2022 Best of the West journalism contest results (2024)

Here are the complete results for this year’s Best of the West contest. Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to our volunteer judges.

GROWTH AND ENVIRONMENT REPORTING

First Place: Kyle Dunphey and Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.
Second Place: Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place: Staff, Honolulu Civil Beat.

Kyle Dunphey and Spenser Heaps win first place with “Fremont Island: a conservation success story on the dying Great Salt Lake.”

The piece profiled a desolate, 3,000-acre island that once was eyed for a 15,000 home development but was donated to the state after the Nature Conservancy worked with an anonymous buyer to purchase the property and preserve it.

Second place goes to Hayley Smith for “With metals and maybe even coronavirus, wildfire smoke is more dangerous than you think.”

Smith’s piece looked at two studies that found smoke from a California wildfire was particularly noxious because it contained particulates from burned homes as well as vegetation and that linked wildfire smoke to an increased risk of contracting Covid-19.

The Civil Beat staff takes third place with a package examining water contamination at Navy’s underground Red Hill fuel facility near Pearl Harbor.

The Navy confirmed petroleum contamination in its drinking water system that serves 93,000 Oahu residents, and local officials expressed concern about fuel sitting in 18 massive, 78-year-old corroding tanks just 100 feet above a drinking water aquifer.

Judged by Paola Marizan, multimedia journalist, WNIN radio and TV, serving Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. 47 entries.

SOCIAL JUSTICE REPORTING

First Place: Sarah Smith, Houston Chronicle.
Second Place: Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place: Joy Borkholder, InvestigateWest.

Sarah Smith earns first place with “Living Hell,” a long-form narrative about life for tenants in rundown, HUD-subsidized apartments.

“The Houston Chronicle produced a powerful examination of a troubled owner of HUD properties,” the judge wrote. “It presented a national investigation of the owner in a long-form narrative over six days.”

Second place goes to Rosanna Xia for “A river of secrets: How the battle over Reservation Ranch summoned a violent past.”

“The Los Angeles Times presented a powerful feature on Reservation Ranch and the Smith River in California,” the judge wrote. “The beautifully written article reported on how for more than 150 years one family has held the keys to a precious part of the river. It also highlights Native American involvement with the area.

“Rosanna Xia writes: ‘Its emerald-green water once flowed red with Native American blood, its wetlands haunted by one of the largest massacres in U.S. history. Today, the Smith River is the last major waterway in California that runs freely without a single dam — a precious refuge for salmon, for steelhead and a bygone timber community still searching for a future.'”

Joy Borkholder takes third place with “Latino voters have higher than average ballot signature rejection rates in Washington State.”

“InvestigateWest found that Latino voter signatures were four times more likely to be rejected than other voters’ signatures in an area of Washington,” the judge wrote. “It analyzed data from the eight Washington counties with the largest proportions of Latino voters.

“It found that in some cases, enough signatures were rejected to have turned elections to a different outcome. The UCLA Voting Rights Project filed a lawsuit in the aftermath of the report. The lawsuit cited the reporter’s work.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “Great entries! Too bad only three entries could be recognized. But in the end, the Houston Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times and InvestigateWest had winning works that stood out.”

Judged by Norman Parish, deputy managing editor, Chicago Sun Times. 33 entries.

GROWTH AND ENVIRONMENT REPORTING

First Place: Kyle Dunphey and Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.
Second Place: Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place: Staff, Honolulu Civil Beat.

Kyle Dunphey and Spenser Heaps win first place with “Fremont Island: a conservation success story on the dying Great Salt Lake.”

The piece profiled a desolate, 3,000-acre island that once was eyed for a 15,000 home development but was donated to the state after the Nature Conservancy worked with an anonymous buyer to purchase the property and preserve it.

Second place goes to Hayley Smith for “With metals and maybe even coronavirus, wildfire smoke is more dangerous than you think.”

Smith’s piece looked at two studies that found smoke from a California wildfire was particularly noxious because it contained particulates from burned homes as well as vegetation and that linked wildfire smoke to an increased risk of contracting Covid-19.

The Civil Beat staff takes third place with a package examining water contamination at Navy’s underground Red Hill fuel facility near Pearl Harbor.

The Navy confirmed petroleum contamination in its drinking water system that serves 93,000 Oahu residents, and local officials expressed concern about fuel sitting in 18 massive, 78-year-old corroding tanks just 100 feet above a drinking water aquifer.

Judged by Paola Marizan, multimedia journalist, WNIN radio and TV, serving Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. 47 entries.

IMMIGRATION AND BORDER REPORTING

First Place: Molly O’Toole, Los Angeles Times.
Second Place: Mya Jaradat and Laura Seitz, Deseret News.
Third Place: Angelika Albaladejo, Capital & Main.

Molly O’Toole wins first place with “‘Sitting ducks’: Biden’’s pandemic border closure fuels violence against migrants.”

“Molly O’Toole’s reporting on the Title 42 border policy used all the tools in a reporter’s toolbox — from internal privacy assessments of new technology, to charts, to feature-style scenes of migrants in peril — to keep the spotlight on the Biden administration’s policy choices as it took the reins from the Trump administration,” the judge wrote.

“Throughout the package, Ms. O’Toole’s work always articulates the scope and importance of the story, setting her work apart.”

Second place goes to Mya Jaradat and Laura Seitz for “How Border Patrol chaplains help agents find inner peace in a job of conflict and danger.”

“Mya Jaradat wrote a humane but clear-eyed feature on a phenomenon I didn’t even know existed: the volunteer chaplaincy corps of the Border Patrol,” the judge wrote.

“While Ms. Jaradat and photographer Laura Seitz treat their subjects with sympathy, the writing deftly points out that their efforts to retain their own humanity can lead them to dehumanize the migrants they encounter. Ms. Jaradat manages to articulate this trap without falling into it. It’s a coup of feature writing.”

Angelika Albaladejo takes third place with “Despite Biden’s promises, immigrant detention and surveillance grow.”

“Angelika Albaladejo’s forward-looking reporting on the rise of ‘alternatives to detention’ — and competing ideas of what those alternatives should be — filled a gap in national immigration coverage in 2021,” the judge wrote.

“Albaladejo found something new, and important, and invited her readers to reflect on how it should be shaped moving forward.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “These awards could easily have gone to an entirely different slate of entries. Local, regional and national outlets all did stellar work on migrants and migration, borders and borderlands. In making my selections, I tried to think about work that captured something important about these issues in 2021 in particular.”

Judged by Dara Lind, a freelance journalist who recently covered immigration issues for ProPublica. 12 entries.

