2017 contest results


First Place: Sammy Roth and Ian James, Palm Springs Desert Sun.
Second Place: Robert Chaney and Tommy Martino, Missoulian, Missoula, Montana.
Third Place: Staff, San Antonio Express-News.

Sammy Roth and Ian James earn first place with their expansive project on climate change.

“This series breaks fresh ground in reporting multiple angles on climate change from a local, desert-based perspective,” the judge wrote. “The Desert Sun explores climate change through a variety of lenses, all closely tied to the community it serves.

“For example, we learn through a cute furry critter, the Amargosa vole, how climate change is impacting efforts to save endangered species. An installment on snowpack-supplied water provides insight into how this crucial resource could be managed in new ways as adaptation strategy as the world warms. We are introduced to local activists who are calling for fossil fuels beneath public lands left in ground rather than auctioned off for extraction. Presidential politics and public opinion polls on climate change come into play as well, firmly tied to the community with a noteworthy video of local millennials expressing their views about climate change. Sharp writing and tight editing combine with compelling photos and data-based graphics for an excellent package,” the judge continued.

Second place goes to Robert Chaney and Tommy Martino for their series on the timber industry in Montana.

“Beautiful writing and evocative photos provide a deep sense of place in this exploration of the local logging business. The story examines the complicated web of factors that led this industry into its current, shrunken state,” the judge wrote.

“Though jammed with facts, the strong storytelling keeps the articles easy to read. I pondered over this series for days after I read it.”

The staff at San Antonio Express-News gains third place for “The Next Million,” including coverage of the city’s flood risk, efforts to mitigate it, and an editorial.

“This extensive, multimedia package is encyclopedic in its examination of San Antonio’s explosive growth,” the judge wrote. “It is rich with stories and voices of local people. Stories provide insights into how growth is affecting richer and poorer neighborhoods, schools, the water supply, and a nearby small town that has blossomed into a suburb.

The judge added, “Because of the impressive quality of so many of the entries in this category, I found picking only three winners to be a major challenge. I congratulate all contestants – you plumbed a variety of growth and environment topics and committed splendid journalism. I learned a lot from your work.

“The three winners I chose excelled in depth of reporting, writing quality, balance, completeness, and importance of their reporting to their local communities.”

Judged by Cheryl Hogue, assistant managing editor, Chemical & Engineering News. 33 entries.


First Place: Stephen Magagnini, Renee Byer and Jessica Koscielniak, Sacramento Bee.
Second Place: Staff, Arizona Daily Star.
Third Place: Dan Nowicki, Daniel Gonzalez and Nick Oza, Arizona Republic.

Stephen Magagnini, Renee Byer and Jessica Koscielniak win first place with a package on Afghan immigrants in Sacramento.

“‘No Safe Place,’ by the Sacramento Bee, started as a bicycle fatality. A man was hit by a car on a busy street, the kind of accident that often lands on 3B,” the judge wrote.

“Old-fashioned shoe leather reporting turned it into something much more. The Bee revealed an immigration crisis that had been flying under the radar until the newspaper shined its light. A community of Afghan refugees was struggling to resettle in America after being persecuted in their homeland for service to Americans during the war.

“The Bee’s exemplary multi-media investigation revealed a flawed, disorganized resettlement system that was failing the new refugees at nearly every turn. The newspaper authentically chronicled the refugees’ plight, diving into the complexities of survival and assimilation. Their stories about the refugees’ squalid living conditions led to an outpouring of public support and a federal investigation into the resettlement process.”

Second place goes to the Arizona Daily Star staff for “Beyond the Wall,” package about the U.S.-Mexico border and whether a border wall is needed.

“The Arizona Daily Star’s ‘Beyond the Wall’ project exemplifies the importance of newspapers in informing the electorate and separating facts from simplistic campaign rhetoric. In an era of dwindling newsrooms, it is also a testament to the notion that ambition need not be tempered by resource scarcity,” the judge wrote.

“The Star’s look at the border, its current security and the feasibility of building Trump’s wall provided critical insight into an issue that continues to divide America. Their unflinching and objective story revealed the hardships and friendships that have developed in borderlands; and the harsh realities that don’t seem to be understood in Washington. Examining the issue from all viewpoints, the project clearly illustrates how the intractable issue of illegal immigration can’t be solved with a wall.

“Their digital presentation also provides compelling visuals that show just how vast and diverse the borderlands are, and how illogical a one-size-fits all solution would be.”

Dan Nowicki, Daniel Gonzalez and Nick Oza earn third place with a series the role of immigration in presidential primaries and caucuses in swing states.

“The Arizona Republic’s in-depth look at Americans’ contrasting views on illegal immigration in five influential presidential-nominating states illustrates why the issue is, and will continue to be, so divisive,” the judge wrote.

“Republic reporters went to Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. They found varying degrees of acceptance and rejection of the growing numbers of Hispanics in communities across America, and differing views about what should be done about them. Their stories examined the economic and human costs on both sides of this highly political issue; and the everyday people caught somewhere in between.”

