A writer traveled to three different states to find out whether they were Red, Blue or some shade of gray. A reporter documented a child's long and tortured death, as modern medicine kept him alive. A newspaper decided to turn back the hands of time and properly cover the Civil Rights movement. And a photo essay explored the concept of house foreclosures. These are some of the stories that captured our attention as we processed almost 600 entries for the American Society of Newspaper Editors annual Distinguished Writing and Community Service Photojournalism competition. (The work of this year's winners and finalists will be featured in the book "Best Newspaper Writing 2005.")

We saw -- and highlight below -- entries that took a fresh approach or creatively tackled a concept. Some entries are linked up so you can read them in their entirety; others are not because the links were not available to us.

Take a look. And let us know about work you've seen that could inspire, intrigue and instruct other journalists. Send the story, reporter or photojournalist's name, the newspaper and an active link to ecarr@poynter.org.


  • "On the Road to the 2004 Election" by Mike Littwin, Rocky Mountain News
    An interesting approach to the blue/red divide in the country leading up to the 2004 election. Click on the other days in the series listed in the sidebar to see the full body of work.

  • "A Loyal following of Mother's Heartache," by Jacquielynn Floyd, The Dallas Morning News
    Floyd wrote about Jenny Scott, a mother who maintains a Web site that chronicles the story of her child's leukemia, and another mother, Dana Eisenberg, who writes about her time spent in a pediatric cancer unit.

  • "The Town that NAFTA Sent North," by Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times
    Lopez wrote about one town where half of the population had to leave to find work elsewhere, and the effect it had on the farm town of San Juan Atenco, Mexico.

Deadline News Reporting -- Team 

  • "1,000 Fallen: A Grim Milestone" by Sharon Cohen and Pauline Arrillaga, The Associated Press
    Marking 1,000 American deaths in Iraq was a milestone. This story looked at a few of those faces, giving meaning to the number.

  • "Tillman's Sacrifice Touches Nation," The Arizona Republic
    The Arizona Republic used its front page to honor Pat Tillman, a hometown hero and NFL player for the Arizona Cardinals. The paper covered Tillman's time in Iraq, and the sports section outlined his athletic achievements.

Deadline News Reporting -- Indivdual 

  • "'All Gone': South Florida Woman in Haiti to Bury 19 relatives" by Susannah A. Nesmith, The Miami Herald
    Four hurricanes hit the state of Florida in 2004 and much of the coverage showed the destruction and physical damage. This story examined the emotional damage.

  • "A Matter of Conscience," by Eric Hanson, The Houston Chronicle
    This beat reporter was at the local courthouse checking over documents. Talking with an employee he learned a person had been indicted in a murder case in which the killer felt compelled to confess that he killed his pregnant girlfriend after watching "The Passion of the Christ."

  • "Deadliest Strike," Jeremy Redmon, Richmond Times-Dispatch
    Redmon and photographer Dean Hoffmeyer were in the dining-hall tent near Mosul when an attack killed more than 20 and wounded others. Redmon and Hoffmeyer were not injured and managed to file a story shortly after the attack.


  • "Las Vegan Uses His Final Act to Cast Vote for Bush," by Ed Koch, Las Vegas Sun
    This obituary shows the determination of one man to cast his vote before dying. "Overton, a Republican, was determined to vote for President George W. Bush it if was the last thing he did. It pretty much was."

  • "Turkey Farmer Was Famous 'Worm Czar,'" by Amy Rabideau Silvers, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
    This story answers the question: 'What ever happened to that guy?' The "worm czar" was seen on Letterman, and "The Tonight Show." "The worm czar" trained a worm to shoot a tiny basketball. This was one of those obituaries that was about an interesting, quirky and (kind of) famous guy.


  • "Untold Stories: Lexington and the Civil Rights Movement," by Linda Blackford, Lexington Herald-Leader
    As the note at the beginning of the series explains, the Herald-Leader examined its coverage of the civil rights movement and realized it's never too late to cover important issues.

  • "In Balraj's Realm," by Karen Long, The Plain Dealer
    In March 2004, The Plain Dealer calculated it had published 1,018 stories quoting Dr. Elizabeth Balraj. Reporter Karen Long wrote about Balraj, the coroner.

  • "Blood Relations," by Jeff Tuttle, Bangor Daily News
    This story explores the tricky issue of tribal membership qualifications that vary by tribe. Smaller tribes in Maine are re-thinking their membership requirements.


  • "The Power Brokers: How a Dozen Men Control New Jersey Politics," by Paul D'Ambrosio, Asbury Park Press
    This piece gives the reader good background and context about politics in New Jersey.

  • "Craig Price's Story," by Mark Arsenault, The Providence Journal
    A large body of work with in-depth reporting and compelling details about the mind of a killer.

  • "The Lost Youth of Leech Lake," by Larry Oakes, Star Tribune, Minneapolis
    A well-executed story about American Indians, using vivid imagery. Check out the dynamic Web site that accompanies the story.

  • "If I Die," by Diana Sugg, The Baltimore Sun
    Sugg dove into a tough subject to cover -- the long and drawn-out process of a dying child kept alive by modern medicine. (Note: Sugg is on Poynter's National Advisory Board.)

  • "In the Bible Belt, Acceptance is Hard-won," by Anne Hull, The Washington Post
    This four-part series explores what it is like to be young and gay in the United States. Following two youths' stories, Hull shows a parallel set of problems these teens face even though they live in different states. (Note: Hull is on Poynter's Board of Trustees.)

Community Service Photojournalism

  • "A Dream Foreclosed," by John Beale, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    What an interesting concept -- a photo essay that shows the cost of mortgage foreclosures on home owners.  

  • "Our Overweight Kids," by Laurie Skrivan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    Click on the "Child Obesity" photo gallery. This story shows the severity of the effect our fast-food society has on children.