SOCIAL JUSTICE REPORTING

First Place: Sarah Smith, Houston Chronicle.
Second Place: Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place: Joy Borkholder, InvestigateWest.

Sarah Smith earns first place with “Living Hell,” a long-form narrative about life for tenants in rundown, HUD-subsidized apartments.

“The Houston Chronicle produced a powerful examination of a troubled owner of HUD properties,” the judge wrote. “It presented a national investigation of the owner in a long-form narrative over six days.”

Second place goes to Rosanna Xia for “A river of secrets: How the battle over Reservation Ranch summoned a violent past.”

“The Los Angeles Times presented a powerful feature on Reservation Ranch and the Smith River in California,” the judge wrote. “The beautifully written article reported on how for more than 150 years one family has held the keys to a precious part of the river. It also highlights Native American involvement with the area.

“Rosanna Xia writes: ‘Its emerald-green water once flowed red with Native American blood, its wetlands haunted by one of the largest massacres in U.S. history. Today, the Smith River is the last major waterway in California that runs freely without a single dam — a precious refuge for salmon, for steelhead and a bygone timber community still searching for a future.'”

Joy Borkholder takes third place with “Latino voters have higher than average ballot signature rejection rates in Washington State.”

“InvestigateWest found that Latino voter signatures were four times more likely to be rejected than other voters’ signatures in an area of Washington,” the judge wrote. “It analyzed data from the eight Washington counties with the largest proportions of Latino voters.

“It found that in some cases, enough signatures were rejected to have turned elections to a different outcome. The UCLA Voting Rights Project filed a lawsuit in the aftermath of the report. The lawsuit cited the reporter’s work.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “Great entries! Too bad only three entries could be recognized. But in the end, the Houston Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times and InvestigateWest had winning works that stood out.”

Judged by Norman Parish, deputy managing editor, Chicago Sun Times. 33 entries.

BREAKING NEWS REPORTING

First Place: Staff, Los Angeles Times.
Second Place: Staff, San Antonio Express-News.
Third Place: Staff, Los Angeles Times.

The Los Angeles Times staff wins first place with coverage of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“For the most significant news event of the year, this was extraordinarily good coverage,” the judge wrote. “The overview story was clear and detailed. The story on reactions from the public was compelling.

“The video overview was a terrific explainer. And the coverage was elevated, with vivid color and anguish, by the haunting first-person piece. Great photos, too.”

Second place goes to the San Antonio Express-News staff for its coverage of a February storm that brought arctic cold and power outages to Texas.

“As a community struggled and suffered, this coverage hit every angle,” the judge wrote. “It was comprehensive and useful, skillfully reported and written.”

The Los Angeles Times staff takes third place with coverage of an Orange County oil spill as thousands of gallons of crude spewed from an undersea pipeline off the California coast, killing birds and marine life.

“A masterful job of telling what was happening and the deep effects,” the judge wrote. “Strong coverage.”

Judged by Andy Schotz, managing editor of Bethesda Beat. 33 entries.

EXPLANATORY REPORTING

First Place: Staff, Mental Health Project, Seattle Times.
Second Place: Susanne Rust and Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place: Emily Stifler Wolfe and Jason Thompson, Montana Free Press.

The Seattle Times Mental Health Project staff wins first place with “Why it’s so hard to find mental health care in Washington.”

“Going through this series is the equivalent to taking a master class in explanatory reporting,” the judge wrote. “The Seattle Times approaches the issue of mental health access from myriad angles, with urgent reporting, powerful personal stories, strong visuals, and a stunning full-screen infographic. This in an extraordinary effort.”

Second place goes to Susanne Rust and Carolyn Cole for “Oceans in peril.”

“In explaining the ramifications of the massive die-off of gray whales, this Los Angeles Times series illustrates how one environmental phenomenon interconnects with so many others. This is top-notch explanatory journalism, with lucid writing and arresting visuals.”

Emily Stifler Wolfe and Jason Thompson take third place for “How organic and regenerative agriculture are revitalizing rural Montana economies.”

“At first blush, the topic of this Montana Free Press series — soil health, and organic and regenerative farming — might not seem compelling,” the judge wrote. “But what a revelation! With beautiful writing and evocative visuals, it explores the issues and the people invested in them with grace and clarity.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “This category is filled with powerful examples of explanatory journalism at its best. In one market after another, readers benefited from critical reporting that made them better informed by illuminating serious concerns of the day.”

Judged by Thomas Koetting, deputy managing editor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 39 entries.

PROJECT REPORTING

First Place: Staff, San Antonio Express-News.
Second Place: Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place: Staff, Cronkite News, Arizona State University, Phoenix.

The San Antonio Express-News staff earns first place for Aftermath of Winter Storm Uri.”

“You had me at the mayor’s dog lede. That is, the writing and tone never failed to move me gracefully and effortlessly through a morass of what did and did not happen after that storm,” the judge wrote.

“That it was turned so swiftly and spoke so clearly to those in the throes of distress is its crowning achievement. Stupendous reporting, beautifully told.”

Second place goes to Christopher Goffard for “The trials of Frank Carson,” which takes a critical look at the deeply flawed prosecution of a controversial defense attorney on first-degree murder charges.

“The reporter’s storytelling ability is among the best in the land, on any platform,” the judge wrote.

“The story, as astonishing as it is, reveals so much more about the criminal justice system than what simply happened in Stanislaus County. A primer on narrative pacing and delicious restraint.”

The Cronkite News staff takes third place with “Little victims everywhere,” a look at deep flaws in federal investigations of child abuse in Indian Country.

“Horrifying but necessarily so, this story rings with power and outrage,” the judge wrote. “The headline sets the tone, and the story delivers on every level, showing how so many have failed on so many levels and left children to bear it all.”

Overall, the judge wrote, ” The caliber, range and depth shown throughout this category is nothing short of breathtaking. Each entry showed, in exquisite detail, what journalism is for and why it matters so much. Most significantly, each of these stories was revelatory and critically important to the outlet’s audience. Faith in journalism is restored. Bless you all.”

Judged by Amy Wilson, storytelling coach, Cincinnati Enquirer. 48 entries.

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING

First Place: Staff, Los Angeles Times.
Second Place: Staff, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place: Alexandria Bordas and Cynthia Dizikes, San Francisco Chronicle.

The Los Angeles Times staff earns first place with “Botched surgeries and death: How the California Medical Board keeps negligent doctors in business.”

