2018 Diamond Journalism Awards Winners


LITTLE ROCK — A reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette was named the Diamond Journalist of the Year, and reporters for nola.com/The Times-Picayune won the Community Service Award in the 2018 Diamond Journalism Awards, sponsored by the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The awards were presented Oct. 25 at Little Rock’s Flying Saucer and honor work published or broadcast between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018.

The awards recognize outstanding journalism by professionals and students from Arkansas and bordering media markets in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

This year’s competition included 147 entries and was judged by journalists from other professional journalists from outside the contest area.

SPJ Diamond Journalism winners 2018

Daily newspapers – NEWS

1st – Remains found in pipe — Ryan Tarinelli and Ginny Monk, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“When Ebby Steppach disappeared in 2015, it triggered a national debate over possible sex trafficking. Turns out her remains were found only feet away from her car at a park. Her parents were relieved, but questions about whether it was a homicide or related to sex trafficking remained. Good coverage.” — Judge Sterling Morita, Honolulu Star Advertiser

2nd – Medicaid fraud tied to bribery case — Andy Davis, Lisa Hammersly and Doug Thompson, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

3rd – Lounge shooting — Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Daily newspapers – POLITICS

1st – Medical marijuana selections attacked — Hunter Field, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“The newspaper uncovered, researched and thoroughly documented shenanigans in a contest for state contracts worth millions. Good job!” — Judge Nancy Cook Lauer, West Hawaii Today

2nd – Arkansas Supreme Court race coverage — Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press

“Good fact-checking and staying on top of the race.”

3rd – 2018 Primaries — Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Solid daily coverage of events, issues and money in the political season.”

Judge’s overall competition comments: “As Tip O’Neill famously said, ‘All politics is local.’ Entries in this category exemplify that mantra by delving deeply into the details of local and state races and issues. It’s refreshing to see coverage beyond the campaign slogans, and this judge sincerely hopes this kind of coverage not only continues, but expands.”

Daily newspapers – SPORTS

1st – UALR’s football feasibility – Buying in?: Other universities provide insight into what it takes to revive football — Brooks Kubena, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Building a college football program from scratch? This seemingly uninteresting topic is actually interesting.” — Judge Sterling Morita

2nd –Track and sealed: Jacobuses chase titles as husband, wife — Bob Holt, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

3rd – University of Arkansas baseball: Hogs to play for national title; College World Series report; Woe in Omaha: Behind freshman pitcher’s gem, Beavers ruin Hogs’ run for title — Tom Murphy, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


1st – The children of Central City — Jonathan Bullington, Richard Webster, Brett Duke, Emma Scott and Haley Correll, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

“Saving Central City — one little football player at a time. What a worthwhile, compelling, tear-jerker of a project! Lots of data and graphics tucked in nicely among so many personal stories, anecdotes and multi-media that bring this story alive. Bravo.” — Judge Nancy Cook Lauer

2nd – Arkansas’ probation problem — Amanda Claire Curcio and Ginny Monk, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Reporting that makes a difference. These journalists went well beyond the government reports and did their own investigation, in clear language laying out details of a problem that should concern us all, and helping provide a roadmap to solutions. This entry is doubly impressive when one understands how difficult it is to overcome confidentiality regulations governing juvenile justice issues. The response to the series by those with the power to change things is satisfying, and, unfortunately, rather rare.”

3rd – Dubious GIFs — Lisa Hammersly, Doug Thompson, Ginny Monk and Dave Hughes, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Follow the money! Good job digging in, double checking the authorities and pulling additional details following this huge corruption and bribery scandal. The newspaper did its readers a huge service by providing this level of detail, while giving lawmakers ample space to explain their grant-making decisions. And, it’s always helpful when a ‘How We Did It’ nerd box is included.”

Judge’s overall competition comments: “I was thrilled to judge this competition that showed solidly researched, meaningful journalism clearly — and at times, beautifully — explained is still alive and well, despite the many challenges facing our profession. All of the entries shone, but, alas, the judges could select only three.”

