2018 Page One Awards in Online Journalism


MNSPJ congratulates all the winners recognized Thursday night at the annual Page One Awards!  Here’s a list of winners for excellence in online journalism.


Best Website Online

First Place, City Pages         


Judge’s comment

“Visitors to the page are not bombarded by copy, but instead are able to easily navigate through the stories with lots of photos to break up the space. Makes it easy to skim through the headlines while picking a story to read.”


Second Place, Newsroom staff, Mankato Free Press



Best Single News Story Online           

First Place, Susan Du, City Pages

“Philando Castile verdict: Covering a wounded St. Paul turns into a long night in jail”

Judge’s comment

“Susan Du’s descriptive coverage of the protests resulting from the Philando Castile shooting verdict paints a vivid picture of the resulting protest. From protesters abusing reporters to police arresting protesters to one driver pretending like they would run over protesters.”


Second Place, Briana Bierschbach, MinnPost      

“Multiple women accuse Minnesota state Senator Dan Schoen of sexual harassment”

Third Place, Mike Mullen, City Pages

“Minneapolis shows what really happens when an emergency vehicle comes upon a protest”


Best Continuing Coverage Online           

First Place, Briana Bierschbach, MinnPost

Sexual harassment

Judge’s comment:

“Like many sexual harassment stories over the past 12 months, Bierschbach’s reporting uncovers and details the Minnesota legislature’s sexist culture. Bierschbach shows the reader exactly how male lawmakers abuse their power by groping, leering at, and inappropriately propositioning women over whom they have power. This open secret has been brought to light, clear as day, thanks in large part to this series of articles.”


Second Place, Greta Kaul, MinnPost        

“Chronic absenteeism“


Arts & Entertainment Online           

First Place, Jay Gabler, The Current / Minnesota Public Radio    

“Minnesota musicians having ‘panic and anxiety’ over planned Affordable Care Act repeal”


Second Place, Rick Nelson, Star Tribune

“Year of immigrants in restaurants”

Third Place, Jim Walsh, MinnPost

“Meet Minneapolis’ punk rock ramen chef, Matthew Kazama: ‘You can’t do this without passion’”


Arts Criticism/Review Online           

First Place, T. Aaron Cisco, Twin Cities Geek

“The Latest Black Panther Trailer Is Us”

Judge’s comment

“I’ll keep it simple and quote from the article…”Oh. Hell. Yes.” There has been a lot written about “Black Panther” and this article ranks among the better ones. Diversity matters. Representation matters. And this article picks up on the importance of both.”


Second Place, Becca Dilley, Michael Cronin, Robb Burnham, James Norton, The Heavy Table

“The Green Line Checklist”

Third Place, Pamela Espeland, MinnPost

“The Moving Company’s ‘Speechless’ needs no words”


Best Use of Multimedia


First Place, Star Tribune Staff         

“Left to Suffer”

Second Place: Star Tribune

“Little Mogadishu”

Third Place, Patrick Winn, GlobalPost Investigations

“Myanmar’s army is tormenting Muslims with a brutal rape campaign”


Best social media account – Individual


First Place, Mukhtar Ibrahim, MPR News

Mukhtar Ibrahim Twitter account

Judge’s comment

“Mukhtar Ibrahim showcases what a journalist’s Twitter account should be. Fantastic. Strong, consistent content and impressive engagement.”


Second Place, Briana Bierschbach, MinnPost      

Briana’s Twitter Account

Third Place, Chris Tomasson St. Paul Pioneer Press       

Chris Tomasson Twitter account


Best social media account – Institutional


First Place, Star Tribune staff         

Star Tribune Instagram

Judge’s comment

“Star Tribune Instagram stood out with its strong and stunning images. The photography is really what pushed Star Tribune ahead.”


Second Place, Sam Erkkila, Duluth News Tribune

Duluth News Tribune Instagram                                     


Best News Video


First Place, Mark Vancleave, Star Tribune

“Dying father battles ALS to see son’s graduation”

Judge’s comment

“Beautiful narration of a moving story. It’s great the access to the life of the characters and also the cinematography was excellent. The movie is simply amazing.”