“On top of building their own database based off of thousands of pages of records, Los Angeles Times reporters centered their stories on the victims of gross negligence, demonstrating why the medical board’s lenient punishment of doctors that left patients dead, paralyzed, missing limbs, or sexually abused was so egregious,” the judge wrote.

“The investigation inspired legislation to tighten discipline measures, and the medical board’s president thanked the reporters for holding the board accountable.”

Second place goes to the Los Angeles Times staff for a project examining extreme heat’s deadly toll in California.

“An impressive peer-reviewed analysis demonstrated California is severely undercounting heat-related deaths and emphasized the urgency that the state address one of the deadliest consequences of climate change that disproportionately kills the elderly, poor, people of color, and vulnerable,” the judge wrote.

“The Los Angeles Times held to account giant retailers who put their warehouse workers at risk, and told the stories of families who lost loved ones to scorching temperatures. The investigation inspired the governor to earmark funds in his budget to address extreme heat, the Los Angeles City Council to propose measures to protect its residents, and OSHA to investigate a heat-related death included in the Los Angeles Times’ reporting.

Alexandria Bordas and Cynthia Dizikes take third place with “Sex assault in Wine Country.”

“By meticulously reporting the stories of 13 women who suffered assault or misconduct by the mayor of Windsor, the San Francisco Chronicle’s investigation led to the mayor’s resignation, sparked criminal investigations, a raid on the mayor’s and inquiries from the state’s political ethics commission,” the judge wrote.

“They not only held the mayor to account, but used public records to show how the town council, law enforcement and a powerful civic organization failed these women, and didn’t investigate the allegations brought to them. A fantastic feat of reporting.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “This was an incredibly difficult contest to judge. So many of these investigations unearthed injustice and led to measurable impact.”

Judged by Ashley Balcerzak, affordable housing reporter, Bergen Record. 43 entries.

NEWS WRITING

First Place: Stephanie Innes and Alison Steinbach, Arizona Republic.
Second Place: Arielle Dreher, Spokane Spokesman-Review.
Third Place: Jonathan Levinson, Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Stephanie Innes and Alison Steinbach win first place with “Arizona Covid-19 outbreak tied to country-western dance turns deadly.”

The story tells about a June 11, 2021, dance in the Show Low area in rural northern Arizona that led to 24 Covid cases and 2 deaths. Most of those who tested positive had not been vaccinated.

Second place goes to Arielle Dreher for “‘It feels like a war zone’: Inside the Deaconess ICU as COVID-19 rages.”

The story takes readers inside the intensive care unit at Spokane’s MultiCare Deaconess Hospital, where staff share the goal of defeating a virus that is ending lives and dashing morale.

Jonathan Levinson takes third place with “Portland police killed 2 people this year. Both sought mental health care before their deaths.”

The story profiles two men who had sought mental health care in the days and months before they were shot to death by a Portland police officer.

Judged by Cristina Silva, deputy managing editor for enterprise, USA Today. 67 entries.

FEATURE WRITING, SHORT FORM

First Place: Daniel Miller, Los Angeles Times.
Second Place: Eli Francovich, Spokane Spokesman-Review.
Third Place (tie): Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times.
Third Place (tie): Tom Hallman Jr., The Oregonian.

Daniel Miller wins first place with “How a brother’s obituary for his ‘Special Sister’ became a poignant internet phenomenon.

“A pitch-perfect portrait of a brother’s devotion to his sister with cerebral palsy,” the judge wrote. “Daniel drew out just the right details and memories of Karen Sydow’s life, saving the most powerful one for last. Tip of the hat to Erik Sydow, who wrote the original obituary (which deserves an award on its own for conveying so much in even fewer words), and to Daniel’s wife for being the first to recognize it was special.”

Second place goes to Eli Francovich for “Homesteading family’s lasting legacy realized in agreement to return nearly 10,000 acres of habitat to Colville Tribes in conservation deal.

“What could have been a dry brief about a land transaction is instead a beautifully woven piece about what it means to leave a family legacy and to do right by history,” the judge wrote. “Eli packed a remarkable amount of context and detail into 1,500 words, with writing so evocative the reader is transported to the Tunk Valley.”

Third place goes to two pieces that explored different facets of loss, as grief was a recrurring theme in this year’s entries.

Moira Macdonald takes third place with “Arts critic Moira Macdonald reflects on grief after the loss of her dad.”

“Moira Macdonald wrote a lovely meditation on how her own shape-shifting grief manifested after the death of her father,” the judge wrote.

Tom Hallman Jr. won third place with “Goodbye to the man who said ‘hello, hello, hello’ to everyone who walked into his downtown Portland store.”

“Tom Hallman Jr. paid tribute to Jin Choo — a Portland sundries shop owner who suffered a sudden fatal heart attack — and the many ways in which someone best known for greeting everyone with simply ‘hello, hello, hello’ touched his community,” the judge wrote.

Overall, the judge added, “This was a strong category, and it was a pleasure for me to read everyone’s work. Congratulations to all who entered!”

Judged by Amy B. Wang, national politics reporter, Washington Post. 35 entries.

FEATURE WRITING, LONG FORM

First Place: Matthias Gafni, San Francisco Chronicle.
Second Place: Kerry Benefield, Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Third Place: Kurtis Lee, Los Angeles Times.

Matthias Gafni wins first place with “One hiker’s peak of desperation” about a man who got lost climbing a 13,000-foot mountain and the efforts of his family, his friends and a bartender named Destiny to save his life.

“Descriptive writing with a prose so elegant you forget it’s a news story,” the judge wrote. “I was hanging on every word to find out the ending.”

Second place goes to Kerry Benefield for “Ralph Harms died the way he lived: On his own terms.”

“A fascinating subject and an important topic well-told through the eyes of one man and his family,” the judge wrote.

Kurtis Lee takes third place with “Three generations of Black women overcame boundaries and setbacks with love.”

“I really liked the way it illustrated things we hear about in broad terms (privilege, for example) and used real people to make us feel and understand,” the judge wrote.

Overall, the judge added, “Getting through 106 long-form stories wasn’t an easy task, and there were so many worthy entries.”

Judged by Amy Bertrand, features editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 106 entries.

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT WRITING

First Place: Steve Appleford, Los Angeles Magazine.
Second Place: Christopher Lawrence, Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Third Place: Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times.

Steve Appleford wins first place with “Ryan Adams: ‘I felt like they were asking me to die.'”

“I went back and forth on Steve Appleford’s Ryan Adams portrait, though it instantly presented as being among the top tier of the entries,” the judge wrote. “A colleague of mine, a Whiskeytown-ear Adams fan, told he had read the story when it first appeared and that his sense was that the writer had let Adams off easy, though he allowed he wouldn’t have wanted to attempt the piece himself.

