MNSPJ 2023 Page One Awards Winners

Photo: Bianca Caputo

Minnesota SPJ announced the winners of our annual Page One journalism awards at the Minnesota History Center Wednesday, July 26. Here is a full list of the honorees:

Special awards:

Journalist of the Year

1. Chip Scoggins of Star Tribune

Judge’s comments: “Chip has a wonderful way of capturing people in his writing. Each of the three entries is beautifully written in a way that keeps you drawn in until the end… To work on and do justice to these types of enterprise pieces, it takes a seasoned reporter with a passion for good storytelling. The grace, thoughtfulness, and patience the nominator described in her letter clearly comes through in Chip’s work. All three were a pleasure to read.”

Honorable mentions: Max Nesterak of the Minnesota Reformer and Joe Friedrichs of WTIP North Shore Community Radio

Young Journalist of the Year

1. Ava Kian of MinnPost

Judge’s comments: “Ava Kian clearly has a strong drive to have a person-first style for storytelling. Her work shows tender care for underserved communities, and highlights the voices involved.”

Honorable mentions: Liz Sawyer of the Star Tribune and Farrah Mina of The Imprint

Best Beat Reporting

1. Susan Du of the Star Tribune

“Judge’s comments: It’s clear from reading Susan Du’s coverage of homelessness in Minnesota that she had fully embraced her beat. The deeply sourced stories submitted here showed her commitment to covering stories thoughtfully, fairly and with empathy. She displayed a strong ability to track down stories that humanized an issue that is too often stigmatized. Each story was illuminating and clear, proving that she had mastered her beat through thorough research and countless interviews. That’s the definition of beat reporting. It was a pleasure to read her stories.”

Honorable mentions: Jeremy Olson of the Star Tribune and Max Nesterak of the Minnesota Reformer

Story of the Year

1. Emma Nelson, Briana Bierschbach, Renee Jones Schneider, Laura McCallum of the Star Tribune for “Roe overturned.”

Judge’s comments: “The reporting demonstrated a collaborative effort across multiple disciplines, including video, pictures, animations, and audio stories. It was a balanced presentation of perspectives, which really painted a clear picture of the broad political, medical, and human ramifications of the Supreme Court decision, Dobbs v. Jackson. … The narrative storytelling was particularly effective, including questions asked of patients and relating the Roe decision to real people in Minnesota. ,,, There can be no doubt that Dobbs v. Jackson was indeed the Story of the Year.”

Honorable mentions: Sam Easter of the Grand Forks Herald for “Fufeng: Local impact vs China concerns.”

The Peter S. Popovich Award 

Peter Callaghan of MinnPost

Board comments: “Each year the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists awards the Peter S. Popovich Award to a person or organization that exemplifies the fight to uphold First Amendment rights. The award, MNSPJ’s most prestigious, honors the life of Peter Popovich, a legislator, jurist, and tireless advocate for First Amendment rights. This year’s recipient has been a merciless defender of journalists’ rights under state disclosure and open meeting laws. 

Peter Callaghan, State Government Reporter for MinnPost, showed exceptional commitment to government transparency this year.  The Minnesota House of Representatives’ DFL caucus attempted to block Callaghan from email updates following a news conference at which he pushed back against staff’s decision to stop taking reporters’ questions. House Leadership also notified Capitol security about Callaghan — a move that, we as a board, viewed as alarming and potentially intimidating against journalists broadly. Callaghan and MinnPost stood up to legislative leaders, backed by a coalition of media organizations including this board.”

Coverage awards:

1A. Breaking News Reporting (big)
1. Max Nesterak and Deena Winter of the Minnesota Reformer for coverage of the police killing of Amir Locke

2. Liz Navratil, Andy Mannix, Liz Sawyer, Matt DeLong of the Star Tribune for “A Pattern of Racism

3. Joey Peters, Chao Xiong, Becky Dernbach, Andrew Hazzard of the Sahan Journal for “Feeding our Future

1A. Breaking News Reporting (small)

1. Brian Arola of the Mankato Free Press for coverage of alleged embezzlement by a mayor and the sentencing in an overdose death case.

