Chicago Sun-Times journalism awards: Paper recognized with national, state and regional honors

Chicago Sun-Times journalism awards: Paper recognized with national, state and regional honors

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Since December, Chicago Sun-Times journalism has received a host of national, state and regional honors. The awards recognize a wide range of work by 27 individual Sun-Times journalists, the newspaper’s editorial board and the entire staff.

They include:

National Association of Black Journalists

In December 2020, one staff member received recognition for her lifetime achievement, and six Sun-Times staffers received honors for three powerful stories:

  • Mary Mitchell | Enshrined in the NABJ Hall of Fame, recognizing the work she’s done over the span of her career.
  • Mary Mitchell | NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards, first place for best feature for her July 26, 2019, report “A century of progress but still an invisible divide,” in which she wrote about how much — and how little — has changed in Chicago since the city’s 1919 race riots.
  • Carlos Ballesteros, Tom Schuba, Jon Seidel and Rachel Hinton | NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards, first place in the category “news-single story” for “Rev. Leon Finney Jr.’s free fall,” published Sept. 8, 2019, an examination of the precarious finances of a clout-heavy minister with decades of government contracts.
  • Manny Ramos | NABJ Salute to Excellence Awards, first place for business reporting for “Why tearing down Englewood to save it hasn’t worked,” by Manny Ramos, published Aug. 25, 2019, investigating systemic housing redevelopment failures in the South Side neighborhood.

National Headliner Awards

  • Nader Issa | National Headliner Awards, second place, education beat reporting, recognized for his reporting on the Chicago Public Schools. Three of his stories were honored for best education beat reporting in 2020:

‘At CPS high schools, a stark racial divide on when cops are called on students and arrests’

‘Inside the life of a homeless Chicago student in the age of the coronavirus: Fear of failing — or not surviving

‘From 1619 to now: How CPS students are learning about black history and white supremacy — and how that’s helping them understand George Floyd’

Illinois Associated Press Media Editors Awards

In May 2021, Sun-Times journalists were recognized with 10 first-place honors in the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors Awards for work published in 2020. Awards included breaking news coverage, best website, video storytelling, enterprise reporting, sports columns and editorial writing.

The Sun-Times also swept the statewide competition’s three top honors — for general excellence (for the best showing overall in all categories), a best-in-show “sweepstakes” honor selected from among the winners in all categories and “news innovator of the year.”

One staff member also received a lifetime achievement recognition.

The Sun-Times staff also swept 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in two categories — sports columns and editorial writing — and was recognized with 1st and 2nd place awards for video storytelling and enterprise reporting.

The top honors

  • Mary Mitchell | Lincoln League of Journalists induction, a lifetime achievement honor “bestowed on professionals whose careers have greatly advanced the cause of newspaper journalism in Illinois.”
  • Sun-Times staff | General excellence, first place, recognized for the best overall showing among big-circulation newspapers in the competition.
  • Frank Main and Andy Grimm | Editorial / writing sweepstakes winner, recognized for the investigative series “Long delays for justice.”
  • Paul Saltzman and Alice Bazerghi | “News innovator of the year,” recognized for a yearlong daily reader outreach that used a daily newsletter and social media to solicit readers on their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic and their views on issues related to the pandemic. This effort produced dozens of stories (including multiple page 1 stories) and a curated stream of the findings.

Other IAPME Awards first-place honors

Studs Terkel Community Media Awards

In May 2021, Maureen O’Donnell received the Studs Terkel Community Media Awards for her obituaries that provide an insightful look into the lives of ordinary people in and around Chicago. The honor spotlights journalists “whose work is driven by service and connection to their communities.”

  • Maureen O’Donnell | Studs Terkel Community Media Awards, recognized for a selection of obituaries.

Illinois Press Association Editorial Excellence Contest

In May, Sun-Times journalists were recognized with 22 first-place awards in the Illinois Press Association’s editorial excellence contest for work published in 2020 — as well as an award in the IPA’s advertising contest for the best newspaper promotion for “Lost and found: rescuing the Sun-Times photo archive,” a video report by Brian Ernst, Ashlee Rezin Garcia and Brian Rich.

The winning entries included top honors for: editorial writing, sports coverage, news reporting, government beat coverage, business reporting, obituary writing, feature writing, columns, photography, design, graphics, video journalism, best website, best coverage of taxes, investigative reporting and agricultural coverage.

