JFP Pulling in Record 20 Journalism Awards, 14 First Place, for 2018 Work | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

JFP Pulling in Record 20 Journalism Awards, 14 First Place, for 2018 Work

The Jackson Free Press may need to start a third awards wall after being feted 20 times by three journalism contexts for work in 2018. This is the most awards the paper, which tends to bring in many, has enjoyed over an individual year to date.

The Jackson Free Press may need to start a third awards wall after being feted 20 times by three journalism contexts for work in 2018. This is the most awards the paper, which tends to bring in many, has enjoyed over an individual year to date.

The Jackson Free Press has won a record 20 awards for journalism our team produced in 2018 over three awards contests. (Public- and community-service and other special awards allow related work in 2019 as well.) All of the contests cover multiple states in the southeastern United States and are judged by journalism professionals from outside Mississippi. Here are the awards we have won this year to date and links to stories or archives being honored.

Associated Press/Mississippi and Louisiana

First Place, Business Reporting: Arielle Dreher

Private Prison on Trial: Inmates at ‘Bleak’ Facility Tell Harrowing Stories

Sabotage, Death, Danger: Private Prison on Trial

Private Prison Trial Starts Today Over Alleged Squalor, Rats, Deaths

Sheriffs Decry Cutbacks, Private Prison Contracts

Second Place, Political Reporting: Ashton Pittman, Donna Ladd, Amber Helsel

Hyde-Smith Attended All-White ‘Seg Academy’ to Avoid Integration

Hyde-Smith’s ‘Public Hanging’ Quip Bombs in State with Most Lynchings

Governor Calls Abortion ‘Black Genocide,’ Defends Hyde-Smith on ‘Hanging’ Tape

Hyde-Smith in New Video: Make Voting ‘More Difficult’ for People in ‘Those Schools’

Full ‘Public Hanging’ Video Surfaces, Revealing More About Hyde-Smith’s Views

Green Eyeshade Awards/Society of Professional Journalists/Southeast

(Full winners' list)

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These are the awards the JFP won for work in 2016 and 2017.

First Place, Public Service: Donna Ladd, Ko Bragg, Taylor Langele and Marie Weidmayer

The Battle for Officer-Involved Shooting Transparency (includes editorials)

First Place, Politics Reporting: Ashton Pittman, Donna Ladd, Amber Helsel

Hyde-Smith Attended All-White ‘Seg Academy’ to Avoid Integration

Hyde-Smith’s ‘Public Hanging’ Quip Bombs in State with Most Lynchings

Governor Calls Abortion ‘Black Genocide,’ Defends Hyde-Smith on ‘Hanging’ Tape

First Place, Public Affairs Reporting: Arielle Dreher

The Push to Expand Vouchers in 2018

Funding the ‘School Choice’ Lobby

Vouchers Could Extend to Any Public School Student Under New Bill

First Place, Serious Commentary: Donna Ladd

Editor’s Notes: Tackling Structural Racism and Sexism

First Place, Editorial Writing: Editorial Team

City Development, Crime, Transparency, Press Freedom: Archive of editorials

First Place, Travel Writing: Ko Bragg

From Mississippi to Liberia: The Living Legacy of America’s West African Colony

First Place, Courts & the Law Reporting: Donna Ladd and Arielle Dreher

Never Back Down: Mississippi Escalates War on Gangs

Hyde-Smith Attended All-White ‘Seg Academy’ to Avoid Integration

The story that created a national dialogue on school segregation, then and now.

Only Black People Prosecuted Under Mississippi Gang Law Since 2010

'Anti-Gang' Bill Heads to Full House to Expand Policing Powers

Second Place, Courts & the Law Reporting: Ko Bragg

Policing Beat Coverage

Second Place, General News Reporting: Arielle Dreher

Reversing 'Roe'; Outside Group Uses Mississippi as 'Bait' to End Abortion

Planned Parenthood Braces for Battle

Mississippi Outs Legal Immigrants on Drivers' Licenses

Second Place, Features: Ko Bragg

News features archive

Second Place, Consumer Reporting: Arielle Dreher and Marie Weidmayer

Lake Development Drives Flood-control Project (archive)

Diamond Journalism Awards/Arkansas Society of Professional Journalists

(Full list of Diamond winners.)

On June 25, the Diamond awards announced that the Jackson Free Press had won six first-place awards and one second, with three of them special awards competing against all categories and media outlets. The awards honor work in states bordering Arkansas, with final placement announced June 25 in Little Rock. They also include judges' comments for first-place awards, which we've included below.

First Place, Outstanding New Journalist (special award): Ashton Pittman (See his reporting archive.)

Judge’s comment: "Ashton Pittman provides impressive depth and context to his reporting. He brings a much-needed historical perspective to current political stories."

