2015 Column Contest Finalists Announced

Trophies imageFinalists in the 2015 annual column contest of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists have been chosen.

Their third-, second- and first-place positions will be announced at the Awards Banquet during the 2015 NSNC conference on Saturday, June 27, at The Alexander in Indianapolis.

Each contestant submitted three columns or blog posts that were published in calendar year 2014. Finalists as well as honorable mentions are below, listed alphabetically. First place in each category will receive $300, second place $200 and third place $100, in addition to certificates suitable for framing.

The six category judges could select one or more contestants, or none, for honorable mention. They receive certificates.

Finalists are enthusiastically invited to attend the conference. Details follow the list.

Contest A – General Interest – Over 50,000 Circulation


Bob Dyer, Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal

James Haught, The Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette

Dave Lieber and Marina Trahan Martinez, The Dallas Morning News

Honorable Mention

Gendy Alimurung, LA Weekly

Leslie Handler,  Huffington Post, WHYY Newsworks, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Eric Heyl, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Contest B – Humor – Over 50,000 Circulation


Betsy Bitner, Times Union, Albany, New York

Bob Dyer, Akron Beacon Journal

Irv Erdos, San Diego Union-Tribune, UTSanDiego.com

Contest C – General Interest – Under 50,000 Circulation


Terri Barnes, Stars and Stripes

Amanda Beam, News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Indiana

Mark Epstein, St. Helena (California) Star

Honorable Mention

Jacqueline Goldschneider, Northern Valley Suburbanite, New Jersey

Saralee Perel, Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Massachusetts

Ken Tingley, The Post-Star, Glens Falls, New York

Contest D – Humor – Under 50,000 Circulation


Michelle Hauser, Kingston (Ontario) Whig-Standard

Roger Simon, Politico

Jerry Zezima, The Stamford (Connecticut) Advocate

Contest E – Online, Blog, Multimedia – Over 100,000 Unique Visitors


Michael Daly, The Daily Beast

David Cay Johnston, Al Jazeera America

Jill Lawrence, The National Memo

Honorable Mention

Mary Curtis, The Washington Post’s She the People

Derrick Jackson, The Boston Globe

Contest F – Online, Blog, Multimedia – Under 100,000 Unique Visitors


Paul Lander, Humor Times

Carol Michel, May Dreams Gardens

Jennifer Munro, Straight-No-Chaser Mom

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Be Honored in Person!

Logo for NSNC Conference Indy 2015Contest finalists and their guests are cordially requested, indeed encouraged, to attend NSNC’s 2015 conference, June 25-28 in Indianapolis. They are eligible for $50 discounts on registration, which come to $299 for NSNC members, $249 guests and $349 for non-members. They should contact Executive Director Luenna Kim via our online contact form to sign up for the contest finalist special rate. Online reservations for The Alexander, at NSNC’s $149 a night booking, may be arranged at the hotel’s special page for us.

If finalists cannot join the society for dinner, their win-place-show standing will be emailed to them after the dinner and also announced here at columnists.com. Certificates will be sent by post. Rules and other details about the 2015 contest can be found at 2015 Column Contest Rules.

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Lauren Ashburn is a media executive, television commentator and columnist. She is president and CEO of Ashburn Media Co., a media consulting and production firm she founded in 2010. She is a contributor to The Hill writing about media and politics. She appears frequently on Fox News as a media analyst. She has written for USA Today, The Washington Post, Fox News, Huffington Post, Daily Beast and others. Prior to establishing her company, Ashburn was managing editor of Gannett Broadcasting and USA Today Live where she sold, executive-produced and hosted series and documentaries for cable networks. She began her career as a television anchor and reporter.

Dave Astor writes the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair (New Jersey) Times, blogs about books at DaveAstorOnLiterature.com, and is the author of the memoir Comic (and Column) Confessional.

John Carlson retired in December 2009, after 31 years at the Des Moines Register, the last 11 as a columnist. He previously worked as a reporter at the Fort Dodge Messenger and Cedar Rapids Gazette, also in Iowa. A graduate of Western Illinois University, he served four years in the Air Force and was a Nieman fellow at Harvard. He has won some journalism awards but is most proud of covering the war in Iraq in 2003 and 2005.

Mike Leonard is executive editor of Bloom Magazine. In a career spanning nearly 35 years at Bloomington’s Herald-Times, he covered numerous beats, including arts and entertainment and, most recently, Indiana University and higher education. Mike has won numerous awards, but he is most proud of receiving the School Bell Award for outstanding education reporting from the Indiana State Teachers Association and his inclusion in the compendium, The Best of The Rest: Non-Syndicated Newspaper Columnists Select Their Best Work (Greenwood Publishing Group), edited by Sam G. Riley. A native Hoosier, Mike has written for a variety of publications including Rolling Stone and Indiana Alumni magazine, and for CNN online. He is an adjunct faculty member in The Media School at Indiana University.

Chad Lorenz is the news editor at the online magazine Slate. He previously was a managing editor at The Washingtonian and a copy editor at The Washington Post. A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lorenz began his career with internships at The Detroit News and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Mike Masterson since 2001 has written three personal opinion columns each week for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Today, he is an independent correspondent and columnist for this statewide paper. His writing and reporting over more than four decades has been nationally honored on more than two dozen occasions, including the George Polk Award, four Robert F. Kennedy Awards, two Heywood Broun Awards, two Clarion Awards and twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Mike also was an Alicia Patterson Fellow in 1976 and was the 1989-94 Kiplinger Professor and director of the Kiplinger Midcareer Program for Professional Journalists at The Ohio State University. In addition to being editor of three Arkansas daily newspapers over his 42-year career, he’s been both a reporter and/or investigative editor for the Los Angeles Times, Arizona Republic, Chicago Sun-Times and Asbury (New Jersey) Park Press. In 2012 he received NSNC’s Will Rogers Humanitarian Award for the body of his work.

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