Daily newspapers – FEATURE

1st – The search for Jackie Wallace — Ted Jackson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

“A powerful story covering three decades in a man’s life, at times inspiring and then devastating. Impossible to stop reading as you follow many turns in his life. By the end I was almost in tears.” — Judge Sterling Morita

2nd – The search for mother’s milk — Emma Pettit, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Tough choice between this story and the eventual first place winner. Heart-warming story about the kindness of strangers to needy mothers, and a story about a valuable resource for the community. Who knew mothers were sharing their surplus breast milk. Great reporting.”

3rd – The Yada family: Prisoners and patriots — Ginny Monk, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“A valuable report on a sad chapter in American history and how it changed lives. Thank you to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and report Ginny Monk for telling the story so powerfully and with such humanity.”

Judge’s competition comments: “Every single entry was a winner. I wish I could give five first place prizes.”

Daily newspapers – COMMENTARY

1st – Arkansas perspective — Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press

“Well done analyses of important statewide issues. The writer makes good use of facts and quotes to help make his point effectively and succinctly.” — Judge Steve Petranik, Hawaii Business Magazine

2nd – A group of columns by John Brummett, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“The writer makes both a rational and emotional connection with the reader. Effective use of historical facts to highlight enduring issues. Good work.”

3rd – A group of columns by Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“I especially like how the column on Roy Moore starts with an iconic movie and transitions to the writer’s personal experience before bring in Moore. That helps readers connect with an issue that they may otherwise feel unconnected to.”

Daily newspapers – EDITORIALS

1st – Editorials on how tariffs affect Arkansas — David Barham, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“I love the voice of this writer. It’s as if he is talking to his friends and neighbors and I’m included. He’s conversational, opinionated, informed and sardonic. He develops his points well, brings in facts and other people’s opinions to develop his argument about how people in Washington (mostly one person in particular) are screwing up things for people in Arkansas. Well done.” — Judge Steve Petranik

Non-daily newspapers – NEWS

1st – ‘Protect and serve’ vs. ‘patrol and control’ in Little Rock — Jacob Rosenberg, Arkansas Times

“The Little Rock Police Department is playing Big Brother with selective stops in certain neighborhoods. Who is around to make sure this is not selective enforcement? Jacob Rosenberg shines a light on it. Good job.” — Judge Sterling Morita

2nd – Lock up last — Benjamin Hardy, Arkansas Nonprofit News Network

3rd – “I lost everything”: Investigation still underway on arson in Mayflower — Tammy Keith, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette River Valley and Ozark Edition

Non-daily newspapers – INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

1st – Winrock’s commitment to Innovation Hub questioned — Sarah Campbell-Miller, Arkansas Business

“When a politically connected nonprofit refuses to cooperate with the media in the course of an investigation into complaints, the media must take recourse in public records and information from sources, who probably have their own motivations and conflicts of interest. Arkansas Business went above and beyond by appending the after-the-fact response in its entirety to the bottom of the already published article. It appears the reporter’s investigation also made a difference by providing an impetus for the nonprofit to make good on its pledge to put former members back on the board.” — Judge Nancy Cook Lauer

Judge’s overall competition comments: “It is unfortunate that two other solid entries had to be disqualified for not including the required cover letter describing the reporting process and the impact or results. This is especially important in investigative stories as a way for the judges to understand how journalists effect change in their communities. The remaining entry, however, is a solid story deserving of recognition in its own right.”

Non-daily newspapers – FEATURE

1st – The Rev. LaVon Post: Conway man ministers to African-American church — Tammy Keith, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette River Valley and Ozark Edition

“This was a category with really strong entries. Tammy Keith’s profile of the Rev. LaVon Post stood out because it is so comprehensive with perspectives on the man and the minister. An interesting read from start to finish.” — Judge Deb Brobst, Evergreen Newspapers, Colorado

2nd – Thankful for the gift of life — Linda Garner-Bunch, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

3rd – 5th state title means more for Bauxite dance team — Sam Pierce, Tri-Lakes Edition, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Non-daily newspapers – COMMENTARY

1st – Grocery store meet-ups are Southern treat; Let’s always remember people of 9/11; Searching for a special connection — Tammy Keith, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette River Valley and Ozark Edition

“The judges enjoyed columnist Tammy Keith’s writing style — and in this particular entry, the diversity of column topics. These columns showed Keith’s many sides.” — Judge Deb Brobst

2nd – Commentary by Rick Kron, Leader Publishing, Jacksonville, Ark.

