DENTON (UNT), TEXAS – For the fifth time in seven years, a “Washington Post” reporter has claimed the top prize in the annual Best American Newspaper Narratives writing contest sponsored by the University of North Texas’ Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.
The conference, in its 15th year, is hosted by the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism in the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism and will be held from July 19 – 21, 2019, in Grapevine, Texas.
Co-sponsored by Jim Moroney, former CEO and publisher of “The Dallas Morning News,” the Best American Newspaper Narratives competition began in 2013 as a way to honor published work and to encourage narrative nonfiction storytelling at U.S. newspapers. Long-form narratives published during 2018 were eligible for the 2019 competition. The top three winners will be honored on Saturday evening during the conference’s Literary Lights Dinner.
This year’s top three winners:
- First place: Eli Saslow of the “Washington Post” for “‘It was my job, and I didn’t find him’: Stoneman Douglas resource officer remains haunted by massacre.” The piece narrates the life of Scot Peterson, the former resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who faced public scrutiny in the wake of the school shooting that left 17 students dead and another 17 injured. In addition to this year’s award, Saslow was recognized as the first place winner of this award in 2013 and 2014.
- Second place: Elizabeth Bruenig of the “Washington Post” for “What do we owe her now?” Published in the opinion section, Bruenig’s writing told the story of Amber Wyatt, who in 2006 reported she had been raped by two classmates during a high school party in Arlington. Wyatt and Bruenig attended the same high school but did not know each other then. The story told Wyatt’s account of the events that August evening; followed up on the investigation, which did not lead to a prosecution or even an arrest; and shared details of Wyatt’s life today.
- Third place: Hannah Dreier of “ProPublica” for “The disappeared.” Following the painful journey of a mother who lost her 15-year-old son during a string of immigrant teenagers’ disappearances and deaths as part of gang violence in a Long Island, New York community. Many of the missing teens were reportedly written off by police as runaways, which led to parents leading their own searches for their missing children. Dreier previously won second place for this award in 2017.
Additional honorees include:
- Runner-up: “Standoff” by Jamie Thompson of “The Dallas Morning News.”
- Runner-up: “Lincoln’s Shot” by Lane DeGregory of the “Tampa Bay Times.”
- Runner-up: “The world, the stage, the way ahead” by Jenna Russell of “The Boston Globe.”
- Notable Narrative: “Under a dark sky, a baby is born” by Evan Allen of “The Boston Globe.”
- Notable Narrative: “She’s taught at Parkland High School for 14 years. Can she go back?” by Lisa Gartner of the “Tampa Bay Times.”
- Notable Narrative: “So you remember the student who was shot at FSU? He’s pretty sure we’ve all moved on” by Claire McNeill of the “Tampa Bay Times.”
- Notable Narrative: “Targeted” by Bethany Barnes of “The Oregonian.”