Judged by Heather Urquides, former city editor, Tampa Bay Times. 11 entries.


First Place: Staff, East Bay Times, Walnut Creek, California.
Second Place: Staff, San Luis Obispo Tribune.
Third Place: Edward Ornelas, San Antonio Express-News.

The staff at East Bay Times takes first place for its breaking coverage of the fire at Oakland’s Ghost Ship warehouse.

“Excellent, comprehensive package,” the judge wrote. “It was interesting to read the three main stories and then see how the reporting and writing played out throughout the day online. Great graphics, photos and investigative work in such a short amount of time. Way to go, folks.”

The San Luis Obispo Tribune staff snags second place with coverage of the announcement of plans to close a nearby nuclear power plant.

“It looked like it was ‘all hands on deck’ after the announcement. Readers wondering ‘What happens next?’ surely had many of their questions answered. A very good all-around report,” the judge wrote.

Third place goes to Edward Ornelas for his work on the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in West Texas.

“Great job on nailing down the information, getting the photog to the ranch, writing and updating the stories, etc.,” the judge wrote.

Judged by Bob Glissmann, breaking news editor, Omaha World-Herald. 24 entries.


First Place (tie): Brooke Edwards Staggs and Kurt Snibbe, Orange County Register.
First Place (tie): Rob O’Dell and Anne Ryman, Arizona Republic.
Second Place: Craig Harris, Dennis Wagner and Michael Chow, Arizona Republic.
Third Place (tie): Claudia Rowe, Anika Anand and John Higgins, Seattle Times.
Third Place (tie): Thomas Peele, San Jose Mercury News.

In a tie, first place goes to Brooke Edwards Staggs and Kurt Snibbe for their work on the recreational marijuana vote in California and to Rob O’Dell and Anne Ryman for “Incomplete Picture.”

“In a powerhouse category, the Orange County Register’s examination of the legalization of recreational cannabis in California stands out as a remarkable multimedia accomplishment, providing clear and concise explanation on every conceivable element of Prop 64, its implementation and its effects,” the judge wrote. “Readers learn how the law provides legal protections to medical marijuana users who risked losing parental rights and how a migraine-suffering reporter obtained her medical marijuana card. There are infographics, a video, Facebook Live and the fantastic website thecannifornian.com.”

“Reporter Brooke Edwards Staggs is clearly among the nation’s preeminent reporters on this subject,” the judge added.

“The Arizona Republic’s investigation of campus crime reporting deficiencies – “Incomplete Picture” – is revelatory and smartly conceived work. The Republic investigation revealed how federally mandated campus crime statistics often fail to reflect the true picture of crime risks for students who live near campus. Using interactive graphics and maps, reporters documented off-campus crimes near the campuses of Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and, with the help of the Lansing State Journal, Michigan State University. The reporters found the number of reported rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults and burglaries would increase dramatically if off-campus crimes were added to the reporting statistics mandated by the federal Clery Act.”

“This is a critically important piece of journalism,” the judge wrote.

Craig Harris, Dennis Wagner and Michael Chow earn second place with reporting on the Navajo Nation’s housing crisis.

“The Arizona Republic’s comprehensive examination of the wasteful, mismanaged and incompetent Navajo Nation tribe’s public housing program is a great blend of explanation and revelation,” the judge wrote.

“For every revelation, there is an explanation. This is important, difference-making journalism.”

In another tie, third place is awarded to Claudia Rowe, Anika Anand and John Higgins for “Education Lab” and to Thomas Peele for “944 Lost Guns.”

“The Seattle Times’ Education Lab is a great resource for readers on all aspects of school funding,” the judge wrote. “It provides a deep, sophisticated explanation of the landmark Washington state supreme court decision requiring the state to increase spending by 2018. It is innovative in the way it seeks reader input and welcomes questions. The stories that explain the education successes achieved in Massachusetts, a state with similar demographics as Washington, were outstanding. They provided a roadmap on educational achievement, from school-funding initiatives to public/private partnerships.”

“The San Jose Mercury News’ reporting on the guns lost by or stolen from law enforcement officers throughout California is a powerful investigation spurred by breaking news – the gunshot death of a woman in San Francisco in which the shooter used a gun stolen from a federal agent,” the judge wrote. “In addition to the remarkable accomplishment of tracking each gun, the investigation uncovered that a gun stolen from an officer in 2010 was used to kill a man four years later and that a former police chief’s stolen gun was used in a gang shooting,” the judge commented.

The searchable database that provides details of each missing gun is a terrific piece of work.”

Judged by John Ferraro, content manager of investigations, Hartford Courant. 52 entries.


First Place: Staff, Salt Lake Tribune.
Second Place: Staff, Fresno Bee.
Third Place: Rob Davis, Teresa Mahoney and Mark Friesen, The Oregonian.

The Salt Lake Tribune staff earns first place for a project chronicling sexual assault on college campuses, including pieces on the Brigham Young University Honor Code, how the Brigham Young University police investigated reports of assault, a lack of investigations at Utah State University, and an in-depth look at one instance at Utah State.

