides valuable context for readers and home buyers who may be unaware of the economic forces (i.e., institutional investors) that are influencing home prices in the area and ultimately, making it harder for first-time buyers to close.”

Marjie Lundstrom and Phillip Reese earn second place with their piece on the legal troubles of a powerful nursing home owner in California.

“The reporters’ investigation into a buyer of distressed nursing homes provides valuable insight into what life is like at some of the most troubled and underperforming facilities in the state. This story performs a valuable public service by bringing attention to that topic,” the judge wrote.

“Moreover, it shows how vulnerable populations can suffer when business owners fail to meet compliance standards and poor management is allowed to continue. Readers come away feeling emotionally invested in this story.”

Third is awarded to Francesca Lyman for an article on the largest for-profit thrift store chain in the United States, plus two sidebars on donations to the chain and its perception to the public.

“This surprising and well-written feature introduces readers to a for-profit thrift store chain that seems to have intentionally tricked customers into confusing it with not-for-profit competitors,” the judge wrote. “This story performs a valuable public service for those seeking to make in-kind charitable donations. This story also alerts readers to questionable marketing practices and forces people to think critically about the ethics of the retailer in question.”

Overall, the judge added, “this category included a wide variety of strong investigative, explanatory and feature stories. The three stories that I selected as finalists stood out for their breadth, scope, sourcing and ability to make me feel emotionally invested in what I was reading.”

Judged by Erin Zlomek, editor, Bloomberg News. 52 entries.

SPORTS REPORTING

First Place: Jeff Metcalfe, Arizona Republic.
Second Place: Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News.
Third Place: Jeff McDonald, San Antonio Express-News.

Jeff Metcalfe earns first place with his profile of Olympic swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen and her battle to walk again after an ATV accident that threatened her life and left her paralyzed from the waist down.

Second place goes to Jon Wilner for his profile of Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors, in which Kerr talked at length for the first time about the 1984 terrorist assassination of his father, Malcolm, who was president of the American University of Beirut.

Jeff McDonald takes third place with his profile of LaMarcus Aldridge, a new addition to the San Antonio Spurs.

Judged by Mark Alesia, sports business reporter, Indianapolis Star. 47 entries.

GENERAL INTEREST COLUMN WRITING

First Place: Ralph Strangis, Dallas Morning News.
Second Place: Carmen George, Fresno Bee.
Third Place: Lee Cataluna, Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Ralph Strangis earns first place for a portfolio of columns on topics ranging from acquiring and quitting his dream job to patriotism at sports events to his daughter’s departure for college.

“With his ledes, Mr. Strangis grabs you by the collar and forces you along his wild, lyrical ride. You can feel the beat to his writing, as you experience this frenzied, honest reflection of his life and our culture,” the judge wrote.

“Unique. Engaging. The real deal. Kudos.”

Second place goes to Carmen George for her work telling the stories of a double amputee Marine, a 102-year old Fresno benefactor and inmates who train shelter dogs.

“Ms. George paints portraits of people with words. Through well placed quotes and rich descriptions, she reveals subtleties of human behavior. Lovely prose and writing,” the judge wrote.

Lee Cataluna is awarded third place for her columns, including “Families who commute have the drive to succeed,” “Living Hawaii Dream means first figuring out what it is” and “For these kids, success is hard-won and sweet.”

“Ms. Cataluna captures moments effortlessly while she subtly comments on their meaning,” the judge wrote. “Her style places you in Hawaiian classrooms and football fields where you can almost feel the trade wind’s breeze. Nice work.”

Judged by Amanda Beam, columnist, News and Tribune (Jeffersonville, Ind.). 27 entries.

SPECIAL TOPIC COLUMN WRITING

First Place: Jared Whitley, Utah Policy, Salt Lake City.
Second Place: Josh Brodesky, San Antonio Express-News.
Third Place: Christopher Lawrence, Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Jared Whitley earns first place with a portfolio of columns on video games and politics, humor at the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sen. Mike Lee’s proposal for criminal justice reform and more.

“Jared Whitley’s columns provide a sophisticated analysis of politics undergirded by his understanding of popular culture. Extra points for incorporating web features,” the judge wrote.

Josh Brodesky wins second place for columns on the trash of a San Antonio neighborhood, chronicling the trash build-up, the trash’s return after a clean-up effort, the landlords’ role in the controversy and the eventual pick-up pilot program.

“Josh Brodesky takes on an important issue involving equity, fairness and governance,”the judge wrote. “Greater expressiveness, clearer explanation and better context would have made this series a top winner.”

Third goes to movie critic Christopher Lawrence for pieces on such films as “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” and “Magic Mike XXL.”

“Stylish, entertaining writing that also shows a deep knowledge of Las Vegas entertainment culture,” the judge wrote.