  • Sun-Times editorial board | Local editorial, recognized for “Strife on the streets and police reform” editorials.
  • Neil Steinberg, Ashlee Rezin Garcia | News reporting-single story, recognized for “Our worst day,” an inside look at a hospital during the coronavirus epidemic.
  • Frank Main and Andy Grimm | News reporting-series, recognized for the investigative series “Long delays for justice.”
  • Tom Schuba | Government beat reporting, recognized for a series of stories documenting failures by the state of Illinois to meet social justice and diversity goals in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.
  • Tim Novak and Lauren FitzPatrick | Business and economic reporting, recognized for a series of investigative reports documenting failures by the Cook County Land Bank Authority.
  • Maureen O’Donnell | Obituary tribute, recognized for her Danny Leake obituary, “Longtime sound engineer for Stevie Wonder, Lane Tech grad.”
  • Stefano Esposito | feature writing, recognized for “’25 years later, Fox River Grove Metra-school bus crash still haunts engineer, other survivors,” a retelling of a horrific crash in which he got the train engineer to talk for the first time to any reporter — 25 years after the crash.
  • Rachel Hinton, Ashlee Rezin Garcia and Brian Rich | feature writing-personality profile, recognized for “Resettlement, reunification and romance,” the richly reported story — in print and video — of a refugee couple finally together in the United States after nearly four years apart.
  • Mary Mitchell | original columns, for a selection of three columns.
  • Tyler Lariviere | feature photo, for “My kind of town,” a photo shot June 4, 2020, of Chicago police officers using a CTA bus and themselves to block Black Lives Matter marchers heading toward police headquarters after George Floyd’s death.
  • Akiko Spencer | informational graphic, for a Sports Saturday graphic headlined “10 more men of steal.”

Akiko Spencer’s winning graphic.

  • Eric White | single-page design, for a front-page design highlighting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Eric White’s winning design.

Eric White’s winning design.

  • Sun-Times staff | newspaper design, recognizing outstanding design throughout the newspaper based on two complete editions.
  • Darel Jevens | headline writing, for selection of five headlines.
  • Sun-Times sports staff | sports section, recognizing outstanding work based on two sample sports sections.
  • Sun-Times sports staff | special section, recognizing “Visionaries,” a 2020 baseball preview section.
  • Ben Pope | sports feature, for “Last fan standing,” for a story, told through the eyes of fans who were there, of the last pro sports game in Chicago before the coronavirus pandemic shut things down.
  • Tom Schuba | agriculture reporting, for “ ‘Epic failure’ on legal weed licensing in Illinois” series.
  • Rachel Hinton, Ashlee Rezin Garcia, Brian Rich and Brian Ernst | video journalism, recognized for “Resettlement, reunification and romance,” the richly reported story — in print and video — of a refugee couple finally together in the United States after nearly four years apart.
  • Sun-Times staff | Best website, recognized for chicago.suntimes.com, the Chicago Sun-Times’ main web portal.
  • Tim Novak and Lauren FitzPatrick | best coverage of taxation, Maurice Scott Award, recognized for a series of investigative reports documenting failures by the Cook County Land Bank Authority.
  • Frank Main and Andy Grimm | investigative / enterprise reporting, Knight Chair Award, recognized for the investigative series “Long delays for justice.”

Peter Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism

In May, Sun-Times journalists were recognized with 12 top honors in the Peter Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, sponsored by the Chicago Headline Club, an affiliate of the Society of Professional Journalists, for work published in 2020.

The winning entries included “bests” for politics and government reporting, columns, editorial writing, business reporting, sports writing, design and breaking news coverage.

Altogether, 14 individual Sun-Times staffers — as well as the Sun-Times staff for the year-in-review special section, best news website, best email newsletter and general excellence in online journalism — won top honors.

Sun-Times winners

Frank Main and Andy Grimm | Politics and government reporting, recognized for the investigative series “Long delays for justice.”

• Ismael Perez | News column / commentary, recognized for a selection of three columns: “Mexican mother raised American children,” “Remote learning bilingual students challenges Chicago public schools” and “Non-voting Latino ballot box.”

• Lee Bey | Editorial writing, recognized for a series of “Keep Mercy Hospital open” editorials.

• Tim Novak and Robert Herguth | Business / consumer reporting, recognized for reports examining “What Chicago’s COVID hospital cost.”

• Ben Pope | Sports story, recognized for “Last fan standing,” looking at the last pro sports event in Chicago before the coronavirus pandemic shut things down.

• Ashlee Rezin Garcia | News photo, recognized for “Burning rage,” capturing a police car set on fire during protests following the killing of George Floyd.

• Eric White | Best design (among all newspapers regardless of circulation), recognized for three examples of page 1 design.

• Sun-Times staff | Best special news section (among all newspapers regardless of circulation), recognized for “2020: The year in review.”

• Sun-Times staff | News website, recognized for chicago.suntimes.com, the Chicago Sun-Times’ main web portal.

• Sun-Times staff | Email newsletter, recognized for “Chicago coronavirus newsletter” daily email newsletter.

• Tom Schuba, Rachel Hinton, Ashlee Rezin Garcia, Jake Wittich, Brian Ernst and Brian Rich | Breaking news, recognized for “Customers turned away as recreational weed sales wrap up historic first day in Illinois.”

• Sun-Times staff | General excellence in online journalism.

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