“The writers did an amazing job shining a light on a crime that was being swept under the carpet – universities in Utah ignoring sexual assault and, worse, penalizing the victims for violations of the school’s honor code,” the judge wrote. “The number of stakeholders was daunting, including the victims, unyielding university staffs, their bosses at the LDS church and police agencies.

“The reporters worked hard, and it shows in their superior storytelling. They wove it all into pieces that evoked a slow burn in this reader, and which brought about widespread changes to the system. Bravo.”

Second place goes to the Fresno Bee staff for a project on low-quality housing and blight.

“In Fresno, Calif., one of the poorest cities in the nation, low-income families live in neglected, infested, dilapidated apartments that often don’t meet code,” the judge wrote. “Landlords are uncooperative, and the city and justice system can’t or won’t help.

“The writers conducted extensive interviews with residents, many of whom are visible minorities or don’t speak English, and who don’t want to talk because they fear retaliation. A hard row to hoe, but in this case the payback was well worth reading. Also loved the historic look back at Fresno neighborhoods and how things came to be, something often lacking in these series.”

Rob Davis, Teresa Mahoney and Mark Friesen snag third place with “Toxic Armories.”

“The Oregonian’s exhaustive investigation into the pollution of military armories across the United States with toxic lead dust is a category leader,” the judge wrote. “It showed how the government has neglected to clean them up yet is making money by renting them to the public, including children. The reporters detailed shoddy cleanup efforts and obfuscation on the part of the National Guard and did some site testing themselves.

“Excellent accompanying graphics showed the effects of lead on the human body and how firing a gun sends lead into the air. An inspiring example of watchdog journalism.”

Judged by David Michaels, project editor, The Globe and Mail, Toronto. 53 entries.


First Place: Brian M. Rosenthal, Houston Chronicle.
Second Place: Dianna Wray, Houston Press.
Third Place: Jennifer Brown, Denver Post.

Brian M. Rosenthal earns first place with his investigation “Denied.”

“Among many strong entries, this first place finish is well-deserved,” the judge wrote. “The depth and breadth of reporting is stunning. Reporter offers example after unbelievable example of students who clearly need, but have been denied special education services.

“The photographs and online presentation make the lengthy investigation easy to read. At its core, this a heartbreaking story involving billions of dollars about children who need help, but aren’t getting it.”

Second place goes to Dianna Wray for an investigative piece on dental care.

“Reporter describes every patient’s worst nightmare with national and local examples and straightforward writing. Great investigation, well-executed,” the judge commented.

Jennifer Brown wins third place for “Death on the River.”

“Reporter brilliantly describes the agony these parents must have felt when they lost their son,” the judge wrote. “She also exposed flawed regulations and other issues that have contributed to a dozen recent rafting deaths. The writing and online presentation captured my attention to the end.”

Judged by Lauren Sausser, health reporter, The Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina. 33 entries.


First Place: Julia Prodis Sulek and Matthias Gafni, San Jose Mercury News.
Second Place: Staff, Orange County Register.
Third Place: Laura Gunderson and Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian.

Julia Prodis Sulek and Matthias Gafni earn first place for coverage of the fire at Ghost Ship in Oakland.

“Strong reporting and vivid writing about a heartbreaking event,” the judge wrote. “By taking us inside the lives of the people who came that night, and those who loved them, the writers make the fire and its impact extremely personal.

“Creative use of social media throughout add to the impact of the piece,” the judge added.

The Orange County Register’s staff takes second place for coverage of a jailbreak, plus a sidebar on the search for the escaped prisoners.

“A wonderful reconstruction of the escape, in words and graphics,” the judge wrote. “Although you know the outcome from the beginning, the writers manage to keep you at the edge of your seat wondering, how did they do it?”

Laura Gunderson and Ted Sickinger grab third place with their reporting on the Malheur forest fire, including its effect on the logging industry.

“Top-notch investigative reporting lay out details of what went wrong in clear and concise terms,” the judge wrote.

The judge added, on the category’s entries generally, “I was most impressed with the range of topics and the various ways they were handled.”

Judged by John Cutter, managing editor, Orlando Sentinel. 60 entries.


First Place: Matthias Gafni, East Bay Times, Walnut Creek, California.
Second Place: Cindy Carcamo and Adam Perez, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place: Casey Parks, The Oregonian.

Matthias Gafni earns first place with a feature on Jerry Canfield, who killed his wife while she was suffering from dementia.

“This story is, indeed, ‘A Tragic Love Story,’ and told with heartfelt narrative that sheds light on end-of-life decisions and the intersection of love and crime,” the judge wrote. “The author does a great job of synthesizing the details of public records to take us inside this tale, leaving us with a quote at the end that punctuates the emotional impact perfectly.”

Second place goes to Cindy Carcamo and Adam Perez for a look at high school students who immigrated to the United States without their parents.

