The Alliance of Area Business Publishers presented 115 Editorial Excellence awards to newspaper and magazine business periodicals on June 23 at the closing celebration of its three-day annual Summer Conference in Washington, DC.
With 484 entries from 37 publications in the U.S., Canada and Australia, the competitive field was both impressive and diverse.
As in past years, the most popular categories were Best Feature and Best Explanatory Journalism. This year, submissions for Best Body of Work from a Single Writer and Best Personality Profile also topped the list, with superb pieces from writers in all circulation categories.
“The high-quality journalism being done by these publications keeps readers thoroughly up-to-date and, importantly, includes a lot of data, context and historical perspective that are especially important as truth increasingly gets drowned in a flood of social media snippets,” said Reuben Stern, who coordinated the judging by faculty members at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. “The winning entries once again combine solid research, great sourcing, excellent on-the-ground reporting, deep community knowledge, and creative thinking.”
By uncovering news of business expansion and related economic impacts, keeping an eye on how public dollars and tax incentives are allocated, and providing guidance for business people trying to navigate a host of modern complexities, regional business publications continue to offer a vital information resource in print and online.
“With the highest standards of excellence in journalism and design, these regional business publishers deliver consistent, compelling and relevant news to their readers,” said Alliance Executive Director C. James Dowden. “And the resurgence of local — in retail, in restaurants and in relationships — means regional business publishers play a stronger role in communities than ever before.”
The annual AABP Editorial Excellence competition recognizes excellence in journalism, photography and design achieved by regional business publications. Twenty-four judges, faculty members from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, bring their expertise to the selection process.
“The purpose of the Alliance competition,” according to Dowden, “is to encourage a high level of journalistic performance and service to communities by recognizing editorial excellence and outstanding visual presentation in regional business publications.”
Some highlights from this year’s awards include: Best Magazine to Hawaii Business; Best Newspaper: Small Tabloids to San Fernando Valley Business Journal; Best Newspaper: Medium/Large Tabloids to Crain’s Chicago Business; Best Cover: Magazines to Hawaii Business; Best Front Page: Newspapers to Crain’s
Cleveland Business; Most Improved Publication to Biz New Orleans; Best Website to Springfield Business Journal; Best Specialty E-newsletter to Crain’s Detroit Business; Best Use of Multimedia to Crain’s Chicago Business; and Best Daily E-Mail to Arkansas Business.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Alliance is a nonprofit national organization representing 55 independent magazine and newspaper members in the United States, Canada and Australia.
1. Best cover: magazine
Bronze: dbusiness; “Survival of the Fittest”; Austin Phillips, Nichole Grieser, Meghan Rafferty, R.J. King, Mike Larson
Dbusiness takes a fresh and humorous approach to the typical CEO portrait by photographing Stephen Polk in a suit surrounded by penguins. This is a perfect way to illustrate the story. The reduced number of colors gives it a contemporary feel. A sense of dimension is displayed by type and penguins overlapping Polk, while he overlaps the nameplate and more penguins.
Silver: D CEO; “Best Cover – D CEO January/February”; Hamilton Hedrick, C.J. Burton
D CEO’s conceptual January/February cover demonstrates a sense of visual hierarchy in typographic design and details, such as rules around type and graphic symbols. Color and light lead viewers through the design, with the yellow bar, glowing button and symbol. The photograph is beautifully conceived, with great use of digital software to perfect it.
Gold: Hawaii Business; “Hawaii Business: January 2017”; Warren Daubert, Logan Mock-Bunting
This highly dramatic cover uses active type and vibrant colors to captivate readers. The photograph is technically superb, demonstrating an ability to work above and below the waterline and to correct for the water’s magnification. The light patterns above the water are continued below, but the soft underwater focus directs attention to the eyes. The fluorescent color and modern treatment shows that Hawaii Business values the importance of design.
2. Best feature layout: magazine
Bronze: D CEO; “Rockin’ the House”; Glenn Hunter, Billy Surface
Strong, dramatically lit portraits are complemented by small bursts of color that add balance and dynamism to the layout without overdoing it. Overall there is a nice sense of sophistication in the design and typography.
Silver: Florida Trend; “Learning to Live with Water”; Gary Bernloehr, Jeff Papa, Jason Morton
This design begins with a well-executed opening layout. Strong, helpful graphics are used throughout to explain key elements of the story, along with photos that contribute to the visual storytelling. Of particular note is the multipage sea-level rise projection chart that corresponds to information presented above on the pages. The consistent color palette aligns with the subject matter at hand, and the many elements are organized in a clear, readable way.
Gold: Hawaii Business; “20 for the Next 20”; Lilian Cheng
A large set of really beautiful portraits are integrated well into an attractive and visually consistent layout. The portraits are creative and show the unique personality and characteristics of each subject. Yet, a well art-directed approach ties the pictures all together via complementary patterns, colors and textures. Typography is sophisticated, playful, interesting and contemporary. Other design elements are used well to set this feature apart.
3. Best overall design: magazine
Bronze: dbusiness; Austin Phillips, Nichole Grieser, R.J. King, Mike Larson, Stephanie Shenouda
dbusiness covers combine text and photographs in a sophisticated, informative manner. Content pages are well-designed to help with easy navigation. Typographic treatment fits the tone and content of the article and is used to create interesting pages. While dbusiness uses many large photographs and illustrations, small photographs are beautifully used as well. “30 in Their Thirties” uses tiny images to illustrate the photo booth concept, a great approach for
Silver: Business North Carolina; Kathryn Galloway, David Mildenberg, Cathy Martin, Allison Williams, Moira Johnson
Business North Carolina does a great job of looking at stories to determine if something is best told in graphics, text, photographs or illustrations. There is a strong mix of storytelling approaches, which gives the entry a fresh look. The design is akin to digital design, giving readers bite-sized pieces of information to absorb quickly. Graphics, such as those found on the “Statewide” pages, are informative, useful and visually appealing.
