UNT's Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference announces winners of 2015 newspaper narrative writing contest

Dan Barry
The New York Times reporter Dan Barry took top prize in the 2015 Best American Newspaper Narrative Writing Contest sponsored by the UNT's Mayborn Conference. Barry will speak at this year's conference.
Monday, June 29, 2015 - 15:35
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DENTON (UNT), Texas -- The New York Times reporter and columnist Dan Barry won the 2015 Best American Newspaper Narrative Writing Contest top prize for "The Boys in the Bunkhouse," published in the Times in March 2014. The contest is sponsored by the University of North Texas' Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.

The contest is co-sponsored by The Dallas Morning News, and has been offered by the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference since 2013 to honor published work and to encourage narrative nonfiction storytelling at newspapers across the U.S. Long-form narratives published during 2014 were eligible for the 2015 competition.

In addition to selecting first-, second- and third-place winners, contest judges also select runners-up entries and "notable narrative" entries, and all are published in a print and e-book anthology, "The Best American Newspaper Narratives." The 2014 anthology was released this month by UNT Press.

"The Boys in the Bunkhouse," which included an accompanying documentary film on the Times website, exposed 30 years of physical and mental abuse of intellectually disabled men living in a group home in the small town of Atalissa, Iowa, where they worked for a turkey processing plant.

"Boys in the Bunkhouse" will be published as a book in June 2016. As the first-place winner in the Best American Newspaper Narrative Writing Contest, Barry will receive $5,000 and free registration to attend this year's Mayborn conference, which will be held July 17-19 in Grapevine, Texas. Barry will also speak at the conference.

Christopher Goffard, general assignment reporter for The Los Angeles Times, received the contest's second-place award of $2,000 for "The Favor." He described the plea bargain sentence of the son of a former California assembly speaker, after the son pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the stabbing death of a college student. The prison sentence was later reduced by then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Stephanie McCrummen, national reporter for The Washington Post, claimed the third-place prize of $1,000 for "A father's scars: For Va.'s Creigh Deeds, tragedy leaves unending questions." McCrummen wrote about a Virginia state senator one year after he was stabbed multiple times by his mentally ill son. The son killed himself after the stabbing.

The 2015 runners-up are:

  • Nathan Bomey, John Gallagher and Mark Stryker of The Detroit Free Press for "How Detroit was Reborn."
  • Monica Hesse of The Washington Post for "Love and Fire."
  • Sarah Schweitzer of The Boston Globe for "Chasing Bayla."
  • Sarah Kleiner Varble of The Virginian Pilot for "Then the Walls Closed In."

The 2015 notable narrative winners are:

  • Janie Bryant and Joanne Kimberlin of The Virginian Pilot for "Dangerous Minds."
  • Molly Harbarger of The Oregonian for "Fred Nelligan."
  • Mark Johnson of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for "Murray's Problem."

Contest judges were Maria Carrillo, senior editor at The Houston Chronicle; Kelley Benham French, professor of practice at Indiana University's Media School and the contest's second-place winner in 2013; Louise Kiernan, associate professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University; Barry Newman, retired feature writer at The Wall Street Journal; and Steve Wilmsen, enterprise editor at The Boston Globe.

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