“Young immigrants face significant educational challenges – and pose challenges for school systems,” the judge wrote. “This feature sheds light on these issues by introducing readers to one young immigrant and one school in LA.”

Casey Parks snags third with “Portland’s Joyce Hotel closes, slamming doors shut for 90 vulnerable tenants.”

“Journalists must be a voice of the voiceless. In this story, the author shows how the closing of a downtown hotel favored by transients can be devastating to a marginalized community,” the judge said.

Judged by Amanda J. Crawford, journalism professor, Western Kentucky University, with assistance from students in her feature writing class. 57 entries.


First Place: Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, San Antonio Express-News.
Second Place: Leif Reigstad, Houston Press.
Third Place: Karina Bland, Arizona Republic.

Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje earns first place with “Trapped in a dying body: How ALS robbed Walter Root.”

“A bracing series about a dying man I now feel like I know,” the judge wrote. “Tightly written with no fat, this read like a novel.

“It’s tough to include an explanation of the science of a disease in a narrative, but this writer deftly did so. It was well-explained and just enough as to not get in the way of the narrative. I gobbled up every word until the very end.

Second place goes to Leif Reigstad for “Kush City: Houston has Become a Major Hub for the Latest Drug of Choice.”

“You had me at the lede: ‘… the low light deepens his cracked skin, turns his toothless grin into a black pit, and makes his battered face look like a well-worn catcher’s mitt,'” the judge wrote.

“I see it exactly as the writer expresses it. This story was a searing look into a little-known world of a new illicit drug. Superb writing and scene-setting.”

Karina Bland takes third place with “40 stories for Addie: The lives she changed,” a look at how 40 people benefited through organ donations from a four-year-old girl who died from undiagnosed diabetes.

“A heart-wrenching but ultimately uplifting story about love and the ultimate gift,” the judge wrote.

“This writer picked the perfect moments and detail to convey the story. Strong dialogue and word choice made this piece unforgettable.”

Overall, the judge added, “There were so many first-rate stories in this category that I found myself blissfully awash in great writing.”

Judged by Kristina Goetz, reporter, Louisville Courier-Journal. 94 entries.


First Place: Alan Prendergast, Denver Westword.
Second Place: Hector Saldana, San Antonio Express-News.
Third Place: Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News.

First place goes to Alan Prendergast for “How Renick Stevenson Survived the Wild Beat Scene and Helped Transform Denver.”

“Great descriptive writing and a complete bio that only comes with great reporting,” the judge wrote. “You can tell the reporter spent a lot of time with the subject.

“As a reader, I appreciate the information, the quirky storytelling and the quick wit.”

Hector Saldana earns second place with “Romantic tunes of Eydie Gorme and Trio Los Panchos still played live at West Side eatery.”

“Nicely told and unusual story. Great details that made me feel like I was there,” the judge wrote.

Mike Sutter garners third with his first restaurant review for the Express-News.

“Unusual for a review, it almost seemed that the author was sorry he had to write it, which made it feel genuine,” the judge wrote. “Descriptions were clever … and honest.”

Judged by Amy Bertrand, features editor, with assistance from Gabe Hartwig, deputy features editor; and Jane Henderson, book editor, all of St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 32 entries.


First Place: Will Evans, Center for Investigative Reporting, Emeryville, California.
Second Place: Kevin Simpson, Denver Post.
Third Place: Marjie Lundstrom and Phillip Reese, Sacramento Bee.

Will Evans takes first with the piece “When companies hire temp workers by race, black applicants lose out.”

“Wow! It’s hard to believe this was frequently occurring in the year 2016, but this story delivered convincing evidence,” the judge wrote. “The source work shines, and the strong writing brings to life the hypocrisy and outrage.

“We also appreciated that this uncovered something new – not a topic we’ve seen addressed elsewhere. Plus, it looks out for some of the most marginalized workers in the marketplace. The interactive was a nice touch.”

Kevin Simpson earns second place for an article on how the tax code puts mobile homeowners at risk.

“Thanks for shining a light on an important issue for an already-marginalized segment of society,” the judge wrote.

“The specific examples in the piece make clear the extremity of the circumstances for homeowners and the outrageous profits to be made by owners and investors. This is local journalism at its finest.”

Third place goes to Marjie Lundstrom and Phillip Reese for “Shifting population in California nursing homes creates ‘dangerous mix.'”

“Reporters in the other 49 other states should immediately do this story,” the judge wrote. “What an important problem to highlight, and one that will likely only get worse in the coming years.

“We’ve never seen another story like this and appreciated the in-depth sourcing and storytelling used to bring the topic to life. Bravo!”

Judged by Kevin Hardy, business reporter, Des Moines Register. 40 entries.


First Place: Ryan Kartje, Orange County Register.
Second Place: John Glionna, Phoenix New Times.
Third Place: Alden Woods, Arizona Republic.

Ryan Kartje earns first place with a tribute to a broadcaster for the Los Angeles Dodgers upon his retirement.

