ASNE announces 2018 award winners

The American Society of News Editors has announced winners of the 2018 ASNE Awards for distinguished writing, digital storytelling and photography. 

The awards, which are judged each year at the Poynter Institute, honor the best in print, photo and video content in 10 categories. The contest drew nearly 500 entries. 

"This year's winners represent the best journalism being done in America," said ASNE president Alfredo Carbajal, managing editor of Al Día at The Dallas Morning News in a news release. "All these winners show the positive impact of watchdog reporting in our society, and they shine light to issues affecting underrepresented communities."

With the exception of the Batten Medal and the O'Brien Fellowship Award for Impact in Public Service Journalism, which covered work published since 2016, the awards were given for work completed in 2017. 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. 

Here are the winners and finalists of each category, along with remarks from the judges, according to their news release. You can find a list of the judges on the ASNE website.

Batten Medal, honoring achievement in public service journalism

The staff of The New York Times is the winner of the Batten Medal, which honors public service journalism in memory of revered reporter, editor and newspaper executive James K. Batten. The staff will receive $2,500 for winning the award, sponsored by a group of editors from the former Knight Ridder Inc.

From the judges:

"The coverage by The New York Times on sexual harassment in Hollywood and beyond had broad cultural impact, sparking a 'me too' movement that is still ongoing. Times reporters unearthed revealing, on-the-record details on the abusive behavior of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and took readers to factory floors to reveal an endemic culture of harassment at the Ford Motor Company. The Times' stellar reporting, combined with the power of the institution, made this the story of the year."

Winning work: "Harassed"


Burl Osborne Award for Editorial Leadership

Dave Helling of The Kansas City Star 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:

"Admittedly, Kansas City Star editorial writer David Helling had us at 'secret, no-bid contract.' His series of relentlessly well-reported editorials on the mayor’s attempt to hand over a $1 billion airport construction contract with no public scrutiny was all about leadership. Indeed, Helling’s entry shows the valued role that editorial boards bravely take in their communities on a daily basis. In this case, challenging a corrupt system and holding it accountable. The closed process opened. Check. Developer disqualified. Check. Taxpayers saved $300 million. Check. Editorial leadership. Checkmate."

Winning work: "The case against a $1 billion no-bid contract"


Deborah Howell Award for Writing Excellence

Tony Bartelme of The Post and Courier will receive $2,500 for winning the Deborah Howell Award for Writing Excellence, which recognizes excellence in news and feature writing (except commentary or editorials) by an individual that's not done as breaking news. The award is sponsored by Advance Publications Inc. in memory of former editor Deborah Howell, who died in 2010.

From the judges:

"At its heart, this is a complicated investigative business story. But judges found Bartelme’s writing to be clear, simple and personal, with deft touches that draw in the reader. This beautifully told story is about the many people whose loyalty to the company left them vulnerable and the way in which company leadership enriched themselves as they destroyed the company. As Bartelme writes, 'Relationships usually begin with hope, not betrayal, and so does this story ...'"

Winning work: "Stickin' With the Pig: A Tale of Loyalty and Loss"


Dori J. Maynard Award for Justice in Journalism

Paul Kiel and Hannah Fresques of ProPublica are the winners of the Dori J. Maynard Award for Justice in Journalism, which celebrates journalism that overcomes ignorance, stereotypes, intolerance, racism, hate, negligence and indifference. 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:

"'Too Broke for Bankruptcy' skillfully marries masterful data journalism with nuanced reporting about those affected to create a powerful report that shines light on a little-known but deeply disturbing trend. It is a compelling and important read that starts in Memphis, and ProPublica's reporting has already led government officials to take action. It truly meets the criteria of this award, journalism that fights for justice for those who are disadvantaged."

Winning work: "Too Broke for Bankruptcy"


Frank A. Blethen Award for Local Accountability Reporting

Mike Baker and Justin Mayo of The Seattle 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:

"Seattle Times reporters Mike Baker and Justin Mayo exposed a culture of silence and intimidation and repeated failings at Swedish Health, a well-known neuroscience center. Their work, a combination of narrative storytelling, astute use of data analysis and source building, led to the resignation of the CEO, a top neurosurgeon, a federal investigation that changed state law, and multiple reforms that surely will save and have saved lives."

