INDIANAPOLIS, June 27, 2015 — Winners in the 2015 annual column contest of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists were announced tonight at the awards banquet of its 39th annual conference, held at The Alexander hotel.
Each contestant submitted three columns or blog posts that were published in calendar year 2014. First place in each category is receiving $300, second place $200 and third place $100, in addition to certificates. The six category judges could select one or more contestants, or none, for honorable mention, who received certificates.[Update: Judge’s comments, when available, have been added below.]
Contest A – General Interest – Over 50,000 Circulation
First place — Dave Lieber and Marina Trahan Martinez, The Dallas Morning News. Judge: “Excellent observations and compelling writing that evokes emotion and an ability to identify. See circled lede to first column. True excellence in column writing.”
2nd. Bob Dyer, Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal [ranking corrected 7/16/15]. Judge’s notes on one column: “Excellent writing — powerful, compelling story that holds interest throughout, celebrating irony and contradictions in life.” Judge’s notes on second column: “Fun, funny, witty.”
3rd. James Haught, The Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette [ranking corrected 7/16/15]. Judge: “Fresh insights into metaphysical, rich & fertile ground for col. writers & largely untapped.”
Gendy Alimurung, LA Weekly. Judge: “Gendy finds most interesting people & subjects, a fine writer of human interest stories — most worthy of recognition nationally.”
Leslie Handler, Huffington Post, WHYY Newsworks, The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Fresh, lively subjects and writing. Very well done & insightful, deserving of honor.”
Eric Heyl, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Excellent human-interest writing — worthy of nat. recognition.”
Contest B – Humor – Over 50,000 Circulation
First place — Betsy Bitner, Times Union, Albany, New York
2nd. Irv Erdos, San Diego Union-Tribune, UTSanDiego.com
3rd. Bob Dyer, Akron Beacon Journal
Contest C – General Interest – Under 50,000 Circulation
First place — Amanda Beam, News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Indiana
2nd. Terri Barnes, Stars and Stripes
3rd. Mark Epstein, St. Helena (California) Star
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
First place — Roger Simon, Politico
2nd. Jerry Zezima, The Stamford (Connecticut) Advocate
3rd. Michelle Hauser, Kingston (Ontario) Whig-Standard
Contest E – Online, Blog, Multimedia – Over 100,000 Unique Visitors
First place — Michael Daly, The Daily Beast
2nd. David Cay Johnston, Al Jazeera America
3rd. Jill Lawrence, The National Memo
Mary Curtis, The Washington Post’s She the People
Derrick Jackson, The Boston Globe
Contest F – Online, Blog, Multimedia – Under 100,000 Unique Visitors
First place — Jennifer Munro, Straight-No-Chaser Mom
2. Paul Lander, Humor Times
3. Carol Michel, May Dreams Gardens
Rules and other details about the 2015 contest can be found at 2015 Column Contest Rules. Details about the 2016 contest will be published at the start of 2016; please check back.
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.