“Vin Scully said he always imagined he was talking to one person, but never identified that person. Ryan Kartje found five candidates and, through them, explained Scully’s place in baseball and Los Angeles. A fine idea, beautifully executed,” the judge wrote.

Second place goes to John Glionna for ‘It Ain’t His First Gay Rodeo – Chuck Browning Has Been Bucking Stereotypes for Years.'”

“John Glionna’s profile of gay rodeo star Chuck Browning is revealing, thoughtful, and often hilarious,” the judge wrote. “A deftly-crafted piece that takes the reader inside America’s other rodeo.”

Alden Woods snags third place with a profile of Tim Tebow.

“I did not think I wanted to read more about Tim Tebow,” the judge wrote. “But Alden Woods did such a marvelous job chronicling the aspiring baseball player’s time in the Arizona Fall League that I found myself thrilled to be reading more about Tim Tebow.”

Overall, the judge added, “judging this category was nearly impossible. Among the stories not chosen for the top three were elegant first-person columns, beautifully written and reported profiles, thoughtful enterprise and trend pieces, tightly crafted breaking news stories, scoops, and at least two carefully planned and well executed story packages. So congratulations to the winners but especially to the rest. Judging this category made picking the 2016-2017 NBA MVP look easy.”

Judged by Geoff Calkins, columnist, Commercial Appeal, Memphis. 49 entries.


First Place: Karina Bland, Arizona Republic.
Second Place: Lee Cataluna, Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Third Place: Steve Duin, The Oregonian.

Karina Bland takes first place with her portfolio of five columns from 2016.

“Wonderful storytelling, done with flair and heart,” the judge wrote. “She put human faces on the tough issues of abortion and suicide, and the stories on the school founder and the Holocaust survivor read like novels. Voice really comes through in the smoking column.”

Lee Cataluna snags second place with her columns.

“The details are terrific; you feel like you know these people,” the judge wrote. “I’ll bet the sugar plantation series was a big hit with readers, and I actually plan to go back and read the second part of the autism story.

The political column made sense to me even as an outsider who doesn’t know the players and issues (which is harder to do than it sounds).”

Third place goes to Steve Duin, whose columns include a profile of a culinary arts program for the poor, an account of a domestic dispute involving an aspiring politician, and the story of survivors after a military veteran’s suicide.

“Excellent reporting, writing and choice of subjects, a clear and conversational voice,” the judge wrote. “The personal column was beautiful. And while every writer works hard on a lede, he’s mastered the art of the walk-off as well.”

Overall, the judge added, “This was HARD! It’s heartening to see so much great journalism being done in tough times for our business. It was particularly difficult to judge this category since it’s so wide-ranging, from deep investigative work to pointed political commentary to witty personal tales.

“In the end, besides solid reporting, great writing and a distinctive columnist’s voice, I made my final decisions by considering which stories stuck with me after I’d read them. But I still wish I could give a bunch of Honorable Mentions, because there was a lot of high-quality work here. Well done.”

Judged by Lynne Sherwin, features editor, Akron Beacon Journal. 36 entries.


First Place: Vanessa Hua, San Francisco Chronicle.
Second Place: Mary Billiter, Casper Star-Tribune.
Third Place: Kathleen Kozak, Honolulu Civil Beat.

Vanessa Hua earns first place for a series of columns on three generations of her family living together, chronicling the initial decision process, her father’s use of Wii, and how her family history affects current dynamics.

“Vanessa Hua’s column brings us into the family dynamics of a multi-generation immigrant family with deft writing and insight,” the judge wrote.

Mary Billiter takes second place with columns on her breast cancer treatment, from taking her medication to surgery to hearing the results of her biopsy.

“Mary Billiter’s first-hand account of breast cancer and depression is unflinching, personal and restrained all at the same time,” the judge wrote.

Third place goes to Kathleen Kozak for her “Health Beat” columns, on such topics as the possibility of Hawaii passing an assisted suicide law, pedestrian fatalities in Honolulu, and the future of personal cultivation of marijuana in the state.

Judged by Sumathi Reddy, health columnist, Wall Street Journal. 37 entries.


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

First place goes to Dale Ulland for a portfolio of headlines that includes “Alice in runner land: Disney offers fun races,” “More and more people opt for a coffee brrreak,” and “CNL is ski-daddling.”

The judge wrote, “A top-notch collection of headlines, led by ‘The House Folds.’ Excellent all around.”

George Riggle takes second place for headlines like “Zombie A-choco-lypse,” “Pointless Exorcise,” and “The Art of the Ordeal.”

“Sharp, witty and great plays of words. ‘Maim That Tune’ is the best of a great collection,” the judge wrote.

Ulland snags third as well for another submission, with “Just was gnat to be,” “Sponge blob, rare glance: Scientists soak up big find,” and “Lions and ire and bears.”

“The Cubs headline (“CUBBOOM! Chicago blows away the past to win title in explosive Game 7″) is superb, hitting all the right notes,” the judge wrote. “The rest are simply great.”

The judge added, “All the entries were strong, making the decision on the Top 3 quite difficult.”