“I’m not sure there’s any way to write this sort of piece without being accused of carrying water for a horrible man. But when I read the piece again, I really didn’t see it that way — I imagine the questioning had to be done delicately, and Appleford does manage to pull some genuinely interesting comments from Adams, who isn’t quite in apology tour mode.

“It struck me as an honest and empathetic look at a problematic artist who certainly doesn’t have his sh*t together. Maybe the degree of difficulty isn’t as high as I think it is, but I personally found the piece compelling and perhaps even useful in the ongoing conversation about how — and if — we separate artists from their art. I’d like to be able to listen to Ryan Adams with a clear heart again. This story gave a little — just a little — hope.”

Second place goes to Christopher Lawrence for “Not fit for a King,” a look at Elvis Presley’s Las Vegas debut in 1956.

“I knew a little bit about this story. I’d read Richard Zoglinb’s book ‘Elvis in Vegas’ and had some sense that his first shows in town were a bit of a fiasco,” the judge wrote.

“But I’m happy the Review-Journal saw fit to allow Christopher Lawrence the space and time to craft this delightful, well-researched piece of pop anthropology.”

Moira MacDonald takes third place with “Slowly, more men are dancing on pointe, including in Seattle.”

“I know Moira Macdonald as an excellent film critic; I’m glad to see she’s as rigorous and sharp-eyed a reporter as she is a critic, for criticism is a very different discipline than reportage,” the judge wrote.

“But her critical faculty very much informs this piece, which could have devolved into the sort of “lookee at this crazy” trend stories that plague our culture. She’s so good. I hope the people of Seattle understand what a treasure they have in her.”

Overall, the judge added, “This was without question the most difficult contest of this type I’ve ever had to judge. Usually when you read through the entries one or two will pop for you and the hardest part will be finding a third you can make yourself believe separated itself from the herd. Here there were six or seven top tier entries and I went back and forth on which would win, place and show. Any of those seven might have been awarded first place were the judging deadlines different.”

Judged by Philip Martin, columnist and film critic, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. 33 entries.

BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL REPORTING

First Place: Andrew Graham, Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Second Place: Molly Solomon and Erin Baldassari, KQED, San Francisco.
Third Place: Laurence Darmiento, Los Angeles Times.

Andrew Graham takes first place with “Why the wind carries the promise of an economic boom for Humboldt County.”

“Humboldt Bay has lots of wind and deep water, assets that could create the next gold rush,” the judge wrote. “But not everyone is cheering. The writer digs into a high-impact issue with grace, clarity and historic perspective. Wonderful.”

Second place goes to Molly Solomon and Erin Baldassari for “Grandma challenges real estate giant in early test of new California law.”

“A California law meant to give renters a fighting chance against investors isn’t working as planned,” the judge wrote. “The journalists tell the deeply reported story through the eyes of a grandmother who finally could get on her feet if she wasn’t at risk of losing her home.”

Laurence Darmiento takes third place with “The fight over ‘The One’ — L.A.’s biggest and most extravagant mansion.”

The writer takes a complicated real estate deal for a luxury home that is over the top and weaves it into a narrative you can’t put down,” the judge wrote. “Story is bonkers.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “This category is chock full of great journalism. It is inspiring.”

Judged by Michael Diamond, business reporter, Asbury Park Press. 43 entries.

SPORTS REPORTING

First Place: Vic Vela, Andrew Villegas and Shane Rumsey, Colorado Public Radio.
Second Place: Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place (tie): Jennifer Graham, Deseret News.
Third Place (tie): Jim Meehan, Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Vic Vela, Andrew Villegas and Shane Rumsey win first place with “Tiny Branson’s Field of Dreams.”

“The comment that accompanied this entry says: ‘This is the ultimate “feel good” story of 2021, a human interest feature that even people who don’t like sports will love.’ Well, I like sports, and I STILL loved it. Even though I was so ‘angry’ at the start, when reporter Vic Vela wrote, ‘There’s comedy shows, theme parks, an Elvis impersonator …’ Grammar, Vic! There ARE, not THERE’S! (pet peeve). Luckily, for Mr. Vela, I was thoroughly enchanted by what followed — and the rest of the grammar was pretty good, too,” the judge wrote.

“Funny, funny writing, an irresistible story and Vic portrayed small (tiny actually) town life with respect and sensitivity and not like a big city anthropologist studying some strange phenomenon. The story unfolded really well, it held my attention throughout — aided by great humor. And a great closing line, which every top notch story needs. Vic has a good eye too — wonderful photos. Congrats on a job very well done.”

Second place goes to Ryan Kartje for “Ex-USC Trojan Chris Brown drowned in a Malibu pool; his death opened a window into his life.”

“Beautifully told story about a sad, untimely death,” the judge wrote. “Held my attention throughout due in large part to very nice writing. And again, excellent ending.”

Jennifer Graham takes third place with “In the debate over sports uniforms, have we finally hit bikini bottom?”

“I thought the reporting and writing were very crisp, aided by injections of humor here and there,” the judge wrote. “I really enjoyed the history too — fascinating about women at the turn of the century avoiding swimming and swimming lessons because the suits were so unwieldy. And then the tragedy with the PS Slocum prompting change. Well done.”

Jim Meehan grabs third place with “Former Gonzaga big man Jeremy Eaton brings toughness, positive outlook to cancer battle.”

“Cancer/disease stories are tricky, and they often are overly melancholy. Mr. Meehan avoided that and his straight-ahead writing seemed to match Eaton, a no-nonsense guy,” the judge wrote. “I also liked the way Meehan spoon fed facts as the story unfolded. Great job.

Overall, the judge added, “Sadly, there are no fourth, fifth or sixth place prizes because there were some really nice pieces that finished just out of the top 3. 33 total entries — indeed the Best of the West!”

Judged by Tom Goldman, sports correspondent, National Public Radio. 33 entries.

GENERAL INTEREST COLUMN WRITING

First Place: Josh Brodesky, San Antonio Express-News.
Second Place: Jean Guerrero, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place: Nancy Preyor-Johnson, San Antonio Express-News.

Josh Brodesky wins first place for his portfolio of five columns.

“Josh Brodesky skillfully brings national issues home by dissecting the right’s claim that immigrants pose a Great Replacement threat. He details historical and current uses of this so-called ‘revolution without firing a shot’ and argues that voter suppression and gerrymandering are attempting to fight demographic change without firing a shot,” the judge wrote.

