Columbia, Mo. (May 22, 2007) — The Missouri School of Journalism has announced the winners of the 2007 Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards.
The list includes some well-known repeat winners of MLJA: The Washington Post, the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News and the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.). A few relative newcomers to the MLJA winners’ circle include The Roanoke (Va.) Times and The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee.
Judges of the more than 1,200 entries praised the winners:
- “The quality of the writing, photography and design holds up with most national magazines.”
- “In the soft features, it’s elegant.”
- “…this narrative demonstrates the great continuing strength of the newspaper in telling a good story.”
The judges’ comments, the winners and the finalists follow.
The Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards began in 1960 as the Penney-Missouri Program. Sponsored and administered by the Missouri School of Journalism, it is the oldest and best-known feature writing and editing competition in American newspapering. Winners receive $1,000 in prize money and a lead crystal vase trophy.
2007 Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards
Winners and Finalists
Regularly Scheduled Feature Supplement
West Magazine, Los Angeles (Calif.) Times
For the price of your daily newspaper, the Los Angeles Times throws in, free, a high-gloss, high-quality magazine each Sunday. The quality of the writing, photography and design holds up with most national magazines. This one is focused on the West, and as you go through its pages, you get a sense of place, a sense of literature and a sense of humor.
Gender: F, The Seattle (Wash.) Times
In an industry that is aggressively producing niche publications, not many would have thought to produce a tabloid aimed at females. Most research shows that females are our most loyal readers but are underserved. The Times reaches this demographic with such targeted articles as one on body image in which there was a split run with two different headlines, another from women who share their life lessons and another on single-sex schools.
Pasatiempo, The Santa Fe New Mexican
Santa Fe’s bound, newsprint magazine is a big-city product in a mid-major market. Pasatiempo immerses you in the culture of Santa Fe. Opera, jazz festivals, art shows, high culture, pop culture-from the writing to the visuals to the design, it’s presented with class and style.
General Excellence Class V
The Washington Post
While many of even the biggest and best newspapers are cutting back, even eliminating, feature sections, the Post continues to dazzle with its range of subject matter, depth of reporting and, well, style. In a strong set of finalists, the Post especially stands out for the quality of its writing. In the hard stories, it’s clear and crisp. In the soft features, it’s elegant. The lifestyle sections of the Post are a pleasure to read.
With the nation to cover and no local angles to develop, the Life sections of USA Today stand out for their variety and the quality of presentation. As you’d expect, graphics are a major and masterful element. But if you haven’t read the paper lately, you might be surprised at the good writing that marks nearly every story.
The Miami (Fla.) Herald
The troubles of the Herald have made the news, but these lifestyle sections show no sign of decline. Instead, they’re full of life, full of personality, full of the qualities that make South Florida unique. Newspapers that are faced with having to do more with less could take lessons here.
General Excellence Class IV
San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News
The Mercury News is still a full-service lifestyle shop. In addition to the traditional sections, it aligns itself with its local community with sections on Food and Wine and another titled “Interactive.” The writing, photography and design of these sections is exemplary. Staff generates most of the content. Readers are entertained, informed and kept in touch with the culture of the community.
The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee
The Sacramento Bee tells its readers stories in words and pictures. Whether it is chronicling one day at the Sacramento airport or localizing the Katrina survivor story, the stories are informative and entertaining. The depth and breadth of the lifestyle sections, which feature local content, keeps readers in touch with their neighbors.
The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)
The cover stories of The Daily Break are conceived, photographed and written with flair. The design is outstanding. The sections are also the paper of record for entertainment in the greater Norfolk area. Readers can find everything from pop culture to letters from Norfolk-area troops serving in Iraq.
General Excellence Class III
The Roanoke (Va.) Times
Maybe the best thing about these sections is the range of ideas. The entries cover the spectrum of lifestyle interests from a bullriding school through the art of beer snobbery to the woman who got to her high school prom 10 years late. The amount of local content, in this age of trimming down and outsourcing, is also impressive. The photography and design are eye-catching, and the writing is clear and warm.
