Winners of the 2016 Diamond Journalism Awards

Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists
Announces Winners of the 2016 Diamond Journalism Awards

The Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists today revealed the winners of its 2016 Diamond Journalism Awards, a new regional competition that honors excellence in online, broadcast and print journalism.

Judges named Jordan Hickey, a writer for Arkansas Life magazine, Diamond Journalist of the Year for a portfolio of his work.

“Scene setting, strong characters, complexity, and his ability to narrate while not stealing the voice of his characters all contribute to the strength of his work,” judges wrote. “His subjects hover below the ‘news cycle’ radar, but speak to larger issues that need the public’s attention.”

Hunter Field, a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper, was named Outstanding New Journalist, an award that recognizes the work of reporters who have five or fewer years of reporting experience.

“I was impressed by the statistical detail in all the stories, which shows the reporter has a knack for research and doesn’t cut corners seeking out detailed information,” a judge wrote.

Lisa Hammersly, a Democrat-Gazette reporter, received the Robert S. McCord Freedom of Information Award. McCord helped found the Arkansas SPJ chapter, lobbied to help pass Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act and served as SPJ’s national president in 1975-76. He died in 2013 at age 84.

Hammersly’s “clean writing makes a complicated issue clear for the public,” judges wrote.

Former Democrat-Gazette reporter Chad Day won the award for Community Service for a package of stories about the issue of jailing minors for actions that are not adult crimes.

“The writer and the editors should be applauded for bringing this seldom discussed issue and its impact on the community to the forefront of public consciousness,” the judges said.

Winners were named in 45 categories. Entries included reporting, photography and video produced between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016. The contest solicited entries from throughout Arkansas and parts of five other states: North Louisiana, Northwest Mississippi, southern Missouri, eastern Oklahoma and West Tennessee.

Judges included professionals and academics from outside the contest area.

A full list of winners follows by category, place, entry name or title, entrant’s name, and publication or media outlet:


Feature Video – Online: 1st, Arkansas State Fair 2015, Stephen Thornton, Arkansas Online, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock.

Multimedia Project: 1st, The kidnapping and killing of Beverly Carter, Arkansas Online staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Arkansas’ obsolete and deficient bridges, John Moritz, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Sports – Online: 1st, MSU Swimming Features, Chris Bryant, KSPR-TV, Springfield, MO; Baseball Fans Meet “Chris” Bryant, Chris Bryant, KSPR-TV.

Education – Online: 1st, Education coverage, Gavin Lesnick, Arkansas Online, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Editorials – Newspapers: 1st, Election 2016 editorials, David Barham, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Personal Column – Newspapers: 1st, Philip Martin portfolio, Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, That’s Life columns, Tammy Keith, River Valley & Ozark Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Paul Greenberg portfolio, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Commentary – Newspapers: 1st, John Brummett portfolio, John Brummett, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Rebekah Yearout portfolio, Rebekah Yearout, Clarksdale Press-Register, Clarksdale, MS; 3rd, Arkansas Perspective commentary, The Associated Press.

Hard News – Newspapers: 1st, Execution Drugs, Claudia Lauer, The Associated Press; 2nd, Flooding, Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Conway cops, Debra Hale-Shelton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Narrative/Feature Writing – Newspapers: 1st, Donor’s heart beating, Rick Kron, The Leader, Jacksonville, AR; 2nd, Marshall Islands-Global Warming, Nick Perry and Kelly P. Kissel, The Associated Press.

Project/Investigative Reporting – Newspapers: 1st, Cash & The Court, Lisa Hammersly, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Jailing status offenders, Chad Day, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Judge-Sex Allegations, Claudia Lauer, The Associated Press.

Profile Writing – Newspapers: 1st, Michael Hunter Schwartz, Rachel O’Neal and John Sykes Jr., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Dennis Zane Kuo, Celia Storey and John Sykes Jr., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Cabot woman receives praise for longtime volunteerism, Syd Hayman, Three Rivers Edition/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Minority Issues Reporting – Newspapers: 1st, Heritage tours, Brandon Mulder, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Confederate Boulevard, Claudia Lauer, The Associated Press; 3rd, Marshall Islands-Global Warming, Nick Perry and Kelly P. Kissel, The Associated Press.

Beat Reporting – Newspapers: 1st, Severe Weather, Kelly P. Kissel, The Associated Press; 2nd, Bill proposing to shut Aggie down to come up for Senate vote soon, Rebekah Yearout, Clarksdale Press Register; 3rd, Corrections coverage, Jeannie Roberts, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Sports Reporting – Newspapers: 1st, UAPB basketball, Troy Schulte, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Simply Red, Tim Cooper, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Political Reporting – Newspapers: 1st, Judicial Races – Money, Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press; 2nd, Presidential Politics, Frank Lockwood and Benjamin Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

General Photo – All Print: 1st, Funeral for a veteran, Benjamin Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Sprinklin’, Crystal Burns, Trenton Gazette, Trenton, TN; 3rd, Volleyball Champs, Benjamin Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Spot News Photo – All Print: 1st, High-water rescue, Stephen B. Thornton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Bridge standoff, Stephen B. Thornton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, 13-acre fire in Searcy County, Stephen B. Thornton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Portraiture – All Print: 1st, “Arkansans of the Year” – December 2015, Rett Peek, Arkansas Life; 2nd, Myeloma Institute doctor, John Sykes Jr., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Surgeon works to recruit women for orthopedics, John Sykes Jr., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Photo Portfolio – All Print: 1st, Benjamin Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Staton Breidenthal, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Arshia Khan, Arkansas Life.