2. Ingrid Harbo of the Grand Forks Herald for flood coverage.

3. Robert Hopwood of the Northern Light Region for flood coverage.

1B. Feature Reporting (big)

1. Dan Kraker, Kerem Yucel of MPR News for “Return of rare Ojibwe horse lifts spirits — but still needs help

2. Ava Kian of MinnPost for coverage of race and health equity issues.

3. Mary Divine of the Pioneer Press for “Customers offer love letters as treasured White Bear Lake mail carrier retires.”

1B. Feature Reporting (small)

1. Melinda Lavine of the Duluth News Tribune.

2. Jim Bayer of Eden Prairie Local News for “Memories, Moves and Rowing.”

3. Joe Bowen of the Grand Forks Herald.

1C. Profile Reporting (big)

1. Susan Du of the Star Tribune for “Amir Locke, a young man finding his way.”

2. Rachel Hutton of the Star Tribune for “Minneapolis firearms instructor takes aim at gun culture’s toxic masculinity” and other stories

3. Max Nesterak of the Minnesota Reformer for a profile of Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota nurses’ union.

1C. Profile Reporting (small)

1. Azhae’la Hanson of North News for “Diana Armstrong’s record fingernails are an expression of love

2. Melinda Lavine of the Duluth News Tribune for “Duluth trans woman changes barbershop culture

3. Joe Bowen of the Duluth News Tribune for “Northlandia: Agate pickers ‘always looking down’

1D. Enterprise/In-depth Reporting (big)

1. Deena Winter and Patrick Coolican of the Minnesota Reformer for “There must be something in the water

2. Max Nesterak of the Minnesota Reformer for “U of M pays gig workers more than full-time staff to fill dining hall jobs

1D. Enterprise/In-depth Reporting (small)

1. Mark Fischenich of the Mankato Free Press for “Mankato homeowners picking up more of the property tax burden

2. Jay Boller of Racket for “What the Hell Has Been Going On at MPR?

3. Brady Slater of Pine Knot News for “‘Green’ cemetery plan brings flurry of opposition” and other stories.

1E. Investigative Reporting (big)

1. Liz Sawyer, Chris Serres, MaryJo Webster, Jerry Holt of the Star Tribune for “Juvenile Injustice

2. Joey Peters, Jessica Lussenhop and Haru Coryne of Sahan Journal and ProPublica for “Real estate investors sold Somali families on a fast track to homeownership in Minnesota. The buyers risk losing everything.”

3. Max Nesterak of the Minnesota Reformer for “Workers on Vikings development claim over $100,000 in wage theft” and “She reported sexual abuse on the job. The boss told her it was consensual.

1E. Investigative Reporting (small)

1. John Ramos of the Duluth Monitor for “Unmasking Mr. O” and “Boss Swanson” (Part I and Part II)

2. Kay Fate of Steele County Times for “A church in turmoil”

3. Jiahong Pan of Southwest Voices for “One landlord, hundreds of violations” and “City orders demolition of condemned apartment building after a major fire

1F. Business News Reporting (big)

1. Susan Du of the Star Tribune for “A better Lake Street? A daring hope for riot-torn corridor

2. Max Nesterak of the Minnesota Reformer for coverage of wage theft in construction

3. Frederick Melo of the Pioneer Press for “Despite St. Paul rent control, Dominium hikes rents nearly 8%” and other coverage of rent control

1F. Business News Reporting (small)

1. Kelly Busche of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal for coverage of the pandemic’s effect on hotels.

2. Ethan Nelson of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal for coverage of “Scoring Minnesota companies on DEI initiatives. Do policies match pledges?” and other stories

3. Trey Mewes of the Mankato Free Press for “Coming Due: Unemployment fund $1.2 billion in debt”

1G. Business Feature Reporting (big)

1. Frederick Melo of the Pioneer Press for “Despite St. Paul Rent Control, Dominium hikes rents nearly 8%” and other coverage of rent control

2. Mary Divine of the Pioneer Press for “A look inside Amazon’s new Woodbury facility

3. Audrey Kennedy of Axios for “Minneapolis’ newest taproom is skipping the beer” and other stories

1G. Business Feature Reporting (small)