Gold: D CEO; Hamilton Hedrick, Nick Leibold
This standout entry begins with consistent covers and continues with impressive, unique typographic design. Generous white space helps with pacing, and the magazine is organized for easy navigation. A balance of small, pullout stories and longer features give readers a choice. Photographs are sized well, and there is a balance of illustrations, graphics and photographs. Judges noted the excellent typography and graphics in October’s “A Very Good Year” and the creative storm chaser illustration in the March issue. Overall, D CEO exhibits sophisticated, restrained design.
4. Best front page: newspaper
Bronze: Crain’s Chicago Business; “40 Under 40”; Ann Dwyer,
This front page is based on a high-quality action photograph of a business person leaping toward an excellently designed ‘40 Under 40’ logo. The exceptionally clean design enhances the dynamic sense of motion in the photograph, giving the viewer a fun and slightly playful concept. There is a sense of
humor and levity.
Silver: Crain’s Detroit Business; “A goal and a rebound”; David Kordalski, Daniel Zakroczemski, Beth Jachman, Amy Elliott Bragg, Micheal Lee
When you invest in good visuals, it shows. This front page feels as if it has a 3-D effect with the excellent shadows, shading, layering and perspective. The reader looks into the sports action that seems to be coming in over the viewers’ heads. The reader feels like they belong in the image. The colors are smart as they relate to the teams.
Gold: Crain’s Cleveland Business; “MetroParks at 100”; David Kordalski, Daniel Zakroczemski, Timothy Magaw, Elizabeth McIntyre.
This front page elevates the art of the illustration from a level of fine art to the cover. This is really beautiful work. The color palate is warm, the green and yellow are working together. The unique illustration is an attention-getter. The full-page bleed gives the readers enough size so they can explore all of the detail. The typography is arraigned to lead the eye around the cover.
5. Best feature layout: newspaper
Bronze: Mainebiz, “The Next.” Peter Van Allen, Matt Selva, Renee Cordes, Laurie Schreiber and Maureen Milliken
This elegant presentation uses a red logo and orange type to link the four segments of the spread. The orange comes from one of the dominate colors in the opening photo. The consistency of color, head sizes and spacing creates a unity, which, in turn, helps readers recognize and navigate the package.
Silver: Crain’s Chicago, “40 under 40.” Karen Freese
The challenge of creating a fresh design approach to an annual feature such as this is considerable. Crain’s Chicago met the challenge. The group pictures are artfully arranged and placed in attractive settings to make them all interesting. The individual portraits are striking. Designers even kept an eye on attractive color pairings in placing the photos. You can try scanning this spread, but this presentation will make you stop often. Even the logo design is a winner.
Gold: BizTimes Milwaukee, “Harley shifts gears to attract new readers.” Shelly Tabor.
The headline, illustration and text are all angled in unison to create tension and interest in the opening to this spread. The angle is repeated subtly in the next several pages. The color, which is part of Harley-Davidson’s logo, also repeats, so this package telegraphs to readers they are still in the same story several pages later. The design elements appropriately create motion.
6a. Best overall design: small tabloids
Bronze: Charleston Regional Business Journal, Ryan Wilcox and Emily Williams
The opening pages have short- and medium-length items to get readers into the publication. Good text font sizing and spacing for easy reading. Documentary photographs are included where appropriate to give a nice change of pace from portraits. Charts and maps help tell some stories.
Silver: Worcester Business Journal, Mitch Hayes
Covers attract attention and lead to opening pages that are great to get scanners to read. Designers do a nice job of creating hierarchy on a page with photos and type. There is a diversity of charts. Good use of color and typography.
Gold: San Fernando Valley Business Journal, Nina Bays, Kristin Scaggs-Kirby, Jennifer Rzepka and Jasmine Mo.
Designers manage to create an interesting front page despite the high story count. Generous photo display takes good photos and makes some great. Good use of spreads. Illustrations, such as the one that goes with the story on harassment, are a good choice for concept art. Fundamentals of typography and white space are consistently strong.
6b. Best overall design: medium/large tabloids
Bronze: BizTimes Milwaukee; Shelly Tabor, Alex Schneider
The variety of interesting, dynamic covers used really grabs your attention. There’s nice variation here too. From portraiture to dynamic illustration, these covers aren’t easily ignored. On the interior, consistently open, airy design makes wonderful use of whitespace, and sets the tone for the brand. Use of colors and tabs for navigation make for clever design. Overall, a nicely designed publication with a good sense of branding.
Silver: Crain’s Cleveland Business; Staff
The thoughtful, engaging design of the covers provide an unexpected draw for a business publication. Wonderful stylized illustrations, type treatments, and bold use of color help CRAIN’s Cleveland Business stand out. On the interior, use of variety in the grid keeps things visually interesting, while careful design keeps the typesetting and typographic elements on brand. Excellent pacing and structure throughout the publication keeps the reader engaged and interested in the stories being told.
Gold: Crain’s Chicago Business; Thomas J Linden, Jason McGregor, Karen Freese
The creativity and conceptual design featured on the covers of Crain’s Chicago Business set a high standard for business publication design. Each cover is unique, features its own style and treatment, and is extremely well executed. From thoughtful, clever photo shoots to beautiful illustration, each cover easily convinces the passer-by to pick up a copy, and start reading. On the inside the publication remains a highly visual endeavor. Big, bold images throughout feature spreads maintain a sense of drama in the publication. Overall Crain’s Chicago Business is jam-packed with content and information, yet it is extremely well organized. Content also felt well supported by clear infographic design that added to individual stories. It’s clear that deliberate planning, and a wonderful sense of creativity went into the design of executions like the “40 Under 40” cover and feature.
7. Best use of photography/illustrations
Bronze: Crain’s Cleveland Business; David Kordalski, Daniel Zakroczemski, Robert Carter, Andrea Ucini, Timothy Magaw, Kevin Kleps, Scott Suttell, Elizabeth McIntyre
It’s obvious that illustrators know the story, understand the nuances and have a strong background in art history and technique. Illustrations are intellectual and not at all obvious. “Finally Feeling Fan Love,” “Shattering Stereotypes” and “Emerald Necklace” are informative as well as beautiful. Photographs and illustrations feel local, like the publication knows the audience.
