ASNE announces awards for best journalism

See the winners and finalists of the 2015 ASNE Awards for distinguished writing and photography. Judges' remarkes are included for each category.

Links to the work of the winners are available here

We're thrilled to share with you the winners of the 2015 ASNE Awards for distinguished writing and photography. Congratulations to the winners for their hard work and high-impact journalism!


The awards, which encompass nine categories and honor the best in print and digital content, attracted 332 qualifying entries from news organizations in the United States.


"The field of entries was outstanding this year," said ASNE President Chris Peck, associate editor of The Riverton (Wyo.) Ranger. "Quality work is being done in newsrooms large and small all around the country, and ASNE is honored to recognize the best of the best."


"We the judges were impressed and delighted by the quality and range of the entries we received this year," said ASNE Awards Board Chairman David Boardman, dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University. "Clearly, the commitment of America's newsrooms to serving their communities with journalism that makes a difference has not wavered, even as the forms of storytelling continue to evolve in exciting new directions."


The Los Angeles Times won two of the nine awards. 

The winners and finalists of each category, along with remarks from the judges:


Batten Medal


John Sutter of CNN Digital 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 company.


From the judges:  


"CNN's John Sutter delivered masterful stories across a range of issues from slavery in Mauritania to the rape culture in Alaska. Over several years, Sutter used alternative storytelling, impactful video and crisp writing and involved readers in choosing the projects he would pursue. His work meshed old-school, gumshoe reporting with modern audience engagement."
  • Bob Ortega, The Arizona Republic

Burl Osborne Award for Editorial Leadership


Katie Kingsbury of The Boston Globe 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: 


"Through deeply reported, crisply written and powerfully argued editorials, Katie Kingsbury of The Boston Globe shines a light on the abuse of restaurant workers and the impact of low wages on the economy. Kingsbury's well researched reports, excellent use of data and richly detailed interviews with workers on the front line exemplify editorial leadership at its best. The judges noted Kingsbury's blend of eloquent storytelling with a call to action. She details reasons every individual should care and outlines steps government and citizens can take to improve the quality of life in her community and beyond." 


  • Tom Condon, Hartford Courant 
  • Michael McGough, Los Angeles Times 

Punch Sulzberger Award for Online Storytelling


Joe Mozingo and Katie Falkenberg of the Los Angeles Times are the winners of the Punch Sulzberger Award for Online Storytelling, which recognizes excellence and innovation in the use of digital tools to tell news stories. They 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: 


"A compelling narrative about a federal undercover operation looking at the illegal sale of Native American artifacts and impact of this investigation on a small Utah town. The team masterfully wove together text, raw and documentary-style video, photos, graphics and interactive design elements to guide the readers through this tragic tale."


  • Sam Dagher, Nour Malas and Sarah Slobin, The Wall Street Journal
  • The staff of the San Francisco Chronicle
  • The staff of The Boston Globe

Deborah Howell Award for Nondeadline Writing


Krista Larson of The Associated Press will receive $2,500 for winning the Deborah Howell Award for Nondeadline Writing, which recognizes excellence in writing that's not accomplished on deadline. The award is sponsored by Advance Publications, Inc., in memory of former editor Deborah Howell, who died in 2010.


From the judges:

"These stories had a high degree of difficulty and personal risk, were beautifully written and delivered rich content and context on the depth of the crises in West Africa. These types of stories can often seem distant to readers, but the writer made the stories compelling with her depth of reporting and the humanity she brought to her storytelling."

  • Matthew D. LaPlante, The Salt Lake Tribune
  • Elizabeth Gannes, Re/code

Mike Royko Award for Commentary/Column Writing


Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle 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 Chicago columnist Mike Royko, who died in 1997.


From the judges: 


"With clear, compelling prose and a finely honed sense of outrage, Lisa Falkenberg is a powerful voice for justice and transparency in her Houston community. With painstaking reporting and skillful storytelling, she detailed in a series of columns how Alfred Dewayne Brown, an illiterate black man, was wrongfully convicted of killing a Houston police officer through a series of stunning miscarriages of justice."


  • Petula Dvorak, The Washington Post
  • Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press

Distinguished Writing on Diversity Award


Sari Horwitz of The Washington Post is the winner of the Award for Distinguished Writing on Diversity, which recognizes writing that helps a community understand and better appreciate its racial, ethnic and religious diversity.


From the judges: 

"Exceptionally reported and beautifully written, reporter Sari Horwitz's look into the high rates of domestic violence, assault and other crimes against Native Americans revealed a government-made problem that was long past time to address. Horwitz traveled to Arizona, Alaska and the Dakotas to write a richly detailed series of stories filled with compelling anecdotes, as well as a strong sense of place and the history and law-enabling abuse. Judges were impressed with the breadth of the reporting, as well as her skilled weaving of narrative story with a deep examination of the issues. Justice in Indian Country is a fine example of reporting that helps communities understand and appreciate each other, the mark of strong reporting on diversity."