“He brings the same focus to the hunger issue with a piece explaining how chronic food insecurity became the norm for many San Antonians long before Covid-19 made it acute; and, along with experts, challenges his readers to understand that normal is not good enough. In a literary but accessible piece, Brodesky compares Ted Lasso with Sir Gawain to remind us that true heroes, rather than possessing traits most of us do not, inspire them in ordinary people. He calls on us to allow our virtuous traits, “compassion, belief, and love,” to rise to the surface. Even closer to home, Brodesky describes his own struggles with depression in a column that shows how being honest with family and friends about his experience helped lift the clouds. It is a powerful collection of columns.”

Second place goes to Jean Guerrero for columns exploring how Latinos fit into American politics.

“Jean Guerrero takes on difficult issues and doesn’t blink, mixing excellent depth with commentary and an eye for justice,” the judge wrote.

“The piece on Larry Elder is comprehensive and revealing; her column on the unfair impact of climate change on farmworkers is simply important. Her work is distinguished by her success in offering ideas for a way forward, potential courses of action and solutions to the difficult state of our society.”

Nancy Preyor-Johnson takes third place with her porfolio of news columns.

“Nancy Preyor-Johnson writes with engaging clarity, passion and authority,” the judge wrote.

“On the worn and fraught topic of abortion, she writes with moral clarity: ‘Giving birth to my son was my choice. Adoption should be considered … But whose choice is it? Not the government’s.’ On her aunt’s difficult life and death,” she writes with passion and love. On her recent past life in the classroom during Covid, she writes with rare authority born of thoughtful understanding. It is an outstanding body of work.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “The rich range of entries in this category shows part of the value and quality of American journalism today. Many of the entries were worthy of recognition — the winners represent strong writing, clear thinking and insightful recognition of key issues in the columnists’ communities and facing the nation.”

Judged by Randy Essex, former executive editor, Omaha World-Herald, and winner of 2016 ASNE Burl Osborne Editorial Leadership Award. 27 entries.

SPECIAL TOPIC COLUMN WRITING

First Place: Emily Baumgaertner, Los Angeles Times.
Second Place: Marcos Breton, Sacramento Bee.
Third Place: Naomi Ishisaka, Seattle Times.

Emily Baumgaertner earns first place with “A robot, a whisk, and a body bag: waging the War on Covid-19.”

“In her three solo reports about the Covid pandemic, Emily Baumgaertner of the Los Angeles Times pursued stories that helped illuminate subjects that might not otherwise receive attention,” the judge wrote.

“With exquisitely detailed reporting, she tracked the intercontinental journey of a body bag from the Thailand factory where it was made to the Detroit home where it was used following the death of a family’s matriarch. Other columns — about a robotics start-up that improved COVID testing and a therapist dealing with the same fears and anxiety as her patients in the pandemic — exhibit the same level superb reporting and patient writing. This entry was a standout.”

Second place goes to Marcos Breton for five columns about the devastating effect of homelessness on Sacramento.

“Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee wants to find common ground between two competing, but equally important subjects: the unhoused population who live on the streets of his city and the business/government communities who want them off the sidewalks and away from stormfronts,” the judge wrote.

“Breton could take sides, but he instead does exceptionally well to discuss this very difficult issue from both sides, treating all involved with respect and with an eye toward finding workable solutions. I hope that he, and Sacramento, find a way through. Read Breton’s columns, and you’ll be rooting for that community as well.”

Naomi Ishisaka takes third place with columns on Asian Americans in the spotlight, Washington’s new policing laws, and how climate change is damaging communities of color.

“Naomi Ishisaka of the Seattle Times writes columns about race, culture, equity and social justice that are instructive, constructive, sensitive and optimistic,” the judge wrote.

“She illuminates problems and proposes solutions. Her columns attempt to persuade readers rather than browbeat them. That — along with her reporting and strong writing — is what makes them a thoughtful and informative read.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “There were 34 entries in this category, and one would be hard-pressed to find a more diverse group of subjects covered by the talented journalists who submitted them. There were so many incredible pieces — a day spent at a Miracle League ballgame played by special-needs children, a military veteran-turned-journalist writing about the Afghanistan withdrawal, restaurant reviews with details so vivid they make your mouth water — that it was a real challenge to select winners. The overall quality of the competition was incredibly high and it was my honor to read your work.

Judged by Brian Colligan, opinions editor, Virginian Pilot and Daily Press. 34 entries.

HEADLINE WRITING

First Place: Amy Linn, Searchlight New Mexico.
Second Place: Dave Bowman, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place: Jondi Gumz, Aptos Times.

Amy Linn earns first place with “You’ve reached 17,494 students. Please leave a message. / New Mexico paid millions to a Utah company to text, email and phone “disengaged” students. Was it the right call?”

“Searchlight’s entry hit all the basics: It was concise, unambiguous and showed a firm grasp of the subject matter,” the judge wrote.

“But its writer went a step further and came up with something extremely clever, especially given the serious subject matter of the millions of taxpayer dollars spent. Well-written, playful headlines are not only enjoyable to read themselves, but end up drawing more readers to a story.”

Second place goes to Dave Bowman for the print headline “Thin Mints on your phone? Enable those cookies / Covid rules prohibit in-person sales, so Girl Scouts go digital to reach customers.”

“Rarely does a headline check all the boxes of the craft’s best practices,” the judge wrote.

“With this entry, the LA Times captures the spirit of the story that it tops, elicits a chuckle, and conveys the conflict at the heart of the article. It’s also goes without saying — especially in a year when we’ve spent copious amounts of time online — we have all been asked to ‘enable cookies.'”

Jondi Gumz takes third place with “Nisene Marks: A park loved to death / Cars, cyclists and hikers on narrow road delay ambulance response.”

“It was a thought-provoking headline that brought attention to an enormous problem in the community. The Aptos Times did a great job in a limited space of playing on a popular catch phrase.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “All the entries were well thought out and impressive. They showed just how clever and experienced these writers and editors are, with minds wired for the artful craft that is headline writing. No longer are we writing for one audience. We have print to consider, web, social media. It takes great skill to make a headline that stands out on just one of those mediums and many of these contestants came up with headlines that did that on more than one if not all.”

Judged by Samantha Ruland, digital producer, Philadelphia Inquirer. 17 entries.

EDITORIAL WRITING

First Place: Helen Jung, The Oregonian.
Second Place: Editorial Board, Honolulu Civil Beat.
Third Place: Helen Jung, The Oregonian.

Helen Jung wins first place with“Heatwave.”

