Journalists Celebrate Page One Awards with first virtual Ceremony

More than 100 people tuned in Tuesday for the first-ever virtual ceremony to recognize winners of the Page One Awards, the annual journalism contest sponsored by the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists (MNSPJ).


You can watch a replay of the event at MNSPJ’s YouTube page.


Marianne Combs of MPR News earned recognition as Journalist of the Year for reporting on sexual abuse at the Children’s Theater Company.  Story of the Year went to KARE 11 for an investigation into prosecutions hobbled by untested rape kits.  Journalists at the Star Tribune were honored with Best Use of Public Records for detailing how families struggle to obtain benefits for children with complex medical needs.


Health concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic prompted MNSPJ to honor journalists during an online ceremony, in lieu of the the annual Page One Awards banquet. Tane Danger, co-founder of the The Theater of Public Policy, hosted the event, which featured comments from keynote speaker Samara Freemark, co-creator and senior producer of AMP Reports’ investigative podcast “In the Dark.” 


Before and during Tuesday’s event, donors contributed more than $1,300 to a fund that will help journalists impacted by the economic turmoil with COVID-19.  MNSPJ is contributing $500 to the fund, as well.  Those in need are encouraged to apply for a small grant.


Attorney Leita Walker received the Peter S. Popovich Award, which is presented annually by the MNSPJ board to the person or organization that exemplifies the fight for First Amendment rights. In her video acceptance, Walker wore a Superman shirt in honor of John Borger, a pre-eminent First Amendment attorney who passed away late last year.


MNSPJ also presented Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario with a lifetime achievement award. Rosario announced earlier this year his retirement plans after decades of work in the Twin Cities and New York.


Page One Award winners have been posted to the MNSPJ website with finalists grouped across nine divisions: large newspapers; small newspapers; magazines; large television newsrooms; small television newsrooms; radio; online; photography; and special awards


MNSPJ will make arrangements this summer for distribution of plaques and certificates.  The contest was judged by journalists coordinated by the Society of Professional Journalists – Colorado Professional chapter.