2022 Features (Small Newsroom) Finalists

See finalists listed in alphabetical order.

Gail Cornwall

The Hechinger Report

A School Created a Homeless Shelter in the Gym and It Paid Off in the Classroom

Comments From the Judges:

“A poignant, revelatory read. I’m so glad the reporter was persistent enough to pursue and execute this well-told, just-the-right-length, story. It’s a perfect mix of character-driven prose and meaty, data-driven reporting. The trust carefully built between the reporter and people who had relied on the shelter was evident. A truly lovely read that clearly had huge impact. I’d love to know if other school districts have since taken on similar projects.”

“This was fantastic storytelling, showcasing strong reporting and excellent writing. The reporter seamlessly weaved in descriptive details, research, stats, history around policies affecting funding for homeless students, and anecdotes from several families who experienced homelessness and stayed at the school shelter. I love that this story covers a really heartbreaking topic – homeless students – by highlighting a unique, effective program.”

Seyward Darby

The Atavist Magazine

Fault Lines 

Comments From the Judges:

“Impactful reporting. Powerful writing. The reporter clearly dug deep, for a long time, and won the trust of people whose stories had seemingly never been told. The piece spurred — empowered — others to come forward.”

“I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I read it. It’s incredibly well researched, with gut-wrenching details about events that happened decades ago, and it’s a master class on how to write about a sensitive topic, particularly one based heavily on long-ago memories, responsibly. Beyond just investigating and recounting an inappropriate school culture that spanned decades, I was impressed by how fluently the writer demonstrated a connection between the curriculum and alleged sexual misconduct.”

Molly Minta

Mississippi Today & Open Campus

Critical Race Theory in Mississippi

Comments From the Judges:

“I remember first reading this story and thinking “Finally! Someone actually talked to students in a CRT class.” Minta’s story sparked conversation and debate not just with readers but with journalists too. Minta crafted a great entry point for many readers in Mississippi and the Gulf South to begin really exploring what CRT meant in practice. The story was easy to follow and interesting to read highlighted by the quotes of the 2 students. After publishing, I know first hand that this story influenced CRT reporting a lot and that alone makes this story particularly innovative.”

“This was a much-needed story on this topic, and put real students at the center instead of just “experts” like most stories on the subject have done. I really enjoyed this story. It’s an excellent local lens into a national topic of debate. It’s well-written, entertaining and educational.”