Silver: D CEO; Hamilton Hedrick, Nick Leibold, C.J. Burton, Elizabeth Lavin, Kevin Rechin, Billy Surface, Jonathan Zizzo, Chris Plavidal
D CEO uses a mix of multiple picture packages, single photographs and illustrations, all played for dominance on the page. The storm chasing portrait of Steve Gray is humorous and illustrates the story perfectly. “Building Bridges” is a thoughtful portrait series that holds together as a package. The cover photograph and lead image for the healthcare technology story demonstrate tremendous planning and technical expertise.
Gold: Hawaii Business; Janelle Kalawe-Ching, Kelsey Ige, Lilian Cheng, Amy Ngo, David Croxford, Logan Mock-Bunting, Cameron Cottrill, Jonathan Bartlett, Chris Danger, Tommy Shih, Joe Canlas, Megan Spelman, Aaron Yoshino, Oliver Bartlett, Olivier Koning
Hawaii Business is a master of matching well-sized photographs and illustrations to the tone of the story. They rarely fall into a pattern, truly using their visuals for the best story-telling. “Doing Business in the Shadows” and “Yes, She’s Alive” are somber and edgy, fitting the story topics. “There’s No ‘I’ in Team” is a surprise and a fun visual feature. Finally, the ocean bacteria story uses a creative mix of underwater portraits and documentary moments.
8. Best use of multimedia
Bronze: Crain’s Detroit Business; “Detroit 1917 / 1967 / 2017”; Amy Elliott Bragg, Carlos Portocarrero, Bill Shea, Kirk Pinho, Chad Livengood, David Kordalski, Beth Jachman
Readers are treated to a strong gallery with many elements and viewpoints into an in-depth project. The timeline is a great addition to a wide use of interactivity that also includes a clickable map. Great use of the archives which helps the reader transcend the time and space of this in-depth report. The personal stories of people involved in the riots gives us a good understanding of how and why Detroit is handling its past.
Silver: Arkansas Business; “Dogpatch Dreams”; George Waldon, Lance Turner, Jonathan Peoples, Vince Palermo, Tre Baker
This nice parallax experience uses photography and fun YouTube clips to take the reader back in time in Arkansas. The photography is massive allowing every beautiful detail to be soaked in. This is an enterprising story that gives a great look at local history and tells the story behind the story.
Gold: Crain’s Chicago Business; “The Rebuilders of Chicago’s Southland”; Jason McGregor
The reader is greeted with an edgy, fade-in typographical treatment. And the cool features keep on coming. This story uses photos, a map, 360-video, drone footage and data visualization. This is the total package using multiple forms of media. The story focuses on the wants and needs of a blighted community. Even if you don’t live on the Southside the reader is given a sidebar describing the 10 years after the bust and how this effects the entire Chicagoland area. This is empowering.
9. Best daily email
Bronze: Indianapolis Business Journal, “Eight@8,” Mason King
The branding emphasizes a reliable delivery time to promote it as a daily habit. It’s written cheekily and has a strong style. The content is diverse, including links to other content, and offers the reader what they need to start the day.
Silver: Business North Carolina, “Daily Digest,” David Mildenberg, Cathy Martin, Ben Kinney, Kathryn Galloway
The tone is conversational, inviting, approachable. It feels like a letter from the editor or a staff member, as if telling the reader why they think the items are worth reading and are worth the time of the editors and the reader. It feels personalized, intentional. It offer a broad view, including links to other publications.
Gold: Arkansas Business. “Morning Roundup,” Lance Turner
The Morning Roundup is the perfect way to start the day! The items are more than a linked headline, yet scannable: there’s enough there to hook the reader. The Roundup is comprehensive, uses sharp writing to explain stories in detail and has links to more information for those that need it or desire more context. The newsletter also shares information from other sources.
10. Best specialty e-newsletter
Bronze: Indianapolis Business Journal; “#IBJtech”; Lesley Weidenbener, Anthony Schoettle
This newsletter has lots of links that connect the reader to content that is important enough to send directly to your inbox. Focus on technology is specific enough yet broad enough to include many industries specific to the market — science education, dot coms, and race cars are examples.
Silver: Des Moines Business Record; “Lift Iowa”; Megan VerHelst, Suzanne Behnke
Lift Iowa has a layer focus on lifting women’s voices in local business and industry. The newsletter does an excellent job of aggregating and pointing to other publications and guest columnists, which is also a great way to increase the diversity of people represented in the publication.
Gold: Crain’s Detroit Business; “Real Estate Insider”; Kirk Pinho, Carlos Portocarrero
This email starts with an actual column from the writer, followed by a list of headlines. The result offers context, connections and a feeling that the reader is getting inside information. The tone is fun and a bit cheeky without losing credibility. Particularly notable are screen images of amusing text messages the writer received from sources.
11. Best scoop
Silver: The Business Journal, Fresno, “Faraday Future Taps Hanford for Electric Car Plant, 1,300 Potential Jobs,” Gabriel Dillard, editor, David Castellon, reporter
Getting a good scoop requires hustle, and this story demonstrates a lot of it. Acting on a tip that an electric car startup would be cleaning up an abandoned factory to set up shop there, the journal got a reporter to the scene to watch and photograph the work, to interview company executives and city officials and to explain the potential impact of the project. Quick enough to beat the competition, yet packed with color and detail.
Gold: Vermont Business, “AllEarth Pays $4 Million for Commuter Rail Cars,” CB Hall, Timothy McQuiston
This was a double-scoop that initially required both local reporting about an entrepreneur’s purchase of 12 vintage rail cars for a northwestern Vermont commuter service and reaching out to Dallas Area Rapid Transit for information about its sale of the cars. The magazine broke news of the cars’ arrival in Vermont four months later. The competition couldn’t touch them in either case.
Silver: Arkansas Business, “Cash Withdrawals Flag a Gambling Case,” Mark Friedman, reporter
Good business reporters get big scoops when they keep their eyes on the courts. Mr. Friedman spotted a federal forfeiture case in which a financial adviser’s odd bank transactions lead to indictments, still under seal when the journal reported them, for illegal gambling and money laundering. They beat the competition by more than four days.