Winning work: "Quantity of Care"


  • Patricia Callahan, Chicago Tribune — "Doomed by delay"
  • Shannon Mullen, Payton Guion and Paul D'Ambrosio, Asbury Park Press — "Renter Hell"

Mike Royko Award for Commentary/Column Writing

Dahleen Glanton of the Chicago Tribune 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:

"Dahleen Glanton writes with thunderous passion and uncommon clarity about the issue that affects Chicago worst and most: violence, too often by and against the young, spawned by the hopelessness of the city’s high-poverty neighborhoods. Her empathy for the underdog and her ability to put voice to unpleasant truths are infused in every sentence she writes."

Winning work: Columns by Dahleen Glanton


O'Brien Fellowship Award for Impact in Public Service Journalism

Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia and Tim Evans of The Indianapolis Star are the winners of the O'Brien Fellowship Award for Impact in Public Service Journalism. This award recognizes public service work that helps solve community or societal issues and leads to changes in laws, regulations or other demonstrated results. They will receive $2,500 for winning the award, sponsored by the fellowship at Marquette University in Milwaukee. 

From the judges:

"Comprehensive and relentless reporting that permanently changed Americans' perceptions of high-level gymnastics and the people who run the sport. The Star committed itself to unraveling a culture in U.S. gymnastics that abetted widespread sex abuse of its athletes. Its exhaustive effort upended the USA Gymnastics hierarchy, spurred criminal convictions and the resignation of a university president. It built a framework, story by story, that exposed a pattern of abuse, the passing around of abusers, the silencing of accusers and a cover-up. When the story finally blew up over the Larry Nassar scandal, it seemed sudden to those not paying attention, but much credit goes to this series and the news organization that supported and published it for the far-reaching impact the story ultimately had."

Winning work: "Out of balance"


Punch Sulzberger Award for Online Storytelling

The staff of The Arizona Republic with the USA TODAY Network is the winner of the Punch Sulzberger Award for Online Storytelling, which recognizes excellence and innovation in the use of digital tools to tell news stories. The staff will receive $2,500 for winning the award, sponsored by The New York Times in memory of former publisher Arthur Ochs "Punch" Sulzberger, who died in 2012.

From the judges:

"The editors of the USA TODAY Network knew that the president's much-ballyhooed border wall was no mere abstraction. It's not a cliche to say that the immigration debate, on the ground, is one of blood, sweat and tears. This hyper-ambitious, thoroughly comprehensive online project recognizes that and gives voice and space and vision and context to the barrier's potential impact on both sides of the southern border. 'The Wall' made the most its online-storytelling ambitions, ensuring that viewers can access and interact with the multi-pronged story in the way that is most comfortable for each individual: photos and text, of course, but also video, podcasts and VR. In encouraging viewers to 'choose your journey,' 'The Wall' put them almost directly in the shoes of those for whom the dangerous journey is not virtual reality but gritty reality."

Winning work: "The Wall"


  • Clare Baldwin, Andrew R.C. Marshall, Manuel Mogato and more staff, Reuters —"Duterte's War"
  • Staff, Tampa Bay Times — "Why Cops Shoot"

Breaking News Writing Award

The staff of the The Press Democrat is the winner of the Breaking News Writing Award for coverage of the Northern California wildfires. This award recognizes stories produced in the first 24 hours.

From the judges:

"A small newsroom sprang into action with its entire staff to cover wind-driven fires threatening their community. Everyone was involved, all 14 people, even though the fires blew into town late at night. They immediately began posting online and through social networks. They used social media, Facebook Live and everything they had to bring their community important information they needed to stay safe. This is a newsroom rising to face a breaking news event and give it everything they've got. The writing and editing were excellent; the photography and video in the face of oncoming fires were courageous."

Winning work: "Northern California wildfires


Photojournalism Award

Lisa Krantz of the San Antonio Express-News is the winner of the Photojournalism Award, which rewards photography that captures the sense of a community with powerful and meaningful images that provide an understanding of the community in the context of news.

From the judges:

"A heartbreaking story of one beautiful little boy's fight against Shwachman-Diamond syndrome. The judges felt the story was very complete. You really got to feel Rowan’s larger-than-life personality. You got to see how many lives he touched and the effect of his absence. The visual variety paired with the emotional content really moved the viewer through his short but powerful life. What an incredible job by the photographer to gain intimate access at such a difficult time. The end result is a set of photos that capture a family's brave journey in its most vulnerable moments, and one that will linger in the memories of the viewers."

Winning work: "Rowan's Reach"



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