Diamond Journalism Awards – 2022 Winners

NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Reporters for Mississippi Free Press and KNWA-TV and the editor of the Pine Bluff Commercial took top honors at the 2022 Diamond Journalism Awards ceremony held June 30 at Diamond Bear Brewing Co.

Guest speakers Ellen Kreth, publisher, and Shannon Hahn, general manager, of the Madison County Record told the audience of journalists and guests about their newspaper’s reporting on the Huntsville school board’s attempts to cover up allegations of sexual assault by junior high school basketball players. The Record was awarded the 2021 Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Journalism by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University for its reporting on the scandal.

The Diamond Journalism Awards, sponsored by the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, honor journalism excellence among professionals and students from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

This year’s competition, for work published or broadcast in 2021, drew 379 entries in more than 80 categories. Judges were members of the SPJ chapters in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Pine Bluff Commercial Editor Byron Tate with his Diamond Award paperweight.
Pine Bluff Commercial Editor Byron Tate with his 2022 Garrick Feldman Community Journalism Award – Photo by Jennifer Ellis

Byron Tate, editor of Arkansas’ Pine Bluff Commercial, received the Garrick Feldman Community Journalism Award for his reporting and editorials on and about Pine Bluff and Jefferson County.

Mississippi Free Press staff took three of the competition’s top honors:

  • Kayode Crown was named Diamond Journalist of the Year for his work for the Jackson- based online news outlet.
  • Nick Judin won the Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder Public Service Award for “What the Jackson Water Crisis Revealed.”
  • Christian Middleton and Grace Marion won the Robert S. McCord FOI Award for “Drug Unit Travails Hidden from Public View.”

Chad Mira of Fayetteville’s KNWA-TV was named Outstanding New Journalist, an award that recognizes journalists who have worked in their market five years or fewer. A complete list of winners, with judges’ comments, and finalists follows:

2022 DIAMOND JOURNALISM AWARDS WINNERS AND FINALISTS

Garrick Feldman Community Journalism Award

WINNER

Byron Tate, Pine Bluff Commercial/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge Comment: Byron stepped up to the challenge when called to run the Pine Bluff Commercial, and lucky for the community he did. He shows a clear nose for news, not just covering but digging into topics that matter to the people of Jefferson County. He displays a knack for switching gears, writing on the resurrection of a well-loved basketball tournament to the complexities of the interim police chief holding a liquor license to a drama-filled feature on Arkansas’ own Patient Zero. He clearly knows and loves the community well, as evidenced in his thoughtful and well-researched editorials. His work honors his community and Garrick Feldman’s legacy.

FINALISTS

Entry Title: Black Women, Covid-19 and Education in Noxubee County

Entry Credit: Torsheta Jackson, Donna Ladd, Kristin Brenemen, Mississippi Free Press

Judge Comment: The strength of Torsheta and Donna’s BWC Project is in its approach. They returned to the roots of community journalism – listening to the people and honoring their experience. The stories dug into the community’s past, unapologetically unearthing and naming the systemic racism that still plagues Black women in Noxubee County today. But possibly the best contribution of this work – they know there’s more reporting to do, and they aim to continue to do it.

Entry Title: Focused coverage on City of Beebe, Arkansas

Entry Credit: Greg Geary, The Daily Citizen, Searcy

Judge Comment: As the only reporter for this outlet, Greg carries the heavy load of keeping his community informed with both vital and vibrant coverage. The range of his work reflects the range of news a community cares about – from the grind of municipal work to annual events like “Shop with a Cop” to a heartwarming story of a student overcoming a stutter to win a speaking contest – and a history I’m sure they appreciate having documented with such care. Competition Comment: This was a particularly difficult category to judge, as each entry highlighted a different reason why local journalism is so vital to our communities. The one- reporter newspaper, the paper resurrected to serve as the only local news source, the team digging and digging into the deep roots of inequities in a Mississippi county – all serve as a testament to the role dedicated journalists play in documenting, sharing and challenging our history.

Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder Public Service Award

WINNER

Entry Title: What the Jackson Water Crisis Revealed

Entry Credit: Nick Judin, Mississippi Free Press, Jackson

Judge Comment: Nick Judin stands out for his relentless coverage, which not only included hard news and legislative reporting, but also beautifully researched and written human-centered stories. While many factors led to action for the citizens of the City of Jackson, I can’t help but believe Nick’s dogged commitment to the issue and to a community that has long felt forgotten contributed to that progress.

FINALIST

Entry Title: The Great Delta Divide

Entry Credit: Stephen Simpson, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock

Judge Comment: Stephen Simpson is clearly a talented and dedicated journalist who produced strong coverage that highlighted an area of the country that has long experienced inequities.

The conditions under which this project was produced – as a new staff member, reporting during a pandemic – make the package of stories even more remarkable.

Robert S. McCord FOI Award

WINNER

Entry Title: Drug Unit Travails Hidden from Public View

Entry Credit: Christian Middleton, Grace Marion, Mississippi Free Press, Jackson

Judge Comment: Excellent use of both public records and old-fashioned watchdog reporting to uncover a disturbing issue that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. This is a perfect example of why access to public records is important to a democracy, and a perfect example of why journalists need to report from public records. Fantastic work!

FINALIST

Entry Title: Chad Mira – Robert S. McCord FOI Award Entry Credit: Chad Mira, KNWA News, Fayetteville, AR Judge Comment: None

FINALIST

Entry Title: ADG Flaherty McCord nomination

Entry Credit: Joseph Flaherty, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock

Judge Comment: None

Diamond Journalist of the Year

WINNER

Kayode Crown, Mississippi Free Press, Jackson

Judge Comment: Kayode produces meticulously researched and reported work with a narrative flow that keeps the reader hooked. He gravitates to meaty and meaningful stories – a broken jail and a broken justice system, lead poisoning, people detained for months without

representation. He appears dedicated to shining the light in places that may otherwise not receive any.

FINALIST

Monica Quintero, KPEJ, Odessa

Entry Title: Monica Quintero – Passionate about People

Judge Comment: Monica is clearly a motivated journalist who is well versed in her storytelling. From inspiration pieces in the Be the Change series to emotional and compelling stories, like one of a mother grieving her lost child, she seems to know how to get to the heart of a story – and how to keep people at the center of it.

FINALIST

Dwain Hebda, YA!MULE WORDSMITHS, Little Rock

Judge Comment: Dwain is a talented narrative journalist, blending relevant detail, research and data into beautiful stories that are compelling no matter the topic.

Outstanding New Journalist

WINNER

Chad Mira, KNWA News, Fayetteville

Judge Comment: Chad clearly brings a lot to his market. He’s skilled in navigating public records, appears undeterred by roadblocks and challenges, and seasoned in weaving in the human element into a complex investigation. What an asset to the community.

FINALIST

Tess Vrbin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock

Judge Comment: Tess displays experience beyond her years, from digging through public documents to breaking down data to disaster coverage to breaking news and spurring change. Bright future ahead for this young journalist.

FINALIST

joseph Flaherty, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock

Judge Comment: Joseph demonstrates a strong dedication to open government, and seems to thrive while fighting for government transparency. Keep fighting the good fight!

BREAKING NEWS – PRINT/ONLINE & TV/VIDEO

WINNER

Entry Title: Tornado coverage

Entry Credit: Tess Vrbin, Staci Vandagriff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock

Judge Comment: In a category filled with entries that all deserve recognition, I chose this piece because of the people it brought to life and the information it conveyed in the aftermath of a tragedy that affected so many. It takes a lot to balance our journalistic responsibilities with being empathetic and I think this piece delivered.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Interstate 40 Bridge Crack

Entry Credit: Andrew DeMillo, Adrian Sainz, Jill Bleed, The Associated Press, Little Rock

Judge Comment: The threads that were pulled to get to the heart of the bridge closure, and that the structural deficiency had been spotted before, shows the kind of tenacity and dogged reporting required in breaking news situations.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Covid Strikes Mississippi Children

Entry Credit: Ashton Pittman, Mississippi Free Press, Jackson

Judge Comment: I found these entries to be compelling and told with a point of view that tried to answer the question of why. And in an uncertain time, I found that act compelling.

ONGOING COVERAGE – PRINT/ONLINE

WINNER

Entry Title: The fight over Medicaid expansion in Missouri

Entry Credit: Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Judge Comment: Really solid reporting with solutions provided to problems and terrific cause and effect analysis. Also, a great understanding of dense legal documents was shown.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Teen Driver killing

Entry Credit: Teresa Moss, Ashton Eley, Thomas Metthe, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock

Judge Comment: Very well written and thorough articles discussing every element of the case, with well-timed and poised FOIA requests.

FINALIST

Entry Title: One Jail’s Tale of Abuse and Decay

Entry Credit: Kayode Crown, Mississippi Free Press, Jackson

Judge Comment: Good reporting on an astonishingly bad situation. Good background from start to finish.

ONGOING COVERAGE – RADIO/AUDIO & TV/VIDEO

WINNER

Entry Title: Missouri’s Medicaid expansion fight

Entry Credit: Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Judge Comment: Essential reporting on state Medicaid law that had to go to the high court to overcome political opposition.

Entry Title: Drunk VA Doctor’s Fatal Mistakes

Entry Credit: Chad Mira, KNWA News, Fayetteville

FINALIST

Entry Title: The Great Mask Debate

Entry Credit: Ashley Bohle, WVLT, Knoxville

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING – PRINT/ONLINE

WINNER

Entry Title: Missouri Repealed its Harshest Drug Law. Hundreds Were Left Behind

Entry Credit: Danny Wicentowski, Riverfront Times, St. Louis

Judge Comment: All of these entries did a great job using exhaustive investigative reporting to uncover serious, often tragic issues. This entry stood out for its depth of information, but also its storytelling, following multiple people remaining in prison despite a new law contradicting their terms. Along with explaining the issues well and at length, the reporting injected a humanity that often goes forgotten in detail-heavy journalism.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Betting on the Good Old Boys

Entry Credit: Edward Brown, Fort Worth Weekly

Judge Comment: Journalism is meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, and this story did the latter very well. Local politicians wielding influence unethically is likely the result of their perception they are not being watched in small communities, and I’m glad this reporter was.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Children in Peril finale

Entry Credit: Ginny Monk, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge Comment: The amount of research that went into this project was incredible. The result was a report as shocking as it was in-depth and was the kind of journalism known to result in policy reforms at the highest level.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING – RADIO/AUDIO & TV/VIDEO

WINNER

Entry Title: Filthy and Abusive Conditions at Treatment Center for Kids

Entry Credit: Chad Mira, KNWA News

Judge Comment: Excellent pursuit of documents, data and interviews to expose negligence in a youth treatment center.

FINALIST

Entry Title: St. Louis homeless services falls perilously short

Entry Credit: Shahla Farzan, St. Louis Public Radio

Judge Comment: Excellent accountability coverage targeting St Louis policies and practices intended to help homeless people.

EXPLANATORY REPORTING – PRINT/ONLINE

WINNER

Entry Title: ‘Kids feel like they’re being erased’: Inside the clinic targeted by Arkansas’s new anti-trans law

Entry Credit: Rebekah Scott, Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, Little Rock

Judge Comment: Outstanding explanatory reporting that tells readers exactly how the new piece of controversial legislation will affect transgender people like Andrew. Well done!

FINALIST

Entry Title: Rising rents

Entry Credit: Jacob Steimer, MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, Memphis

Judge Comment: An important topic, well-presented to readers.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Child abuse investigation

Entry Credit: Ginny Monk, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge Comment: Good job digging into the data. Storytelling could have been a bit stronger, but very solid analysis.

EXPLANATORY REPORTING – RADIO/AUDIO

WINNER

Entry Title: Ending the racial wealth gap through reparations: Local policies or federal payments?

