Tag Archives | O’Brien

Here are our 2019 contest winners!


The New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announced the winners of its annual NJ SPJ Signature awards competition yesterday at a celebratory lunch at the Maize restaurant in Newark. The contest was judged this year by members of the Colorado Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The judges provided comments on the first-place honorees.

Here are the winners:

Stuart and Beverley Awbrey Award

Since its creation in the 1990s, this award has sought to honor both hard-hitting investigative journalism that is public-spirited as well as more “uplifting” efforts such as creating care packages for soldiers overseas or helping a handicapped child get an education. The Awbrey pays tribute to Beverley Awbrey and her late husband, Stu, who ran The Cranford Chronicle from 1978 to 1988. The Awbreys believed their 100-year-old weekly was more than a livelihood; they saw it as an opportunity to contribute to the civic life of Cranford.

  • First place: Jaimie Winters of the Montclair Local for “Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment.” The judges were impressed with the Lackawanna Plaza redevelopment series of stories because they spoke to the community’s need to be involved in such matters that affect their lives. Comprehensive stories about the development plans from start to finish.
  • Second place: Thomas Franklin of TAPinto Newark for “Despite Newark’s Sanctuary City Status, Undocumented City Resident Turned Over to ICE.”
  • Third place: Al Sullivan of The Hudson Reporter for stories outlining various conflicts related to immigration issues in Hudson County.

Tim O’Brien Award for Best Use of Public Records:

The award honors journalists specifically for investigative work based on public records requests. This award pays tribute to Tim O’Brien, whose investigative reporting, first at The Star-Ledger and later at The New Jersey Law Journal, exemplified the qualities of courage, thoroughness, integrity, persistence and quiet idealism that we seek to honor.

  • First place: Audrey Quinn of New York Public Radio for “For New Jersey Jails, Suicides and Overdoses, but Little Oversight.” The judges said Quinn’s series on jail deaths in New Jersey is a testament to the power of public records in informing the public about what is happening in governmental institutions, including jails. A comprehensive, well-done series.
  • Second place: Carla Astudillo, Craig McCarthy, S.P. Sullivan, Stephen Stirling, Yan Wu, Erin Petenko, Disha Raychaudhuri, Blake Nelson, of NJ Advance Media (NJ.com & The Star-Ledger for “The Force Report.”
  • Third place: Erin Roll of The Montclair Local for “Absenteeism in Montclair schools.”

Best Grassroots Journalism

  • First place: Rebecca Panico and Mark Bonamo of TAPinto Newark for multiple stories: “Governor Murphy: ‘I drink Newark’s water.’’; Newark City Council Members are mad they didn’t get front row seats at Sotomayor event’’; ‘’5 major issues Newark Public Schools inherited from state-controlled Leadership’’; “McGovern’s summer renovation closing party celebrates change’’; and “Hip-Hop manager turned developer becomes part of the West Ward’s revitalization’’.
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What you need to know about this year’s contest

It’s contest season again!

Notice there are two options this year: one from New Jersey SPJ, the other from Keystone SPJ.  Here’s the lowdown:

  • The NJ SPJ contest opens on Tuesday, Jan. 2. Because of a sharp decrease in contest entries, our contest has been scaled down to include only our four signature awards: Courage Under Fire (for journalists who, despite strong opposition, defend the principles of a free press), the Barto (our “rookie of the year” award); the Awbrey (for local journalism that goes above and beyond); and the O’Brien (for investigative journalism that digs deep through effective use of public records). For an overview of the contest, go here. to submit work, go here.  Our contest closes March 1. Questions? Contact our contest coordinator Heather Taylor at heather.taylor.spj@gmail.com or call (609) 250-2582.
  • The SPJ Keystone Chapter 2018 Best in Journalism Contest is already open and is comprised of about 30 categories; entries can be submitted  until Feb. 26. As our members know, we had hoped to run a joint contest with Keystone but there were logistical issues, so we are elated that our friends in Pennsylvania expanded their contest to include submissions from New Jersey. The contest may be accessed through this link: https://betternewspapercontest.com/2018SpotlightAwards Any questions or concerns should be directed to Pat Trosky at pattrosky@gmail.com or spjkeystone@gmail.com.

To enter the Keystone SPJ journalism contest, you’ll need to set up a new open call login. NOTE:  Keystone uses Better Newspaper Contest (BNC) to manage its submissions (as we did up until this year), but if you entered a BNC contest in New Jersey or elsewhere, that login will not work in the Keystone contest. This is true for individuals and for companies.

You can create your login in one of two ways. Go to the Keystone SPJ website ( https://keystonespj.wordpress.com/) and click on the url at the bottom of the announcement OR go directly to the contest page using this url:  https://betternewspapercontest.com/2018SpotlightAwards

Once you’re on the Keystone BNC page, you’ll see the open call contestant login on the lower lefthand corner of the page. Click that.

Once on the Open Call Contestant page, look to the lower right corner and create an open call account. Fill in the info and submit. Pat Trosky, president of the Keystone chapter, will then get an email to approve you. When she does, you can then log in and set everything else up.


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