Gold: Hartford Business Journal, “CT Children’s Combining 400 Jobs to Downtown Hartford,” Gregory Seay, editor
It’s one thing to beat the state’s flagship newspaper by two days on an important story and quite another to do it with far more detail and context than the newspaper ever got. Capitalizing on his relationship with sources, Mr. Seay broke the news of one of the largest real estate deals in downtown Hartford in more than a decade.
Silver: Crain’s Detroit Business, “Ilitch’s Legacy Spanned Pizza, Sports, Redevelopment, Philanthropy,” Bill Shea, Beth Valone, Michael Lee, Kristin Bull, Jay Greene
It was a stroke of genius for Crain’s to have an obituary pre-written for Mike Ilitch, who as the owner of the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings and the Little Caesar’s Pizza empire was among the most influential businessmen in the Motor City’s ongoing renaissance. Once the newsroom got the tip that Mr. Ilitch had died, it needed to do little more than hit the publish button.
Gold: Baton Rouge Business Report, “DXC Technology Bringing 2,000 High-Tech Jobs to New Orleans,” Stephanie Riegel
It’s not easy to scoop the governor when he wants to make a highly anticipated announcement about economic development, but good records work allowed the Business Report to follow the bread crumbs and confirm hours ahead of a scheduled news conference that thousands of new tech jobs were coming to the Crescent City.
12. Best feature
Silver: Twin Cities Business, “It’s Not Easy Being Minnesota Green,” Chris Clayton
The evolving story of medical marijuana has been told in many publications in the last year. But this feature stood out because of its use of real people with real problems and comprehensive reporting on the topic. Lots of sourcing, easy-to-understand graphics and excellent writing.
Gold: Columbus CEO, “Twinning,” Chloe Teasley
Good reporting techniques to find so many businesses run by entrepreneurs who are twins. Great work on sourcing inside the stories to add context. Strong use of powerful quotes. Kudos for making extra sure to reflect diversity and to keep working until you found it. To find this many twins in Columbus is quite a coup and reflective of a reporter who is deeply in touch with the community.
Silver: D CEO, “Can Peter Brodsky Save Southern Dallas,” Peter Simek
A stray-dog problem in southern Dallas prompts a wealthy investor to investigate the area’s problems and potential. Through excellent reporting and story-telling, we learn the many challenges ahead for both the community and the investor. Great research and context compliment powerful writing.
Gold: BizTimes Milwaukee, “The Bradley Center Era,” Maredithe Meyer
To tell a story about a building is difficult. But this well-told feature about Jane Bradley Pettit’s gift to the city of Milwaukee was filled with nostalgia – the many people and the events that connected the Bradley Center to the community. Captivating and packed with historical data, the soon-to-be torn down arena came to life through detailed reporting, excellent writing and great interviews.
Silver: Baton Rouge Business Report, “Industrial Waste,” Stephanie Riegel
St. James Parish is a forgotten and poor neighborhood that is trapped in a battle with a nearby chemical plant. The story takes us on a neighborhood journey, visiting with residents who can’t grow vegetables anymore and no longer see animals and insects, like butterflies and frogs. These situations are often missed because those impacted are voiceless. Excellent approach, great idea, tenacious reporting and fascinating.
Gold: Crain’s Chicago Business, “The Rebuilders of Chicago’s Southland,” Crain’s chief real estate reporter, Dennis Rodkin, Digital Design Editor Jason McGregor and Managing Editor Ann Dwyer.
A well-told story of a city’s rebirth through individuals who are willing to take a chance on a community’s future – even at a personal cost. Loaded with great individual and community voices, combined with outstanding maps, graphics and photography. The package was packed with context that was easy to digest with its many digital helpers. A hopeful story told with sensitivity and compassion.
13. Best personality profile
Silver: dbusiness, “Survival of the Fittest,” Tom Walsh, R.J. King, Mike Larson and Stephanie Shenouda
This a profile of a family member summoned on a rescue mission to save the Polk and Co. family business. He succeeded by transitioning it into the digital age. When Stephen Polk, a wildlife biologist by education, had to step in, the company was $200 million in debt. He sold it for $1.4 billion. Now the “low-key soft-spoken” Polk remains involved in many businesses and organizations. He is a cheerleader and philanthropist for the city. Good reporting and good writing has produced an entertaining and informative profile.
Gold: Business North Carolina, “Chief Disruption Officer,” Pam Kelley, David Mildenberg, Kathryn Galloway and Cathy Martin
The opening anecdote signals good things to come, and the reporters and writers don’t disappoint. Readers learn not only what Martin Eakes does as CEO of Self Help credit unions, which serve those unable to get mortgage loans from traditional banks. This profile reveals his personality, his motivation and his drive. It’s an insight into an unusual businessman.
Silver: D CEO, “Born to Brew,” Barry Shlachter
The first-person approach produces a conversational, informative profile of a man who dropped out of railroading to start a craft beer business in Fort Worth at a time when craft beers were little known or appreciated. By following Fritz Rahr’s career battling to get into markets and a snowstorm that collapsed the roof of his business, the writer offers readers an intimate look at the entrepreneur.
Gold: BizTimes Milwaukee, “Gary Grunau makes some noise,” Corrinne Hess
This look at one of the city’s most prominent business and civic leaders is based on showing, not telling. Using narrative techniques such as scene re-creation and anecdotes, Hess shows the dapper Grunau, who at 78 is fighting brain cancer but pushing ahead with business and civic endeavors. This profile gives us the man behind the civic face.
Silver: Crain’s Detroit Business, “Gilbert the father, Gilbert the son,” Ron Fournier
Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans was determined to be a better father to his son than his father was to him. He drew a tougher challenge: His son was born with a nerve disorder that causes tumors to grow anywhere in his body. Fournier reveals the relationship be showing rather than telling. The personality in this profile shines brightly.
Gold: Florida Trend, “A League of their own,” Jason Garcia
In this informative and nuanced profile, Garcia teases out the complexities of Florida politics as well as the talents of Deirdre Macnab, who woke up a sleepy local League of Women Voters chapter, then did the same at the state level. Along the way, she offended some members and politicians who thought she was going beyond the organization’s non-partisan portfolio. We get a picture of the ultimate organizer and leader.