First Place, Community service (special award): Donna Ladd and Arielle Dreher

For Mississippi gang coverage in 2018

Judge’s comment: 'Excellent example of community-service journalism with a significant impact.'

Gangs in Mississippi

How Mississippi pursues people believed to be in gangs.

First Place, Robert McCord Freedom of Information Award (special award): Donna Ladd, Ko Bragg, Taylor Langele and Marie Weidmayer

Police-shooting transparency, including editorials

Judge’s comment: "While many questions are yet to be answered, the persistent coverage by the JFP to hold the police accountable must be applauded. This is seeking information and closure for the families affected by these shootings."

First Place News coverage: Arielle Dreher, Battle Over Education Funding(See archive)

Judge’s comment: "A very significant issue is that of school vouchers. This group of stories on pros and cons of public versus private educational funding used as a human interest story to personalize the issue of inadequate special ed funding in public schools and statistics that showed poor students who moved to private schools with vouchers actually did worse than those still in public school. It showed how a state issue soon became a national battleground, including funding from the Walton and Koch families. It also probed the difference between two plans proposed for the area. Thorough and a good roadmap for reporting on the issue in other communities."

First Place, Arts and culture coverage: Amber Helsel (See archive)

Judge’s comment: "Was pleasantly surprised by these stories. While I don’t typically enjoy food-type activities, the author draws one in by talking to the people behind the food and going from there. Well written with style that effectively had me feeling like I was in the food hall, observing some of what was going on."

First Place, Politics coverage: Ashton Pittman, Donna Ladd and Amber Helsel for for “Cindy Hyde-Smith: Segregation academies and hanging quips”

(See archive)

Judge’s comment: "Entries were enterprising, in-depth and insightful."

Second Place, Opinion writing: Donna Ladd (See archive)


About the awards: Every year, Jackson Free Press editor-in-chief Donna Ladd chooses a wide selection of the newspaper's best work to submit for awards in a variety of contests. Each individual entry requires a fee, ranging from $10 to $75 depending on the contest, and we work within a budget set by Publisher Todd Stauffer each year that must cover all contests. (It's a tedious process.) Because of the typical high quality of JFP work, we cannot afford to put up all of our journalism for awards, and we only put up work we feel confident can and should win a category. Ladd selects work by multiple writers based on her own experience with contests and understanding of the kinds of work appropriate for various categories and with input from current and past writers who reach out with suggestions/lists of work they and other members of the team did for various categories. Although we win a lot of awards typically, not all the work we believe should win, or that is put up, ends up winning, so cheers to the winners from the JFP and other outlets that won awards.

Due to the limited budget and to honor our team approach to beats and journalism, Ladd prioritizes collaborative work by teams, which often win special awards, such as the team work this year on police shootings and the gang law. Individual awards are the second priority, and she favors the best-written and -reported work of current and past writers (including interns and freelance) based on the followed criteria: (1) greatest community impact, (2) most enterprising reporting and solutions-driven content, and for drafts turned in (3) on deadline and (4) that did not require significant editing or rewrite by anyone other than the writer before final draft (an ethical consideration as well).

Secret in Jackson: Officers Who Shoot, Kill

Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba has shielded names of officers involved in shootings since he took office in July 2017.

Work by individual staffers who left without notice, did not return the Jackson Free Press' work product (notes, recordings, files, etc.) for their staff work and did not respond to messages during the contest period is the lowest priority for award submission, although those writers are included in collaborative entries. Ladd also does not pit JFP writers against each other in individual categories, choosing the newspaper's top work for only one entry in a category, which is both fair and affordable.

Several of the contests are open to freelance writers who wish to submit and pay fees for their own additional work to be considered, which is a common practice at news outlets for entries a publication cannot afford to submit. This newspaper does, and is happy to, coordinate with freelance or former writers to avoid overlap in content entries if they reach out or keep up communications, including returning messages during the contest period.

Following are links to work in recent years; we are working on a full list of all awards the Jackson Free Press has won since 2002, so stay tuned. It takes some effort to pull together. Meantime, join the JFP VIP Club if you want to support stellar journalism by a mostly women-run journalist outlet in the middle of Mississippi.

JFP's 2018 Green Eyeshades Awards

2018 Green Eyeshades Awards - Full List

Editorial Awards Encouraging for Our 15th Anniversary (2017)

2017 AAN Awards

2017 Green Eyeshade Awards

2016 Green Eyeshade Awards

(Incomplete list of awards; more coming soon.)

Like independent media outlets around the world, the Jackson Free Press works hard to produce important content on a limited budget. We'd love your help! Become a JFP VIP member today and/or donate to our journalism fund. Thanks for considering a JFP VIP membership or one-time support.

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