Second Place, Josette, Elieff, Shaymus McLaughlin, GoMN

“Untold Impact: The enduring life of Marisa Bocanegra”

Third Place, Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

“A boy’s love of vacuums”


Best Newsroom Blog


First Place, Michael Rand, Star Tribune,


Judge’s comment

“I have to imagine this is one of the more popular features at the StarTribune website. It’s lively and expansive – delivering news across a range of local sports – and offers an incisive mix of original reporting and analysis. My usual preference would be to award a news blog over a sports blog, but Randball seems like a can’t-miss piece of journalism for Minnesota sports fans.”


Second Place, Bob Collins, MPR News



Best Independent News Blog


First Place, Ron Meador, MinnPost

“Earth Journal”

Judge’s comment

“First, kudos to MinnPost for four brilliant blog entires. Earth Journal stood out as the clear winner with its strong and consistent coverage of issues that are truly important in our current climate crisis and political landscape. Great work covering local and national issues but most of all, bringing world-wide concerns to MinnPost readers.”


Second Place, Eric Black, MinnPost

“Eric Black Ink”       

Third Place, Pamela Espeland, MinnPost



Meeting/Planned Event Feature


First Place, Briana Bierschbach, Sam Brodey, Tom Nehil, MinnPost

“Minnesota Election Tracker”

Judge’s comment

“What a clever way for readers to keep track of the election! An excellent landing page that is constantly updated, with a drop-down with more information on each candidate.”


Second Place, Jim Walsh, Star Tribune

“35W Bridge Collapse: 10 Years later”

Third Place, Peter Callaghan, MinnPost

“What the major Minneapolis mayor candidates’ kickoff events say about their campaigns”

2018 Page One Awards in Photography


MNSPJ congratulates all the winners recognized Thursday night at the annual Page One Awards!  Here’s a list of winners for excellence in photography.


Best News Photography

First Place, Evan Frost, Chris Juhn, Courtney Perry, MPR News

Judge’s comment

“The MPR team’s news photography displayed a wide range of effective images, which showed both the human impact of major news stories and gave the viewer a sense of what makes local landscapes and communities unique.”


Second Place, Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

Third Place, Jean Pieri, St. Paul Pioneer Press


Best Feature Photography

First Place, Brian Peterson, Star Tribune


Second Place, Maria Cardona, Evan Frost, MPR News 

Third Place, Nate Ryan, The Current /Minnesota Public Radio


Best Portrait Photography Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation  

First Place, Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

“Portraits: Immigrants and food”

Judge’s comment

“The most whimsical of a series of portraits of immigrants and food. Nicely done.”


Second Place, Shelly Mosman, City Pages “Charlie Parr”

Third Place, Bill Klotz, Finance-Commerce “Mohammed Lowall”


Best Sports Photography Newspaper – 50,000+ circulation

First Place, Caroline Yang, Monika Lawrence and Evan Frost, MPR

Judge’s comment

“Nice look at a different story. Several nice pictures here!”


Second Place, Liz Flores, Star Tribune

Third Place, Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune





MNSPJ announces winners of the Popovich award

Each year, the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists recognizes those who fight for First Amendment rights with the chapter’s Peter S. Popovich Award.

This year, the award goes to a citizens group in Victoria, Minnesota, for their five-year effort to legally compel their City Council to open meetings, follow the law and provide public information to the public.

Ken Goulart, Larry Gubbe, Tom Funk, Alan Kildow, Sonya Braunschweig and a handful of citizens fought City Hall for basic public records like council meeting minutes and email communications. They were challenged and threatened, but they stood their ground and exercised their First Amendment right to speak out, holding the government accountable for its modus operandi of secrecy.

Read a Star Tribune story on the court case.

The group spent upwards of $20,000 of their own money, filed 21 Data Practices Act requests and spent thousands of hours researching records, filing requests for information, issuing correspondence and attending council meetings. When they were met with continued resistance from City Hall, the Victoria citizens took their battle to court and won a resounding victory with an order that showed four council members intentionally violated the Open Meeting Law 38 times.

