2017 NAAJ Writing Contest

Start compiling your best work from this year in a folder on your computer desktop. It’s NAAJ contest time again!

Contest entries must be published during calendar year 2016 (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31).  The deadline for all entries is Friday, Feb. 10, 2017.

Contest categories are unchanged: News, Spot News, Features, Series, Columns, Editorials, Best Blog and Special Projects. There also is a Student category. See below for detailed descriptions of each category.

The $10 fee per entry for members is unchanged. The fee for non-members also is unchanged at $75 (the same cost of becoming a member).

As usual, winners will be announced as the category judges turn in their results between mid-February and the March 12 judging deadline. The awards will be presented at an April 24 dinner at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., during NAAJ’s annual spring meeting April 23-25, 2017. Contact NAAJ executive secretary-treasurer Kathleen Phillips (979-845-2872 or ka-phillips@tamu.edu ) for membership and meeting information.

Below are directions for preparing and submitting entries. If you have contest questions, please contact contest coordinator David Hendee at 402-444-1127, or david.hendee@owh.com.

For more information about NAAJ, go to www.naaj.net

Again this year, entries to the NAAJ writing contest will be submitted using BetterBNC Media Awards Platform. The entry process is unchanged from last year

IMPORTANT: BetterBNC is optimized for the Google Chrome browser; and Firefox for PC and Macintosh/Apple. Please have a recent version downloaded and installed for the best contest experience.

How to start:

  1. Login.

a. Go to www.betterbnc.com.

b. Click contestant login

c. Select the appropriate contestant type:

1. If you are the single point of contact for your organization, select Contestant Manager, then skip to “d. Contestant Manager Login”.

2. If you have received an email authorizing you to submit entries on behalf of your media organization, select “Authorized Entrant” on the log in page, then skip to “e. Authorized Entrant Login” below

3. If you are an individual submitting your own entries (including nonmembers and freelancers), please see the “Open Call Contestant Only” instructions below

d. Contestant Manager Login:

  1. Select the contest you would like to enter
  1. Select your Media Organization
  1. Enter your password**
  1. Click “Login”

**Note: If it is your first time logging into your account, use the temporary password: bnc(lower case). After you log in using that temporary password, the system will require you to update your password. Going forward (including future years) you will log in with the password you set. If the designated Contestant Manager should leave your media organization, please contact your Contest Administrator to have the contact info in your account updated.

e. Authorized Entrant Login:

  1. Select the contest you would like to enter
  1. Select your Media Organization
  1. Enter your email address
  1. Enter your password
  1. Click “Login”

f. Open Call Login:

  1. Click “Open Call Login” in the blue bar at the top of the page
  1. If you already have an Open Call Contestant account, enter your email address and password, then click “Login” and skip to section “g.

Request to make entries in a contest” below

  1. If you do not already have an Open Call Contestant account, click

“Create your Open Call account”

  1. Fill out the form
  1. Click “Submit” at the bottom of the page

Once you fill out the form to create your Open Call Contestant account, the system will send you a validation email with a link that must be clicked before you can log into your account.

g. Request to make entries in a contest (Open Call Only):

  1. Hover over the red “Open Call Contestant” text in the blue bar at the top of the page
  1. Select “My Contests” in the menu that appears
  1. In the “Available Contests” section, check the box next to the contest you would like to enter
  1. Hover over the red “Open Call Contestant” text again
  1. Select “Manage Entries”

 

2.Submit Entries

a. Click “Submit Entry” from the Manage Entries page

b. Select a Division (group of Categories)

c. Select a Category

d. Select the Media Organization where the entry was published or performed

(Open Call Only)

e. Enter the entry headline or title

f. Add entry content (may vary by category)

  1. To upload digital file attachments (other than audio/video), click “Browse”, navigate to the desired file, and then click “Open”. Allowed file types are PDF, DOC/DOCX, TXT, JPG, GIF, and PNG. To upload additional attachments to a single entry, click the “Browse and Attach More Files” button. BetterBNC will allow up to about a 20MB file, however, we suggest keeping your files around 5MB in case the judges have a slow connection. For files larger than 20MB, you can click the “RealView” icon on the Submit Entry page to create a free account, upload your files, and then copy and paste the URL into the URL field on the Submit Entry page. You may also use a similar 3rd-party website that provides hosting services (scribd.com, issuu.com, etc.)
  1. To add web/audio/video content, copy and paste the content’s URL address into the provided Website URL field. To host your content online, either upload it to a free streaming content website (e.g.YouTube) or talk to your IT person about adding it to your publication’s website. Make sure the content will be accessible online throughout the duration of the contest and awards process.Here are some examples of free streaming content websites where you can upload audio and video content:

a. Audio: www.kiwi6.com, www.tindeck.com

b. Video: www.youtube.com, www.vimeo.com

  1. IMPORTANT: Please be sure that items are not behind a paywall or a password-protected area. If they are, you must provide username/password info in the Comments section of your entry.Judges may disqualify your entry if work samples are inaccessible.

