ASNE Awards 2016

ASNE Awards for best journalism!

The American Society of News Editors today announced the winners in the 2016 ASNE Awards for distinguished writing and photography. The winning work is a collection of high-quality, high-impact journalism from news outlets representing a range of sizes and platforms. 
The ASNE Awards honor the best in print, digital and video content in nine categories. The contest drew more than 300 entries. 

"The quality we saw this year was irrefutable evidence that public-service journalism is as strong as it's ever been," said David Boardman, dean of the Temple University School of Media and Communication and chair of the ASNE Awards Committee. "In fact, through the deft use of technology in both reporting and presentation, these winners have taken their craft to a whole new level of excellence."
The Baltimore Sun and The New York Times each won two awards. 
With the exception of the Batten Medal, which covered work published since 2013, the awards were given for work completed in 2015. All news organizations, news services and online-only news sites in the United States, including those without an ASNE member on staff, were eligible to enter.

Judging took place both online and on site at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida. Following are the winners and finalists of each category, along with remarks from the judges: 
Batten Medal
Alissa Rubin of The New York Times will receive $2,500 for winning the Batten Medal, which honors public-service journalism in memory of revered reporter, editor and newspaper executive James K. Batten. The medal is intended to celebrate the journalistic values Batten stood for: compassion, courage, humanity and a deep concern for the underdog. The award is sponsored by a group of editors from the former Knight Ridder Inc.

From the judges:

"Those journalistic values the Batten Medal recognizes not only describe Alissa Rubin's work, but also the extraordinary efforts, and risks, she has been willing to take to produce it for The New York Times. Rubin showed readers, in vivid and chilling detail, the reality of what it means to be a woman in Afghanistan as the Western presence there dwindles. From the struggle for justice for a murdered 27-year-old named Farkhunda to the maiming and 'honor' killings of young women by their own families, Rubin bore witness to the sometimes futile efforts of Afghan women to transform their country.

"She put her own life on the line to chronicle the horrors faced by the Yazidis, a tiny religious minority that fled ISIS only to be trapped on a sacred mountain in northern Iraq. She dictated an update on the airlift to bring food to the refugees from her hospital bed in Turkey after the helicopter she was riding in crashed on Mount Sinjar, which injured her and more than 35 others and killed the pilot. Her courage, her compelling storytelling and her profound humanity would have made James Batten proud."

Winning work:
Afghanistan reporting


Burl Osborne Award for Editorial Leadership
Randy Essex of the Glenwood Springs (Colorado) Post Independent will receive $2,500 for winning the Burl Osborne Award for Editorial Leadership, which recognizes editorial writing that is excellent journalism and makes a difference in a community. The award is sponsored by The Dallas Morning News in memory of Burl Osborne, who died in 2012.
From the judges:

"In powerful and persuasive editorials, Randy Essex champions Latino immigrants, both legal and undocumented, in his own community and beyond. Decrying calls for the U.S. to deport undocumented immigrants or, in Colorado, to deprive them of basic services, such as driver's licenses, Essex delineates their contributions, 'making beds,' 'cooking food' and 'doing construction,' and implores readers to value them and support a path to citizenship. He uses solid research and searing sentiment to reach readers' minds and hearts."

Winning work:
March 9, 2015: "Release money for immigrant licenses"
Sept. 28, 2015: "We stand in support of immigrants"
Oct. 5, 2015: "We need immigration law grounded in reality"
Supplemental material on immigration stand


Deborah Howell Award for Nondeadline Writing
T. Christian Miller of ProPublica and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project are the winners of the Deborah Howell Award for Nondeadline Writing, which recognizes excellence in writing that's not accomplished on deadline. They will receive $2,500 for winning the award, sponsored by Advance Publications Inc., in memory of former editor Deborah Howell, who died in 2010.

From the judges:

"ProPublica and The Marshall Project formed an extraordinary partnership on an investigative report that broke almost every convention imaginable. 'An Unbelievable Story of Rape' is a taut, sophisticated narrative with deep character development and an astounding conclusion. The takeaway, how lax police efforts can fail rape victims and vice versa, is even more deeply felt because of the powerful, nuanced reporting and writing that lead to it."