In her ruling, Judge Janet Barke Cain said of the city officials: “The defendants express their ignorance of the OML to a degree this court finds shameful with regard to their duty to the public.”

The case will help journalists in Minnesota in that it serves as a warning to those who would flout the Open Meeting Law that violations will be taken seriously and that those who break the law will face consequences.

The group will accept the award and speak at this year’s MNSPJ Page One Awards banquet on June 14.

MNSPJ seeks board candidates

MNSPJ is seeking candidates for the 2018-19 board year. Join us!

The chapter is led by a diverse, volunteer board of media professionals, past and present, who are driven by a desire to promote and protect quality journalism and the public’s right to know. 

This year’s election will begin on June 20, with candidate statements due by June 15. Results of this year’s election will be announced at the MNSPJ annual meeting in July.

Any member in good standing with the Society of Professional Journalists can run for office. Interested candidates should send a biography and short statement of candidacy to minnesota.spj@gmail.com by June 15.

Questions can be directed to MNSPJ president-elect Joe Spear at jspear@mankatofreepress.com.

Join us for the MNSPJ Page One Awards

Tickets are available now for the 2018 Page One Awards, which will celebrate the best in Minnesota journalism.

Christopher Ingraham, a Washington Post reporter with an affinity for odd, off-the-beaten-path datasets, will be the keynote speaker. He expertly uses data to break down knotty topics, including gun policy.

In 2015, Chris attained upper Midwestern notoriety after reporting on a USDA report that ranked Red Lake County, Minnesota dead last in the nation for “natural amenities.” He subsequently visited the county at the invite of a local businessman, fell in love with the region, and moved there with his family the following year. He’s working on a book about the experience.

The Page One Awards will recognize the state’s top journalists, with awards for investigative reporting, beat reporting and story of the year. 

Buy tickets to the banquet here. 

Date: Thursday, June 14

Location: Town & Country Club
Town & Country Club
(300 Mississippi River Blvd. N., St. Paul, Minn.)

Reception begins at 5:30 p.m.
Dinner served at 7:00 p.m.

Please RSVP by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 7.

MNSPJ opposes restrictions to cameras in courts

The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists supports the Minnesota Supreme Court in its efforts to bring the sound and pictures of the courtroom into the homes of all Minnesotans.

On April 25, the court will take public testimony on an advisory committee’s proposal it make permanent a pilot program allowing cameras to cover some sentencings in courtrooms. Until the pilot program, the public had little or no access via pictures and sound to one of the most important branches of government — the one that can give or take away a citizen’s freedom.

The pilot program has proven to not only shed light on the taxpayer-funded justice system, but shown that transparency does no harm to the administration of justice or victims of crime. It has only given the people more insight into the emotions, complications and humanity that plays out in Minnesota courtrooms every day.

The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists supports this hard-fought First Amendment right and opposes those at the Minnesota Legislature who would favor restricting how public audiences can see court proceedings.

We oppose ill-advised legislation that would shut down access to information that shows how the justice system works and return to a blackout system in Minnesota courtrooms.

We strongly disagree with DFL and GOP members of the House of Representatives Public Safety Committee who favored including the bill in final omnibus legislation that would also be problematic to the Minnesota Constitutional separation of powers, as outlined by the objections of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Testimony at the public safety committee hearing on this bill was flawed, suggesting victims would no longer come forward should cameras be allowed. Those testifying provided no evidence to back up their claims. Under the current pilot program and the one proposed, victims cannot be photographed or recorded without their written consent.

Minnesota is far behind the transparency in government curve compared to our neighboring states, who all allow cameras in nearly all court proceedings while Minnesota’s plan allows cameras only after a verdict has been rendered.

The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists holds the belief that camera access in courts equates to public access.

Jenna Ross, MNSPJ president
Joe Spear, MNSPJ president-elect
Hal Davis, MNSPJ, FOIA committee
For more information, contact: 
Joe Spear
Managing Editor
The Free Press
Mankato Magazine
Minnesota Valley Business
Free Press Media
Twitter @jfspear