1. Dan Niepow of Twin Cities Business for “A Hard Look at Minnesota Hospital Finances” and “The Uninsured Entrepreneur

2. Liz Fedor of Twin Cities Business for “Will Women Win in Hybrid Workplaces?” and other stories

3. Brianna Kelly of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal for “Bulletproof vinyl” and other stories

1H. Politics/government reporting (big)

1. Deena Winter of the Minnesota Reformer for coverage of PTSD claims by police

2. Walker Orenstein of MinnPost for “As Jim Schultz looks to expand attorney general power to fight crime, would state law let him?” and other stories

3. Max Nesterak of the Minnesota Reformer for “Tenants say landlords are skirting St. Paul rent control with new utility charges” and other coverage of rent control

1H. Politics/government reporting (small)

1. Dylan Sherman of the Cloquet Pine Journal for “Documents show CAFD paid former chief more than $43K” and other stories

2. Tim Krohn of the Mankato Free Press for “Area jails struggle to find staff, sometimes closing jail wings” and “No-knock warrants almost never used in Mankato region

3. Ingrid Harbo of the Grand Forks Herald for “Turtle Mountain adds donor
registration to tribal IDs
” and other stories

1I. Columns (big)

1. Laura Yuen of the Star Tribune for “Believe Matt Birk when he shows you who he is” and other columns

2. Myron Medcalf of the Star Tribune for “What happened to Amir Locke feels like it could happen to any Black Minnesotan” and other columns

3. Patrick Coolican of the Minnesota Reformer for “The Legislature stumbles into legalizing THC, for better or worse” and other columns

1I. Columns (small)

1. Jay Gabler of the Duluth News Tribune for “Front Row Seat: Elvis Presley’s Duluth scarf is in very good hands” and other columns

2. Steve Lange of Rochester Magazine for “The Last Alarm” and other columns

3. Tom Miller of the Grand Forks Herald for “Kindness of strangers helped young baseball fan”

1J. Editorials (big)

1. Patrick Coolican of the Minnesota Reformer for “The emerging paramilitary wing of the GOP” and other pieces

2. Aaron Brown of the Minnesota Reformer for “Fascism from Italy to Hibbing and back again” and other pieces

1J. Editorials (small)

1. Joni Hubred and Rick Bussler of the Steele County Times for “Lack of jail cooperation
wastes taxpayer dollars”

2. Mike Creger of Pine Knot News for “A simple solution for Wrenshall woes” and “‘Gun culture’ has skidded from us”

3. Joe Spear of the Mankato Free Press for “Transparency: Courts should allow cameras” and other pieces

1K. Headlines (big)

1. Ginny Greene, Katie Moritz and Adelie Bergstrom of the Star Tribune for “He loved trivia contests, but people were his favorite pursuit”, “Vinyl is hot, but that’s B-side the point” and “There’s no place like next door to Garland house”

2. Bob Reichman of the Star Tribune for “A stingray of hope”, “Lack of mustard jars France”, and “Music for fandom of the opera”

1L. Arts & Entertainment Reporting (big)

1. Neal Justin of the Star Tribune for “Award-winning KARE11 reporter Boyd Huppert opens up about dealing with cancer.” and other stories

2. Macie Rasmussen of The Current for “Trusted music producer Zak Khan finds his own creative voice” and “How Heart to Gold’s explosive energy got them a record deal

3. Marla Khan-Schwartz of The Current for “Laura Hugo creates intricate songs that process trauma with tenderness” and other stories

1L. Arts & Entertainment Reporting (small)

1. Jay Boller of Racket for “How Music Streaming Impacts Minnesota Musicians

2. Em Cassel of Racket for “The Renaissance of Minnesota Drag, and the Right-Wing Groups That Want to Stop It” and other stories

3. Melinda Lavine of the Duluth News Tribune for “Duluth’s opera company features trans-led production” and other stories” and other stories

1M. A&E/Culture Criticism/Reviews (big)

1. Joel Swenson of The Current for “Father John Misty brings big band energy to the Palace” and other reviews

2. Laurie Hertzel of the Star Tribune for “Review: ‘Search,’ by Michelle Huneven” and other reviews

3. Neal Justin of the Star Tribune for “Review: Chris Rock shares a bit more on Oscars slap during Mystic Lake show” and other reviews