Judged by Jack Legg, senior copy editor, New York Times News Service. 12 entries.


First Place: Sharon Grigsby, Dallas Morning News.
Second Place: Michael Lindenberger, Dallas Morning News.
Third Place: Dick Hughes, Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon.

Sharon Grigsby earns first place for an editorial on the Dallas city government’s handling of stray dogs.

“Tenacious. Persistent, tough reporting and editorializing that led to crucial changes, but only after a tragedy that the paper practically predicted,” the judge wrote. “A fine example of an editorial writer not just reacting to the news but identifying a problem and getting it rectified.”

Second place goes to Michael Lindenberger, who wrote “This city, our city” on the police shootings in Dallas.

“Powerful writing at a crucial moment in Dallas and U.S. history,” the judge wrote. “Reasoned, balanced, with a responsible but strong message. Kudos also to the artist for his indelible image.”

Dick Hughes takes third place with an editorial on comments from an Oregon gubernatorial candidate on domestic violence.

“The writer and his editorial board drove the agenda in the state’s gubernatorial race, holding the candidates accountable and heightening awareness of a misunderstood aspect of domestic violence,” the judge wrote. “A fine example of doing much more than being a campaign stenographer.”

Judged by Taylor Batten, editorial page editor, Charlotte Observer. 31 entries.


First Place: Stephanie Yao Long, The Oregonian.
Second Place: Chris Detrick, Salt Lake Tribune.
Third Place: Sam Gangwer, Orange County Register.

Stephanie Yao Long wins first place with a breaking news photo.

“This startling photograph couples the norm with chaos as workers move playpens with children down a street following a gas explosion,” the judges wrote.

Second places goes to Chris Detrick for a photograph of pro-Trump and anti-Trump protesters at a rally.

“We just loved the expressions of these two supporters as they strongly argue their points. Who supports which candidate? It really doesn’t matter as this photograph wonderfully illustrates the feelings of so many Americans,” the judges commented.

“Nice work by the photographer to get into and stay in the middle of the confrontation.”

Sam Gangwer snags third place for a photo of rescuers coming to the aid of a woman clinging to a fence over a freeway.

“This striking image shows great emotion of both the person attempting suicide and her rescuers as they dismantle a fence to reach her. Nice work getting to the event in time to record a poignant moment,” the judges commented.

Judged by Barry Arthur, assistant managing editor of photo/electronic media; John Sykes, chief photographer; Ben Krain, staff photographer; Stephen Thornton, staff photographer; all of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. 55 entries.


First Place: Mike Kane, Equal Voice News, Seattle.
Second Place: Ravell Call, Deseret News, Salt Lake City.
Third Place: Cindy Yamanaka, Orange County Register.

Mike Kane earns first place for his photograph of a man and a boy holding hands through a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The image “captures an intimate moment and a lot more,” the judge wrote. “The interaction between the boy and man gives the reader a sense of fear, love, innocence and separation.

“Also, the photo may have struck a chord with readers regardless on their stance of the border regulations topic. I know I could not stop looking at each of the subjects’ faces wondering what they were thinking at that moment. Great work giving us, the reader, a glance at a rarely seem moment while the topic of border regulation remains prominent across the nation.”

Second goes to Ravel Call for this image capturing the water level at Great Salt Lake.

“The rich colors and contrast within the Great Lake Salt water frame makes the reader pause and spend time analyzing its detail,” the judge wrote.

“The photographer did an excellent job capturing the subject of the story while providing a dramatic background. Nice work.”

Cindy Yamanaka takes third place with a photo of a monkey grasping a zookeeper’s finger at the Santa Ana Zoo.

“The photo is outstanding due the dramatic contrast between the subjects,” the judge wrote. “I commend the photographer for submitting a tightly cropped frame. I immediately felt like I shared that moment with both the zookeeper and the tamarin. Another image that stood out among other great work.”

The judge added, “The Feature Photography category was filled with amazing work. It was hard to trim the entries down to just three winners. From serious topics to lighthearted moments, I want to congratulate all participants for the great work submitted.”

Judged by Carlos Ayulo, assistant managing editor of presentation, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 76 entries.


First Place: Jeffrey Allred, Deseret News, Salt Lake City.
Second Place: Bill Alkofer, Orange County Register.
Third Place: Jeffrey Allred, Deseret News.

First place goes to Jeffrey Allred for a photo of a horse trampling a rider.

Bill Alkofer grabs second place with an image of a high school baseball player sliding into home during a championship game.

Jeffrey Allred also takes third place with this photograph of a bucking horse at a rodeo.

Judged by Rich Clarkson, a former newspaper and magazine photographer and photo editor who serves as president of Clarkson Creative in Denver. 57 entries.


First Place: RJ Sangosti, Denver Post.
Second Place: Cory Lum, Honolulu Civil Beat.
Third Place: Stephanie Yao Long, The Oregonian.

RJ Sangosti takes first place for a slideshow on Colorado oil and gas workers.