“After the tragic deaths of 94 people in a heat wave, this editorial held local officials accountable for the failures of cooling stations, call centers, and other systems that were supposed to protect residents,” the judge wrote.

“It also made specific, actionable calls for ways to keep residents safe in the future, such as new protections for people who work outside. ‘Additional losses would be a travesty,” the editorial concluded — but that travesty is less likely now thanks to calls to action like this one.’”

Second place goes to the Civil Beat Editorial Board for“Free the Covid cluster data. Tell us where outbreaks are occurring.”

“In rigorous prose, this editorial calls on state officials to provide more information about Covid-19 clusters,” the judge wrote. “Backed up with thorough reporting from experts, the editorial explains why such data is so important: when residents are fully informed of outbreaks, “we can help the state and help ourselves.”

Helen Jung takes third place with“Diploma downgrade.”

“In concise prose, this editorial methodically picks apart a flawed proposal to weaken high school graduation standards,” the judge wrote.

“Not only does the editorial persuasively rebut the idea, but it holds accountable the state legislator who offered a fishy rationale for the plan and reminds readers of the big picture: after the pandemic, the priority should be to ‘help students regain the ground they’ve lost’ instead of lowering standards.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “Of the many strong entries, editorials from The Oregonian and Honolulu Civil Beat stood out for their persuasiveness, clarity, and rigor. These articles highlighted the local dimensions of important national and global issues: How to handle heat waves as climate change worsens; the need for thorough data on COVID-10; and keeping students on track after pandemic-related educational setbacks.”

Judged by Alan Wirzbicki, deputy editor, editorials, Boston Globe. 21 entries.

NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY

First Place: Marcus Yam, Los Angeles Times.
Second Place: Tyler Tjomsland, Spokane Spokesman-Review.
Third Place: Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News.

Marcus Yam wins first place with aphoto of Palestinian families huddling during a candlelight vigilto condemn the killing of children and civilians by an Israeli military strike in Gaza City.

“Just a real moving photo of life in a conflict zone,” the judge wrote. “Pulls the reader into the scene and evokes emotion.”

Second place goes to Tyler Tjomsland for aphoto of a mother and daughter and two neighbors mourning the death of a toddler.

“A heartbreaking moment masterfully composed,” the judge wrote. “Dares the reader not to feel for the impacted community.”

Sarah Reingewirtz takes third place with aphoto of Trump supporters protesting election results brawling with counter protesters in Los Angeles.

“Outstanding news photo,” the judge wrote. “Captures the raw emotions of the conflict between activists and law enforcement.”

Overall, the judge added, “This was a tough category to judge. News in the western United States (and the world) was in no short supply in 2021. From global conflict zones and political protests to heartbreaking loss and devastating wildfires, the many talented photojournalists of the region did their respective readerships great service in providing them with remarkable visual storytelling.”

Judged by Bryon Houlgrave, photographer, Des Moines Register. 33 entries.

FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY

First Place: Don Seabrook, Wenatchee World.
Second Place: Roberto E. Rosales, Albuquerque Journal.
Third Place: Don J. Usner and Luciana Perez Uribe Guinassi, Searchlight New Mexico.

Don Seabrook wins first place with “Back at school: In tents,” which shows a high school band practice with musicians playing in individual green bubble tents

“This photo will be one we look back on as a sign of the times,” the judge wrote. “The separation of subjects, the moment, each little tent, how identifiable faces and instruments are … this photo speaks to the odd reality we’ve lived for more than two years amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Well seen, and one that we will all remember.”

Second place goes to Roberto E. Rosales for “Coming & going,” a photo of santhill cranes scattering in a field as a hot air balloon lands.

“Humor in photography is not appreciated as much as it should be, and when you can find a way to incorporate the beauty of nature too? Simply awesome,” the judge wrote. “What a great eye here. The birds are people, and the people (in the balloon) are the birds. This is just awesome seeing, and anyone who sees this photo will stop, enjoy a chuckle and have a greater appreciation for our ever-changing world. Bravo!”

Don J. Usner and Luciana Perez Uribe Guinassi take third place with “Motel of Last Resort,” a portrait of Isela Ivonne Camarena from a photo essay about motels becoming a haven for people with nowhere else to go.

“A beautiful portrait with great layers that speak to a great story,” the judge wrote. “The eye contact is felt, and the moment is or that same reason. Depth in simplicity through human emotion.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “What an incredible set of images in this category, and a wide range of life too. Moments that all of you captured will help define our lives, and record history of our communities. And what incredible communities you are all shaping through your vision.

“Beautiful scenes and such vibrancy, both in color and humanity, throughout this category. Each photographer who placed should be proud, but ultimately, every photographer who submitted deserves to stand tall. You’re doing something incredible here, and each of you has found a way to document the joy and bring light and life into your cities. Truly an awesome spectrum and range in human emotion and thank you for the opportunity to learn through judging.”

Judged by Jake May, chief photojournalist, Fling Journal and MLive.com. 37 entries.

SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

First Place: Rob Schumacher, Arizona Republic.
Second Place: Tyler Tjomsland, Spokane Spokesman-Review.
Third Place: Chris Pietsch, Eugene Register-Guard.

Rob Schumacher wins first place with JoJo Ramey swimming the women’s 200-meter backstroke at the U.S. Olympic trials.

“This photo has it all: perspective, texture, color, a sense of place,” the judge wrote. “It’s apparent the photographer conceptualized the picture and then masterfully executed. Well done!”

“Borghi big air,” showing Washington State Cougars running back Max Borghi being sent flying by a collision with two Washington Huskies defensive backs in November.

“This photo leaves me wondering what happens next,” the judge wrote. “A good photo should stop you in your tracks and make you think, and this does just that. A great high-flying action photo. I hope #21 (Borghi) is OK!”

Chris Pietsch takes third place with “Sha’Carri Richardson celebrates” after her win in the 100-meter dash at the U.S. trials to qualify for the Olympics. Richardson tested positive for marijuana and was suspended, missing the Olympics.

“Great moment in an important story,” the judge wrote. “The photographer captures Sha’Carri Richardson’s pride and personality, which the U.S. Olympic Track and Field team was ultimately denied in Tokyo. This photo leaves me wondering what could have been, while also celebrating a gifted athlete.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “This was a strong collection of sports photography but a few ultimately stood above the rest. If I could have awarded awards of excellence, I would have. I awarded images that are unique, graphic and tell a story. However, there was no shortage of great peak action and reaction photography. Great work to everyone and congrats to the winners!”

Judged by Aaron Lavinsky, photographer, Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 30 entries.