14. Best body of work
Silver: dbusiness, Norm Sinclair
A public corruption scam, totaling $10 million, engulfs the retirement pension fund for Detroit’s police and fire departments. Michigan’s premier golf resorts lure vacationers from near and far by spending millions to upgrade their facilities. A city’s redevelopment project, with tangled political and economic implications, raises questions about who benefits and who pays for that. Norm Sinclair tells these stories with significant details to provide the ultimate in civic clarity with his reporting.
Gold: Business North Carolina, Edward Martin
Innate curiosity and dogged reporting and fine writing shine through Ed Martin’s stories—when he writes about a troubled economic development executive who committed suicide before his trial. When he reports on the closing of a brewery that caused the loss of 500 jobs to a small town. And when he details how Lowe’s, one of North Carolina’s most powerful companies, lost $900 million in an Australian venture.
Silver: Providence Business News, Eli Sherman
Eli Sherman offered a textbook lesson in how to report and write about the intricacies of Rhode Island’s state pension plan. And in an approach that was novel and including news that could be considered contrarian, he explored the puzzle of newspaper profitability at the local level.
Gold: D CEO, Joe Guinto
With differing styles and evocative language that makes for enjoyable reading, Joe Guinto tells how a hedge fund pirate shifted gears to protect the treasures of a home goods retailer that sells flannel sheets at a discount, how a scrappy wacky airline became a leader among its peers and how The Container Store embraces its brand of conscious capitalism.
Silver: Indianapolis Business Journal, Lisa Erdody
Lisa Erdody infuses revelatory examples into the story of a twisting path to merger for Angie’s List and explains the trend of ambitious towns funding their community improvement projects with bonds and gladly taking on debt to make things better.
Gold: Crain’s Cleveland Business; Kevin Kleps
Where sports, technology and social media intersect within the realm of big time athletics Kevin Kleps uncovers fascinating stories. Taking an original approach, he uses data and evidence drawn from hometown Cleveland sources. One example: Kleps helps readers understand how icon LeBron James aims to dominate the internet in ways he does on the basketball court– with more than 93 million combined followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
15. Best recurring feature
Silver: Biz New Orleans, “In the Biz: Entertainment”; Kim Singletary, Sarah George
This information-rich feature takes a more serious approach to the business of entertainment. It finds places where music, film and other forms of entertainment are enriching the city’s cultural life and then does a masterful job of elaborating on their impact. Case in point: A new, expansive, groundbreaking studio that will help support film production in Louisiana. Well done.
Gold: Worcester Business Journal, “Shop Talk”; Brad Kane
This personal take on new businesses identifies personalities behind the local brands. While the Q-A format is grounded in business plans and practices, more light-hearted questions reveal much about the character and style that define these business leaders — among them, a baker, a prominent developer and an unconventional team of restaurant owners.
Silver: Hawaii Business, “My Job”; Jackie Young
Clever, unpredictable subject matter makes the difference in this feature, where you’ll find stories about a professional cuddler, a biohazard technician and the owner of an ice cream truck. It’s a wonderfully eclectic collection of profiles, nicely organized under bright, inventive subheads. This would definitely seem to be a must-read in every issue.
Gold: D CEO, “Ticker”; Danielle Abril, Glenn Hunter, Sarah Bennett
A cutting-edge feature about trends and newsmakers in the region scores high marks for its knowledgeable content and well-edited copy. The range of topics makes it a winner, from the CEO of Boeing Global Services to the head of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It is exceptional in both approach and execution.
Silver: Florida Trend, “Around the State”; publication staff
Around the State pairs storytelling with solid reporting to achieve an extensive and engaging set of news items. Smart packaging under a variety of local banners makes it easy to navigate, and the breadth of information makes it a satisfying read.
Gold: Indianapolis Business Journal, “Mike Lopresti — Sports”; Mike Lopresti
The level of authority and exceptional detail in Mike Lopresti’s column must come from a lifetime passion for sports and writing. In a city full of major sports franchises and a state full of big-name college teams, his voice is definitely one to listen to.
16. Best coverage of local breaking news
Silver: Columbia Regional Business Report, “Sudden Nuclear Construction Shutdown Stuns South Carolina,” Chuck Crumbo
This was a blockbuster scoop on the astounding decision by two utility giants to pull the plug on the expansion of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station, a project for which they had already spent $9 billion and for which it had billed its customers more than $1.4 billion for upfront financing. The magazine’s expertise on the project and the nuclear industry allowed it to do faster and more comprehensive reporting than any other news outlet.
Gold: BizTimes Milwaukee, “Foxconn,” Arthur Thomas, reporter
The BizTimes scooped the world on one of the biggest economic development deals in Wisconsin history, the announcement by Foxconn Technology Group that it would develop a $10 billion campus in the state. Its series of stories informed the public quickly not only about the potential economic impact of the deal but also the $6 billion in incentives the state provided to make it happen.
Silver: Indianapolis Business Journal, “Big IU Donors Were Complaining Loudly About Crean,” Anthony Schoettle, reporter
This report does an excellent job of looking at the firing of a university basketball coach from a business perspective. Excellent sourcing and details on the financial situation in Indiana University’s basketball program make this far more than a sports story. It’s an important read.
Gold: Crain’s Chicago Business, “Chicago Woos Amazon for HQ2,” John Pletz, Alby Gallun, Danny Ecker, Nona Tepper
Crain’s beat the competition to the punch when it broke the news that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had already been courting Amazon founder Jeff Bezos when the company announced in September that it was seeking a home for its second headquarters. The magazine followed its initial reports with details about properties that might be a good fit as well as where the corporate giant would stand in the economic scheme of things.
17. Best investigative reporting
Silver: dbusiness; “Royal Deal”; Norm Sinclair, R.J. King, editor, Mike Larson, managing editor, Stephanie Shenouda, associate editor
This investigation into a private-public deal to build new city offices sheds light into the troubled history of the project. Dbusiness stitches together in detail how the project came together and provides insight to readers.