“We found ourselves emotionally moved by the coupling of the touching moment in these photos with the backstory about the hazards of the oil and gas industry. Nice work,” the judges wrote.

Second place goes to Cory Lum, who submitted a slideshow from a military memorial service.

“A well done photo package of a memorial for Marines killed in a helicopter crash. Nice work selecting both graphically striking and emotionally moving images that capture the feelings of those attending the event,” the judges wrote.

Stephanie Yao Long snags third place for her coverage of protests in Portland following Donald Trump’s election.

“A very well-done package of unique photos from night-time protests,” the judges wrote. “Good use of available light helps make the readers feel like they are present watching the events unfold. Good job editing to avoid using similar photos.”

Judged by Barry Arthur, assistant managing editor of photo/electronic media; John Sykes, chief photographer; Ben Krain, staff photographer; Stephen Thornton, staff photographer; all of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. 22 entries.


First Place: Lisa Krantz, San Antonio Express-News.
Second Place: AAron Ontiveroz, Denver Post.
Third Place: David Wallace, Arizona Republic.

Lisa Krantz wins first place for a slideshow profiling an all-boys school.

“The moments in this story were beautiful,” the judge wrote. “The photographs had flow and continuity that stood out from the other entries. The images reflect the amount of time the photographer was given to work on this project.

“The presentation was amazing, and the galleries throughout the story along with the graphics gave it a great visual presence. The layout had obvious collaboration between the photo editor, photographer, writer and design team.”

AAron Ontiveroz takes second place with a slideshow about the travails of a former football player.

“This story is one great moment after another great moment,” the judge wrote. “The extensive access displayed the emotional connection between the subject, his pain and the bonds between him and his family.

“The photo editing helped contribute to the pace and the flow of the images. This is a different kind of post-NFL pain story, one that we have not seen.”

David Wallace snags third place with select images from a slideshow on a shelter for children in Arizona.

“This story had a definite degree of difficulty,” the judge wrote. “The photographer had an ability to create compelling photographs without showing the faces of the children. This was an obvious hurdle that the photographer overcame. It was almost like seeing the children’s faces without realizing that you never do.”

Overall, the judge added, “You can tell that the photographers were given time to work on these projects and the investment paid off. It’s nice to see some beautiful layouts and displays along with well-edited work.”

Judged by Boyzell Hosey, director of photography, Tampa Bay Times. 19 entries.


First Place: Corinne Chin and Erika Schultz, Seattle Times.
Second Place: Rachel Aston, Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Third Place: Benjamin Zack, Ogden Standard-Examiner.

Corinne Chin and Erika Schultz earn first place with “‘Not a death sentence’: HIV-positive women find acceptance,” which profiles Nkosi’s Haven, one of South Africa’s best-known centers for mothers living with HIV and for orphans

“Stunning photography, seamless audio, great sequencing. The story of Lindiwe is extremely compelling,” the judge wrote, referring to a 23-year-old woman who believes she was infected with HIV when she was sexually assaulted as a child.

“Spending more time with her and less with the other women could’ve strengthened the piece. Still, it’s beautifully done.”

Second place goes to Rachel Aston for a profile of a young former gang member who is seeking a fresh start at a residential treatment center.

“Great access. The voice of the young man in ‘Gang banging at 10, out at 13’ is just what video is so great at accomplishing,” the judge wrote.

“You can get inside his head, taking you places that words or photos cannot. Had the camera work been a little smoother, and a little more time spent in collecting b-roll with various angles, as well as mixing down audio, it may have risen to the top spot.”

Benjamin Zack grabs third place with “Cowgirl … literally,” a profile of a 15-year-old girl who saddles up and rides her pet cow Daisy around the family ranch near Portage, Utah.

“Though this did not have the weight that many of the other submissions had, it is still a winner,” the judge wrote. “It, too, does what great video can do – really showing the personality of your character. The visuals are wonderful, the piece was edited well, and it left us smiling.”

Overall, the judge added, “This was a tough competition, with many compelling stories. Some videos had all of the pieces – great audio, great story, great visuals, but fell short in editing. The videos that rose to the top started with an interesting story, and were shot and edited well, but this was a very difficult category to judge. There were several videos that I wish I could’ve awarded.”

Judged by Carrie Cochran, visual journalist, Cincinnati Enquirer. 45 entries.


First Place: Mike Fisher, San Antonio Express-News.
Second Place: Chiara Bautista, Arizona Daily Star.
Third Place: Severiano Galvan, Denver Post.

First place goes to Mike Fisher for an infographic on a psychiatrist’s battle with ALS.

“Sometimes a visual (photo or graphic) can tell the whole story without having to read the actual story,” the judge wrote. “The ALS interactive graphic did that and more. It did two things: 1. Told a quick story about the subject. 2. Educated readers about ALS including a list of symptoms, lifespan after diagnosis and more.

“Graphics should explain complex information clearly and quickly. This graphic meets both goals.”

Chiara Bautista earns second place with this visual of existing security measures on the U..S-Mexico border.