Entry Credit: Chad Davis, St. Louis Public Radio

Judge Comment: The reason I picked the reparations piece is I think it qualifies the most in “explanatory reporting.” Reparations is something I enjoy reading about, but I often don’t think about what it would actually take to implement, and how it would impact national movements. This reporter broadened my understanding of race while letting its characters remain in the spotlight.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Sculptor Discusses Inspiration in Making Johnny Cash Statue for U.S. Capitol

Entry Credit: Michael Hibblen, KUAR-FM 89.1, Little Rock

Judge Comment: The interviewer in Arkansas is clearly well-researched, passionate about the subject, and ready to extract great soundbites (and live no less) from his subject.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Black St. Louisans Turn to Therapy, Nature and Family to Heal from Police Violence

Entry Credit: Marissanne Lewis-Thompson, Andrea Henderson, St. Louis Public Radio

Judge Comment: The reporter on the mental health feature gets great tape and dives into a significant and complex situation, and her voice and scripting shine through and very much deepen my understanding of an issue I often only read about in national publications.

EXPLANATORY REPORTING – TV/VIDEO

WINNER

Entry Title: Face to Face with a Killer

Entry Credit: Kevin Kelly, Stephen Goodale, Jessica Guy, KLRT-FOX 16 News, Little Rock

Judge Comment: I’ve never seen any situations like that on television, and it’s clear the reporter treated every single person in this situation with incredible respect. Each character is given their chance to speak, the three segments of the piece fit together as a story while standing alone by themselves, and, as a piece of explanatory journalism, there wasn’t much else from the case I felt I needed to know. I hope the reporter and station are proud of this achievement, and I can only hope to produce something half as good as this in my career. Looking on social media, it was clear that the victim’s family was incredibly grateful for the coverage in “Face to Face,” and that might be the most important part of this entire story. Thanks for reporting it.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Show Me Missouri: Celebrating 200 Years

Entry Credit: Brian Calfano, Sarah Scarlett, KOLR-TV, Springfield, MO

Judge Comment: “Show Me Missouri” as a full project gives me so many great nuggets of information about the Ozarks. I particularly enjoyed the historical interviews about the state during the Civil War and its complicated founding. It’s a great retrospective that I’m sure will be referenced for years to come in the Springfield area.

FINALIST

Entry Title: 100-year-old Unsolved Murder Mystery Haunts Maryville

Entry Credit: Ashley Bohle, WVLT, Knoxville

Judge Comment: It’s challenging to rank this with these longer documentaries, but it’s great explanatory journalism nonetheless on a topic that’s clearly well-known in the region. In some ways, small pieces like that can be more challenging, so I want to choose it as an alternate winner.

FEATURES – NEWSPAPERS

WINNER

Entry Title: Tom Slaughter series

Entry Credit: Celia Storey, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge Comment: This is an incredible work of journalism to gather and present so much information, original sources, and then to also have a nice, if long, main story.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Black Women Firefighters on Gulf Coast

Entry Credit: Stacey Cato, Mississippi Free Press

Judge Comment: This was a great look into pioneers in firefighting. The reporter asked great questions and was able to reveal a great deal.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Pearl Harbor

Entry Credit: Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia, The Richmond News, Richmond, MO

Judge Comment: Good story that presents history in a historical format.

FEATURES – MAGAZINES

WINNER

Entry Title: Within Their Hearts, She Lives Forever

Entry Credit: Dustin Jayroe, AY’s Mental Health Guide, Little Rock

Judge Comment: One of the best, and most heartbreaking, features I have ever read. Amazing job telling this story.

FINALIST

Entry Title: TOMMY SMITH

Entry Credit: Kelley Bass, Arkansas Money & Politics, Little Rock

Judge Comment: I was fascinated by this story, and it made me want to know even more about this man. This story was very well done. Fantastic job.

FINALIST

Entry Title: All Dogs Go to Gary

Entry Credit: Dwain Hebda, AY Magazine, Little Rock

Judge Comment: The ending quote of this story was perfect. I was hooked throughout. Great job.

FEATURES – ONLINE ONLY

WINNER

Entry Title: At 96, Charlie Payne brings the hurt on the golf course

Entry Credit: Joel Phelps, The Arkadelphian, Arkadelphia, AR

Judge Comment: Nice job of intertwining Charlie Payne’s golf game with his history.

FINALISTS

Entry Title: Missouri Inmates Sew Custom Quilts for Foster Children: ‘It Kind Of Breaks Your Heart’

Entry Credit: Shahla Farzan, St. Louis Public Radio

Entry Title: The mess in Room 304: ‘Breaking Bad’ at Henderson State

Entry Credit: Debra Hale-Shelton, Benjamin Hardy, Arkansas Nonprofit News Network

FEATURES – RADIO/AUDIO

WINNER

Entry Title: Missouri’s Oldest One-Room African American Schoolhouse Gets a New Chance At Life

Entry Credit: Marissanne Lewis-Thompson, St. Louis Public Radio

Judge Comment: I love the research the journalist put into finding out more about the building, and, especially, her ability to find characters (especially Doris) I’m likely to remember for a while. She also brings the story forward by explaining efforts to preserve the building and capture its history, and overall, I find this to be a snapshot of something the St. Louis community clearly finds important. It’s the definition of a great radio feature.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Rolla Becomes a Hub For Vacuum Cleaner Enthusiasts

Entry Credit: Jonathan Ahl, St. Louis Public Radio

Judge Comment: NPR stations were built on stories like the postcard from Rolla. It’s a quirky event with amazing characters, excellent sound, and facts about something I had never thought about before. It is clearly a worthy winner with humor, creativity, and clarity.

Competition Comment: This was an extremely close call because both of these are spectacular stories that are made so much better by the medium of radio.

FEATURES – TV/VIDEO

WINNER

Entry Title: Remembering 9/11: Arkansas woman remembers flight attendant sister killed in terrorist attack

Entry Credit: Chelsea Helms, Brad Horn, KNWA News

Judge Comment: Great use of natural sound, archive video, visuals weaving in with interviews. Felt connected to the story.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Teen with terminal cancer digitally documents battle to leave behind a legacy

Entry Credit: Chelsea Helms, Brad Horn, KNWA News

Judge Comment: Emotional story told compassionately.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Remembering 9/11: Fort Smith woman captured some of the most notable photos of act of terror

Entry Credit: Chelsea Helms, Brad Horn, KNWA News

Judge Comment: Every interesting story. Great use of archive video/sound while weaving in present day interview as the photographer described what she saw.

EDITORIALS – PRINT/ONLINE

WINNER

Entry Title: Pit, read

Entry Credit: Rick Kron, The Leader Newspaper, Jacksonville, AR

Judge Comment: Nice editorials with a resounding message of problem and injustice.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Mark Carter Editor’s Letters

Entry Credit: Mark Carter, Arkansas Money & Politics

Judge Comment: Nice, heartfelt pieces with great meaning and lessons.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Conservative Cronyism

Entry Credit: Edward Brown, Fort Worth Weekly

Judge Comment: Nice submission with great detail provided and connecting of dots. The only thing I’d like to have seen is one more submission at a conclusion point.

COMMENTARY – PRINT/ONLINE

WINNER

Entry Title: Racism and Police Violence in Today’s Mississippi

Entry Credit: Leo Carney, Mississippi Free Press

Judge Comment: These columns are moral without being sentimental, packed with reporting and history to back up pointed commentary speaking truth to power and to fellow citizens.

FINALIST

Entry Title: School districts correct to mandate masks

Entry Credit: Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia, The Richmond News

Judge Comment: Despite the pushback it likely received in its time, this strong editorial speaks bravely on behalf of people and the common good and calls out harmful messaging on public health.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Karen Martin columns

Entry Credit: Karen Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

SPORTS – NEWSPAPERS

WINNER

Entry Title: Stickball World Series Back After COVID Halt

Entry Credit: Roger Amos, Mississippi Free Press

Judge Comment: Excellent piece on cultural heritage, exposing the rich pride and traditions carried out by Native Americans in Mississippi. Also enjoyed the use of multimedia video.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Worst to First

Entry Credit: Dwain Hebda, YA!MULE WORDSMITHS for Arkansas Catholic Newspaper Judge Comment: Really nice underdog tale with great details from the early days of the program.

FINALIST

Entry Title: SEC win

Entry Credit: Tom Murphy, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge Comment: Very nice gamer story. Only thing I would’ve liked to see was maybe a little info on the significance of the achievement for the Razorbacks program.

SPORTS – MAGAZINES

WINNER

Entry Title: No Greater Love Than This

Entry Credit: Dwain Hebda, YA!MULE WORDSMITHS for Arkansas Money & Politics

Judge Comment: This was an outstanding story that appeals to all kinds of different readers, which makes it even better. Football fans and those who know nothing about the sport could each find enjoyment in here. I was hooked from the very beginning. Outstanding!

FINALIST

Entry Title: COLLEGE SPORTS AND NIL: A WHOLE NEW BALL GAME

Entry Credit: Dwain Hebda, Arkansas Money & Politics

Judge Comment: This story dove deep on a topic that many people don’t know very much about. It was easy to understand and explained everything well. Very well done.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Higher Power

Entry Credit: Dwain Hebda, AY Magazine

Judge Comment: This was a highly emotional story that a lot of people would be able to relate to. It made me want to learn more about the entire family, which is a sign of a job well done. Great job!

SPORTS – RADIO/AUDIO & TV/VIDEO

WINNER

Entry Title: In a New Year’s Day battle of soccer and sausage, St. Louis takes on the Metro East in Chorizo Bowl

Entry Credit: Brian Munoz, St. Louis Public Radio

Judge Comment: Using sports as an avenue to highlight a community’s culture, food, and history, was brilliant in the Saint Louis Public Radio story. Though there’s very little tape of an actual sport being played, the spirit of competition, playing to make family and friends proud, and true love for athletics, is present throughout.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Cowboys Legend talks Hall of Fame

Entry Credit: Monica Quintero, KPEJ, Odessa

ARTS & CULTURE – PRINT/ONLINE

WINNER

Entry Title: Ride of a Lifetime

Entry Credit: Dwain Hebda, YA!MULE WORDSMITHS for 501 Life Magazine

Judge Comment: Dwain Hebda has a way with words. His writing paints pictures and takes readers on a journey.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Hidden No More

Entry Credit: Dustin Jayroe, AY Magazine

FINALIST

Entry Title: Martin arts coverage

Entry Credit: Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

ARTS & CULTURE – RADIO/AUDIO

WINNER

Entry Title: St. Louis Arts Coverage

Entry Credit: Jeremy Goodwin, St. Louis Public Radio

Judge Comment: Excellent soundscape and diversity of voices in the Shakespeare piece.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Evensong Story

Entry Credit: Paul Ladd, World Christian Broadcasting

ARTS & CULTURE – TV/VIDEO

WINNER

Entry Title: Eat It Up

Entry Credit: Amanda Jaeger , Skot Covert, Kelly Tibbit, Zach Keast, THV-11, Little Rock Judge Comment: Eat it up shines, and this is the reason I chose it as the winner, because it presents the perfect balance between host personality and newsiness. The Cajun food truck piece especially highlighted a really inspiring business owner who deserves to have his story told, and it certainly made me want to visit the region and try some gumbo.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Arts & Culture in the Basin

Entry Credit: Monica Quintero, KPEJ

Judge Comment: The Texas culture pieces are a bit more straightforward and newsy, with solid tracking shots, nice lines and an eye for great historical context.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Mornings On The Move

Entry Credit: Casey Wheeless, Harry Sullivan, WVLT

Judge Comment: The mornings on the move segment is all about the personalities of the anchors, and as a viewer in the area I imagine I’d love to be able to know a little bit more about the people that present the news to me every day.

BUSINESS – PRINT/ONLINE & TV/VIDEO

WINNER

Entry Title: ADG Business Coverage

Entry Credit: Nathan Owen, John Magsam, Noel Oman, Staci Vandagriff, Arkansas Democrat- Gazette

Judge Comment: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s business desk had a great selection of stories to choose from. The quotes in “Businesses lament lack of staffers” by Nathan Owens made the story engaging. The “Lumber prices rocket on demand surge” article used great data points that pushed the story forward.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Business Boondoggles in Rural Mississippi

Entry Credit: Christian Middleton, Mississippi Free Press

FINALIST

Entry Title: Basin Businesses – People Behind them

Entry Credit: Monica Quintero, KPEJ

Judge Comment: None

EDUCATION – PRINT/ONLINE

WINNER

Entry Title: ADG Education Coverage

Entry Credit: Jaime Adame, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge Comment: Neutral, comprehensive, clear coverage that shows evidence of dogged reporting to sniff out the facts for the public.

