2021 California Journalism Awards - Print Division

Columns ( Weeklies: 4,300 & under) Back

  • Place Name: First Place
    Contestant Name: Claremont Courier
    Entry Title: 1. A family could lose it all, yet still have everything. 2. Reflections about subjects in the Police Blotter
    Entry Credit: Mick Rhodes
    Judge Comment: Mick's writing was head and shoulders above that of the other five entrants I read. I gave him my first- and second-place votes, and the gulf between him and third place was wide. He sometimes gets in his own way with extraneous flourishes, but at its heart, his writing achieves what the best columnists do: He's honest, he's real, and he pulls us along with him.
  • Place Name: Second Place
    Contestant Name: Claremont Courier
    Entry Title: 1. Use it or lose it: a Laemmle love letter. 2. Writer’s list helps battle seasonal depression
    Entry Credit: Mick Rhodes
    Judge Comment: The movie theater piece felt undecided at times whether it was a news story or a column - the quotes from the movie theater exec, and the history of the theater company, went on a little longer than needed. But ultimately, Mick wrote an important story about a boutique theater in the heart of a small town, and what happens to both when tastes and economics change. The SAD column was vulnerable, brave and practical. The accompanying photo of Mick was honest. He didn't wallow in self-pity, and he acknowledged the things he's grateful for - including his privilege in America as a white male. Again, this piece might have been trimmed up a tad, but overall these two pieces constituted a strong effort.
  • Place Name: Third Place
    Contestant Name: Lincoln News Messenger
    Entry Title: Editor's columns: Being on football team involves more than game night AND Driving even a little under the influence never OK
    Entry Credit: Carol Feineman
    Judge Comment: Carol unquestionably writes well; unlike several of the other entrants, I found no rough edges or awkward structure. What her writing would benefit from, though, is a greater focus on story-telling -- on showing, rather than lecturing.
  • Place Name: Fourth Place
    Contestant Name: St. Helena Star
    Entry Title: Jesse Duarte columns
    Entry Credit: Jesse Duarte
    Judge Comment: I couldn't read one of Jesse's two entries because, like other entrants from his newspaper group, it was behind a paywall. I tried repeatedly to work around it, but requiring a contest judge to subscribe isn't a strategy for success. The piece I could read, about his late colleague Bill and other locals his community has lost in recent months, did a nice job capturing the local flavor of a small town and the people who make it unique. And, like the best column writing, he showed us a personal side, in his pledge to take fewer friends and neighbors for granted.
  • Place Name: Fifth Place
    Contestant Name: South Pasadena Review
    Entry Title: Around Town
    Entry Credit: Andy Lippman, Zane Hill
    Judge Comment: This is one of those "Holy cow, Martha" stories -- a 99-year-old widower still searching for his next love affair. Andy gives us a lot of fun details about the subject - his background, his quirks and what makes him tick. This piece could have really cleared the bases if we'd gotten earlier to what made it unique - the fact that his subject is 99 - and if we'd maybe seen an image of the original "missed connections" ad instead of a photo of the subject at age 93 dancing with another woman on their wedding day. Hitting that photo right away on the jump left this reader, at least, with a bit of a creepy feeling - like maybe Bill Suter was a bit desperate or perhaps an aging Lothario.