1M. A&E/Culture Criticism/Reviews (small)

1. Jay Gabler of the Duluth News Tribune for “Movie review: ‘Nope’ is more than meets the eye” and other reviews

2. Jeffrey Bissoy-Mattis of Carbon Sound for “The highs and lows of Planet Afropunk: Minneapolis

1N. Sports News Reporting (big)

1. Pat Borzi of MinnPost for “With a powerhouse team and strong attendance, why doesn’t (and how does) Minnesota women’s volleyball turn a profit?” and other stories

2. Heather Rule of the Star Tribune for “Drought for 1A hockey royalty ends” and other stories

1N. Sports News Reporting (small)

1. Kevin Dudley of Mankato Free Press for “Mavericks down Beavers to clinch fifth straight MacNaughton Cup” and other stories

2. Tom Miller of the Grand Forks Herald for “How a UND Title IX sexual assault investigation works

3. Brad E. Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald for “UND’s bid to host FCS playoff games far exceeded Weber State’s”

1O. Sports Feature Reporting (big)

1. Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune for “The Red Lake Nation football team hasn’t won a game in years, but its coach keeps his kids undefeated” and other stories

1O. Sports Feature Reporting (small)

1. Brad E. Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald for “From a blogger to a winning GM

2. Jake Przytarski of the Cloquet Pine Journal for “40 years later, Moose Lake’s Triple Crown teams stand alone” and other stories

3. Tom Miller of the Grand Forks Herald for “Dallas Kopp remembered as legendary character” and other stories

1P. Best Magazine Cover

1. Andrew Weeks of the Grand Forks Herald for “Prairie Business magazine, May 2022, Memorialize memorials”

2. Amy Nelson, Tonya Suftin, Erik Tormoen, Alexis Politz of Minnesota Monthly for “Nov/Dec 2022 Best Of MN Issue”

1Q. Best Website

1. Star Tribune

2. Grand Forks Herald

3. Racket

1R. Best Social Media Account

1. Sahan Journal InstagramSahan Journal

2. Axios Twin Cities Instagram – Axios

3. Laura Yuen’s Twitter account – Star Tribune

1S. Newsletter

1. Matt DeLong of the Star Tribune for “Talkers Newsletter

2. Molly Guthrey, Andy Rathbun, Julio Ojeda-Zapata and Nick Woltman of the Pioneer Press for “Morning Report”

3. Torey Van Oot, Nick Halter and Audrey Kennedy of Axios for “Axios Twin Cities

2B. Feature Reporting

1. Boyd Huppert, Chad Nelson of KARE11 for “Gunny at the Wheel.

2. Kevin Doran, Dylan Jacobson of  KSTP for “Minnesota grown apples.”

3. Kevin Doran of KSTP for “Heart in a Box.”

2C. Enterprise/In-depth Reporting

1. Jennifer Mayerle, Grant Verdon of WCCO for “State of Policing.”

2. Tom Lyden, Sean Skinner of KMSP for “The Unwanted.”

3. Dan Wolfe, Alex Laitala, Lukas Walls, Briggs LeSavage of KBJR for “Special Report: Looking back at the 2012 Flood.”

2D. Investigative Reporting

1. Kirsten Swanson, Lee Zwiefelhofer, Joe Augustine of KSTP for “Forced Out.

2. Tom Lyden, Eric Gedrose of KMSP for “What’s up with the Bad Rooster?”

3. Kirsten Swanson, Lee Zwiefelhofer, Monty Stuempert, Joe Augustine of KSTP for “Where’s Katie?

2E. Sports News Reporting

1. Boyd Huppert, Devin Krinke of KARE for “Blue Lou.”

2. Jennifer Mayerle, Grant Verdon of WCCO for “Concussion Journey.”

2F. Politics/government reporting

1. Eric Rasmussen, Joe Augustine, Lee Zwiefelhofer, Kirk Varner of KSTP for “48 Hours (and counting).”

2. Kirsten Swanson, Monty Stuempert, Joe Augustine of KSTP for “Minnesota officials say COVID tracking app is a critical tool to fight the pandemic. Few people actually use it.”