FINALIST

Entry Title: BWC Project: Education Disparities and Solutions in Noxubee County

Entry Credit: Torsheta Jackson, Donna Ladd, Kristin Brenemen, Mississippi Free Press

FINALIST

Entry Title: Bucking the Odds

Entry Credit: Dwain Hebda, Arkansas Money & Politics

EDUCATION – TV/VIDEO

WINNER

Entry Title: Education Compilation

Entry Credit: Ashley Bohle, WVLT

Judge Comment: I really enjoyed the versatility in the compilation. The butter piece is of course delightful, and it really works perfectly for the visual medium. I also enjoyed the day 2 coverage after the capitol riot from an interesting education perspective (wish it was longer!) and the bus drivers one gets a whole lot of information to the viewer in a short amount of time. Excellent reporting overall.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Molding a middle schooler’s mind with movement

Entry Credit: Chelsea Helms, Brad Horn, Jacob Cotner, KNWA News

Judge Comment: The middle school piece is also well-done with nice video shots and a nice array of voices highlighting the program.

HEALTH – PRINT/ONLINE

WINNER

Entry Title: Child abuse investigation

Entry Credit: Ginny Monk, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge Comment: Outstanding reporting and writing, analyzing several years’ worth of public information from numerous agencies and a fight for records that were denied, to uncover surprising and informative patterns within a serious social and public health problem.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Solutions for Health Equity in Mississippi

Entry Credit: Nick Judin, Mississippi Free Press

Judge Comment: A solid solutions story about COVID-19 vaccine outreach efforts aiming for communities where trust, for many, has been lost.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Free at Last

Entry Credit: Dwain Hebda, YA!MULE WORDSMITHS for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

SCIENCE – PRINT/ONLINE

WINNER

Entry Title: Dark Skies, Strange Clouds

Entry Credit: Dustin Jayroe, AY Magazine

Judge Comment: A creative writing style made this entry stand out, along with the unique and important topic covered in detail. The first-hand journal entries included by the writer also brought the reader into the moment and truly provided a unique experience.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Using Tech to Reverse Inequities

Entry Credit: Aliyah Veal, Mississippi Free Press

Judge Comment: Each story told the story of a different social issue and how technology was being used to address it. Good job on a solid series of articles that displays the intersection between science and humanity.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Finding Normal: Vaccines Ready, Incoming

Entry Credit: Dustin Jayroe, AY Magazine

Judge Comment: This was a very detailed account of the state’s battle to provide adequate vaccinations for COVID-19 as it plagued the rest of the country. Good job providing your readers essential information and explaining it well.

ENVIRONMENT – PRINT/ONLINE & TV/VIDEO

WINNER

Entry Title: Lead Contamination of Black Jackson Children

Entry Credit: Kayode Crown, Mississippi Free Press

Judge Comment: A lot going on in this story. The news hook of an outside attorney suing on behalf of hundreds of local kids leads the story, but then there is this killer quote buried down low: “And so, in Flint, even if everybody drank as much water as they could, they were only drinking bad water for 14 or 15 months,” the attorney added. “In Jackson, they’ve been drinking bad water, in some instances, for their whole lives.” Good reporting trying to put all the pieces of this tragedy together under one headline.

PANDEMIC – PRINT/ONLINE

WINNER

Entry Title: Delta Dangers to Mississippi, and U.S., Children

Entry Credit: Ashton Pittman, Mississippi Free Press

Judge Comment: Comprehensive look at the pandemic and children. Well researched and reported.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Arkansas pandemic coverage

Entry Credit: Andrew DeMillo, The Associate Press

FINALIST

Entry Title: Pandemic Coverage

Entry Credit: Dwain Hebda, YA!MULE WORDSMITHS for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

PANDEMIC – RADIO/AUDIO & TV/VIDEO

WINNER

Entry Title: St. Louis Public Radio pandemic coverage

Entry Credit: Sarah Fentem, St. Louis Public Radio

Judge Comment: Excellent in-depth series presented on radio and web covering pandemic from multiple angles over several months.

FINALIST

Entry Title: COVID-19 Infections Become the New Frontier of Work Comp Claims

Entry Credit: Brian Calfano, KOLR-TV

FINALIST

Entry Title: Mom Leaves Workforce to Homeschool Kids

Entry Credit: Ashley Bohle, WVLT

POLITICS – PRINT/ONLINE

WINNER

Entry Title: Digs of the Deal Series

Entry Credit: Katie Zakrzewski, Arkansas Money & Politics

Judge Comment: This was a great idea! The series stood out from other entries, which were largely traditional political news stories, and delved deeply into local landmarks, their place in history and was still able to convey the important political issues at play. Well done!

FINALIST

Entry Title: Lockwood politics beat

Entry Credit: Frank Lockwood, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge Comment: This was a harrowing account of the Jan. 6 insurrection, which will become one of the most infamous days in history as time goes on. I enjoyed all the detail and the unique perspective of the reporter woven with coverage of the state’s congressional leaders’ reactions.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Political Coverage

Entry Credit: Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press

Judge Comment: None

POLITICS – RADIO/AUDIO &TV/VIDEO

WINNER

Entry Title: Ozarks Tonight: Gas Price Dynamics

Entry Credit: Brian Calfano, KOLR-TV

Judge Comment: Very intelligent use of data reporting to isolate the small role politics plays in pricing at the gas pump.

FINALIST

Entry Title: In Post-Trump GOP Split, Gov. Asa Hutchinson Often at Odds with His Party

Entry Credit: Daniel Breen, NPR/KUAR

FINALIST

Entry Title: Sarah Huckabee Sanders kicks off 15-stop tour in campaign for Arkansas governor

Entry Credit: Michael Hibblen, KUAR-FM 89.1

SPECIAL SECTION – PRINT/ONLINE

WINNER

Entry Title: Black Women, Systemic Barriers and COVID-19 Project

Entry Credit: DeAnna Tisdale Johnson, Azia Wiggins, Torsheta Jackson, Aliyah Veal, Kimberly Griffin, Kristin Brenemen, Donna Ladd, Mississippi Free Press

Judge Comment: An outstanding project by a team of journalists using superior written and visual journalism to trace historic roots of a public health phenomenon, educate on the consequences of systemic inequities, and illuminate solutions, all in an engaging digital package. Exceptional work.

FINALIST

Entry Title: 2021 Arkansas Mental Health Guide

Entry Credit: Heather Baker, Dustin Jayroe, Jamison Mosley, Mike Bedgood, Lora Puls, Emily Beirne, AY Magazine

Judge Comment: Stories like those in this special section highlight healing and hope, involving different faces and ages, both lifting the stigma of talking about behavioral or mental health and presenting resources to help others take the next step.

FINALIST

Entry Title: HOBBIES IN THE 501

Entry Credit: Dwain Hebda, YA!MULE WORDSMITHS for 501 Life Magazine

PODCASTS – PRINT/ONLINE & STUDENT MEDIA

WINNER

Entry Title: Capitol & Scott

Entry Credit: Nick Popowitch, Lara Farrar, ArkansasOnline.com/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Judge Comment: Both entries are good podcasts, but Capitol and Scott is slightly more professional and well-produced. The sound quality could be a bit better, but otherwise, this is a very interesting podcast. Nicely done!

FINALIST

Entry Title: Reveille’s Tiger Talk Podcast

Entry Credit: Nick Ombrellaro, Gabby Jimenez, Piper Hutchinson, Reed Darcey, Dylan Sanders

Judge Comment: Very solid campus-based podcast with good sound quality. Well done!

PHOTOGRAPHY – BREAKING NEWS

WINNER

Entry Title: Stuttgart Flooding

Entry Credit: Thomas Metthe, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge Comment: This photo places the viewer there with the victims of what is clearly a devastating moment. The hurt is visible in those in the foreground, the helplessness of those in the background is palpable, and the scope of the flooding can be felt in the entire frame. Still, in all of the sadness, there’s a sense of hope with the person in the boat being removed from the situation. This photo tells so much of the story.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Warehouse Fire

Entry Credit: Thomas Metthe, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge Comment: The devastation of this fire is obvious, as is the hopelessness of being able to put it out.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Voting Bill Protest

Entry Credit: Stephen Swofford, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge Comment: This captures what is clearly a unique moment, and it does so from a unique perspective.

PHOTO SPREAD/ESSAY

WINNER

Entry Title: Thousands of high schoolers put music in motion this weekend at the Dome in St. Louis

Entry Credit: Brian Munoz, St. Louis Public Radio

Judge Comment: Good angles and composition, and a couple of nice moments.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Oaklawn Opening Day

Entry Credit: Thomas Metthe, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Competition Comment: A spread, or essay, should be more than many pictures of the same thing. The two noted here did that, and the winner even found a couple of light moments.

PHOTO PORTFOLIO

WINNER

Entry Title: Vandagriff Portfolio

Entry Credit: Staci Vandagriff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Competition Comment: The top three could have gone another way on another day. All had a couple of good images with a couple of weak ones. While the other two may have had more pretty pictures, the winner wins because she was looking for fleeting moments and found them.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Mosley Portfolio

Entry Credit: Jamison Mosley, AY Media Group

FINALIST

Entry Title: Metthe Portfolio

Entry Credit: Thomas Metthe, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

DATA VISUALIZATION

WINNER

Entry Title: Arkansas congressional district boundaries

Entry Credit: Jen Para, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge Comment: Impressive use of Datawrapper capabilities to link between several kinds of maps. That there are so many proposals, the time invested in acquiring, vetting and presenting this data is not trivial.

GRAPHICS/ILLUSTRATIONS

WINNER

Entry Title: Carrie Hill art and graphics

Entry Credit: Carrie Hill, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Judge Comment: The Covid timeline for the one-year mark of the pandemic provides insightful context about the subject that – in retrospect – is dizzying. The Covid illustration meanwhile mixes a playfulness with the seriousness of the effects that the pandemic had on food service. The third illustration in this entry is just plain fun. Nice work.

VIDEO JOURNALISM – PORTFOLIO

WINNER

Entry Title: Monica Quintero – Passionate about People

Entry Credit: Monica Quintero, KPEJ, Odessa

Judge Comment: Very nice video editing and production values. A pleasure to watch!

FINALIST

Entry Title: Stephen Goodale Video Portfolio

Entry Credit: Stephen Goodale, KARK/KLRT, Little Rock

Judge Comment: Good content, but the videos were a bit hectic at times. Editing could be a bit tighter.

VIDEO JOURNALISM – THEMED PROGRAMMING

WINNER

Entry Title: Be Our Change – Positive, Inspirational Stories

Entry Credit: Monica Quintero, KPEJ

Judge Comment: Entertaining and fun profiles that have a point of view and a voice that resonates easily with the viewer.

DESIGN – PRINT/ONLINE

WINNER

Entry Title: AMP Layouts

Entry Credit: Jamison Mosley, Lora Puls, Arkansas Money & Politics

Judge Comment: I found these entries to be design appropriate for the stories and carried an understated – yet powerful – use of color, iconography and typography to allow the images and words to breathe and resonate with the reader.

FINALIST

Entry Title: AY Layouts

Entry Credit: Jamison Mosley, Lora Puls, AY Magazine

FINALIST

Entry Title: The Yellow Army

Entry Credit: Sarah Knight, Dwain Hebda, Jason Masters, Ashlee Nobel, Wheelhouse Publishing, Mountain Home, AR

WEB/MOBILE DESIGN

WINNER

Entry Title: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / ArkansasOnline.com

Entry Credit: Maggie McNeary

Judge Comment: Article pages are clean with room for large images and inline embeds. Pages load fast and scale well across mobile devices and responsive breakpoints.

STUDENT – SPECIAL PROJECTS

WINNER

Entry Title: The day a white killed four Black men

Entry Credit: Rachel Mipro, Liz Ryan, Lara Nicholson, Louisiana State University, Manship News Service, Baton Rouge, published in The Shreveport Times, The Advertiser (Lafayette), The Town Talk (Alexandria), The Daily Comet (Thibodaux)

Judge Comment: I applaud these journalists and editors and all of the others who collaborated on this project to bring the past into greater context through the lens of a modern-day perspective.