NEWS SLIDESHOW

First Place: Ellen Schmidt, Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Second Place: Marcus Yam, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place: Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Ellen Schmidt earns first place with “A loss that lingers,” a slideshow about families who lost loved ones to Covid-19.

“The investment of time and the level of access gained by the photographer to make this package happen is commendable,” the judge wrote. “There was so much raw emotion captured and very little redundancy in images. The empathy that comes through in this set of images is quite remarkable. Very well done.”

Second place goes to Marcus Yam for “A Times journalist’s diary inside the fall of Afghanistan”

“These impactful images set this entry apart from much of the field,” the judge wrote. “The strong use of dynamic light and creative angles make for a project that draws the viewer in for a closer look.”

Laura Seitz takes third place with “Border Patrol chaplains.”

“We loved the variety of images in this project,” the judge wrote. “The level of access gained by the photographer, and the candid moments which unfolded in front of the camera put this entry in the top tier of this category.”

Overall, the judge added, “Strong category. Tough decisions for the judges, to be sure.”

Judged by Graham Cullen, lecturer, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland. 8 entries.

FEATURE SLIDESHOW

First Place: Francine Orr, Los Angeles Times.
Second Place: Dania Maxwell, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place: Tyler Tjomsland, Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Francine Orr earns first place with “For two Covid-19 patients, life and death rests on ‘el tubo.'”

“The photographer got incredible access for this story on the journey of Covid-19 patients who intubate,” the judges wrote. “The photos of Mariano Zuniga Anaya and his daughter are especially powerful. The photo of Ana, his daughter, and grandchildren at home, is intimate and moving.

“The photos move beyond the purely visual by showing us the fear of the patient, the love and pain of his daughter, and the anguish of a death from Covid. Important, moving and tender photos, seldom seen, of the human cost of the pandemic.”

Second place goes to Dania Maxwell for “In South L.A., turning to Black midwives to give birth.”

“Great access and trust in the photographer result in photos of intimacy and emotion,” the judges wrote.

“There’s a wonderful, unexpected photo of a family at home folding laundry that adds dimension to the story of Black midwives. The photo of Aijalon Redd holding her newborn girl, with a child asleep next to her in bed, her partner and midwife forming a triangle with her is a quiet moment with great composition. Finally, the photo of newborn Indigo with her parents showing such love and exhaustion and a new life, is a real stunner.”

Tyler Tjomsland takes third place with “When county search and rescue teams stop searching.”

“Very well-done, unusual story with good photos and strong editing,” the judges wrote.

“The opening portrait shows a masterful use of light to create mood, yet has great content and tells the story, without resorting to cliche. This was not an easy story to tell visually, and the photographer did a great job with it, very thorough, and very skilled.”

Overall, the judges wrote,”There were many outstanding entries in this category, and many stunning individual photos.”

Judged by Michele McDonald, photo editor, and Greg Rec, chief photographer, Portland Press Herald & Maine Sunday Telegram. 15 entries.

AUDIO STORYTELLING

First Place: Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times.
Second Place: Staff, KNPR, Las Vegas.
Third Place: Melissa Lewis, Emily Harris and Cecilia Brown, Center for Investigative Reporting.

Christopher Goffard earns first place with Episode 8 in “The Trials of Frank Carson,” in which the state’s star witness in a murder case against defense attorney Carson confesses that he lied on the witness stand under pressure from police and prosecutors.

“When it comes to what most narrative audio listeners are looking for – a fascinating and complex story, well told – ‘The Trials of Frank Carson’ strongly delivers,” the judge wrote. The excellent sourcing and surprising interviews, paired with deft scripting and scoring that did not overwhelm or manipulate, made for a compelling and memorable listen. One of those – wow you’ve got to hear this! stories.

“The series also raises important questions about abuses of power by law enforcement at a time when their role in public safety is being hotly debated. Unlike many investigative podcasts that don’t answer the question at hand (in this case, did he do it or was it a setup?), the team here successfully dug for answers until the scale tipped, including scoring a recorded interview in which the case’s star witness admits he lied to investigators under pressure. And instead of a ‘no comment,’ we get to hear host Christopher Goffard directly confront the district attorney with these findings in a substantive way.”

Second place goes to the staff at KNPR for “The Pandemic and AAPI Communities in Las Vegas.”

“KNPR’s series exploring the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Southern Nevada (and beyond) is a shining example of journalism that is produced for and with – not about – communities,” the judge wrote.

“There were few surprises or themes I had not heard before. Still, I was impressed by the series, which was well produced, subtly scored, and completely centered on the voices of AAPI community members. It lifted up not only their challenges, but also their joys and the people working to make things better.

“I especially appreciated when Exit Spring Mountain host Lorraine Blanco Moss shared her personal experiences, adding to the credibility and trustworthiness she built with her listeners. The mindfulness meditation in the bonus episode, which the team had translated from English to Tagalog, was another sonically beautiful gift to listeners, showing that journalism can do more than expose problems; it can be part of the solution.”

Melissa Lewis, Emily Harris and Cecilia Brown take third place with “Handcuffed and unhoused.”

“What I appreciated most about Reveal’s investigation into the policing of homelesses – beyond the high audio production values and the clear impact it could have on policies affecting many people in Oregon – was how effectively it humanized the people at the center of the problem,” the judge wrote.

“We got to hear in real time how frustrating it is for unhoused people to get stuck in the warrant/arrest cycle, and how difficult it is for just one person to get help. I also appreciated getting to hear from a police officer about how he sees his complicated role in this system.

“I was very moved by how reporter Melissa Lewis handled the story of Robert Delgado, portraying him as more than a homeless man killed by police – acknowledging that he was also a father, a brother, and someone with a community who loved and valued him. I commend Lewis for the hard work she did to gain the trust of so many people whose voices were critical to telling this story with accuracy, authenticity, and impact.”

Judged by Katie Colaneri, senior editor of podcasts, New Hampshire Public Radio. 26 entries.

VIDEO STORYTELLING

First Place: Brooke Herbert, The Oregonian.
Second Place: Corinne Chin and Ramon Dompor, Seattle Times.
Third Place: Thomas Cordova and Cheantay Jensen, Long Beach Post.

Brooke Herbert takes first place with “How one Native family on the Columbia River copes with Covid-19 loss a year later.”

“This one clearly stands above the rest,” the judge wrote. “It tells the story of a community though one family’s experience. The use of smart b-roll and sound works perfectly in concert with the narrative.”

Second place goes to Corinne Chin and Ramon Dompor for “Fighting Covid-19 as a doctor, then as a patient.”