Judged by Inga Saffron, architecture critic, The Philadelphia Inquirer. 31 entries.

HEADLINE WRITING

First Place: Matthew Crowley, Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Second Place: Dale Ulland, Denver Post.
Third Place: Dale Ulland, Denver Post.

Matthew Crowley earns first place for his portfolio of headlines, including “Cheers Amid the Booze,” “Calculated Whisk” and “The Shoe Must Go On.”

“These were really fun, compelling headlines that made me want to read the stories,” the judge wrote. “The heads also accurately conveyed what the stories were about, and the decks played well off the main heads.”

Second place goes to Dale Ulland for “It looks like reign,” “Motor Gritty,” “Flights, Cam, traction!” and more.

“A good mix of business, news and sports headlines. The heads and decks worked well together,” the judge wrote.

Ulland snags third as well with another entry, which contained headlines such as “3-on-3 success is no 4-on-4-gone conclusion,” “On vomit, on stupid, on stoner, on blitzed: Yet, all a good ‘Night'” and “Getting behind the wheeeeeee!”

“A nice combination of short and long headlines,” the judge wrote.

Overall, the judge wrote, “this was a difficult contest to judge, with many strong entries. What set the winners apart were heads that were creative and compelling, but also accurately conveyed what the story was about. Some heads were creative but were a reach.”

“The winning headlines could stand on their own, but often were made even better by decks that worked off the main head to tell the whole story. There were very few bad headlines, and most entries had at least one really good one, often two or three.”

Judged by Chick Howland, news editor, Kansas City Star. 25 entries.

EDITORIAL WRITING

First Place: Helen Jung, The Oregonian.
Second Place: Erik Lukens, The Oregonian.
Third Place: Ricardo Pimentel, San Antonio Express-News.

Helen Jung earns first place with an editorial on Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon and a scandal involving his fiancee.

“A brilliantly written take-down of the governor’s rhetoric regarding his fiancee and conflicts of interests. This editorial approaches a difficult subject head-on with a mix of wit, outrage and smart reporting of examples of powerful independent women who avoid such conflicts,” the judge wrote.

Second place goes to Erik Lukens for a piece on Kitzhaber’s successor Gov. Kate Brown.

“A powerful account of how the government undermined the public records law that also holds the governor accountable for a record at odds with her rhetoric,” the judge wrote.

Ricardo Pimentel snags third place with an editorial on the city of San Antonio’s educational campaign about sugar in beverages.

“A well-reported expose on how a special interest infiltrated and undermined a public health campaign,” the judge wrote.

Judged by Tim Nickens, editor of editorials, Tampa Bay Times. 36 entries.

NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY

First Place: LiPo Ching, San Jose Mercury News.
Second Place: RJ Sangosti, Denver Post.
Third Place: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

LiPo Ching wins first place with an image of the funeral of a San Jose police officer.

“This is a beautiful scene of a solemn moment. Light, angle and graphic quality come together to draw the reader’s eye and create a sense of mood,” the judge wrote.

Second goes to RJ Sangosti, who shot a family member’s reaction to the death of a Denver toddler.

“This is a very intimate portrait and scene setter in a very difficult situation,” the judge wrote “Rather than stand back with a long lens, the photographer has obviously made those around him comfortable in a very short time to be allowed access to the scene.”

Kristin Murphy snags third for a photo of a Utah national guardsman and his young daughter saying goodbye before his 12-month deployment.

“This image really drives home a human connection, which is what we so often seek on assignment,” the judge wrote.

Judged by Sam Hodgson, freelance photographer, New York City. 35 entries.

FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY

First Place: Joe Amon, Denver Post.
Second Place: Tom Smart, Deseret News.
Third Place: RJ Sangosti, Denver Post.

Joe Amon captures first place with a photo of a trans Coloradan lifting weights.

“This is an intimate image that instantly gives the reader perspective into an important and defining social issue of our time,” the judge wrote. “What it lacks in aesthetics, it more than makes up for in storytelling.”

Tom Smart earns second place with an image of two high school sisters practicing for an upcoming rodeo.

“A beautiful combination of light and moment that creates a timeless scene,” the judge wrote.

Third place goes to RJ Sangosti for his photo capturing a Denverite’s hair blowing in the wind.

“I love that the photographer found a different way to illustrate the ubiquitous ‘weather feature,'” the judge wrote.

Judged by Sam Hodgson, freelance photographer, New York City. 51 entries.

SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

First Place: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News, Salt Lake City.
Second Place: Rob Schumacher, Arizona Republic.
Third Place: Rob Schumacher, Arizona Republic.

Kristin Murphy wins first place with an image of a high school women’s volleyball team celebrating a state championship.

“A nice combination of light and angle that makes the reader feel the emotion in the scene,” the judge wrote.