3rd – Reentering journalism; My pen is poised; Poison pen — Karen Craigo, The Marshfield Mail, Missouri

Non-daily newspapers – EDITORIALS

1st – Editorials — Rick Kron, Leader Newspapers

“Rick Kron should be applauded for his editorials. They are hard-hitting when they need to be or have a softer side when that is warranted. And always, they have a point.” — Judge Deb Brobst

Magazines – FEATURE

1st – Ebby Steppach series: Three articles July 2017 to September 2017 — Dwain Hebda, AY Magazine

“The entries, especially the top three, strongly encouraged me about the state of magazine journalism in Arkansas.” — Judge Mike Tharp, Merced (CA) Sun Star

2nd – Rockefellers, Robinsons team up to support Women & Children First — Dwain Hebda, SOIREE Magazine

3rd – The truckers who are taking on human trafficking — Erica Sweeney, CityLab/The Atlantic

Magazines – SPORTS

1st – Rolling in the Rock — Dwain Hebda, Do South Magazine

“Both winning entries capture the strength — physical and emotional — of female athletes. ‘Rolling in the Rock’ has better description of on-scene action.” — Judge Mike Tharp

2nd – Out of left field — Sarah DeClerk, HealthBeat, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


1st – Welcome home — Staton Breidenthal, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“The photographer was successful in the foreground and the background!” — Judge Ginny Frizzi, Pennsylvania-based freeelancer

2nd – Jumping for joy — Tommy Metthe, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“The photographer captured the joy of new life!”


1st – Oaklawn opening day — Mitchell Pe Masilun, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“The action photos in silhouette are dramatic, exciting and beautiful. Each one stands on its own as a piece of fine art! The photos exemplify excellence and creativity.” — Judge Ginny Frizzi


1st – Mitchell Pe Masilun portfolio, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Every shot is a winner! Great photography!” — Judge Ginny Frizzi

2nd – Staton Breidenthal portfolio, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Some good shots in this collection. Keep it up!”

3rd – Tommy Metthe portfolio, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


1st – Roads less traveled — Sean Clancy and John Sykes Jr., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Well informed, smartly reported, vividly written” — Judge Mike Tharp

2nd – True Grit — Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Rich prose texture”

3rd – Spirits — Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Light touch”

Judge’s overall competition comments: “Top 3 winners are fun, informative and illuminating. A pleasure to read.”

Radio/podcasts – NEWS

1st – Questions as U.S. wood pellet makers expand production — Jacqueline Froelich, Arkansas Public Media

“The market is booming for Arkansas produced wooden pellets. The reporter looks at the debate over the kinds of trees used to make pellets … producers say the forests are overflowing while some environmentalists claim current methods threaten biodiversity. Reporter presented a balanced story with quotes from both ‘sides.’ Well written and an important look at a booming state industry.” — Judge Ginny Frizzi

2nd – Startling stats on bullying, suicide and sexual assault give Arkansas school safety panel huge task — Karen Steward, KUAR Public Radio

“This report lays out the stats from various sources that indicate Arkansas has the distinction of being the worst in the country in school bullying. It details the factors, such as violence and rape, that lead to that and other issues in schools. A special committee faces an upward climb to look at possible solutions. Reporter did an excellent job of explaining and distilling a complicated and important public issue based upon numbers that don’t seem to be lying.”

3rd – Republican dominance, open primaries makes one party’s picks ripe for crossover vote — Bobby Ampezzan, Arkansas Public Media

“Useful report on how Arkansas’ open primary can strategically affect the outcome due to crossover voting. Reporter explained hos this can be accomplished. Good sound bites from candidates and a professor. Such a report can do a valuable job of educating voters.”