FINALIST

Entry Title: COVID roundtable with Brimer sisters

Entry Credit: Alena Noakes, Wildcat Media, Louisiana Christian University (formerly Louisiana College), Pineville

Judge Comment: Incredibly informative and bringing three sisters together who have experienced the pandemic in different ways yet have so much in common is enlightening.

STUDENT – BREAKING NEWS

WINNER

Entry Title: English professor removed from classes for fall 2021

Entry Credit: Addison Freeman, The Echo, University of Central Arkansas, Conway

Judge Comment: Great coverage of an issue that can be difficult to cover but is quite important to those on campus. Great depth of coverage, including from the professor at the center of the controversy. This story embodies so much of what journalism is about.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Students protest LSU’s handling of former French student accused of rape: ‘Safe not silenced’

Entry Credit: Maddie Scott, Domenic Purdy, Reveille, LSUReveille.com

FINALIST

Entry Title: Ida and LSU

Entry Credit: Ally Kadlubar, Aria Pons, Erin Rogers, Tiger TV, LSU

STUDENT – FEATURES

WINNER

Entry Title: Segregated Cemeteries Still Haunt Louisiana

Entry Credit: Ally Kadlubar, Tiger TV, LSU

Judge Comment: Excellent use of digital storytelling to enhance the written story and increase credibility. Good variety of source support with solid video editing and shot selection. The story keeps a clear focus and moves along well. Newsworthy topic choice.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Lights, Camera, Drag

Entry Credit: Maria Pham, Tiger TV, LSU

Judge Comment: Newsworthy topic choice that fit the feature style well! Good variety of interviews with a clear focus. The story moves along well but could be edited tighter at times. Focus on maintaining good lighting as much as possible.

FINALIST

Entry Title: ‘It was a ride’: Clay Schexnayder went from racing cars to leading the Louisiana House

Entry Credit: Kathleen Peppo, Manship News Service, LSU, published in The Advertiser (Lafyette)

Judge Comment: Great quotes! The story moves along nicely with clear transitions and helpful section breaks. The focus of the piece is clear throughout. I suggest adding other viewpoints (interviews) to the story along with some digital storytelling to enhance the reader experience.

STUDENT – SPORTS

WINNER

Entry Title: Side by Side, Lane by Lane

Entry Credit: Kendall Duncan, Tiger TV, LSU

Judge Comment: Excellent storytelling! Solid interviews and footage to capture the relationship between the brothers and the overall family dynamic. Newsworthy story with a clear focus.

FINALIST

Entry Title: LSU Diver Makes a Splash

Entry Credit: Haylee Kennedy, Tiger TV, LSU

Judge Comment: Newsworthy story with a clear focus! I suggest adding one more interview here from a teammate or family member to include that personal touch.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Collis Temple Jr. helped integrate LSU athletics 50 years ago

Entry Credit: Peter Rauterkus, Reveille/LSUReveille.com

Judge Comment: Newsworthy story that reads well. Good use of photos to help tell the story throughout. I suggest conducting additional interviews to help round out the piece.

STUDENT – EDITORIALS

WINNER

Entry Title: Reveille Editorials

Entry Credit: Reveille Editorial Board, Reveille/LSUReveille.com

Judge Comment: The winning editorial not only presented a well thought out opinion but used extensive reporting to support the conclusions.

Entry Title: Being a student does not make less of a journalist or reporter Entry Credit: Madison Ogle, The Echo, University of Central Arkansas Judge Comment: This was a thoughtful, personal editorial.

FINALIST

Entry Title: UCA moving toward more inclusivity in women’s sports Entry Credit: Sarah Smythe, The Echo, University of Central Arkansas Judge Comment: Good reporting to support the argument made.

STUDENT – COMMENTARY

WINNER

Entry Title: LSU’s responses to sexual assaults

Entry Credit: Claire Sullivan, Reveille/LSU Reveille.com

Judge Comment: Excellent use of facts to justify commentary. Strong voice! Newsworthy topic.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Social media doesn’t need your sonogram photos

Entry Credit: Olyvia Gonzalez, The Echo, University of Central Arkansas

Judge Comment: Strong column voice!

FINALIST

Entry Title: On renaming campus buildings

Entry Credit: Charlie Stephens, Reveille/LSUReveille.com

STUDENT – BUSINESS

WINNER

Entry Title: Transgender Bills Could Hurt Tourism

Entry Credit: Brooke Smith, Tiger TV, LSU

Judge Comment: The broadcast clip carries a professional tone and has a narrative structure that propels the viewer through a number of different scenarios and the potential effects on the state.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Flower Shortage

Entry Credit: Ally Kadlubar, Tiger TV, LSU

Judge Comment: Framing takes a national issue – the supply chain shortage – and brings a local lens to how it affects a particular local business segment. This is what we do in journalism, and I think it’s executed very well.

Entry Title: ‘Another blow’: 7,500 Louisiana oil and gas jobs lost in pandemic, furthering industry’s decline

Entry Credit: Brittney Forbes, Manship News Service, LSU, published in Houma Today

STUDENT – EDUCATION

WINNER

Entry Title: Faculty Senate enters unlawful executive session during meeting, kicks out non- Senate members

Entry Credit: Piper Hutchinson, Reveille/LSUReveille.com

Judge Comment: Great job by the reporter and others to investigate this matter, talk to people who were actually in the executive session, and hold the board’s feet to the fire on this.

FINALIST

Entry Title: ‘It’s very discouraging’: Louisiana teachers grapple with challenges of ongoing pandemic

Entry Credit: Margaret DeLaney, Olivia Varden, Chris Langley, Manship News Service, LSU, published in The News-Star (Monroe)

Judge Comment: Good reporting added to trend data make it a good story.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Pros and cons: How Louisiana college students were impacted by online learning Entry Credit: Masie O’Toole, Kirby Koch, Donald Fountain, Manship News Service, LSU, published in The Town Talk (Alexandria)

Judge Comment: It was nice to hear from a variety of students on their experiences.

STUDENT – NEWS PHOTO

WINNER

Entry Title: Gas leak

Entry Credit: Mia Waddell, The Echo, University of Central Arkansas

Judge Comment: Nice framing of the key aspects, nice focus on the action, too, but with the mailbox in view for perspective. The trees provide a perfect backdrop as well that direct attention to the central aspects of the photo.

FINALIST

Entry Title: AUTO COLLISION

Entry Credit: Rangsiya Faihin, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro

FINALIST

Entry Title: Collage

Entry Credit: Ian Lyle, The Echo, University of Central Arkansas

STUDENT – FEATURE PHOTO

WINNER

Entry Title: SEARCHING FOR BLACKBERRIES

Entry Credit: Rangsiya Faihin, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro

Judge Comment: Nice framing, great color and well framed. Great capture of a nice moment.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Drag Show

Entry Credit: Madison Ogle, Addison Freeman, The Echo, University of Central Arkansas

FINALIST

Entry Title: Homecoming

Entry Credit: Madison Ogle, The Echo, University of Central Arkansas

STUDENT – PHOTO SPREAD/ESSAY

WINNER

Entry Title: LINEMEN AT WORK

Entry Credit: Rangsiya Faihin, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University

Judge Comment: What the judges liked about this entry is the photographer took something that is somewhat mundane and turned it into art and a story at the same time. Great use of tight and wide shots to convey the work.

FINALIST

Entry Title: ARKANSAS ROOTS MUSIC FESTIVAL

Entry Credit: Rangsiya Faihin, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University

FINALIST

Entry Title: ROAD SIGN WORK

Entry Credit: Rangsiya Faihin, Delta Digital News Service, Arkansas State University

STUDENT – PHOTO PORTFOLIO

WINNER

Entry Title: LC v. ETBU, 23-17; LC v. LeTourneau, 90-65

Entry Credit: Alena Noakes, Wildcat Media, Louisiana Christian University

Judge Comment: Fantastic collection of photos with a variety of subjects, lighting and techniques.

STUDENT – GRAPHICS/ILLUSTRATIONS

WINNER

Entry Title: Oct. 6, 2021 cartoon

Entry Credit: Madison Ogle, The Echo, University of Central Arkansas

Judge Comment: The five-panels build an engaging, newsy story and the illustrations provide contextual detail to deliver the hammer in the final frame. Great concept.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Look at those sheep; Scary costume ideas

Entry Credit: Sam Miller, Wildcat Media, Louisiana Christian University

Judge Comment: “Look at those sheep” provides the right balance between disbelief and side- eye snark at a newsy topic that all can relate to.

FINALIST

Entry Title: Sept. 15, 2021, cartoon

Entry Credit: Madison Ogle, The Echo, University of Central ArkansasJudge Comment: Straightforward and poignant and tone-appropriate for the anniversary.

Arkansas SPJ announces candidates for the 2022-2023 Board of Directors

Candidates for Arkansas SPJ’s 2022-2023 Board of Directors include past board members Steve Listopad for president; Sonny Albarado for vice president; Rob Moritz for treasurer; and Jennifer Ellis, Wesley Brown, Brittany Reese, Ebony Harding-Kendrick, Linda Garner-Bunch and Andrew DeMillo. In addition, new candidates for the board include Lance Brownfield, editor in chief of the Malvern Daily Record and Brenda Lepenski, a general assignment reporter at KATV Channel 7 News. There are currently no candidates for secretary on the 11-member board. Voting will take place at the Diamond Journalism Awards and annual meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at Diamond Bear Brewing Co. in North Little Rock.

2022 Diamond Journalism Awards finalists named

The Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to announce the finalists for its 2022 Diamond Journalism Awards, a regional competition that recognizes journalism excellence among professionals and students from Arkansas and six bordering states.

Arkansas SPJ will present the winners at an awards ceremony on June 30 at Diamond Bear Brewing, 600 N Broadway, North Little Rock. A reception starts at 5:30 p.m. with the awards presentations starting at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 for professionals and $10 for students, including heavy hors d’oeuvres and libations. Purchase tickets by PayPal or cash/check at the door.

This year’s competition for work published or broadcast in 2021 drew 379 entries in more than 80 categories, including Diamond Journalist of the Year and Outstanding New Journalist, the Robert S. McCord FOI Award, the Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder Public Service Award, and the Garrick Feldman Community Journalism Award.

Judges were members of the SPJ chapters in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.

The list of finalists follows, along with the publications or broadcast outlets where their work appeared:

The Arkadelphian, Arkadelphia, Ark.

Joel Phelps

Arkansas Catholic, Little Rock

Dwain Hebda

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock

Lara Farrar, Stephen Simpson, Joseph Flaherty, Thomas Metthe, Stephen Swofford, Maggie McNeary, Carrie Hill, Ginny Monk, Philip Martin, Karen Martin, Byron Tate, Tess Vrbin, Staci Vandagriff, Teresa Moss, Ashton Eley, Celia Storey, Tom Murphy, Nathan Owen, John Magsam, Noel Oman, Jaime Adame, Frank Lockwood, Nick Popovich. Jen Para

Arkansas Money & Politics, Little Rock

Mark Carter, Kelley Bass, Katie Zakrzewski

Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, Little Rock

Rebekah Scott, Benjamin Hardy, Debra Hale-Shelton

The Associated Press, Little Rock

Andrew DeMillo, Adrian Sainz, Jill Bleed

AY Magazine, Little Rock

Dustin Jayroe, Jamison Mosley, Lora Puls, Ian Lyle, Dwain Hebda, Heather Baker, Mike Bedgood, Emily Beirne

Baxter Regional Pulse, Mountain Home, Ark.

Sarah Knight, Jason Masters, Ashlee Nobel, Dwain Hebda

The Daily Citizen, Searcy, Ark.

Greg Geary

Fort Worth Weekly, Texas

Edward Brown

FOX16 News, KLRT-TV, Little Rock

Kevin Kelly, Stephen Goodale, Jessica Guy

KOLR-TV, Springfield, Mo.

Brian Calfano, Sarah Scarlett

KNWA-TV, Fayetteville, Ark.