Gold: Worcester Business Journal; “Despite company shortcomings, Worcester kept tax breaks in place”; Grant Welker, news editor
In this first-rate examination, Welker shows how the city kept tax incentives for companies that failed to meet job targets. Excellent use of public records to nail down the story and find notable hits and misses.
Silver: No award
Gold: Hartford Business Journal; “The Curious Case of CliniFlow Technologies”; Greg Bordonaro, editor, Matt Pilon, news editor
These stories show the power of backgrounding secretive businesses. The state failed to vet an out-of-state company that was awarded incentives. But, using public sources, such as lawsuits, Bordonaro and Pilon revealed that the company faced fraud charges elsewhere. After the stories, Connecticut tightened its scrutiny of applicants.
Silver: Baton Rouge Business Report; “The Big Payout”; Stephanie Riegel
This investigation shows how a nonprofit agency that was supposed to help the elderly squandered money for decades. This story is powerful because Riegel builds outrage by showing how the agency kept operating in spite of critical financial audits.
Gold: Crain’s Chicago Business; “How city power players diverted $55 million in blight-fighting TIF cash to Navy Pier”; Danny Ecker, reporter
A jaw-dropping tale, reported with the Better Government Association, shows how the city funneled money intended for a blighted part of Chicago to Navy Pier entertainment complex. Excellent digging and use of the state FOIA to obtain email and documents that help tell the story. Strong writing
propels the story.
18. Best explanatory journalism
Silver: Business North Carolina, “After the Flood,” Allison Williams, Cindy Burnham, Edward Martin, Kevin Maurer, Kathryn Galloway and David Mildenberg
The publication unleashed the power of all the story-telling genres—narration, graphics and photographs—to show the impact of Hurricane Matthew six months after the flood. The reporting team looked at the economic and environmental impacts. The package is presented in shot and medium length bites. It is all easily accessible and clear.
Gold: Columbus CEO, “Opioid Crisis at Work,” Bob Vitale
With a tight focus on the impact of opioids on the workplace, this story documents the extent of the problem and what employers can and should do. The story is more readable because of the anecdotes and range of sources and because of the additional information in the graphics and take-outs. Every employer ought to keep this story nearby.
Silver: Virginia Business, “The Play is Under Review”; Bob Burke
Virginia’s business recruitment agency was under pressure for losing $1.5 million and was the subject of a scathing state commission review. The reporter for this story used that situation as a launching point to explain not only what was happening with the Virginia agency but also to present context and ideas about possible solutions from other states trying to measure the effectiveness of these incentives.
Gold: Hawaii Business, “Hurricanes: The Other Checklist,” Lavonne Leong
This is one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” stories. As Leong explains, people in Hawaii are veterans of preparing for hurricanes. But she brings up some things many business people may not have thought of, such as some insurance policies cover wind and rain damage but not floods, what kind of roofs are more likely to survive a hurricane and what building size is strongest. The publication harnessed the power of lists, photos and graphics. It’s easy to read and informative.
Silver: Florida Trend, “Addicted to rehab,” Mike Vogel
Reporter Vogel found that the states rehab industry was benefiting itself more than the patients. He discovered that some owners of “sober houses,” where patients stayed during rehab, colluded with lawyers and rehab centers to find patients. By following the cash flow, he found that many in this industry were making money with little or no regard for the patients’ welfare.
Gold: Crain’s Chicago Business, “Medicare M.I.A. health plans struggle to find their enrollees,” Kristen Schorsch and Sabrina Gasulla
The Illinois governor signed $60 billion in contracts to privatize more of the Medicare program. The insurance companies were supposed to find Medicare recipients and enroll them in this program. Schorsch and Gasulla computer analyzed nearly 1,000 state records and found that many of the firms had few enrollees, which meant the state wasn’t saving the money intended in the new program. They also were refusing to reveal the terms of their contracts. As a result of this reporting, the state legislature held hearings and one insurance company revealed the contract terms.
19. Best local coverage of a national business/economic story
Silver: Business North Carolina; “Beer Bust”; Edward Martin, Stacey Van Berkel, David Mildenberg, Kathryn Galloway, Cathy Martin
The town may be Eden, but it’s no economic heaven after MillerCoors shuttered the brewery in this North Carolina River town. This is a deftly woven tale of how corporate decisions leave scars on hardworking towns – complete with helpful statistics and insightful interviews.
Gold: Twin Cities Business; “Against the Odds”; Liz Fedor, trending editor
Straightforward and piercing interviews with women of color who have bucked the odds to land C-Suite jobs at Minnesota corporations. This tale reflects the nationwide conversation on women and glass ceilings as well as pinpoints professions – like STEM – that offer paths for diversity success.
Silver: Virginia Business; “Taking Aim at Short-Term Rentals”; Richard Foster, writer
Lots of law-abiding Virginia citizens are skirting the law to make extra cash by renting their homes via Airbnb or other home rental services. This comprehensive tale looks at all sides of the issue – from homeowners needing to make a profit off their stately homes to worried neighbors and government officials trying to regulate and tax the practice.
Gold: Hartford Business Journal; “Opioids in the Workplace”; Greg Bordonaro, Matt Pilon, Gregory Seay, John Stearns
An exhaustive look at how the scourge of addictive opioids is wreaking havoc on business and the lives of workers in Connecticut. This is a series with full scope – from workplace cost to treatment centers. At the heart of this are highly personal stories of workers who fell into the trap of addiction, written in a way that is riveting to the reader, but is not overdone.
Silver: Crain’s Detroit Business; “Amazon HQ2 Bid Revealed”; Dustin Walsh, Kirk Pinho, Chad Livengood
The economic development story of 2017 was Amazon’s hunt for second headquarters. Crain’s used FOIA and deep sourcing to crack open details of Detroit’s bid for the retail giant’s expansion. The story exposed so much of the behind-the-scenes story that other cities stood up and took notice of how the Detroit managed to pull together such high-level civic cooperation within its region as well as nearby Windsor, Canada.