The OC Weekly (Orange County, Calif.)
The Weekly contains all the usual alternative elements — the reviews, the listings, the personals ads. What makes it stand out and makes it a winner, though, are the deeply reported and powerfully written centerpiece stories. These have both substance and panache.
[No third place in this category.]
General Excellence Class II
Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.)
The Daily Camera has a broad offering of topics through the week. Each day there is a section with a strong lead story supported with enticing photographs. All of this work is local. The writing is excellent. Sunday’s larger section has more depth and topics and is nicely organized and labeled.
The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press
Nice variety of content, supported with photos. Columnists provide a good sense of the community and a personal touch for the lifestyle sections. Headlines, especially on the lead cover stories, are written with an eye to attracting readers. Good use of presentation devices to draw readers into the stories.
[No third place in this category.]
General Excellence Class I
[No winners in this category.]
Health and Fitness
“The Gift,” by Jennifer Garza, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee
This is a wonderful, uplifting story. In serial narrative form, it recounts the gift of life from one man to another he had never met. The reporting is deep; the writing is compelling. Like several other entries in this category, this narrative demonstrates the great continuing strength of the newspaper in telling a good story.
- “The Day Magic Saved 5 Lives,” by Tony Leys, The Des Moines (Iowa) Register
- “Can We Stop the Next Killer Flu?” by Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post Magazine
- “Doctor spends last days on his most revealing case,” by Don Colburn, The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)
“First year in college is the riskiest.” by Robert Davis and Anthony DeBarros, USA TODAY
This powerful story is guaranteed to frighten any parent of a teenager. It educates while it frightens, thanks to the impressive use of computer-assisted reporting and clear, compelling writing. It is also an impressive example of solution reporting, with a sidebar telling parents how to evaluate the risks their college freshmen children will face. As you’d expect from USA TODAY, the graphics are rich in information and easy to read.
- “Green to the core,” Judith Lewis, LA Weekly (Los Angeles, Calif.)
- “Betrayed by a cell phone,” Ted Bridis, Associated Press
- “Who’s resurrecting the electric car,” Judith Lewis, LA Weekly (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Myhre Series/Special Sections
“Mr. Merritt’s Challenge,” Pam Kelley, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer
Week in and week out, Mr. Merritt and his 17 fifth-graders think, laugh, learn and struggle at a school where almost all students receive free lunch and many speak English as a second language. This series invites readers to take a seat in Mr. Merritt’s class for the whole school year and rewards those who do with an insightful and intimate portrait of school life, rendered through careful observation and a keen ear for dialogue.
- “Through Hell and High Water,” Jane Hansen, The Atlanta (Ga.) Journal-Constitution
- “Pain & Fire,” Jennifer Jacobs, The Des Moines (Iowa) Register
- “Dirty Deeds,” Chris Thompson, East Bay (Calif.) Express
- “The $40 Lawyer,” Christopher Goffard, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times
Myhre Single Story
“Domestics Bliss/Wholesale Attraction Turns Retail Romance Into Store-Aisle Wedding March,” Stephanie Earls, Albany (N.Y.) Times Union.
There are wedding stories, and then there is this wedding story. Consider the opening: “He did it in Domestics. In front of Bernadine from Housewares and David from Men’s Suits, but not Sandi from Candy–who had the day off.” True love often makes good copy, but rarely is true love, or any other topic, treated so cleverly, written with such panache. This is one of the briefer entries in the category. It is so well thought-out, so well-written, that, despite its brevity, it is eternally memorable.
- “The Peekaboo Paradox,” Gene Weingarten, Washington Post Magazine
- “Calling All Angels,” Suzanne Pullen, San Francisco (Calif.) Chronicle Magazine
- “Mikey Kelly Died This Month. You Probably Didn’t Know Him.” Colleen Kenney, Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star
- “Final Salute,” Jim Sheeler, Rocky Mountain News (Denver, Colo.)