“This video gets us in and out of the story without leaving any room to drag,” the judge wrote. “Really well edited. It took a fresh perspective on a story that news outlets have been telling for two years now.”

Thomas Cordova and Cheantay Jensen win third place with “How Filipino fusion pop-up, Corner Stoop, rose from the ashes.”

“The video portraits took us past the food and into the characters,” the judge wrote. “There’s a strong family element that is evident. It felt like two separate stories at times, but was brought together at the end.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “There were many strong entries in this category. Lots of unique storytelling with strong visual elements. There were several contenders towards the top that ultimately didn’t make the cut because they could been edited much tighter.”

Judged by Max Gersh, senior visuals editor, Indianapolis Star. 19 entries.

INFORMATIONAL GRAPHIC

First Place: Staff, Los Angeles Times.
Second Place: Ryan Serpico and Emilie Eaton, San Antonio Express-News.
Third Place: David Davies, Texas Public Radio.

The Los Angeles Times staff wins first place with “A frenzy of well drilling by California farmers leaves taps running dry.”

“Oustanding visual journalism in the service of an urgent story,” the judge wrote. “Well-reported and well-executed.”

Second place goes to Ryan Serpico and Emilie Eaton for “Family violence fatalities.”

“Ranked highly not least because of the data journalism work it represents,” the judge wrote. “Official records disagree, so they built their own database of victims. Handy infographic that lets readers mine for insights themselves.”

David Davies grabs third place with “Voting in Texas: The Game.”

“Excellent game mechanics and chock full of good reporting,” the judge wrote. “It even cites its sources. Even when I lost I learned something important.”

Judged by Scott Klein, deputy managing editor, ProPublica. 19 entries.

ONLINE PRESENTATION

First Place: Staff, Los Angeles Times.
Second Place: Staff, Los Angeles Times.
Third Place: Staff, Seattle Times.

The Los Angeles Times staff earns first place with “Take a ride down Pico Blvd. to see how Covid-19 transformed business.”

“The use of video to move the reader down Pico Boulevard is instantly engaging. Beautiful photos and strong display elements help tell the very human stories of struggle, perseverance and hope behind the changes in these businesses,” the judges wrote.

“Besides the street-view perspectives, videos added another layer of depth when spotlighting the people behind some of the businesses, such as the gym that moved its classes to the sidewalk to meet Covid restrictions. A lot of reporting lurks behind the scenes, but the presentation is clear and invites browsing along multiple entry points. Scrolling through the presentation was indeed like taking a ride down Pico Boulevard to see how the pandemic transformed business.”

Second place goes to the Los Angeles Times staff for “Freeways force out residents in communities of color — again.”

“The online presentation complemented a top-notch investigative project, using a well-balanced blend of photos, maps and graphics. The visual elements help guide readers through such an in-depth piece, with helpful then-and-now aerials views,” the judges wrote.

“Two highlights are the map showing the remade Interstate 5 and the map with text overlays to tell the story of Willie Dixon, who lost his home twice because of freeway expansion.”

The Seattle Times staff takes third place with “A pie for every baker.”

“Pardon the pun, but this was a sweet presentation. Easy to navigate, whether you want to try all the recipes or jump right into your expertise level,” the judges wrote.

“The video and photos in this package are stunning and made this reader want nothing more than to bake and eat pie. Offering options for every skill level, the recipes are presented clearly and made all the more enticing (and attainable) by the succinct preparation videos that are both informative and visually delightful.

“The scrolling recipe text, while the video continues to illustrate the steps, makes the recipes easy to follow and engaging. The use of videos as illustrations doesn’t bog down the page speed. And it works nicely and simply on mobile.”

Overall, the judges wrote, “The entries in the Online Presentation category were strong and varied. They showed deep reporting, imagination, attention to online storytelling. Congratulations to the winners and to the strong contenders who entered.”

Judged by Brian O’Shea, senior digital producer, Ron Sirmans, assistant senior editor for digital audience and engagement, and Donella Cohen, product manager, all from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 18 entries.

PAGE DESIGN

First Place: Jamie Sholberg, Robert Gauthier and Isabel Urbina Peña, Los Angeles Times.
Second Place: Corlene Byrd, Las Vegas Weekly.
Third Place: Ian Lawson, Denver Business Journal.

Jamie Sholberg, Robert Gauthier and Isabel Urbina Peña earn first place with “Klamath River Yurok culture.”

“The cover design for this entry is a pleasant surprise as it fuses dramatic overhead photography with meandering hand-drawn type, allowing readers to easily imagine themselves floating down the shimmering blue-green Klamath River in a rare hand-carved redwood canoe,” the judge wrote.

“This cover is a great example of how immersive print design has the power to parachute readers right in the middle of a rich scene. The inside spread, anchored by a strong layout grid and typographic restraint, completes the sweeping view of the Klamath with a large-scale image that easily earns its role as a visual showcase for the river’s natural beauty. Well-edited secondary images highlight the Yurok tribe’s fledgling canoe tour business.”

Second place goes to Corlene Byrd for “Treats.”

“Las Vegas Weekly’s “Treat Yourself” story package was the best of an exceptionally strong set of page design entries from designer Corlene Byrd. Simply put: The cover and four inside spreads make you want to lick the sticky sweet pages in hopes it all tastes as divine as it looks,” the judge wrote.

“This entry feels like a lesson in art direction, featuring nine expertly styled photos that use a rainbow color palette that feels calculated, not haphazard. The small-scale graphic elements on these pages compliment the photos while adding just the right amount of energy. The image scale is consistent, and the image angles seem deliberate in making these treats feel larger than life.”

Ian Lawson takes third place with “Little Oil. Big Risk.”

“The cover story design for ‘Little Oil. Big Risk.’ is grounded in fantastic photo editing, controlled typography, stark graphics and well-balanced design choices that use negative space to create contrast in all the right places,” the judge wrote.

“This design puts the plight of small oil and gas well operators front-and-center for readers, allowing them to see through Seth McConnell’s photos the dirty work of oil drilling contrasted against the backdrop of lush green-grass fields and big-blue skies. The display type for the cover and opening spread is sized just right. Any smaller, and it would lose all its impact and punch. Any larger, and it would overwhelm the expansive photography.”

Overall, the judge wrote, “the margin between entries at the top end of this year’s page design submissions was quite narrow. While these three entries edged out the field, an additional group of well designed entries were also considered for the Top 3 spots.”

Judged by Josh Penrod, assistant managing editor for design, Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 39 entries.

2022 Best of the West journalism contest results (2024)

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