Gold: Florida Trend; “Water World”; Mike Vogel
It’s a raging debate – climate change. Florida isn’t arguing about if – the state is dealing with the reality of rising seas. This package aims to be an inclusive guide to the costs and challenges of rising waters on the state – all written with a focus on facts and not hyperbole. Extra elements like polls results, maps and charts round out an informative public service project.
20. Best ancillary publication
Silver: Mainebiz; “Fact Book: Doing business in Maine”; Peter Van Allen, James McCarthy, Renee Cordes, Laurie Schreiber, Maureen Milliken, Matt Selva
Mainebiz makes itself the authority on doing business in Maine. The volume of statistical information and the amount of effort that went into this publication are incredible. There is a mix of visuals, with strong graphics, typography and photographs. The publication is also commended for finding diverse subjects.
Gold: dbusiness; “Detroit: A New Era”; R.J. King, Steve Wilke, Mike Larson, Carolyn Chin Watson, Austin Phillips, Corliss Elizabeth Williams, Stephanie Shenouda, Kristina Koggenhopp
Strengths of “Detroit: A New Era” are the depth of reporting on the arena design, as well as coverage of surrounding area redevelopment. Design and production are outstanding, with a variety of documentary photographs, aerials, portraits, illustrations and infographics. There is a great mix of reporting types, including briefs, graphics, local business listings and longer features. Dbusiness clearly put resources into this publication to make it useful.
Silver: Des Moines Business Record; “Annual Real Estate Magazine”; Kent Darr, Chris Conetzkey, Lauren Hayes, Bria Schechinger
Des Moines Business Record’s Annual Real Estate Magazine contains a staggering volume of information, yet it is well organized and helpful. The transcripts of the round table discussion with executives were particularly informative. Tremendous effort went into each listing, such as the numerous pages of Land for Sale or Office for Lease. This is an invaluable snapshot of real estate in Des Moines, particularly for the target audience.
Gold: Arkansas Business; “Greenhead”; Greg Churan, Brent Birch, Todd Traub, Vince Palermo
“Greenhead” scores high on uniqueness of the entry, recognizing that duck hunting is an important economic driver in the state of Arkansas. The writing is stellar, both fun and authoritative. This was a thoughtful magazine, targeting dark hunters as well as advertisers who wouldn’t be core advertisers in the parent publication. Strong visuals are an added bonus.
Silver: Baton Rouge Business Report; “Business Report: Trends in Health Care 2017”; JR Ball, Steve Sanoski, David Jacobs, Penny Font
This publication starts with a sensitive, engaging cover that fits the tone of a difficult story. Design is effective in mixing quick bites of content into larger features that inform readers who may scan the issue. Overall, there is a mix of well-reported features and helpful briefs. Front of book sections, such as Next, are particularly engaging. “Business Report: Trends in Health Care 2017” packs a lot information into a small space.
Gold: Inside Business; “IBQ, Inside Business Quarterly, Winter 2017, Vol. 4”; Clay Barbour, Mike Herron
Inside Business Quarterly offers a variety of features normally not found in a business publication, such as “Investing in Social Capital.” Front of book sections like “Office Fashion” provide a brain break before moving onto deeper stories and profiles. Design is clean and elegant, anchored by large, informative photographs.
21. Best bylined commentary
Silver: Georgia Trend; “Business Casual”; Susan Percy, editor-at-large
Percy’s not afraid to cover touchy subjects, here gun safety and political divisiveness, in her columns. She takes strong stands, but address her readers in a non-threatening way to drive her points home.
Gold: San Fernando Valley Business Journal; “One More Thing”; Charles Crumpley, editor and publisher
Crumpley delivers a trio of well-sourced columns that blend opinion and a newsy edge. His ledes hook the readers, and he later roots his positions with statistics and color collected from field reporting.
Silver: Arkansas Business; “Editor’s Note”; Gwen Moritz, editor
In her columns, Moritz takes deep looks at developments from near and afar that hit home for her readers. In one novel column about Amazon, she speculates how the online retailer may reshape the economy, much the way the state’s own Wal-Mart did decades before.
Gold: D CEO, “The Bottom Line”; Steve Kaskovich, deputy managing editor of business for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Kaskovich dives into big economic developments, such free trade and oil, and shows readers how Texas might fare. He blends strong reporting skills and analysis to show what’s really happening.
Silver: Crain’s Chicago Business; “Joe Cahill on Business”; Joe Cahill, columnist
Top-notch work by Cahill breaking down a complex variety of business moves. He’s adept at uncovering the outrageous, such as a health system merger that would lead to a new company with dueling CEOs. All the columns are richly reported.
Gold: Florida Trend; “Editor’s Page”; Mark Howard, executive editor
Howard’s columns, which focus on local matters, make for an intriguing read from start to finish. In one, he uses anecdotes and statistics well to argue against keeping Amtrak service in Florida. In another he uses a timeline – something seldom used in columns – to ask that readers reconsider their views about one mayor’s actions on a LGBTQ rights ordinance.
22. Best editorial
Silver: BizWest; “Feds should allow states to regulate recreational pot”; Christopher Wood
This editorial made a strong case for its arguments about regulating medical marijuana; it’s clearly written with authority. The topic is one that resonates with readers, but also addresses a national issue by bringing it back home.
Gold: Worcester Business Journal; “Berkshire, You Should have picked Worcester”; Peter Stanton, Brad Kane
This editorial is clever, smart and well-played. It’s got a clear point of view that makes a convincing and smart argument to its readers.
Silver: Providence Business News; “This plan tying water revenue to pension liabilities is all wet”; Mark Murphy
This concisely written piece shows what happens when the government tries a little sleight of hand.
Gold: Hartford Business Journal; “Private-sector hypocrisy on display at state Capitol”; Greg Bordonaro
This editorial does a good job of presenting its argument. Even if someone doesn’t agree with the stance, it’s possible to see the other perspective. Sound reasoning for a good, solid argument.
Silver: Indianapolis Business Journal; “Judicial process must be open”; Lesley Weidenbener
This is a true editorial, taking a stand and supporting its arguments. Clearly written and argued before readers.