Chad Mira, Chelsea Helms, Brad Horn, Jacob Cotner

KPEJ-TV, Midland-Odessa, Texas

Monica Quintero

KTHV-11, Little Rock

Amanda Jaeger, Skot Covert, Kelly Tibbit, Zach Keast

KUAR-FM, Little Rock

Michael Hibblen, Daniel Breen, Sarah Kellogg, Alexandria Brown

The Leader Newspaper, Jacksonville, Ark.

Rick Kron

Mississippi Free Press, Jackson

Ashton Pittman, Christian Middleton, Donna Ladd, Aliyah Veal, Torsheta Jackson, Nick Judin, Kayode Crown, Grace Marion, Stacey Cato, Leo Carney, Roger Amos, DeAnna Tisdale Johnson, Azia Wiggins, Kimberly Griffin

MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, Memphis, Tenn.

Jacob Steimer

Richmond News, Missouri

Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia

Riverfront Times, St. Louis

Danny Wicentowski

St. Louis Public Radio

Jason Rosenbaum, Shahla Farzan, Chad Davis, Marissanne Lewis-Thompson, Andrea Henterson, Jonathan Ahl, Brian Munoz, Jeremy Goodwin, Sarah Fentem

World Christian Broadcasting, Franklin, Tenn.

Paul Ladd

WVLT-TV, Knoxville, Tenn.

Ashley Bohle, Casey Wheeless, Harry Sullivan

STUDENT MEDIA

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

Reveille/LSUReveille.com

Nick Ombrellaro, Gabby Jimenez, Piper Hutchinson, Maddie Scott, Domenic Purdy, Peter Rauterkus, Claire Sullivan, Charlie Stephens

Tiger TV

Ally Kadlubar, Aria Pons, Erin Rogers, Maria Pham, Kendall Duncan, Haylee Kennedy, Brooke Smith

Manship News Service

Rachel Mipro, Liz Ryan, Lara Nicholson, Kathleen Peppo, Brittney Forbes, Margaret Delaney, Olivia Varden, Chris Langley, Masie O’Toole, Kirby Koch, Donald Fountain

Arkansas State University, Jonesboro

Delta Digital News Service

Christine Miyawa, Tristan Bennett, Krishnan Collins, Chase Gage, Rangsiya Faihin

University of Central Arkansas, Conway

The Echo

Addison Freeman, Ian Lyle, Madison Ogle, Sarah Smythe, Olyvia Gonzalez, Mia Waddell

Louisiana Christian University, Pineville

Wildcat Media

Alena Noakes, Sam Miller

CALL FOR CANDIDATES: Arkansas SPJ seeks members for 2022-23 Board of Directors DEADLINE EXTENDED TO MAY 16

The Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists will hold its annual board election at a membership mixer in June. Want to get involved? Consider running for a seat.

The Arkansas SPJ Board of Directors has 11 seats that are up for election each year, including executive officers: president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.

Check out the following duties and responsibilities of board members and consider running for the board or an officer position. Send a photo and a brief bio that tells why you want to serve as an SPJ leader, your history with SPJ and what you will bring to the group, including any ideas you have for the coming year, to Arkansas SPJ President Steven Listopad at slistopad@icloud.com by Monday, May 16 (extended deadline).

A list of candidates and their bios will be posted 30 days prior to the election and emailed to our membership. Voting will take place at the annual meeting (time/date/location to be decided) and via email for those who can’t attend.

Don’t want to be a board member? Get involved in one of our committees.

ARKANSAS PRO CHAPTER BOARD
Duties and Responsibilities
To ensure the health of the Society of Professional Journalists Arkansas Pro Chapter, the members of the Board of Directors must be current on national dues and be accountable for the following duties and responsibilities:

Attendance
The Board of Directors meets monthly and sometimes calls special meetings via phone or email. Board members must attend a minimum of nine monthly meetings during their July-to-June term of office, but strive to make it to all meetings in-person or by Zoom. Absence from three consecutive meetings, or four or more monthly meetings during their term, will result in the appointment of a new director to the position.

Participation
Board members must actively participate in at least one of the following chapter committees: Freedom of Information Act, Programing, Contests, Membership and Marketing, or other special committees designated by the president. Active participation may include planning at least one event in a year, advancement of the FOIA through lobbying, contributions to the chapter’s website, newsletter or social media campaigns, or other efforts determined by the board.

2022 Diamond Journalism Awards

2022 DIAMOND JOURNALISM AWARDS

ELIGIBILITY AND ENTRY RULES

ENTRY DEADLINE: MARCH 4, 2022

All professional journalists, including freelancers, and student journalists who reside in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas can submit entries or have entries submitted on their behalf by news organizations that published or broadcast their work. Authors who live in the contest region may also submit work published or broadcast outside those states.

You DON’T have to be a member of the Society of Professional Journalists to enter, but members get a discount on entry fees. SPJ members must provide their membership number to qualify for the discount. You can join SPJ here.

ELIGIBLE WORK MUST HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED OR BROADCAST BETWEEN JAN. 1 AND DEC. 31, 2021.

Entries may be submitted in more than one category, but a separate entry fee is required for each category.

Non-English entries should also provide an English translation if possible.

Any significant challenges or corrections to an entry must be provided with the entry. If not noted, an entry will be disqualified.

Cover letters and supporting material are required only with nominations for the Student Special Project Award, Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder Public Service Award, Garrick Feldman Community Journalism Award, Robert S. McCord FOI Award, Outstanding New Journalist Award and Diamond Journalist of the Year Award. Entrants in other categories may submit cover letters or supporting material at their discretion but should keep them brief.

Please ensure entry URLs remain valid through June 30, 2022, to accommodate judging and awards presentation.

Contest administrators reserve the right to combine entries in the same category from different platforms or circulation groups to make a category more competitive.

ENTRY FEES

SPJ members: $10 per entry.

To claim the member fee, you must supply your SPJ member number (in the entry platform’s comments box). A team entry may claim the fee if at least one team member is an SPJ member. That person’s name and SPJ member number must be listed in the comments box.

Nonmembers: $20 per entry.

Student SPJ members: $5 per entry. Provide your member number.

Student nonmembers: $10 per entry.

No fees will be refunded.

HOW TO ENTER

The Diamond Journalism Awards uses the Better BNC contest management platform for entries and judging.

If you are new to the BNC platform, you can find instructions on how to enter on this page.

You can find all the categories here.

Go here (https://arkansasspj.org/diamond-awards-payment-page/)to submit payment for entries.

Arkansas SPJ to host Halloween party

Arkansas SPJ to host Halloween party

Join the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for a Halloween costume party, even if the scariest thing you can come up with is dressing like a reporter at the end of a long day, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, on the patio at the reportedly haunted Four Quarter Bar. Share stories covering spooky places or paranormal activities or sit back and enjoy a brew with friends.

https://www.facebook.com/events/627727311922136

2021 Diamond Journalism Awards Winners

Contact:

Sarah DeClerk, Arkansas SPJ chapter president, spjsarah@gmail.com

Sonny Albarado, contest co-chair, spjsonny@gmail.com

LITTLE ROCK – Writers of  the Mississippi Free Press and AY Magazine took top honors in the 2021 Diamond Journalism Awards, which were announced Friday (June 18) in a virtual ceremony.

The awards, a regional competition sponsored annually by the Arkansas Pro Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists, recognizes journalism excellence in Arkansas and six neighboring states.

Ashton Pittman, Donna Ladd and Christian Middleton won the Robert S. McCord Freedom of Information Award for a three-part investigative series and subsequent reporting for the Mississippi Free Press that exposed racist and sexist email exchanges between powerful, wealthy donors and top administrators and faculty at the University of Mississippi.

“A truly amazing series of reports,” the contest judges wrote. “The public had a right to know what was going on at the University of Mississippi, and the Mississippi Free Press delivered.”

Pittman and the Mississippi Free Press, a nonprofit online media outlet based in Jackson, also were recognized with the Public Service Award for “an extraordinary series of stories documenting efforts by Mississippi officials to change polling locations of thousands of voters with very little communication,” judges wrote.

Judges also named Pittman the Diamond Journalist of the Year for a portfolio of work that included samples from the other two winning entries.

“This is an amazing writer who knows how to get to the heart of a story and make it mean something to the reader,” judges said.

Dustin Jayroe of Little Rock-based AY Magazine was named the Outstanding New Journalist, a distinction that recognizes excellence by a journalist who has been working professionally for five years or fewer.

“The mark of a good writer and storyteller is when the reader can glide through a story without stopping,” judges wrote. “It’s hard to believe he’s only been in the profession for fewer than five years.”

Winners of these four categories receive an engraved clear-acrylic trophy in the shape of a diamond.

The 2021 Diamond Journalism Awards honored work published or broadcast in 2020 and drew a record 393 entries in 75 categories. Members of the Cincinnati Pro Chapter of SPJ served as judges.

This year’s contest featured a category specifically recognizing reporting on the covid-19 pandemic.

Andrew DeMillo of The Associated Press took first place in the pandemic coverage category. Judges noted his “insightful coverage that shows that length is not a prerequisite for top-notch journalism.”

Student journalists with the Delta Digital News Service, based at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, took the top prize in another new category, Student Special Projects, for their coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Judges praised Christine Miyawa, Tristan Bennett, Chase Gage and Krishnan Collins, saying, “Despite the added barriers of the pandemic, the students were able to interview a variety of sources and cover issues and topics important to the local community.”

Below is the full list of winners:

Breaking News, Daily

1st place: “Tornado rips through Jonesboro,” Stephen Simpson, William Sanders, Jeanie Roberts, Joseph Flaherty and Thomas Metthe, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette displayed its outstanding deadline work in covering the devastating tornado that ripped through Jonesboro. The story was covered fully in words, photos and videos, giving readers a view of what can happen during such a violent storm. Not to be overlooked, the paper’s coverage of the protests and of the first execution in almost two decades were also extremely strong entries.

2nd place: Protest coverage, Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

3rd place: Danny Lee execution, Tony Holt, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Breaking News, Non-Daily

1st: “Reopen Missouri,” Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia, Richmond News (Richmond, Mo.)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Great work by the Richmond News in providing both sides of the COVID-19 lockdown debate, which raged across the country last year.

2nd: “Gov. Tate Reeves’ slow responses to COVID-19,” Nick Judin, Jackson Free Press (Jackson, MS)

3rd: Third place: “Mingues: Absolutely did it,” Bruce Guthrie, The Batesville Daily Guard (Batesville, AR)

Breaking News, Magazines

1st: “Waiting on empty,” Nathan Poppe, Curbside Chronicle (Oklahoma City, OK)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Readers can feel the frustration as they journey with the unemployed through their attempts to get jobless assistance. This category provided some great human-interest reporting.

2nd: “Behind the count,” Miguel Rios, Mollile Bryant, Nathan Poppe, Curbside Chronicle

3rd: “On hold,” Mollie Bryant, Nathan Poppe, Curbside Chronicle

Breaking News, Online

1st: “UM appoints acting ombuds” and “Mississippi nursing home employee tests positive for COVID-19,” Ashton Pittman, Mississippi Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Strong deadline writing from the Mississippi Free Press makes it the clear winner in this category.

2nd: “Searcy First Assembly burns down,” Greg Geary, The Daily Citizen (Searcy, AR)

Ongoing Coverage, Daily

1st: Covid coverage, Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock and Springdale)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The coverage that you would expect from a large newsroom during a pandemic.

Ongoing Coverage, Non-Daily

1st: “Small business, big mission,” Jeff Jeffrey, Chris Mathews, Margaret Barrientos, Sara Samora, Laura Gillespie and Shafaq Patel, Houston Business Journal

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Strong look at a variety of groups/individuals with different stories of economic dislocation due to the pandemic.

2nd: “Digging Deep for COVID-19 solutions in Mississippi,” Nick Judin, Jackson Free Press

Ongoing Coverage, Magazines

1st: Covid-19 coverage, Nathan Poppe, Miguel Rios and Mollie Bryant, Curbside Chronicle

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Good use of storytelling to reveal the dramatic and moving real-world impact of the ongoing global pandemic. By highlighting different aspects of the pandemic’s effect on life for people living on the margins—employment, housing, mental health, etc.—the author is able to paint a robust picture of the issues these people face, detail the programs (or lack thereof) available to help them, and reveal the overall fragility of the system that has been put into place to aid their survival. This coverage is timely, important, and powerful.

