UNT’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference names winners of newspaper narrative contest

Friday, July 27, 2018 - 11:28

Download photos online. Photo credit: Hatch Visuals/UNT Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.

DENTON (UNT), Texas — Three of the nation’s best narrative nonfiction news pieces have earned their authors recognition at the University of North Texas Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, hosted July 20 – 22 by the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism in UNT's Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism.

The Best American Newspaper Narrative Writing Contest, co-sponsored by the Dallas Morning News, began in 2013 as a way for the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference to honor published work and to encourage narrative nonfiction storytelling at U.S. newspapers. Long-form narratives published during 2017 were eligible for the 2018 competition. The narratives will also be published in a print anthology called The Best American Newspaper Narratives, Vol. 6. 


This year’s winners are:

  • In first place, reporter of was recognized during this year’s conference for “,” the tale of . The story, which underscores themes surrounding climate change and global species in danger, includes interactive graphics, activities for kids, videos and ideas for readers who want to help polar bears. For his prize, Williams received a $5,000 and free registration to next year’s Mayborn conference.
  • Chicago Tribune investigative reporter Patricia Callahan was awarded the $2,000 second-place prize for “Doomed by Delay,” a piece that poignantly reveals the experiences of Illinois families with children diagnosed with Krabbe – a deadly disease that healthcare professionals could have screened for at birth, and ultimately treated, if it weren’t for government bureaucracy.
  • The $1,000 third-place prize went to Los Angeles Times writer Christopher Goffard for “Dirty John,” an investigative podcast that explores the dynamics of domestic violence with a nuanced, psychologically complex narrative of family and survival. Goffard was also the closing keynote speaker on the conference’s final day.


Additional honorees include:

  • Runner-up: “Twelve Seconds of Gunfire” by John Woodrow Cox of The Washington Post.
  • Runner-up: “His Heart, Her Hands” by Tom Hallman Jr. of The Oregonian.
  • Runner-up: “The Last Refugee” by Jenna Russell of The Boston Globe.
  • Notable narrative: “Wrong Way” by Lisa Gartner and Zachary T. Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times.
  • Notable narrative: “About a Boy” by Casey Parks of The Oregonian.
  • Notable narrative: “Hope for the rest of us” by Jennifer Emily of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Notable narrative: “There’s Nowhere to Run” by Kent Babb of The Washington Post.
  • Notable narrative: “The House on the Corner” by Lane DeGregory of the Tampa Bay Times.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108

Media Contacts:

Monique Bird
(940) 369-7782