Winning work:
"An Unbelievable Story of Rape"


  • Esther Htusan, Margie Mason, Robin McDowell and Martha Mendoza, The Associated Press - "Seafood from Slaves"
  • Michael M. Phillips, The Wall Street Journal - "Taken Hostage"

Dori J. Maynard Award for Diversity in Journalism
Perla Trevizo and Fernanda Echavarri of the Arizona Daily Star are the winners of the Dori J. Maynard Award for Diversity in Journalism, which celebrates journalism that overcomes ignorance, stereotypes, intolerance, racism or hate. They will receive $2,500 for winning the award, sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in memory of Dori J. Maynard, who was an ASNE board member and a strong advocate for news and newsroom diversity. 

From the judges:

"The Arizona Daily Star's compelling story of the de la Rosa family, divided by the U.S.-Mexico border, is moving, powerful and beautifully told. At a time when the discussion about immigration is reduced to sound bites, this work puts it into perspective. It is about family, growing up and growing old. It is about a mother's love and her children stepping in to take her place. The chaptering of the story brings the family into perspective one by one, and with the accompanying podcasts, provides a rare human look at the issues and impact of our nation's border issues. In the end, it is beautiful storytelling and a worthy recipient of an award named for Dori Maynard." 

Winning work:
"Divided by Law"


Frank A. Blethen Award for Local Accountability Reporting
Michael LaForgia, Cara Fitzpatrick and Lisa Gartner of the Tampa Bay Times are the winners of the Frank A. Blethen Award for Local Accountability Reporting, which recognizes outstanding work done by a news organization that holds important local institutions accountable for their actions. They will receive $2,500 for winning the award, sponsored by The Seattle Times in honor of Frank A. Blethen, who has been The Times publisher and CEO since 1985. 

From the judges:

"Journalists at the Tampa Bay Times exposed how public school leaders in Pinellas County, one of the state's well-to-do districts, routinely failed black students. Whereas district leaders cited poverty and 'just the way things are,' Times journalist spent 18 months embedded with affected families, analyzed millions of rows of records and created comparisons versus other school districts that exposed how decisions by school administrators had created failed schools, a striking impeachment of the status quo.

"The series resulted in immediate impact: creation of magnet programs to improve diversity and teacher quality, financial investment to improve school performance and even a federal investigation into how federal dollars are spent. The Times team exemplified the power and importance of local investigative reporting and why it matters."

Winning work:
"Failure Factories"
Chart- Failing black students
Five schools segregation
Lessons in fear
Who's my teacher today?
Fundamentally unequal


Mike Royko Award for Commentary/Column Writing
David Cook of the Chattanooga Times Free Press will receive $2,500 for winning the Mike Royko Award for Commentary/Column Writing, which recognizes excellence in writing by an individual that expresses a personal point of view. The award is sponsored by the Chicago Tribune in memory of legendary columnist Mike Royko, who died in 1997.

From the judges:

"David Cook tackles complex subject matters in his deeply reported and gracefully written columns for the Times Free Press. He captures the grief and outrage of a daughter who missed her mother's execution for killing her father because she had tried in vain to address the Board of Pardons. He captures the bravery of a man who stalwartly suits up to take on a job nobody wants, cleaning out planes that had transported Ebola victims. And he uses all power of his columnist voice to speak for and to the community with great eloquence, as he asks Chattanooga to stand up to its fear in the wake of a domestic terrorist attack."

Winning work:
"Cook: The amazing grace of Kelly Gissendaner"
"Cook: When this plane lands, it's carrying death"
"Cook: Meet the local gravedigger who saves lives"
"Cook: On a normal Thursday morning, everything changed"
"Cook: In the big heart of Chattanooga"  


Punch Sulzberger Award for Online Storytelling
Michael Kimmelman of The New York Times will receive $2,500 for winning the Punch Sulzberger Award for Online Storytelling, which recognizes excellence and innovation in the use of digital tools to tell news stories. The award is sponsored by The Times in memory of former publisher Arthur Ochs "Punch" Sulzberger, who died in 2012.
From the judges:

"At its best, digital storytelling presents a seamless, immersive experience and takes the reader to places they've never been. In a competitive field of impressive multimedia packages, this entry stood out for its clarity. Michael Kimmelman's architecture reviews employed multimedia elements with purpose and precision in ways that not only enhance the story, but also drive the story. His piece about the soundscapes of New York thoughtfully employs video and audio to demonstrate Kimmelman's key arguments. His review of the new Whitney Museum of American Art uses 3-D modeling and video to take readers on an immersive tour of this important cultural institution while clearly illustrating the key points of critique."