2nd: Food/agriculture series, Tyler Hale, Arkansas Money & Politics (Little Rock)

3rd: Substance use, Dustin Jayroe and Dwain Hebda, AY Magazine (Little Rock)

Ongoing Coverage, Online

1st: “Mississippi’s long, ugly road to changing its state flag,” Ashton Pittman, Mississippi Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Solid reporting and writing on the long and complex journey to change the Mississippi state flag. Good historical perspective in the first few segments detailing the outright venom against those who wanted things to change. Additional stories detailed how times changed and the state wanted to move on. Fair, balanced and important. Nice work.

2nd: “Crime Watch with Kevin Kelly,” Kevin Kelly, FOX 16 News, KLRT-TV (Little Rock)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This is a good example of public service in reporting crime stories.
However, there’s more to reporting of this type than just a blotter. It should include potential solutions from law enforcers and the communities in which they serve.

Investigative Reporting, Daily

1st: “Lives Remembered,” an investigation into Arkansas covid-19 deaths, Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Putting a face on the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for most journalists. Government officials haven’t made that task easier. The steps taken here went the extra miles to give human dimension to the story.

2nd: “Children in Peril,” Ginny Monk, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

3rd: Arkansas Human Development Centers series, Kat Stromquist, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Investigative Reporting, Non-Daily

1st: Jacksonville Police Chief Gary Sipes, Rick Kron, The Leader (Jacksonville, AR)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Policing the police is always a good thing for journalists to do. So is following the money. These stories do that.

Investigative Reporting, Magazines

1st: “A Republican crusader takes on Oklahoma’s prison machine,” Bret Schulte, Politico Magazine (Arlington, VA)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This meticulously reported story put a human face (actually, many of them) on the incarceration problems in Oklahoma. The writer’s in-depth investigation and brilliant narrative framing made this a compelling read from start to finish.

2nd: “Crossing Schools,” Ben Felder and Kassie McClung, The Frontier and Curbside Chronicle

Investigative Reporting, Online

1st: “The fabric is torn in Oxford’: UM emails investigation,” Ashton Pittman, Mississippi Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: These stories present a troubling pattern at a major institution.

Explanatory Reporting, Daily

NO WINNERS

Explanatory Reporting, Non-Daily

1st: “Of water, heat and asphalt: the science of road paving,” Kayode Crown, Jackson Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: People care a great deal about their roads. This story does a terrific job of explaining how complicated a seemingly simple repaving project can be. Well done.

2nd: Eviction crisis, Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for The Daily Record (Little Rock)

3rd: Beyond opioids, Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for The Daily Record

Explanatory Reporting, Magazines

1st: “Bringing the dead home,” Amal Ahmed, Texas Observer and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project (Austin, TX)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This entry rose to the top of a *very* competitive batch of contenders thanks to the writer’s highly effective approach to explanatory reporting. This story was written with a very compelling narrative approach and covered a neglected topic in a meaningful and impactful manner. I found the story fascinating from the get-go. Great, in-depth reporting and powerful storytelling.

2nd: Food/Agriculture series, Tyler Hale, Arkansas Money & Politics (Little Rock)

3rd: “A Republican crusader takes on Oklahoma’s prison machine,” Bret Schulte, Politico Magazine

Explanatory Reporting, Online

1st: “Farmers deal with pandemic conditions,” Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for Arkansas Nonprofit News Network (Little Rock)

NO JUDGE COMMENT

2nd: “Farmers markets struggle with Covid-19,” Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for Arkansas Nonprofit News Network

3rd: “The past isn’t dead: A fight over a statue and a cemetery,” Christian Middleton and Donna Ladd, Mississippi Free Press

Features, Daily

1st: “Sharon Giovinazzo,” Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The truth of the matter is: Entrants in this category had little chance at besting reporter Dwain Hebda, who entered five feature articles and pretty much knocked out the competition. Dwain nabbed the No. 1 & No. 2 spots in this category and could lead a master class in feature writing — particularly profiles. Dwain’s stories are artfully rendered, compelling human-interest reads. Each one of them was a joy to read. I had trouble picking the best in the lot, but Sharon’s story had all of the elements of a perfect feature article.

2nd: “Healing waters,” Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

3rd: “State history books carried Rebel slant,” Bill Bowden, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Features, Non-Daily

1st: “For Detective Sgt. Heather Taylor, SLMPD’s racism was her toughest case,” Danny Wicentowski, Riverfront Times (St. Louis)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: There aren’t enough words to proclaim the excellence of this story. The writer has a command of facts and a writing style that keeps the reader engaged from start to finish. You end the article feeling like you know the detective sergeant. Well-done!

2nd: Sister of Eagle Scouts is first girl in state with honor,” Tammy Keith, River Valley and Ozark Edition, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The mark of a good story is when the reader starts and finishes without ever noticing the time that has passed. That’s what happened in judging this excellent story. It showcases dedication, determination, family and all the values of Scouting. Good job!

3rd: “Pride in my ride,” Wendy Miller, The Trucker (Little Rock)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: What a well-written story. Who would think that a story about a driver and his truck could be so interesting. But, it was. Well-written and thoroughly entertaining. The reader feels as though he or she is right there in the cab. Nice work!

Features, Magazines

1st: “A Republican crusader takes on Oklahoma’s prison machine,” Bret Schulte, Politico Magazine

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: A great overview of Oklahoma’s imprisonment issue that uses people’s stories to illustrate the problem. Great job interweaving facts with human emotion.

2nd: “F is for fake,” Chris O’Connell and Savannah Maher, Texas Observer in collaboration with Wyoming Public Media, the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and the Nation

3rd: “Sprawl,” George Lang, Curbside Chronicle

Features, Online

1st: “ ‘Good Trouble’ in a white-flight suburb,” Ashton Pittman, Mississippi Free Press

NO JUDGES’ COMMENT

Editorials, Daily

1st: “Tom Cotton’s byline,” David Barham and Walter E. Hussman Jr., Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This entry not only exemplified good writing and the importance of a good editorial, but also managed to educate its readers as to the role of the opinion section in civil discourse surrounding topics important to the community.

Editorials, Non-Daily

1st: “Now is the time to listen and take action,” Giselle Greenwood, Houston Business Journal

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: A great editorial not only takes a stand but it also inspires action. This column does both beautifully. Well done.

2nd: “Tyranny wraps itself in secrecy,” Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia, Richmond News

3rd: “No clear rules for spending virus money,” Jack “Miles” Ventimiglia, Richmond News

Editorials, Magazines

1st: MHG Editor’s Letter, Dustin Jayroe, AY’s Mental Health Guide

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The writer brings his personal experience to an important topic to which the reader can relate. It draws you in and keeps your attention with an eye towards solutions. Well done.

2nd: AMP Editor’s Letters, Mark Carter, Arkansas Money & Politics

3rd: Editor’s Letter, Johnny Carrol Sain, ABOUT the River Valley Magazine (Russellville, AR)

Sports, Daily

1st: “Throwing leather,” Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The reader of this story feels like he or she is right there in the ring with the boxer and trainer. The descriptions of the training and the quotes from those involved are terrific. Nicely done.

2nd: “Maty Lincoln,” Sarah DeClerk, All Arkansas Preps, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Well-written story on a young lady who is going places. The piece captured her determination as a wrestler, but branched out to show how she made sure the program would continue after she graduated.

3rd: “Papa Bear,” Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Interesting story on a topic that most people would find unusual.
The journey from competitions to matching wits with a bear was a good read.

Sports, Non-Daily

1st: “After-school ballet,” Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for Arkansas Catholic (Little Rock)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The mark of a good story is when the reader can finish and not realize any time has passed. This one of those stories. From the great lead to the sentences which follow, you feel as if you’re right there with the students. Nicely done.

2nd: “Subiaco 8-man,” Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for Arkansas Catholic

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: It’s likely many people had not heard of eight-man football until this story came out. The writer focuses on the players and coaches adjusting to this style of play and it works well. A very readable and enjoyable story.

3rd: “Dawn Darter,” Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for Arkansas Catholic

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Every person needs a mentor to help discover their good qualities and develop them to the fullest. That’s what Dawn Carter has done
and Dwain Hebda’s strong and descriptive writing brings it right to the readers. Good story.

Sports, Magazines

1st: “Brave New World,” Evin Demirel, Arkansas Money & Politics

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: A well-written primer on one of the biggest issues to face college sports in years. The presentation is well-researched and easy to read. The importance of the topic shines through. Nicely done.

2nd: “Enjoying the ride,” Mark Carter, Arkansas Money & Politics

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The pandemic has given thousands of people the chance to explore the world of road biking and mountain biking. This story puts that into perspective to show how the activity is growing by leaps and bounds. And, it’s important to the state’s economy.
A good piece. A good read.

3rd: “A league of their own,” Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for Do South Magazine

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: How many people knew there was a basketball team of this type. The answer — very few until Dwain Hebda’s story introduced the world to these energetic ladies. Good job.

Commentary, Print/Online

1st: “Righting racism during COVID-19,” Donna Ladd, Jackson Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Columnists are at their best when they use history and facts to hold people, systems, and institutions to account. Ladd does it all and does it superbly. So well written. Thank you for the great read.

2nd: “Deserts for trees,” Dustin Jayroe, Arkansas Money & Politics

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: I loved the deep dive into history and understanding how it affects our policies today. It pulled me in and I have a better understanding now. Well done,

3rd: “Henderson State professor writes guide to caving in the South,” Morgan Acuff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This book review/profile of the caving community was a fantastic read.

Arts & Culture Writing, Print/Online

1st: “Blues, Resilience and the Black Experience,” Aliyah Veal, Mississippi Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Aliyah Veal is a strong writer who can tell a powerful story about black Mississippi culture that often flies under the media radar. Really loved her exhaustive story about the Blues Trail and the people keeping it alive today.

2nd: “Strength of American Motherhood,” Nazarene Harris, Curbside Chronicle

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Excellent “story behind the story” look at an iconic photograph and the woman who went unnamed for decades. Nazarene Harris treated the “migrant mother” with more respect than the original photographer.

3rd: Arts & Culture portfolio, Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Philip Martin is an excellent music writer with a full grasp of rock & roll history and context. Loved his take on Bob Dylan’s new song as a response to being the labeled the Sixties’ “jester” in “American Pie.”

Business Writing, Print/Online

1st: Business portfolio, Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Strong newswriting propelled the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette series of stories to the top spot. The dicamba story was esepecially compelling. Overall, this category contained many good stories.

2nd: Pandemic and business, Mark Carter, Arkansas Money & Politics

3rd: Business survival, growth during covid-19, Aliyah Veal, Mississippi Free Press

Education Reporting, Print/Online

1st: Education stories, Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The reports on whether schools were ready to reopen and the lack of mental health support services were particularly encyclopedic.

2nd: “Ole Miss vs. New Miss as anti-racism struggles in higher-ed,” Christian Middleton and Donna Ladd, Mississippi Free Press

3rd: “Crossing Schools,” Ben Felder, Kassie McClung, Nate Ward, Katrina Ward, The Frontier and Curbside Chronicle

Health, Science & Environment Writing, Print/Online

1st: Solutions for food insecurity in Mississippi, Aliyah Veal, Mississippi Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This series of series of stories skillfully outlines a problem affecting Mississippi and many other areas of the country. The key is offering solutions that can be implemented. After all, what is more important to health than the right type of food. Well done!

2nd: Pandemic reporting, Dustin Jayroe, AY Magazine

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Terrific writing that puts the human touch on the COVID-19 pandemic. Families had to make split second decisions about their health. Health care workers were on constant call to help save lives. Important stories where people can easily relate to them.

3rd: Coping with fear, stress & loneliness in covid era, Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths for Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: How does fear impact a person’s health? What about stress? Can isolation and loneliness become lead to medical problems? The answer to all three is yes and that’s the starting point for this important series of well-written stories. Very valuable for readers.