1st – Physician’s opioid prescribing habits, behavior raise doubt over standards for Arkansas doctors — Karen Steward, KUAR Public Radio

“This expose of a physician who easily prescribe opioids — and in large quantities — is a story that needs to be told … and fortunately this entry tells it well. Solid reporting explores the current situation completely … from his prescription practices to how the state medical board ineffectively deals with it. The story is one that needs to be told and will hopefully be heard by many people.” — Judge Ginny Frizzi

2nd – Bi Bi Bi — Heidi Sohl, Red Wolf Radio

“This entry could be described as a primer on bisexuality. It begins by defining and explaining the term and goes on to get the opinions of several bisexual persons. It also covers the terminology people should use in addressing bisexual individuals. Good sound bites. This story is informative and discusses the topic in an informal manner that most listeners can easily understand.”

3rd – Medical marijuana standstill: A real loss for ‘prospectors,’ employment for small town; While medical marijuana stands before high court, patients steal away for therapy from other states — Bobby Ampezzan, Arkansas Public Media

“Informative look at the medical marijuana situation situation in Arkansas and how people are traveling to nearby states for their medical marijuana because it is not available at home. Story combines individuals stories with solid research on the current legal status of medical marijuana becoming available in Arkansas.”

Radio/podcasts – FEATURE

1st – After lost scores are found in abandoned house, musicians give life to Florence Price’s music — Karen Steward, KUAR Public Radio

“This is a fascinating feature about a black female composer and the rescuing of some of her papers and compositions that had been left in her former house. The story is a double barreled piece of history — that of Price herself, which is that of a pioneer, and her music, and how it was saved. Well produced that holds the listeners’ attention until the end. Good use of sound.” — Judge Ginny Frizzi

2nd – Central High School 60th anniversary commemoration events begin in Little Rock — Michael Hibblen, KUAR Public Radio

“The anniversary of an important historical event is recalled by those who were at the center of the desegregation of Central High — the students. Strong sound bites make their story and long views on the subject some alive. Reporter does an outstanding job of fitting so much into such a relatively short story.”

3rd – Arkansas ranchers celebrate reopening of large, lucrative Chinese market — Ann Kenda, Arkansas Public Media

“Strong opening and closing do a good job of rounding up the story of Arkansas beef finally being sold in China following a mad cow disease-related ban. Interesting story that manages to convey many facts without overwhelming the listeners. Good sound bites.”

Television – NEWS

1st – School of man — Kevin Kelly and Matt Thibault, FOX16 News — KLRT

“Incredible job by the reporter and editor to capture the spirit of a life-changing event. Far and away the best of the category. Good reporting, writing, photography and editing. Well done!” — Judge Tom McKee, WCPO-TV, Cincinnati

2nd – Viral video gets employee dismissed — Mariana Rivero, Univision Arkansas

“This piece takes viral video and explores all sides of a very controversial encounter. Shocking attitudes put forth by the employee. Calm reaction from the ‘victim.’ Well documented.”

3rd – Car crash drill brings driving awareness to Russellville High School — Rodolfo Portillo, Univision Arkansas

“This is a story done in many markets, but in this case, it was more than routine. Nice writing and shooting.”


1st – Harrison doctor accused of overprescribing opioids — Caitlin Sinett, KY3

“Sole story in the category, but worth of first place. Nice story telling from beginning to end. The creative use of graphics added a great deal to the piece.” — Judge Tom McKee

Television – SPORTS

1st – A Peruvian professional soccer player follows his American dream in Arkansas — Esdras Valdez, Univision Arkansas

“Very nicely paced opening. Good biographical pictures. Would have liked more b-roll of the goal — especially in a game situation. That would have added extra punch.” — Judge Tom McKee

2nd – A shining star: Miguel Gomez signs a second division contract with a Mexican soccer team — Esdras Valdez, Univision Arkansas

“Good presentation, but could have used a lot more production effect in editing. That could have pushed the story from second to first.”

Television – FEATURE

1st – School of Man – Graduation — Kevin Kelly and Matt Thibault, FOX16 News – KLRT

“Well produced story with excellent natural sound and graphics. The best thing about it was the audio/video match. Captured the emotion of the event. Well done!” — Judge Tom McKee

2nd – Special report: Pricing parenthood, The cost of IVF — Alex Caprariello, KNWA/KFTA

“Excellent open. Nice character development of a couple going through a journey into the unknown. Good payoff. Nice story.”