“A comprehensive look at the border between the United States and Mexico provides readers with multiple relevant facts. The facts are strategically layered for readers to easily digest almost 50 bits of information. Well done. Well organized,” the judge wrote.

Severiano Galvan wins third place with a breakdown of Muhammad Ali’s boxing record.

“At a glance, the Muhammad Ali graphic seemed like a complicated reading experience due to the non-traditional circular design,” the judge wrote. “But it turned out to be a quick read at Ali’s career wins and losses. Organized chaos came to mind as I judged this entry. Kudos to the artist for organizing the information neatly into a complex circular shape avoiding a visual mess.”

Judged by Carlos Ayulo, assistant managing editor of presentation, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 21 entries.


First Place: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune.
Second Place: Steve Greenberg, Ventura County Reporter.
Third Place: Angelo Lopez, Philippines Today, San Bruno, Calif.

Pat Bagley captures first place with cartoons on gun sales in the US, the National Park Service at 100, and the struggles of the minimum wage worker.

“Powerful, poignant drawings that make stark points,” the judge wrote. “His fluid drawing style brings his message home quickly and effectively.”

Steve Greenberg earns second for editorial cartoons covering the dangers of a highway in California, President Trump’s transition team, and the phrase “All Lives Matter” in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Greenberg takes clever, original approaches to make important points,” the judge wrote.

Angelo Lopez snags third with cartoons on Muslim Americans’ responses to Trump’s campaign, the long history of mass killings in the Philippines, and a violent response to farmers in a protest in Kidapawan.

“Chilling drawings in a unique style on crucial topics,” the judge wrote.

Judged by Taylor Batten, editorial page editor, Charlotte Observer. 10 entries.


First Place: Elizabeth Brown, The Sunday, Henderson, Nevada.
Second Place: Elizabeth Brown, The Sunday.
Third Place: Jon Estrada, Las Vegas Weekly.

Elizabeth Brown earns first place with the design for “The Unparalleled Political Life of Harry Reid” for The Sunday magazine.

“While the life and times of Harry Reid might not sound like a sexy subject, the design of the story makes for a really inviting read,” the judge wrote. “The story is woven with plenty of layers that give readers tons of entry points to engage with. The pacing and balance of the whole package is excellent.”

Elizabeth Brown also takes second for her design of “Saving the Ocean from the Desert.”

“This is a fun layout that successfully mixes vector illustration and photography, which is often a tough task. The consistent color palette and the complementary nature of the handwritten script and the ultracondensed sans-serif are a nice touch,” the judge wrote.

“This is another great example of The Sunday using layering to help enhance their storytelling.”

Third place goes to Jon Estrada for “Secret Garden.”

“This cover approach is really fun and creative, and the breakouts and sidebars in the piece are too,” the judge wrote.

Judged by Lindsey Turner, creative director, Gannett Design Studio Nashville. 30 entries.


First Place: Staff, San Antonio Express-News.
Second Place: Samantha Munsey, Arizona Daily Star.
Third Place: Staff, Seattle Times.

The San Antonio Express-News staff takes first place for its presentation of “The Next Million.”

“‘The Next Million’ was a superb effort by the San Antonio Express-News to visually portray their city’s immense population growth using a variety of digital tools,” the judge wrote. “An abundance of photos, interactive graphics, maps and videos keep the reader engaged throughout this extensive series. Mountains of data were converted into easy-to-use charts that break down the city’s population growth in every way imaginable.

“Twenty journalists spent over a year on this project, and it shows.”

Second goes to Samantha Munsey for “Beyond the Wall.”

“Arizona Daily Star’s ‘Beyond the Wall’ was a massive undertaking to map the U.S.-Mexico border and answer one of the biggest questions of the Trump era,” the judge wrote. “The painstaking approach produced interactive maps of the entire border showing where fencing exists and where natural barriers create gaps. Videos and 360-degree panoramic photos provide excellent visuals of what the border currently looks like.

“This project gives the public a special insight into the vastness of the border, the challenges to building a wall and the statistics to show it may not be needed.”

The Seattle Times staff earns third place with “30 Days” about a refugee family new to the US.

“I loved the unique format that The Seattle Times used in ’30 Days’ to tell the story of a refugee family’s first month in America,” the judge wrote. “The reader is fed bits of the story along with vivid photos, maps and videos.

“The click-through experience is easy to use and allows readers to go at their own pace and not be overwhelmed by the large amounts of text that usually accompany enterprise projects. Navigational arrows at the bottom allow the user to go back if they’ve accidentally skipped something. It’s an awesome alternative way to deliver a story.”

The judge added, “Every entry used beautiful visuals to bring stories to life, making this a difficult category to judge. From a video project on social issues to photo-driven features and investigative reports, each nomination illustrated how far journalism has come with the new digital tools at its disposal. And with more platforms providing more opportunities than ever before, it’s clear we’re just getting started!”

Judged by Steven Bohner, digital editor, Washington Post. 19 entries.