2022 Features (Midsize Newsroom) Finalists

See finalists listed in alphabetical order.

Noelle Crombie, Beth Nakamura & Margaret Haberman

The Oregonian

The Safest Place

Comments From the Judges:

“I got choked up experiencing this feature — the powerful mix of video, photography, charts and writing moved me and left me asking, ‘Why is this happening!’ The narrative storytelling and evocative writing kept me on the edge of my seat, and the reporting brought to life the complex life of this teen, who went from winning a trip to the White House for a school project to being shot to death in his community’s rising gun violence. Nothing is romanticized and he’s not shown as perfect, but that makes the shooting even more real and horrible.”

“A clear standout, this project took you into the most intimate details of how [an] education system faces the death of one of its own and how those actions ripple outward. It’s clear the reporter knew exactly how to offer a safe space for residents, staff and students to express their journey of loss and healing on a broader scale, something too many can relate to these days in the number of shootings affecting children. Thank you for making sure your community was not desensitized to such issues by elevating the voices of those most affected.”

Eric Hoover

The Chronicle of Higher Education

When You Can’t Make It On Your Own

Comments From the Judges:

“The Redemption” is a beautiful, deeply reported piece of storytelling. Hoover picks just the right detail to give depth and movement to every paragraph, incorporates just the right research at the moment the reader needs it, structures the whole tale like a pro without indulging in sentimentality. Small thing, but I loved, for instance, that he waited to introduce that Shegog had bipolar disorder much later in the story, rather than suggesting it was one of the more defining aspects of his life (given that he was taking daily medication for it.)”

“Eric Hoover is such a consistently fantastic feature writer. I felt like I got to know so many of the complexities and challenges and strengths and layers of Frederick Shegog throughout, and equally important, got to learn more about the kind of college student that rarely gets covered. Love the examination of grit here and the reveal that more than anything, it’s the connection students make with the people on campus, their professors, classmates, etc. that help people along the journey and keep them going. Loved the line: ‘He was there because he had fought through what many scholars had merely studied.’”

Savannah Tryens-Fernandes & Amanda Khorramabadi

The Alabama Education Lab at AL.com & Reckon News

Inside Alabama’s First LGBTQ-Focused Charter School

Comments From the Judges:

“This story is beautiful and heart-wrenching and essential. And just so thoughtfully done. This reporter clearly spent a lot of time with these teens, with staff, IN this school, listening. This strikes me as so important because it flies in the face of political attack ads and brings readers into the lives of these youth living with both trepidation and bravery in the face of such bigotry and oppression. I was in tears reading the scene when the social studies teacher is showing the seniors how to change a tire so he could worry just a little bit less about them ever being stranded in a place where they might struggle to find help or be hurt in the process of finding help.”

“Great story exploring the first LGBTQ charter school in Alabama and the South. The safety students often feel in the school against the threats they come against from the outside is poignant. The scenes the reporter highlights, such as the eagerness and fear of taking group prom pictures in a public garden and the teacher who needed to show students how to change their own tire because he didn’t want them to be isolated on the road at night, stick with you.”