“Illegal at Princeton,” Miriam Jordan, Wall Street Journal
Dan-el Padilla is an honors student at elite Princeton University. He is also an illegal immigrant according to U.S. law. Because of the consequences that flow from his illegal status, Padilla turned himself in. The feature about how Padilla overcame a childhood of poverty in the Dominican Republic, then risked everything because of nonsensical laws and regulations governing U.S. immigration law, is fresh and unforgettable.
- “Mixed Feelings: Latinos Hire Latinos,” Florangela Davila, Seattle (Wash.) Times
- “The Summer of the Death of Hilaro Guzman,” Mark Arax, West, the magazine of the Los Angeles (Calif.) Times
- “They Could Be Citizens and They Might Be Deported,” Nina Shapiro, Seattle (Wash.) Weekly
- “Am I East or Am I West?” Olivia Wu, San Francisco (Calif.) Chronicle Magazine
Best Short Feature
“Wrapped in Memories,” Julia Prodis Sulek, San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News
Sulek followed a blanket from the donor, who gave it to the Sacred Heart Community Service charity, to the recipient, who took it home to warm her children. This story works, first, because of the reporting that adds people with whom we can empathize. It works, second, because the writing makes you read to the end to see how the story turns out.
- “When you love someone and marry them, you marry them for life.” Sonia Krishnan, Seattle (Wash.) Times
- “Doing 92 from Edmonds to Panama,” Susan Gilmore, Seattle (Wash.) Times
- “Queen of Trash,” Denise Gamino, Austin (Texas) American-Statesman
Fashion and Design
“Letting It All Hang Out,” Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles (Calif.) Times
A prime example of a concept story – one that understands how trends are not mere fashion but reflect social change – this piece asks why something is occurring and sets out to define what it means. The introduction illustrates that the best stories reflect an informed take on the subject and don’t need to cite source after source to establish the point. The writer then follows up with many, many sources to document that the idea is not her sole opinion but one shared by many. She uses experts, observers and players to explore why young women insist on wearing revealing clothes even when the result is totally unflattering. The resulting story says a lot not about fashion per se but about fashion’s impact on our psyches. More lifestyle stories should take this approach and break out of the fluff rut.
- “The Little House That Roared,” Susan Fornoff, San Francisco (Calif.) Chronicle
- “Sneaker Fiends,” Camille Dodero, Boston Phoenix (Boston, Mass.)
Arts and Entertainment
“Avedon’s Lone Stars,” Andrew Marton, Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram
Detective story. Local story. National story. This piece has it all. The writer uncovers the whereabouts of some of Richard Avendon’s “In the American West” photographic series. The iconic photographs illustrate much about their subjects, but this approach reveals even more. It prints the famous Avedon photos that show the series’ Texans, then takes new photos 20 years later. (The new photos, by the way, compare favorably to the old ones.) Then the writer asks about the circumstances of the original photo shoot, digging out not only the logistics but also what the subjects were thinking. In many cases, the information per se is not enthralling but the overall impact, as Marton’s introduction says, tells us how these “homegrown miners and farmers and factory workers whose lives, unglamorous by every other measure, were illuminated, touched and irreversibly changed by a chance encounter with a New Yorker and his camera.”
- “The Big Picture,” Catherine Fox, The Atlanta (Ga.) Journal-Constitution
- “Plundered Art,” Tara Burghart and sidebars by others, Associated Press
Food and Nutrition
“The Good Food Dilemma,” Leslie Cole, The Oregonian
Many food writers have been tackling the organic dilemma, but none have done it with the insights and freshness of Leslie Cole. Her series is truly a learning experience, filled with stories and perspectives that enhance the meaning of organic. She looks at the high cost of organic food, what the term really means and all the players in the system. Her writing style and ability to predict the needs of her readers makes this a winner.
- “Rent-a-Grandma: Extending Family,” Olivia Wu, San Francisco (Calif.) Chronicle
- “Wild Things,” Marlene Parrish, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Post-Gazette
Updated: April 17, 2020