3A. Breaking News Reporting

1. Minnesota Now at MPR News for coverage of the US Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade

2. Matt Sepic, Jon Collins, Tim Nelson of MPR News for “Bodycam video shows man under blanket, holding gun before Minneapolis cop shoots.

3. Ryan Dawes, April Ehrlich of KFAI for “Mask Requirement Remains at St. Paul Public Schools.

3B. Feature Reporting

1. Michelle Bruch of KFAI for “Submerged history in the land of 10,000 lakes.”

2. Simone Cazares of MPR News for “Rondo’s ‘lady of line dance’ keeps community moving.”

3. Tony Williams of KFAI for “The Not-Springs of Mankato, MN.”

3C. Enterprise/In-depth Reporting

1. Joe Friedrichs of KFAI for “A History of Fire in the Boundary Waters.

2. Catharine Richert of MPR News for “Rochester confronts its segregated housing history, Mayo founders’ role.

3. Dan Gunderson of MPR News for “‘Where do I belong?’ Native roots, hard realities surface in woman’s search for her past.”

3D. Investigative Reporting

1. Kirsti Marohn of MPR News for “Longtime MPCA employee alleges retaliation over petroleum complaints.”

2. Tom Scheck of MPR News for “THC edibles surge in Minnesota but safety rules are loose, regulators aren’t ready.”

3. Joe Friedrichs of WTIP North Shore Community Radio for “WTIP and MN Dept of Health investigation finds no evidence for brain cancer cluster in Cook County.”

3E. Podcast

1. Julie Censullo, Emily Haavik, Tony Williams, Matthew Schneeman, Joe Friedrichs, Sheila Regan – KFAI

2. Brandt Williams, Jonathan Rabb, Twila Dang, Alex Simpson – MPR News

3. Allison Kaplan – WTIP North Shore Twin Cities Business

3F. Politics/government reporting

1. Brian Bakst, Dana Ferguson of MPR News for “Coverage of the 2022 Election.”

2. Emma Needham, Marie Rock of the Association of Minnesota Public Educational Radio Stations for “On The Ballot.”

3. Elizabeth Shockman of MPR News for “How national politics are changing Minnesota’s 2022 school board elections.”

4A. News Photography

1. Jaida Grey Eagle of Sahan Journal for “Various news coverage.”

2. Eric Hylden of the Grand Forks Herald for “Vote here; Hanukkah; Nash fire.”

4B. Feature Photography

1. Darin Kamnetz of The Current for “Kraftwerk, Syd, Odesza.”

4C. Portrait Photography

1. Eric Hylden of Grand Forks Herald for “Blizzard Becca; Pie ladies; Forest River Hutterite colony.”

2. Jaida Grey Eagle of Sahan Journal for “Portraits by Jaida Grey Eagle.”

3. Mike Madison of The Current for “Zak Khan, Creeping Charlie, Ka Lia Universe.”

4D. Sports Photography

1. Eric Hylden of the Grand Forks Herald for “Mahnomen wins over Red Lake.”

2. Rick Olson of Eden Prairie Local News for “Eden Prairie high school sports.”

3. Amy Arnston of the Cloquet Pine Journal.

4E. Infographic/Data Visualization

1. Yuqing Liu, Bryan Brussee, Tom Nehil, Jeff Hargarten of the Star Tribune for “Twin Cities communities of color hurt most by lack of trees. A tornado made it worse.”

4F. Illustration

1. Andrés Guzmán of The Current for “89 Days of Summer.”

2. Alexis Politz of The Current for “89 Days of Winter.”

4G. Page Design

1. Anna Boone, Michiela Thuman, Renee Jones Schneider, Jamie Hutt of the Star Tribune for “Current and former Minnesotans remember life before Roe v. Wade.”

2. Josh Jones, Bryan Brussee, C.J. Sinner, MaryJo Webster of the Star Tribune for “Juvenile Injustice”

3. Joe Rull, Steve Zimmerman, Aaron Lavinsky, Mark Boswell of the Star Tribune for “The Red Lake Nation football team hasn’t won a game in years, but its coach keeps his kids undefeated.”

5E. Best Use of Public Records

1. Staff of the Star Tribune for “Coverage of suburban crime.”

2. Jeremy Turley of the Grand Forks Herald for “Hoeven/Cramer emails regarding Fufeng.”