Politics, Print/Online

1st: “Big spending, PACS ‘succeeding’ from the union,” Ashton Pittman, Mississippi Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Well-researched and well-written series of stories which outline the problem of PACs and suggest ways to possibly solve them.

2nd: Political coverage, Frank Lockwood, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This entry is due recognition because the stories included aren’t just run-of-the-mill political rehashes. They’re stories broken through dedication and hard work with an eye toward letting citizens make up their own minds about them.

3rd: Voter Guide, Nathan Poppe, George Lang, Jacquelyn Walsh, Sydni Nasada, Curbside Chronicle

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Just the sheer volume of the great information in this voter guide
makes it impossible to ignore as an award winner. Any voter reading this primer will come away well-informed. Isn’t that the mission of journalism?

Special Section, Print/Online

1st: All Arkansas Preps, Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This is as thorough a presentation on high school sports stars as I have ever seen. Terrific vignettes. Great graphics. The overall impact is very impressive. Well done!

2nd: Arkansas Mental Health Guide 2020, Dustin Jayroe, Rebecca Robertson, Jamison Mosley, Lora Puls and Heather Baker, AY Magazine

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This topic may not be front and center for many, but COVID-19 has brought the issue to a wider audience. These well-written stories document journeys that others may have had. Plus, there is a full listing of resources and help for anyone seeking aid. Good job.

3rd: Downtown Little Rock magazine, Sarah DeClerk and Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Guides like this are fun to read for the great information and well-done profiles of the people involved in making a community stand out. This is excellent work.

Community Journalism, Print/Online

!st: Latinx immigrants navigate covid-19 in Mississippi, Mauricio J. Quijano, Mississippi Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: An important and well reported series of stories about people that we don’t hear enough about – especially during the pandemic.

2nd: Alpena, Bill Bowden, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: These are fun stories with fantastic quotes from the former mayor who was never mayor and great details about relationships in this small community.

3rd: “LC art alumnus turns unemployment into winning artwork in 2020,” Elizabeth Christian, Louisiana College (Pineville)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Lovely story about a family who made lemonade out of the lemons that the COVID-19 crisis handed them. Nicely written and well sourced.

VISUAL DIVISION

Photography-Breaking News

1st: In LR, rally near Capitol turns violent, Stephen Swofford, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Fireworks thrown at police trying to clear a protest blocking a highway light up the night. Dramatic shot of post-George Floyd death. Excellent!

2nd: NLR police shooting injures man, Staton Breidenthal, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Raw emotions in this one. Police officer comforting a grieving woman near the open door of a vehicle blocked by crime scene tape. Nice filled screen.

3rd: Twister damage surveyed in Jonesboro, Tommy Metthe, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Overhead view of awesome damage from a tornado. Mother Nature showed her power. Photographer has it in focus.

Photo Spread/Essay

1st: Driving Generosity, Ryan Magnani, Curbside Chronicle

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Excellent picture story. Good variety of shots provided sense of place and people. I especially liked the frame showing a workers tattooed hands with one mashed fingernail.

2nd: A Fight to End the Fight, Ebony Blevins, Jamison Mosley and Ian Lyle, AY Magazine

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Dramatic black and white photo spread of a protest of mostly black young people. The eight pictures showed a lot of emotion. Special use of color in the flag draped around one young man’s shoulders really popped.

3rd: May 30 George Floyd Protests, Stephen Swofford, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Good mix of good pictures takes the viewer into the protest scene.

Photo Portfolio

1st: Stephen Swofford, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Great sports pict and news pictures. The feature of the man walking with a cross on his shoulder is well framed against the tall building with the U.S. flag centered on one of the verticals. The ballerina is a lovely portrait.

2nd: Tommy Metthe, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Four of the five pictures are great people shots, including two sports pix. the overhead shot of a cul de sac after a tornado is striking.

3rd: Staton Breidenthal, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Five strong pictures. The funeral procession with the saluting EMTs on the bridge as the cars go under it shows great anticipation and timing,

Data Visualization

1st: Tracking Coronavirus, Brian Smith and Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Excellent. A page with 15 charts and graphics showing Arkansas statistics by county and school districts in great detail, and the U.S. and world in summary. Page is updated daily.

2nd: Homicide Map, William Sanders, Yutao Chen and Maggie McNeary, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Really good. Homicides in 2020 are shown in Little Rock and North Little Rock by name, age, residence, location of killing and link to news story of reported homicide.

3rd: Voting and Confederate Memorial Infographics, William Pittman, Mississippi Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This chronicles voting places and relocations, active voters, absentee voter ballots requested, sent and caste. One graphic shows locations of Confederate memorials in the state with no explanation of relevance to voting — unless I missed it.

Graphics/Illusrations

1st: Halloween’s Happening, Carrie Hill, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Everything about this well-executed entry says something about how COVID-19 affected the Halloween observance in a pandemic — especially the protective clothing and gas masks on the characters and long-handled pincher for delivering candy to the child’s bag. Even the Jack-o-Lanterns are wearing masks!

2nd: Thunder Watch, Joshua Boydston, Curbside Chronicle

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Coronavirus-headed pins piercing bubble holding basketball images and a player with Mickey Mouse ears address the NBA shutdown. Well done.

3rd: Fostering like a pro, Jayna Hadwiger, Curbside Chronicle

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Dogs, dogs in windows and on the street, cat on a ledge, two dog walkers nicely illustrate “Fostering a good boy…” Good job.

Video Journalism, Features

1st: Running the Rock: 2020 Little Rock Marathon, Yutao Chen, Staton Breidenthal, Tommy Metthe, Stephen Swofford, Justin Cunningham, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This two-minute presentation has four short videos that loop and are separated by stills with captions. Interviews with both female and male first-place finishers and ends with a series of close-up sweaty, smiling faces.

Video Journalism, Portfolio

1st: “Be Our Change,” Monica Quintero, KPEJ-TV (Odessa, TX)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This is an extremely thorough and well-produced special that highlights the emotion of a tragic day. There’s great use of natural sound, great interview and great video to match a great script. The segment where the child was hit by a stray bullet was especially touching. There’s a tremendous amount of terrific work in this program. Nicely done!

Newspaper Design

1st: Style section, Stan Denman, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Clean modular design of interesting pieces. Photos used well. All three entries jump every P. 1 article, making P.1s very interesting.

2nd: Sports section, Joe Luciano, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

3rd: Page One, Terry Austin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Magazine Design

1st: Food and Home series, Rebecca Robertson, AY Magazine

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This submission truly reflects the elements of modern magazine design. Large, beautifully composed and well-lit photographs are accompanied by nice page layouts and a combination of fonts and color palettes that fit the mood and theme of the stories, amplifying their messaging and overall storytelling power.

2nd: AMP series, Rebecca Robertson, Arkansas Money & Politics

3rd: “The One That Didn’t Get Away,” Sarah Knight, Tobias Pugsley, Adrienne Koehn, Chase Baker, Dwain Hebda and Jason Masters, Wheelhouse Publishing

Web/Mobile Design

1st: Arkansas Online/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Staff, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is doing everything a modern news organization can and should be doing with its website and mobile products to enhance access to journalistic work, better audience experience and improve engagement. The news organization created an innovative and seemingly novel approach to adapt to the growing digital needs of its print subscribers through its iPad program, but it didn’t stop there. It has created countless pieces of deep-diving, top-notch journalism you’d expect from a top-tier newspaper like itself but published them with interactivity and a digital audience in mind—to seemingly appeal to both its traditional subscribers (now on iPads) and modern audience members across its readership. From its easy-to-use, robust coronavirus tracking projects to a covid-19 obituaries collection, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has taken the best of traditional print journalism and modernized it for a digital world to deliver important and powerful storytelling in a way that can best reach readers where they are.

BROADCAST DIVISION

Breaking News, Broadcast

1st: Hurricane Laura Aftermath, Staff, KATC-TV (Lafayette, LA)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Excellent live reports on wide range of damage. What stood out is the ability of the reporters to point out and show very specific things and get reaction from those affected. Good work under pressure.

2nd: Super Tuesday Tornado, Staff, WVLT-TV (Knoxville, TN)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Well done overview of the tornado damage throughout Nashville and suburban communities. Good video — good interviews — good sense of being right there.

3rd: Teen killed, 5-year-old shot in Killeen, Rosemond Crown, KWTX-TV (Waco, TX)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Tragic story of violence that’s becoming all too common in the U.S. Heartbreaking sound bites with little girls who wonder why someone their age would be shot. Good perspective.

Features, Broadcast

1st: Giving back with backpacks, Ashley Bohle, WVLT

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: It’s shorter than the rest of the entries in this category, but it’s long on emotion. A young girl puts aside her own hardship to help others during the pandemic. Simply elegant.

2nd: Resilient, Andrew Clay, KATC

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Losing a child is never easy for a parent. When that child works with you each day as a college softball coach, it’s doubly hard. Yet, this father/coach and his team used their loss to gain confidence and emotion in their play. Well-told. Well-shot.

3rd: Layla’s Adventure, Gordon Collier and Clint Webb, KWTX

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: There are tons of good people waiting and willing to help a child living out her young years. Granting that last wish puts a smile on the face of the donors, the parents and especially the little girl.

Documentary/Investigative, Broadcast

1st: Be Our Change – West Texas Strong, Monica Quintero, KPEJ

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: A joy to watch – motivational, inspiration, and thorough.

2nd: Prevent the Tragedy: Drowning Dangers, Brittany Tarwater and Keith Smith, WVLT

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Thorough, emotional and personal reporting on a topic that doesn’t get enough attention.

3rd: Covid-19 inside Arkansas prisons, Anna Stitt, KUAR-FM (Little Rock)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The basics of what we do – give voice to the voiceless, and hold the powerful accountable.

Political Coverage, Broadcast

1st: The Mail-In Mission, Brian Calfano and Lissa Hamblen, KOLR-TV (Springfield, MO)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: A clever and unique idea and way to tell this story – which affected so many people in this election.

2nd: Super Tuesday arrives in Arkansas, and so do Democratic presidential candidates, Daniel Breen, KUAR-FM

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The breadth of what you covered, while focusing on the volunteer, is impressive.

3rd: Campaigns shift to more pandemic-friendly voter outreach efforts, Sarah Kellogg, KUAR-FM

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Really smart use of natural sound.

Business Coverage, Broadcast

1st: Three small business adapt to survive pandemic, Megan Vanselow, Drake Lawsan and Bill Gowdy, KWTX

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Very nicely done packages on the COVID-19 impact on small businesses. Good use of natural sound to put the viewer on the scene. Good writing with matching video. Stories nicely delivered so the viewer can feel the impact. Solutions for solving the problems the businesses faced were always a major part of the story. Good work.

Education Coverage, Broadcast

1st: Racism at Westlake, Alex Capraniello, KXAN-TV (Austin, TX)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This is an excellent story. It includes many student voices and portrays the students respectfully. It also gives the school officials a chance to explain themselves thoroughly. Really terrific journalism.

2nd: As school closures stretch on, business, nonprofits work to feed students, Daniel Breen, KUAR-FM

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This was a very strong entry. The story included a lot of voices with different perspectives on the problem and how to address it. Well done.

3rd: Kindergarten cancer outpatient starts school, Ashley Bohle, WVLT

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This story had strong, emotional sound from Noah’s mom and sweet comments and nat sound from Noah. Nicely done.

Health/Science Coverage, Broadcast

1st: Explaining Leap Year, Sean Bellafiore, KWTX

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Starts with a great question – and then cleverly uses the set, studios, and editing to help answer it thoroughly.

2nd: Challenges facing Arkansas healthcare workers testing for the coronavirus, Michael Hibblen, KUAR-FM

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Nice use of natural sound throughout.

STUDENT DIVISION

Breaking News, Print/Online

1st: “Residents at risk: LSU requires mandatory covid-19 testing,” Katherine Manuel and Anna Jones, The Reveille and lsuresveille.com (Louisiana State University)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This story from The Reveille is comprised of reporting on an important and complex public health issue affecting students who live across the campus. Although university representatives were not forthcoming about the specificity of the COVID-19 testing occurring at dorms on campus, these student reporters went beyond the press release and figure heads to confirm with students and parents where testing occurred. Despite the ongoing pandemic and educational and health privacy issues, these students were able to speak with students and a parent in a brief amount of time to provide a clear picture of what was occurring on campus. It’s worth noting that quotes and/or information from a public health expert on the need for testing and overall effectiveness of this plan would have added an additional layer of credibility and context. Overall, this shows solid reporting on a complex topic during a difficult time.