Photo Package – All Print: 1st, Rivers receding, rising in Arkansas; Highest LR crest since ‘90 expected, Stephen B. Thornton, Melissa Sue Gerrits, Staton Breidenthal, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, 80th Arkansas Derby, Stephen B. Thornton, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 3rd, Old school swimmin’ pool, Benjamin Krain, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

News Page Design – Newspapers: 1st, Terry Austin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Feature Page Design – Newspapers: 1st, Walter Webb, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; 2nd, Sean Clancy, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Magazine Cover: 1st, Arkansas Life – July 2015, December 2015, June 2016, Kelley Lane, Rett Pek, Gately Williams, Arkansas Life.

Magazine Spread: 1st, “Day Tripper” – June 2016, Kelley Lane, Arkansas Life; 2nd, “Cheap Eats” – February 2016, Kelley Lane, Arkansas Life; 3rd, “The Natural State Parks” – October 2015, Kelley Lane, Arkansas Life.

Magazine News Writing: 1st, “A City Grows in Bentonville” – August 2015, Bonnie Bauman, Arkansas Life; 2nd, “Come Looking for Me If I’m Not Back” – March 2016, Paul McDonnold, Arkansas Life.

Magazine Narrative/Feature Writing: 1st, “Work in Progress” – January 2016, Katie Bridges, Jordan Hickey, Mariam Makatsaria, Arkansas Life; 2nd, “Leap of Faith” – February 2016, Katherine Stewart, Arkansas Life; 3rd, “The Story of Dal Santo” – September 2015, Nicholas Hunt, Arkansas Life.

Magazine Profile Writing: 1st, “Portrait of the Artist” – July 2015, Jordan Hickey, Arkansas Life; 2nd, “Artists in Residence” – November 2015, Jordan Hickey, Arkansas Life; 3rd, “The Gospel of Bigfoot” – April 2016, Nicholas Hunt, Arkansas Life.

Magazine Column Writing: 1st, “Hometown” – July15/Aug15/Sept15, Heather Steadham, Arkansas Life; 2nd, “First Taste” – Aug15/Nov15/Dec15, Emily Van Zandt, Arkansas Life.

Magazine Sports Writing: 1st, “Field of Dreams” – May 2016, Seth Eli Barlow, Arkansas Life.

TV Spot News: 1st, Arkansas Flooding Hurts Business, Rachel Dubrovin, Tony Nguyen, KSPR.

TV Feature Reporting: 1st, Jurassic Journey, Chris Bryant, Leigh Moody, KSPR; 2nd, In Sickness and In Health, Susanne Brunner, KARK/KLRT; 3rd, Detective, family of murdered teen discuss the case for the first time, Stephanie Garland, Ben Knaup, KSPR.

TV Investigative Reporting: 1st, Fact of Fiction: Bigfoot in the Ozarks, Chris Bryant, Lindsey Slater, KSPR; 2nd, Staudte’s Secret, Leigh Moody, Chris Bryant, KSPR.

TV Sports Reporting: 1st, Landers Inspiration, Mike Scott, KSPR.

TV Documentaries: 1st, Survive the Storm 2016, KSPR Staff, Bridget Lovelle, Kevin Lighty, KSPR.

Radio/Podcast Spot News: 1st, Graduating Seniors, School Superintendents Head Toward Summer Transition, Bobby Ampezzan, KUAR-FM 89.1.

Radio/Podcast Feature Reporting: 1st, 911 Systems in Arkansas Are Decentralized, Underfunded, Sarah Whites-Koditschek, KUAR-FM 89.1; 2nd, To Honor the Victims, They Demanded Better Words to Tell What Happened to Them, Christopher Blank, WKNO-FM 91.1 NPR for the Midsouth.

Radio/Podcast Investigative Reporting: 1st, Heritage & Hate: A Struggle Within the Confederate Legacy Movement, Jacob Kauffman, KUAR-FM 89.1.

Radio/Podcast Documentaries: 1st, Memorial Service to Be Monday For Longtime KUAR-KLRE Leader Ben Fry, Michael Hibblen, Karen Tricot Steward, KUAR-FM 89.1.

Radio/Podcast Sports Reporting: 1st: Little Rock Men’s Basketball Team Greeted by Jubilant Crowd, Chris Hickey, KUAR-FM 89.1.

Community Service – All Platforms: 1st, Jailing status offenders, Chad Day, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Outstanding New Journalist – All Platforms: Hunter Field, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Robert S. McCord FOI Award – All Platforms: Lisa Hammersly, Arkanasas Democrat-Gazette.

Diamond Journalist of the Year – All Platforms: Jordan Hickey, Arkansas Life.

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