  • The staff of The Boston Globe
  • Melvin Félix, Mike Clary, Mike Stocker and Rachel Schallom, Sun Sentinel

Local Accountability Reporting Award

Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes and Natalie Caula Hauff of The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., are the winners of the Local Accountability Reporting Award, which recognizes outstanding work done by a news organization that holds important local institutions accountable for their actions.


From the judges:


"The entries in the Local Accountability category were among the strongest in the contest. Nothing we as news organizations do is more important to our customers and to our democracy. The winning entry was an astounding piece of public service, especially from a newspaper with modest resources. It explored why South Carolina had the nation's highest rate of murder of women by men and told excruciating tales of domestic violence. It also laid out measures to address the problem, some of which are finally being adopted by state officials."


  • Ames Alexander, Gavin Off, Fred Clasen-Kelly and Elizabeth Leland, The Charlotte Observer
  • Shawn Boburg, The Record of North Jersey
  • Jenn Abelson, Jonathan-Saltzman, Casey Ross, Todd Wallack and Thomas Farragher, The Boston Globe

Community Service Photojournalism Award


Lisa Krantz of the San Antonio Express-News 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:

"Lisa Krantz's picture story offers a compelling and courageous look into Hector Garcia, Jr.'s, agonizing struggle with obesity. Her four-year visual narrative transports the audience into a seldom seen world that is rich with emotions and relationships. Krantz's entry is distinguished by compassion, authenticity and tenacity. Every image in the entry connects effectively from opening to conclusion."

  • Robert Cohen, David Carson, Laurie Skrivan, Chris Lee, Christian Gooden, J.B. Forbes and Huy Mach, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Stephanie Strasburg, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Breaking News Writing Award

The staff of the Los Angeles Times is the winner of the Breaking News Writing Award for coverage of the Isla Vista rampage.


From the judges:


"Vivid and strong writing. They explained how the whole tragedy transpired, included many eyewitness accounts and told an in-depth story of the shooter all in the first 24 hours. Great map graphic showing what happened where and when. It was a very thorough and well reported, well written response to a story that broke late on a Friday night."


  • The staff of the San Francisco Chronicle
  • The staff of The Seattle Times

With the exception of the Batten Medal, which covered work published since 2012, the awards were given for work completed in 2014. 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. In addition to ASNE President Chris Peck, The Riverton (Wyo.) Ranger, and Awards Board Chair David Boardman, Temple University, this year's writing judges were: Alan Achkar, South Bend Tribune; Debra Adams Simmons, Advance Local; Andy Alexander, Ohio University; Gilbert Bailon, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Nancy Barnes, Houston Chronicle; Victoria Benning, The Washington Post; Jim Brady, Stomping Ground, Inc.; Peter Canellos, Politico; Alfredo Carbajal, Al Día (The Dallas Morning News); Bill Church, Sarasota Herald-Tribune; Audrey Cooper, San Francisco Chronicle; Suki Dardarian, Minneapolis Star Tribune; John Drescher, The News & Observer; Gregory Favre; Pam Fine, University of Kansas; Tim Franklin, Poynter; Teresa Frontado,; Manny Garcia, Naples Daily News; Michelle Holmes, Alabama Media Group; Mark Katches, The Oregonian; Mike Leary, San Antonio Express-News; David Ledford, The News Journal; Karen Magnuson, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle; Davan Maharaj, Los Angeles Times; Benjamin Marrison, The Columbus Dispatch; Brian McGrory, The Boston Globe; Shawn McIntosh, The Atlanta Journal Constitution; Kevin Merida, The Washington Post; Alan Miller, The News Literacy Project; Greg Moore, The Denver Post; James Neff, The Seattle Times; Jennifer Orsi, Tampa Bay Times; Karen Peterson, The News Tribune; Liz Roldan, CBS4 Miami; Mark Russell, The Memphis Commercial Appeal; George Stanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Mizell Stewart III, The E. W. Scripps Company; Joyce Terhaar, The Sacramento Bee; Robyn Tomlin, Pew Research Center; and Mike Topel,


Boyzell Hosey, Tampa Bay Times, chaired the photojournalism award judging. Other photojournalism judges were Kenny Irby, Poynter; Mike Lang, Sarasota Herald-Tribune; Carrie Pratt, College Heights Herald; Akili-Casundria Ramsess, Eye of Ramsess Media; Gabriel Tait, Arkansas State University; Harry Walker, Naples Daily News; and Patty Yablonski, Tampa Bay Times.