Breaking News, Broadcast

NO WINNERS

Features, Print/Online

1st: “A half-century ago in Jonesboro, armed black men fought back,” Bailey Williams, Alyssa Berry, Matthew C lark, Sydney McGovern and Karli Carpenter, LSU Manship News Service (Louisiana State University)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This four-part series demonstrated excellent narrative storytelling techniques grounded by in-depth archival/document research and interviews. Each story in the series was compelling to read, and the cold-case subject at the center of the project was both riveting and revealing — and incredibly relevant as our nation grapples with its history of racial prejudice, discrimination and injustices. This effort was by far the best in the category. Kudos to all of the student reporters and editors involved in this effort.

2nd: “Triage: Six volunteers,” Hannah Butler, ABOUT the River Valley Magazine

3rd: “The McElroy House,” Kenzie Sain, ABOUT the River Valley Magazine

Features, Broadcast

1st: Neurodiversity, Ally Kadlubar, LSU Tiger TV (Louisiana State University)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Nice variety of shots and a good character.

2nd: The Interstate and Air Quality, Kendall Duncan, LSU Tiger TV (Louisiana State University)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: An interesting story with a very solid standup.

3rd: “ As judge considers challenge to early Census deadline, Arkansas officials consider impact,” Alexandria Brown, KUAR-FM (University of Arkansas, Little Rock)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Straightforward and interesting.

Editorials, Print/Online

1st: Good Journalism is Incorruptible, Alena Noakes, Wildcats Media (Louisiana College)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Great work! MENTAL HEALTH AND THE MODERN CHURCH in particular was superb. Columnists should confront controversial and important topics head on to help the public better empathize and care. You did just that. Thanks for the great read.

2nd: What the Democratic Party should learn from the 2020 election, Joel Thompson, Wildcats Media (Louisiana College)

3rd: Editorials from The Reveille, Caleb Greene, Bailey Chauvin, Reed Darcey, The Reveille and lsureveille.com (Louisiana State University)

Sports, Print/Online

1st: “Myles Brennan after LSU vs. Miss. State: expect a leader, not a blamer” Jared Brodtmann, The Reveille and lsureveille.com (Louisiana State University)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Extremely well written piece that has good information and good analysis. Very mature work on a topic where readers have great passion for the team. Nicely done.

2nd: “ ‘Absolutely killed’: What went wrong for LSU and where to go from here?” Jared Brodtmann, The Reveille and lsureveille.com (Louisiana State University)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Another good example of good sentence construction, good game analysis. The tone was matter of fact and not finger-pointing. Credibility helps in cases like this and the writer apparently has that.

3rd: “No more concussions for the Pocahontas Redskins,” Christine Miyawa, Delta Digital News Service (Arkansas State University, Jonesboro)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Any time you talk about safety in sports, people are going to read what’s written. Getting football helmets with new technology isn’t cheap, but they’re valuable in preventing traumatic brain injuries. The piece, while good, needs work on sentence construction and grammar.

Sports, Broadcast

1st: Burrow Curtain Call, Luke Chevalier, LSU Tiger TV (Louisiana State University)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Good recap of the national championship game and how Joe Burrow set records, but heaped praise on his teammates. Nicely put together.

2nd: “Softball pitcher keeps pushing,” Kendall Duncan, LSU Tiger TV (Louisiana State University)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: You’ve gotta love a person who takes life’s challenges (lemons) and turns them into lemonade. It proves the adage that if someone keeps working hard enough, success will follow.

Business, All Platforms

1st: “Shuttered casinos impact economy,” Ally Kadlubar, LSU Tiger TV (Louisiana State University)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: When doing a business story like this, the key is to focus on how people are impacted. That’s what this story does very well. It includes a laid-off casino employee and people who are charged with keeping the economic vitality of a business going. Nicely done!

2nd: “Nurse practitioner fulfills dream with art gallery business,” Tristan Bennett, Delta Digital News Service (Arkansas State University, Jonesboro)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Well-written story on an entrepreneur who had a desire to help others economically impacted by COVID-19. Good character development and a nice writing style that makes it interesting and easy-to-read.

3rd: “More House, Less Money,” Ally Kadllubar, LSU Tiger TV (Louisiana State University)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Topical story focusing on the plight of realtors in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Good inclusion of realtors and an umbrella organization to cover all sides of the issue. Good job.

Commentary, All Platforms

1st: Commentary portfolio, Marie Plunkett, The Reveille and lsureveille.com (Louisiana State University)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Great writing. Great topics, and the Middle Ages piece was just brilliant. Well done!

2nd: Columns, Evan Leonhard, The Reveille and lsureveille.com (Louisiana State University)

3rd: Opinion, Cecile Girard, The Reveille and lsureveille.com (Louisiana State University)

Education, All Platforms

1st: “Nettleton School Board honors special member,” Tristan Bennett, Delta Digital News Service (Arkansas State University, Jonesboro)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Nicely written story on a trend schools are following across the country. Using the therapy dog angle as the lead is a great way of increasing interest in what might ordinarily be a rather routine story.

2nd: “Jonesboro public schools welcome nationally certified board teachers,” Krishnan Collins, Delta Digital News Service (Arkansas State University, Jonesboro)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Teachers continuing their education can only benefit students. This story nicely describes the rigorous process of becoming board certified.

3rd: “UCA Board of Trustees approve pedestrian bridge grant, discuss fall enrollment during meeting,” Ronak Patel, The Echo (University of Central Arkansas)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Good overall summary of the meeting. The story could have been stronger with further development of pedestrian bridge.

Photography

1st: A fight to end all fights,” Ian Lyle, AY Magazine

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Good news police/protest package, showing one-to-one exchange, kneeling officers and a little black girl riding on a smiling officer’s shoulder surrounded by smiling protesters. Fifth pict is of a policewoman in a water balloon fight with mostly black and brown kids.

Photo Portfolio

NO WINNERS

Video Features

1st: “LC alum becomes award-winning artist,” Aaron Quartemont, Wildcats Media (Louisiana College)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This is nice story about a man’s life challenges and the opportunity’s they present. It’s nicely written to reveal the change from unemployment to artist. As the student grows in news video production, there will be an expectation of including more video to help tell the story. But, this effort is a good starting point.

Breaking News, Audio

NO WINNERS

Feature, Audio

1st: Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency, Sofia McKentry, KLSU-FM

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Nicely produced story on organ donations. There’s good information here that’s presented very well. The blending of narration and sound bites was done very well. The newscaster’s delivery shows that she has plenty of promise in broadcasting. Nice work.

Newspaper Design

NO WINNERS

Podcasts

1st: “The untold stories of the integration of UCA,” Lauren McLemore, Morgan Jenkins, Delaney Van Wilpe, Elvira Toddy, Megan Holder and Ronak Patel, The Echo (University of Central Arkansas)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: It’s hard to believe this podcast was put together by students.This is a program that’s well-produced, well-researched, well-written and very interesting. The historical progression of the integration efforts through the years was extremely well done.
Kudos to everyone involved.

Special Projects

1st: Coronavirus, Christine Miyawa, Tristan Bennett, Chase Gage and Krishnan Collins, Delta Digital News Service (Arkansas State University, Jonesboro)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: These student journalists covered the ongoing pandemic from a variety of angles—from school closings to the impact on local businesses. Despite the added barriers of the pandemic, the students were able to interview a variety of sources and cover issues and topics important to the local community.

SPECIAL AWARDS

Pandemic Coverage

1st: Andrew Demillo, The Associated Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: Insightful coverage that shows that length is not a prerequisite for top-notch journalism.

2nd: Wendy Miller, Linda Garner-Bunch, Lydon Finney, Sam Pierce and The Trucker Editorial Staff, The Trucker & The Trucker

3rd: Staff, Curbside Chronicle

Public Service

1st: Mississippi Trusted Elections Project, Ashton Pittman, William Pittman, John McGee, Jarius Smith and team, Mississippi Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: An extraordinary series of stories documenting efforts by Mississippi officials to change polling locations of thousands of voters with very little communication. Only when confronted by the truth from the newspaper’s reporters did state officials make any effort to correct problems. This is a great public service. Kudos to the team that obviously worked tirelessly to help guarantee the right to vote.

2nd: Children in Peril, Ginny Monk, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: An important investigation into the growing gun problem in the U.S. — especially when children are involved. The two best parts about the effort were making sure the impact on people was front-and-center plus examining a myriad of solutions. It’s disappointing that so many public officials tried to stonewall this very important work. The reader has to wonder how much more effective the story and the database would have been if everyone had cooperated.

Outstanding New Journalist

1st: Dustin Jayroe, AY Magazine

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The mark of a good writer and storyteller is when the reader can glide through a story without stopping. That’s what you get from Dustin Jayroe. The research is spot-on, the writing is conversational. From topic to topic his work stands out. It’s hard to believe he’s only been in the professional for fewer than five years. Congratulations.

2nd: Tyler Hale, AY Media Group

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: When a reader picks up a newspaper, magazine or clicks to see an online story, the expectation is for work that connects to their everyday lives.
That’s the style of Tyler Hale. His writing is easy to understand and clear as a bell. Unanswered questions are rare. This young man has a good foothold on a solid career.

3rd: Kayode Crown, Jackson Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: The amount of detail Kayode Crown puts into his stories is impressive. That exemplifies a passion for reporting and writing that easily connects with readers.
Plus, there’s always context provided about what impact a story has on the community.
These important traits are evident now and will be well-used in the future.

Diamond Journalist of the Year

1st: Ashton Pittman, Mississippi Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This is an amazing writer who knows how to get to the heart of a story and make it mean something to the reader. It doesn’t seem to matter that the topic is. Ashton tackles it with a keen eye for detail and dedication to holding those accountable when needed. Great work!

2nd: Dwain Hebda, Ya!Mule Wordsmiths

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: This is an extremely versatile journalist. Story after story demonstrates a terrific writing skill that is enjoyable to read. Dwain’s dedication to the profession is enviable. He cares and that comes out in his stories.

3rd: Monica Quintero, KPEJ/KMID

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: There’s no doubt that Monica has a great sense of what’s important to her viewers. She creates programs that make a difference. She mentors others to improve their skill level. And she cares about every detail of a production. There’s passion, professionalism and a pleasing style that come across here.

Robert S. McCord Freedom of Information Award     

1st: Bringing racist, sexist UM emails, climate report to public view, Ashton Pittman, Donna Ladd and Christian Middleton, Mississippi Free Press

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: A truly amazing series of reports.
There were so many back-stories that at times it was hard to know the players. Yet, in the end it all fit together. The public had a right to know what was going on at the University of Mississippi and the Mississippi Free Press delivered. Nicely done.

2nd: Fighting for basic information, Eric Besson, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JUDGES’ COMMENTS: A very important effort to secure information that should be public record. Reporters having to jump through hoops to try and get basic information is outrageous. Kudos to the newspaper and the reporters/editors for never giving up and making sure these important profiles were produced and read.

Membership meeting to include FOIA panel

Membership meeting to include FOIA panel

The annual membership meeting of the Society of Professional Journalists – Arkansas Pro Chapter will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, June 18 via Zoom webinar. The event will include a panel discussion about Freedom of Information news from the most recent legislative session. The panel will be moderated by board member Rob Moritz and feature Wesley Brown of the Daily Record and Aaron Sadler of the Arkansas Press Association. After the panel, the chapter will hold elections for the 2021-2022 board of directors. When the webinar is finished, the winners of the Diamond Awards will be announced on the Arkansas SPJ Facebook page and website. A recording of the webinar will also be released on Facebook. For more information, contact chapter president Sarah DeClerk at spjsarahdeclerk@arkansasspj

When: Jun 18, 2021 06:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Arkansas SPJ Annual Membership Meeting

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87965319771