3rd – Hannah Hall profile — Seth Cleveland, ASU-TV

“Overall very nice piece. Good script. One suggestion would be to use the on-the-job video up front to set her up, then show the pictures. More pictures, please.”

Any platform – MULTIMEDIA

1st – Westside: 20 years later — Kimberely Blackburn, Tucker Crain, Miranda Reynolds, Katie Woodall and Christopher Lee, Delta Digital News Service

“The winner in a very competitive field. The exploration of violence in a neighborhood from various angles — from the work of the football coach to how children who witness violence are affected emotionally and psychologically — draw the reader in and provide a first hand look. Well written with photos that truly show the horror of what has been going one, the paper should be congratulated for committing the resources for such an encompassing project.” — Judge Ginny Frizzi

2nd – Little Rock Nine — Staff, The Associated Press

“This entry provides a walk through history. AP’s archival photos and video interview with a student who was a member if the Little Rock literally bring the story home. Well written and reported, the story is an important reminder for those who remember when it happened and an educational tool for the younger generation. Strong work.”

3rd – The Caretaker — Emma Pettit, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“This rises above being an ordinary feature. The writing is strong and tells somewhat complicated —and touching — story of why he devotes himself to tending the graves of all graves, even those of slave holders. Photos are excellent and bring the story to life.”

Any platform – VIDEO

1st – 20 years since Arkansas school shooting — Mitchell Pe Masilun, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“The photography is the strongest element in this entry. Shots of the memorial garden, empty tables, rows if lockers in an empty hall capture the idea that something precious was lost. Survivors’ recollections are strong and to-the-point. Great job in a small time frame.” — Judge Ginny Frizzi

Any platform – SLIDESHOW

1st – 2018 restaurants: Central Arkansas eateries that opened, closed this year —Brandon Riddle, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Terrific presentation. The photography is excellent and put into context with short but succinct blocks of copy. Great job!” — Judge Ginny Frizzi


1st – 20 years since Arkansas school shooting — Jeannie Roberts, Gavin Lesnick and Mitchell Pe Masilun, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Excellent writing and presentation including multimedia features. Story was balanced, covering all angles of a painful anniversary.” — Judge Ginny Frizzi

2nd – What Memphis did with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s sacrifice — Staff, MLK50: Justice Through Journalism

“This site features hard-hitting writing and thought-provoking reports.”

3rd – Johnny Cash: An Arkansas legend — Gavin Lesnick, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge’s overall competition comments: “This was a tough call between the first- and second-place winners. Both featured excellent writing and photography. But the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette entry had the slight edge with the incorporation of multimedia elements such as video.”

Student journalism – NEWS

1st – eStem walks out in memory of Parkland shooting victims — Ryan Bourgoin, The Forum, UA Little Rock

“Timely, well-developed, nuanced, and clearly written story on the walkout. Additional reflections from the admins would strengthen it even more.” — Judge Robert Bohler, Texas-based communications specialist/former student media adviser

2nd – Organizations seek to help area homeless — Kimberely Blackburn, Delta Digital News Service

“Good depth of reporting in this story. Tip: the first sentence of the lead, revised, would make a great conclusion FOLLOWING the description of Travis Howard’s plight.”

3rd – Little Rock participates in nationwide women’s march — Christine Kemper, The Forum, UA Little Rock

“This is very good coverage of the women’s march. Tip: When you’re covering a multi-faceted event, take that ‘most profound’ moment that that’s stuck in the middle and craft it into your lede so to maximize reader interest. People like to read about people.”

Student journalism – SPORTS

1st – LR women looking to make their own postseason magic — Kolton Rutherford, The Forum, UA Little Rock

“The advance story on LR’s NCAA tournament opener is an example of good storytelling that reflects LR’s recent ups and downs as well as is historical tournament accomplishments. It misses a couple of significant details amid the good storytelling, omissions that can be corrected down the line with a checklist of essentials that will enable the reporter to make sure all that is woven into the story, e.g., what’s IR’s overall record, and. for LR’s fans, who are FSU’s top players?”  — Judge Robert Bohler

Judge’s overall competition comments: “Surprised to see so few entries.”

