Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ohio's Best Journalism: the SPJ Awards

This isn't news; the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Awards I'm referring to were presented last year. This is love letter, to SPJ and all the journalists that are, really and truly, professionals.

Each year when it's time to renew my SPJ membership, I have some qualms. They're fueled by feelings of inadequacy. Oh, on paper, I look pretty good. I have a journalism degree in my hip pocket, 20+ years of professional writing experience and clips a-plenty. But dare I stand shoulder to shoulder with REAL JOURNALISTS? When was the last time I made some muckety–muck quake because of one of my investigative reports? (sigh - never) And the last time I sweated a daily deadline in a newsroom? (same answer - repeat sigh.) 

I renew anyway. The real journalists who produce Ohio's Best Journalism, according to Ohio SPJ, deserve my support. Plus, I get to sit back and read their winning pieces, and bask in the glow of their excellent work. 

Links to a few samples of the most recently winning work are below. A complete list can be found here

The winners' circle wasn't full of just the usual suspects, by the way. Columbus CEO picked up three awards, Angie's List was honored for its consumer reporting, and the capital's entertainment publication, The Other Paper, garnered investigative honors for Lyndsey Teter's Tarmac Transgressions. (No wonder John Kasich doesn't like pesky newspaper reporters - he's surrounded. Thank goodness.)

Best Healthcare Reporting, first place:
How Valuable is Your Child's Brain. Tom Groeschen of The Cincinnati Enquirer delves into new laws designed to protect young athletes from additional concussive injuries.

Best Investigative Reporting, first place:
A Raid at Fair Finance. Jim McKinnon, Cheryl Powell, Akron Beacon Journal. (Original article not available; read McKinnon's follow-up here.)

Best Consumer Reporting, second place:
Utility Choice: Company Promises Easy Cash. Dan Gearino, The Columbus Dispatch.

Broadcast journalists are well-represented by SPJ, and many of the honored pieces can be heard on their respective stations' websites. (Like Vivian Goodman's Dana and Desiree, which took first place in Best Minority Issues Reporting for Goodman's employer, WKSU.)

Besides being impressed with the reporters' outstanding (and important) work, I like to support SPJ because I believe it's a highly professional organization, providing clues for new journalists who want to cover the system the right way, offering scholarships and contests for blossoming young people who will no doubt reveal things about our world that may not be pretty, but should be uncovered. 

Mired in my copywriting assignments and surrounded by the family commitments that I've allowed to push aside (some) career ambitions, I am not the "real journalist" I planned to become. But I'm thrilled to stand on the periphery, ever grateful those professionals are out there, doing their jobs. 

Write on.

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