Winning work:
"Dear Architects: Sound Matters"
"A New Whitney"


Breaking News Writing Award
The staff of The Baltimore Sun is the winner of the Breaking News Writing Award for coverage of the death of Freddie Gray and ensuing riots. 
From the judges:

"The Baltimore Sun won this award for its accurate, trustworthy, comprehensive and up-to-the-minute coverage of citywide riots in Baltimore in the wake of the April death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. Sixty journalists from The Sun spread out across the city to cover the first riots Baltimore had seen in 40 years. The writing was clear and crisp, and the editing was sharp, which offered stories packed with key information and told details free of clutter. In addition, the reporting was informed by The Sun staff's deep institutional knowledge of the community and long-simmering tension and animosity between the city's police and its African-American community."

Winning work:
"Coverage of the death of Freddie Gray and ensuing riots"


Community Service Photojournalism Award

The staff of The Baltimore Sun is the winner of the Community Service Photojournalism Award, which rewards photography that captures the sense of a community with powerful and meaningful images and provides an understanding of the community.
From the judges: 

"The Baltimore Sun's coverage of the protests following the death of Freddie Gray was both haunting and dramatic. The staff of The Sun went well beyond the predictable scenes and covered the story as only a local newspaper could. They didn't find just scenes, they captured moments.
"From the photos of the young man on top of the police car to the image of the boy high-fiving a National Guard soldier, the passion and complexity of that week in Baltimore were revealed."

Winning work:
"Photos of the Freddie Gray unrest"  


In addition to Boardman and ASNE Awards Committee Vice Chair Brian McGrory of The Boston Globe, judges were: Pam Fine of The University of Kansas; Trif Alatzas, The Baltimore Sun; Andy Alexander, Ohio University; Mike Anastasi, The Tennessean; Nancy Barnes, Houston Chronicle; Christopher Baxter, University of Michigan; Kathy Best, The Seattle Times; Peter Bhatia, The Cincinnati Enquirer; Scott Bosley; Dudley Brooks, The Washington Post Magazine; Bonita Burton, The Villages (Florida) Daily Sun; Steve Cavendish, Washington City Paper, Washington, D.C.; Bill Church, Sarasota (Florida) Herald-Tribune; Audrey Cooper, San Francisco Chronicle; Suki Dardarian, Minneapolis Star Tribune; Gregory Favre; Casey Frank, Miami Herald; Tim Franklin, Poynter; Manny Garcia, Naples Daily News; Anders Gyllenhaal, The McClatchy Company; Renee Hannans; Val Hoeppner, Middle Tennessee State University; Mandy Jenkins, Storyful, New York City; Marty Kaiser; S. Mitra Kalita, Los Angeles Times; Chris Krewson, Billy Penn; David Ledford, The News Journal, Wilmington, Delaware; Silas Lyons, Record Searchlight, Redding, California; Michael McCarter, The Cincinnati Enquirer; Bryan Monroe, Temple University; Karen Peterson, The News Tribune, Tacoma, Washington; Mitch Pugh, The Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina; Arnie Robbins, ASNE; George Rodrigue, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio; Rick Rodriguez, Arizona State University; Bobbie Roessner, Hearst Connecticut Media Group; Mark Russell, The Memphis (Tennessee) Commercial Appeal; Mike Sallah, Miami Herald; Eve Samples,; Rene Sanchez, Minneapolis Star Tribune; Mila Sanina, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Debra Adams Simmons, Nieman Foundation; George Stanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Mizell Stewart, Journal Media Group, Milwaukee; Joyce Terhaar, The Sacramento (California) Bee; Robyn Tomlin, The Dallas Morning News; Anne Vasquez, Sun Sentinel, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; and Stan Wischnowski, Philadelphia Media Network.