Rob Schumacher earns second for a photo of runners in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the 2015 Pan Am Games.

“While this picture is made often at these events, this is a very nice version of it,” the judge wrote. “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

Schumacher also takes third place with his photo of Russell Wilson and Tom Brady embracing at the end of Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona.

“A nice moment out of what I can imagine was a very difficult scrum,” the judge wrote.

Judged by Sam Hodgson, freelance photographer, New York City. 40 entries.

NEWS SLIDESHOW

First Place: Laura Seitz, Deseret News.
Second Place: Paul Joseph Brown, Investigate West.
Third Place: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News.

Laura Seitz earns first place with a slideshow accompanying an article on Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia.

“Good story of showing some of the fanfare surrounding the Pope’s visit. Could have used a bit stronger editing for the entry. But I’m glad that the story was more than photos of just the pope, (featuring) the people coming to see him,” the judge wrote.

Second is awarded to Paul Joseph Brown, who submitted photographs of the Cedar River watershed, which might not outlast the Seattle area’s water demands as climate change progresses.

“Not an easy story to photograph without the human element, but more nature. Could have been made stronger by showing images of how the water is being used in Seattle (i.e. lawns, swimming pools, leaking, more subdivisions, etc.),” the judge wrote.

Scott G. Winterton takes third place for a slideshow on a flash flood in southwestern Utah and the ensuing search and rescue mission in a community of Latter-Day Saints fundamentalists.

“Tough story to illustrate, could have used tighter editing and some other images beyond just the scene,” the judge wrote. “Would have been nice to see other images of family and friends of the victims and how they were honoring them. It is tough to gain access to a community like this, but would of liked to have seen more.”

On the winners, the judge continued, “three very different types of entries for the News slideshow division, but all conveyed their stories well.”

Judged by David McIntyre, freelance photographer, Hong Kong. 4 entries.

FEATURE SLIDESHOW

First Place: Leif Reigstad and Daniel Kramer, Houston Press.
Second Place: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.
Third Place: Mikayla Whitmore, Las Vegas Weekly.

Leif Reigstad and Daniel Kramer take first place for a slideshow documenting the opening of the Greater Church of Lucifer in Houston, including fervent protests.

The judge commented, “Was well done, and glad the photographer was able to show both sides of the story.”

Second place goes to Jeffrey D. Allred for a slideshow on a teenage Paralympian.

“Nice job and good subject, would have been nice to see some other images of comparison between subject and normal people,” the judge wrote.

Mikayla Whitmore earns third place with images from travelling through the Mojave Desert, which was published with a road trip through the Eastern Mohave.

“Interesting concept, and desolate, the judge wrote. “Showed the desert on the verge of a heyday.”

Judged by David McIntyre, freelance photographer, Hong Kong. 51 entries.

VIDEO STORYTELLING

First Place: Staff, Equal Voice News.
Second Place: Theresa Poulson, Arizona State University.
Third Place: Jane Tyska, Oakland Tribune.

The staff at Equal Voice News earns first place for “If You Love Somebody: Grandparents Raising Kids.”

“A riveting and powerful presentation. The video is a perfect complement to the print article it accompanies. By having two grandparents tell their stories and share their experiences in first person, the video provides viewers a glimpse of the extraordinary struggles many families face to keep children from falling into the margins,” the judge commented.

Second place is awarded to Theresa Poulson, who submitted a video chronicling the fight over the development of a canal in Nicaragua and how it would affect farmers in the area.

“A balanced look at a highly charged issue. A proposed canal would force the uprooting of thousands of families, many of whom don’t want to leave their land. The video balances the stories of fear and uncertainty with the promise of economic opportunity for all of Nicaragua that the canal’s proponents envision,” the judge wrote.

Jane Tyska snags third for her work on a special burial site for infants abandoned shortly after their births.

“An incredibly moving story that still finds a way to be uplifting while dealing with such a sad topic. This video found heroism in simple acts of kindness, care and compassion.”

Judged by Bill McMeekin, vice president and director of content, Journal Communications in Franklin, Tenn. 45 entries.

INFORMATIONAL GRAPHIC

First Place: Carli Brosseau and Mark Friesen, The Oregonian.
Second Place: Michelle Doe, Denver Post.
Third Place: Aliya Mood, Arizona Republic.

Carli Brosseau and Mark Friesen take away first place for their map of bike thefts in Portland.

“This was without a doubt the standout of this category. The combination of functionality, ease of navigation and distilled information is a worthy gold standard for data visualization in this competition,” the judge wrote.

Michelle Doe captures second with an infographic on caloric intake and exercise during the holiday season.

“This is easily navigated and full of useful information that flows from point-to-point throughout the graphic,” the judge wrote. “The complementary images are helpful without overpowering the information. This represents one of the most functional and easily-understood graphics of this competition.”