Gold: Crain’s Chicago Business; “Why United won’t live down this screw-up anytime soon”; Ann Dwyer
This editorial took the issues at United beyond one widely-reported incident and showed the larger issues at hand. It was informative and clear.
BEST OF SHOW CATEGORIES
23. Most improved publication
WINNER: Biz New Orleans; Sarah George and Kim Singletary
Biz New Orleans has accomplished a bold, effective redesign from front to back. Striking photography and simplified text have produced more dynamic covers; inside design is polished, graceful and consistent; and writing has been pared down to essentials so stories are brisk and manageable. Other refreshing improvements: purposeful headlines and decks, close-cropped images that pop, striking contrast in type elements and occasional playful touches that are adventurous and successful. Overall, the new Biz New Orleans is a well-orchestrated publication that delivers strong content in an elegant package.
24. Best website
Bronze: The Business Journal, Fresno; “thebusinessjournal.com”; Gabriel Dillard
This website stands apart from the print edition while still effectively complimenting it. The homepage is updated regularly with the latest business news affecting the local community, the state and the nation. The centerpiece content is relevant and useful and makes clear to readers what the editors value.
Silver: Providence Business News; “pbn.com”; Staff
Sometimes it’s the little details that come together to create the total package. That’s the case with Providence Business News. A clean, modular design coupled with timestamps and subject tags creates a sense of urgency. Sponsored content is clear and varied, offering advertorial storytelling as well as a space for clients to place press releases and personnel announcements. Providence Business News is in a class by itself, having opened an alternative revenue stream through its website, selling those placements as well as tickets to sponsored events and subscriptions from the homepage.
Gold: Springfield Business Journal; “sbj.net”; Staff
The Springfield Business Journal’s website lives up to the publication’s motto of being “your business authority.” The homepage contains dozens of stories of local, regional and national interest, balanced with photography that demonstrates the rich culture and history in Missouri’s Ozarks. A conversational writing style makes the site approachable to readers, and and a more traditional news website design offers them a predictable – yet aesthetically-pleasing – user experience. Polls and buttons such as “Talk to SBJ” opens the door for a conversation between staffers and readers, making it clear that they want to talk with their audience, not to it. This attitude is more important now more than ever as local news outlets work to build trust with their communities. Springfield Business Journal is paving the way.
25. Best magazine
Bronze: Florida Trend
Florida Trend does a good job of packaging a wealth of information and making it readable and interesting. They use graphs, charts, photographs and maps to tell a story, offering many points of entry. They aren’t afraid to publish stories with a bite, such as “Addicted to Rehab” and “Learning to Live with Water.” Still, they offer something for everyone, including a mix of heavy and light stories.
Silver: D CEO; Glenn Hunter, Danielle Abril, Olivia Nguyen, Carly Mann, Eric Flores, Lily Corral, Hamilton Hedrick, Nick Leibold, Julia Bunch
D CEO’s design and stellar use of photographs, graphics, illustrations and typography make it a pleasure to read. The unusual Southwest Airlines cover is full of dynamism and energy. The issues are packed with information and strong reporting that covers a diversity of subjects. The Latino Business Award article, “Building Bridges to Success,” pairs large portraits with one-page profiles to create an eye-catching package.
Gold: Hawaii Business; Staff
Hawaii Business is full of surprises, making it a delight to read. Colors are dramatic, such as the bright yellow portraits of Jerald Pang. They have fun with every story, even serious ones like “Doing Business in the Shadows,” with its dark illustrations. While each issue begins with short, readable stories, they publish multiple features instead of just one standout. Hawaii Business takes a harder edge and runs news stories, but there is always an economic twist for their readership.
26a. Best newspaper: small tabloids
Bronze: Springfield Business Journal; Staff
This publication clearly has lots of news and pays attention to how it’s packaged to the benefit of readers. The Focus section feels like a magazine within a magazine. There are multiple points of entry for readers throughout the publication, with lots of attention to lists and breakout content that offers information at a glance for busy readers. The intentional use of white space makes the publication easy to navigate, as well.
Silver: Worcester Business Journal; Staff
The publication is communicating clearly with its readers and makes good use of photography and story packaging. Page labels, headlines and decks, as well as text and photos, are packaged in ways that helps guide the reader through the content, including sharing information in other visual ways such as graphics and charts. The content itself show that the publication does a fantastic job of representing its community — there is a mix of serious and light-hearted reads. There is a simplicity of design and clean typography that also helps aid the reader; consistently well done.
Gold: San Fernando Valley Business Journal; Staff
This publication puts care into making sure that people see themselves throughout its pages. There is a good variety of content in its report, from news leads to profiles and commentary — it shows a breadth of coverage that seems comprehensive and clear. There are fun and strong headlines on stories that you don’t see anywhere else. The strong content also looks beautiful in its presentation; not only are there faces and plenty of photos of people, but also a good mix of strong single images and multiple photos in packages, which isn’t always common.
26b. Best newspaper: medium/large tabloids
Bronze: Crain’s Detroit Business; Ron Fournier, Michael Lee
Exceptionally readable copy and smart, sharp design choices set this publication apart. The package on how a town built a new arena is indicative of the quality: Graphics, deep reporting and solid writing and editing. Great lists that were readable and easy to understand. Crain’s Detroit Business knows how to play photos big and bold and work them into a story’s design.
Silver: Providence Business News; staff
Good reporting and solid design throughout, but it’s the accessible tone of the writing that really sets the PBJ apart. Pensions are a difficult thing to illustrate, but the Journal managed to, both in art and in words. Stories on new chefs and restaurants are a staple of business publications, but this sparkles with language. Art is played big and the design sometimes reaches effervescence.
Gold: Crain’s Chicago Business; editorial staff
Manages to hit on all the cylinders – art, design, writing, reporting and service to the audience. The Southland series is top notch, the Joe Cahill columns are outstanding, the investigation into the missing restaurant owner is great – and the story about how local philanthropists help the city is a different take on a well-trod topic. The content feels essential, like you couldn’t imagine being in the business community without it. Cover designs are clever, art is displayed like it matters and the internal design supports the content, rather than distracting from it.