Student journalism – FEATURE

1st – A public radio leader retires — Kimberely Blackburn, Delta Digital News Service

“Excellent storytelling, with strong multimedia that lets the reader hear the story in the subject’s own words.The anecdote at the end of the story might make an even stronger lede.” — Judge Robert Bohler

2nd – Out of the ordinary — Amber Quaid, Arkansas Tech University

“Cleanly written and nicely developed in both stories. Thorough reporting and very good transition … which is necessary with thorough reporting. Both stories would be strengthened with additional sourcing who could offer additional perspectives about the subjects.”

3rd – EMTs serve the community — Miranda Reynolds, Delta Digital News Service

“Great story idea about public servants. The story could be strengthened with some additional reporting to provide an overview, e.g., a bit more info about the depth of training and education required, and perhaps a brief overview of rural services: are they short-staffed? Is recruitment difficult, and if so, why.”

Student journalism – OPINION

1st – Inside the mind of Amber — Amber Quaid, Arkansas Tech University

“This staff tackles topics that are expected, but also the unexpected, and the opinions are backed up and logically founded. They are written in an engaging style, but suffer on occasion from the need for stronger copy editing: get extra sets of eyes on your copy.” — Judge Robert Bohler

Student journalism – PHOTOGRAPHY PORTFOLIO

1st – Amber’s collection — Amber Quaid, Arkansas Tech University

“Excellent photo coverage of the DACA protest. Good quality and perhaps as important, a good eye at cropping that provides an obvious focal point for the reader. One suggestion: Even in a digit presentation, provide some brief context for the reader over and above the label or ID of the pic. A related fact that modifies the image will do.” — Judge Robert Bohler

Special awards – COMMUNITY SERVICE

1st – The children of Central City — Jonathan Bullington, Richard Webster, Brett Duke, Emma Scott and Haley Correll, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

“Excellent, comprehensive coverage of a community issue from many angles and in many story formats.” — Judge Jodie Mozdzer, associate journalism professor, Southern Connecticut State University

2nd – Widow’s Tax — Lisa Hammersly and Frank Lockwood, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Excellent coverage shining a light on an issue and educating the public.”

3rd – Our drowning coast — Kevin Sack, John Schwartz, Mark Schleifstein, Tristan Baurick and Sara Sneath, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

“Great coverage on an important issue for the regional community and country as a whole.”


1st – UA, foundation ties blur public-private line — Eric Besson and Aziza Musa, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“The ongoing coverage highlights the need for transparency and the efforts agencies will go to avoid disclosure requirements. Reporters dug through more than 20,000 emails to demonstrate a coordinated effort to circumvent FOI requirements while spending millions of dollars on behalf of a public agency. Furthermore, they highlight a serious problem that is not exclusive to Arkansas, and that is the way public entities try to use nonprofits to do their business in a way that avoids disclosure requirements.” — Judge Jodie Mozdzer

2nd – Request denied: States try to block access to public records — Ryan Foley and Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press

“A great piece of work showing efforts to get reduce the public’s access to information, even as public officials pay lip service to transparency. Further, the AP created a great service that allows reporters to track similar efforts around the country, as these laws aren’t proposed in isolation. Public awareness on such legislation is critical. As the story notes, ‘In some cases, the bills hit resistance only after reporters caught on and began writing about them.’”


1st – Ginny Monk portfolio, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Truly deserving of this award. Compelling, in-depth, well-written entries. Data skills are excellent. It took persistence to get these projects done. This is a journalist we want to hear much more from, and we can’t wait to see where she takes us.” — Judge Jodie Mozdzer


1st – Amanda Claire Curcio, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“Amanda’s reporting holds those in power accountable. Her writing does so with a focus on the humanity around the issues. Her depth of sourcing and attention to personal details shine through, while the data and paper-trail reporting serve as a strong foundation for her work. Truly remarkable portfolio of work.” — Judge Jodie Mozdzer