IBJ nabs 14 awards—including top honors in four categories—at Best of Indiana Journalism event

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IBJ nabbed 14 awards—including four first-place honors—on Friday night at the Best of Indiana Journalism Awards, hosted by the Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

IBJ took top honors in diversity reporting, editorial writing and two design categories. Reporter Leslie Bonilla Muñiz and designers Brad Turner and Audrey Pelsor each won multiple awards for IBJ, which competes in the largest newspaper category.

IBJ swept the graphics and illustrations category.

In addition, Pelsor and Turner also won honors for work in the Indiana Lawyer, which won a total of eight awards, competing in the category for smaller news organizations.

Indiana Lawyer reporter Marilyn Odendahl won six awards.

The following are IBJ’s awards, where were handed out at 502 E. Event Centre in Carmel:

  • Leslie Bonilla Muñiz, first place for coverage of minority, diversity and inclusion issues. “This sustained and thorough reporting on business-related diversity and inclusion issues was clear, compelling and factually researched and cited,” the judges said. “The body of work is effective at increasing awareness of the need for increased equity and access.”
  • Greg Weaver, first place for editorial writing for an editorial headlined, “Where’s the real punishment for FBI?” The judges wrote that the editorial “demanding a full criminal investigation of FBI staff who failed in their handling of the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse case was clearly structured, compelling and backed up with evidence. Concise, effective and persuasive.”
  • Audrey Pelsor, first place for the design of page 1. “Elegant,” the judges wrote. “Along with great use of photos and its captions.”
  • Brad Turner, first place in the graphics and illustration category for an illustration that accompanied a story about hospital readmissions. The judges said the piece “illustrates the inevitability of readmitted patients by using a conveyor belt between a ‘discharges’ and ‘admission” door.’ The illustration is minimalistic yet impactful and grabs the attention of readers.” Turner also won third place in the category.
  • Sam Stall, John Russell and Bonilla, second place for environmental reporting.
  • Mark Montieth, second place, and Mike Lopresti, third place in sports column writing.
  • Angela B. Freeman, third place in the podcast category for “The Freedom Forum with Angela B. Freeman.”
  • Mickey Shuey, third place in the business or consumer affairs reporting category for reporting on tourism and development.
  • Susan Orr, third place in feature writing for a story headlined: “Hardware store tries to Amazon-proof its business.”
  • Julie Kirkendoll, third place for page 1 design.
  • Pelsor, third place for newspaper design for a page other than the cover for a collection of pandemic stories.
  • Sarah Ellis, second place in the graphics and illustration category for a timeline in IBJ’s NCAA Tournament special section called The Rebound.

Indiana Lawyer won the following awards:

  • Marilyn Odendahl, first place in the government or politics category, for a story headlined “The politics of confirmation.” The judges said the story “introduced readers to a process that matters to everyone but which so few know anything about. Well explained. Thorough. Detailed.” Odendahl also won second place in the same category with a story about the redistricting process and third place for a story written with Editor Olivia Covington about changes to the judicial selection in northern Indiana.
  • Pelsor, second place for a design other than page 1.
  • Katie Stancombe, Covington and Odendahl, second place in the non-deadline story category for the headline, “The law and the FedEx shooter.”
  • Odendahl, third place in breaking news for a story headlined, “Prosecutor drops death penalty in death of Southport officer.”
  • Odendahl, third place for coverage of children’s issues for a story headlined, “Mom celebrates reunification with son after 10-year battle.”
  • Kirkendoll, third place for page 1 design.

The Indianapolis Star team of Tim Evans, Ryan Martin, Robert Scheer and Ko Lyn Cheang won SPJ’s Indiana Story of the Year award for project called “Death sentence” about deaths in county jails. “Comprehensive. Compelling,” the judges said. “The reporters use a combination of records, interviews and great story telling to make this a fascinating read.”

Lauren Chapman, a digital producer for Indiana Public Broadcasting, was named Indiana journalist of the year for what the judges said was “dogged, relevant, detailed, human coverage of COVID.” Among other element of her coverage, the judges commended Chapman for a digital tracker she built to report racial and gender groups in coverage that she made available to other reporters in the state. “Her work was crisp, concise, easy to grasp,” they wrote.

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