Aliya Mood is awarded third place for “Web of Knowledge.”

“Flow charts work best when they serve a useful purpose rather than just ending with something like ‘YES!’ or ‘NO!’ and this achieves that, walking a fine line between entertainment and information that navigates the audience to specific, tailored answers,” the judge wrote.

The judge continued, “The winners in this category, regardless of format, all stood out for their functionality. The best work was well-layered, easy-to-follow and most importantly, created using the most appropriate form of chart, graph or other data visualization tool.”

Judged by Josh Crutchmer, design and graphics editor, Cleveland Plain Dealer. 25 entries.

EDITORIAL CARTOONING

First Place: Angelo Lopez, Philippines Today, San Bruno, Calif.
Second Place: Russell Hodin, New Times San Luis Obispo.
Third Place: Steve Greenberg, Ventura County Reporter.

Angelo Lopez earns first place for a package of editorial cartoons relating to women’s rights, the indigenous Lumad people of the Philippines, violence against journalists, and more.

“Powerful graphic commentary in a unique artistic style,” the judge wrote.

Second place goes to Russell Hodin for cartoons on the VW emissions scandal the canonization of Junipero Serra and the Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s seismic testing near its nuclear power plant.

“Terrific art voicing a compelling perspective,” the judge wrote.

Steve Greenberg takes third with a submission including cartoons on the climate change conference in Paris, the legalization of same-sex marriage, and the frequency of mass shootings in the United States in 2015.

“Excellent work, professionally executed,” the judge wrote.

Overall, the judge added, “The high level of quality of all of the entries made choosing the top three particularly difficult. Unique drawing styles and strong opinions were evident in every entry. These cartoons are what great editorial cartooning is all about. What a pleasure to view them all.”

Judged by Scott Stantis, editorial cartoonist, Chicago Tribune. 8 entries.

PAGE DESIGN

First Place: Alison Borden and Matt Swaney, Denver Post.
Second Place: Scott Stoddard, Drew Perine and Tony Overman, Tacoma News Tribune.
Third Place: Aliya Mood, Palm Springs Desert Sun.

Alison Borden and Matt Swaney take first place with “Guilty” on the guilty verdict for Aurora theater shooter James Holmes.

“The front page is designed for maximum impact and conveying information quickly, but this wins the category for me for its inside page photo editing and design,” the judge wrote. “The lead image inside captured a victim in a compelling moment and was played in a compelling manner. It is the type of storytelling this competition should be lauding.”

Scott Stoddard, Drew Perine and Tony Overman are awarded second for their design of an A1 story on the Chambers Bay golf tournament and its inside page.

“The front page features a newsy moment, but the inside page is what carries this entry,” the judge wrote. “Capturing the moment a tournament-altering putt just misses was outstanding photography, but the foresight to play it on the page at this scale without interference is what makes this an outstanding example of sports design.”

Third goes to Aliya Mood, who submitted “Songs of hope.”

“The cover itself was my single favorite entry in this category, but the inside page was average at best and keeps this entry from contending for first place,” the judge wrote.

“But the cover illustration was both entertaining and explanatory — the kind of visual you can take a long look at — which led into a typographically sound story design.”

Judged by Josh Crutchmer, design and graphics editor, Cleveland Plain Dealer. 42 entries.

ONLINE PRESENTATION

First Place: Staff, Honolulu Civil Beat.
Second Place: Staff, News21, Phoenix.
Third Place: staff, Denver Post.

The Honolulu Civil Beat earns first place with its presentation of the special project “The Micronesians.”

“Educational, insightful and beautifully packaged multimedia package that dives deep into what truly is ‘An Untold Story of American Immigration,'” the judge wrote.

“With the current migrant crisis in Europe, ‘The Micronesians’ gives an insight into a lesser-known immigration in America. The stories of Micronesian immigrants through text, graphics, beautiful photography, audio and video gives an in-depth understanding of the challenges they face.”

News21 takes second place for “America’s Weed Rush.”

“Very well-produced package that has a plethora of information. The ease of use and the design make it look like there isn’t much there, but once you dive into the package, you can’t leave,” the judge wrote.

“The information is well-packaged and catered to different readers. One can either look up data in one’s own state or browse the stories by different categories.”

Third place goes to the Denver Post for its package on trans Coloradans.

“The clean, minimalistic layout of the stories lets the multimedia stand out,” the judge wrote. “The ease of navigation makes the reader float from one story to another, which are all captivating in their own way. The highlights of this online presentation are the videos, which are emotional, educational and inspirational, representing different points of view.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “this task wasn’t easy as there were great entries in this category. Online presentations take time to organize and produce, but this year’s work shows that these types of packages matter, and I want to commend all the entries this year for their superb work.”

Judged by Lily Ciric Hoffmann, multimedia lecturer, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland. 12 entries.