On Monday, June 14, 2021, the Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) announced the winners of their 2020 Best in Indiana Journalism Contest. The awards banquet was held online instead of in-person due to safety concerns around COVID-19.
A video of the awards ceremony is available here:
I won third place for Environmental Reporting for publications with circulation below 30,000.
It was one of three awards I won that day, also including third place for Criminal Justice Reporting and second place for Personality Profile.
Here is a story about it:
Burgess wins three SPJ awards
On Monday, the Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) announced the winners of their 2020 Best in Indiana Journalism Contest.
Among those recognized was Wabash Plain Dealer Editor Rob Burgess, who won awards in three separate categories for publications with circulation below 30,000.
Burgess’ second-place entry in the Personality Profile category was a story about local DivorceCare group leader Janet Quillen.
Burgess’ third-place entry in the Criminal Justice Reporting category included two stories about overcrowding in the Wabash County Jail, two stories about the murder of Nakota “Fergie” Kelly and a story about the opening of the baby box at Wabash Fire Station 1.
Burgess’ third-place entry in the Environmental Reporting category included a story about 120 years of history at John Hartsough’s family farm in North Manchester; and stories about Teen Indiana Master Naturalists, Salamonie Preschool, a monarch butterfly Senior Luncheon presentation and women landowners, all meeting at Salamonie Lake.
In May 2020, during the SPJ’s 2019 Best in Indiana Journalism Contest, Burgess also won third place for Arts and Entertainment Writing for publications with circulation below 30,000. Burgess’ winning entry from last year included five stories published in 2019. These stories included interviews with Amy Grant, David Crosby, Buck Trent of “Hee Haw,” Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys and Patrick Myers of Killer Queen before their respective performances at the Honeywell Center.
Burgess has been Wabash Plain Dealer editor since June 2019.
Last year’s SPJ awards banquet was originally scheduled for this April 2020, but the chapter announced that they would be announcing the winners online instead due to safety concerns around COVID-19. Similarly, this year’s awards ceremony was presented in an online video presentation, rather than in person.
The Best in Indiana Journalism contest is Indiana’s only open journalism contest. This was the 42nd year that journalists from around the state competed in dozens of print, broadcast and online categories.
My winning Environmental Reporting category included five stories published in 2020:
2020-03-05 – WPD - One farm shows 120 years of agricultural history
2020-06-16 – WPD – Hands-on learning with the Teen Indiana Master Naturalists
2020-09-05 – WPD – Making new friends at Salamonie Preschool
2020-09-16 – WPD - 'A beautiful mystery'
2020-09-26 – WPD – Educating women landowners
The rest of the 2020 award winners may be found here.