g. Add Comments

h. Enter Credits

i. Click “Submit Entry”

  1. Pay for Entries

a. When all entries are submitted log into your account

b. Navigate to the Manage Entries page

c. Click “Calculate Entry Fees”

d. Follow the on-screen instructions to pay for your entries

 

NAAJ Contest Categories

News: Informs readers about a timely, important, interesting agricultural issue or event in an objective, thorough manner.

Spot News: Covers breaking news–news that is time-sensitive and written under tight deadline. Entries in this category would include (but not be limited to) stories written for wire services and the Internet. A statement of 100 words or less describing the conditions under which the story was written and/or the time significance of the story MUST accompany entries in the spot news category.

Feature: Takes a broader or more human look at an important or interesting agricultural issue, event or experience. It may be longer and more in-depth than a news story. This category includes human interest and technical articles.

Series: Contains multiple stories focused on an agricultural issue or event. The series objectively explores the subject in great depth from various points of view.

Column: Allows the writer to express personal observations, humor or feelings on a topic. Include three selected examples to submit as a single entry.

Editorial: Requires the writer to build arguments on fact and logic to address a certain issue. An editorial should state a position and convince the reader of the need for action. Include three selected examples to submit as a single entry.

Best Blog: Can be on any agricultural topic posted by one writer and updated regularly. A blog can include various writing styles to share the writer’s insight and expertise, but should encourage audience reaction. Blogs must have appeared on a media website or standalone, and were first online rather than in a publication. Blogs generally have features such as reader feedback and links to other sites. Include three examples of blog posts, along with any reader comments, to submit as a single entry.

Special Projects: Takes reporting to a higher level. The overall entry shows careful planning and enterprise. The entry also shows that time, talent, and in some cases, monetary commitments were made to produce the project. May be a team effort.

Student: There are no sub-categories for students. Each student may submit up to two entries, published in 2016 in a student publication or a publication that would have employees eligible for NAAJ membership.

 

NAAJ 2017 Annual Meeting – Save the Date!

The 64th annual meeting of the North American Agricultural Journalists will be April 23-25, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

The meeting will be headquartered at The Cosmos Club. To reserve a room at  the Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC, call 202-387-7783. The room block is under North American Agricultural Journalists. The rates are $195 to $225.  Reservations will be accepted through March 23.

The NAAJ-Sonja Hillgren Scholarship  and Writing Awards Banquet will be April 24 at the National Press Club.

Watch for details here.

Commentary by NAAJ president Ed White on the fired ag cartoonist

Stories that an Iowa editorial cartoonist may have lost his regular commentary role for offending a major advertiser have spread far and wide, and concerned many about the independence of the farm press in an environment of increasing corporate concentration. The cartoonist, Rick Friday, worked for Farm News of Fort Dodge, Iowa, which says it serves 24,000 readers in 33 counties.

Farmers need to believe the media they rely upon for information, perspective and commentary is independent and is looking out for their right-to-know and their right to hear contrasting commentary on matters that affect their lives and farms. Trust is based on credibility, and credibility is founded upon the belief that publications are committed to their readers’ interests, not those of advertisers or other parties.

This concern with putting readers’ interests first applies to all news publications urban and rural, but for farmers there is a special vulnerability to, and anxiety about, the reliance of farmers and farm media upon a few huge suppliers and advertisers. There are tens of thousands of individual farmers spread across the continent, but certain areas of the agriculture industry are dominated by only a handful of companies, so farmers have a legitimate worry that their general but diffuse interests will be overwhelmed by the concentrated power of major commercial players.

Farm publications need to strive especially hard to ensure that their readers know that their interests are being put first and that advertisers and major commercial interests are not exercising any influence over the news and commentary that appears in their publications. As farmers come to more and more rely upon a few major commercial players as partners in the agriculture industry, so too do they come to rely more and more upon a free and fair farm press to provide them with the information and perspective they require to operate their farms in an always challenging farm economy.

2015 Writing Contest Winners

The awards for 2015 articles were presented April 25, 2016 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

NEWS

Judged by George Edmonson, a retired newspaper reporter and editor. Among the papers still in business where he worked are USA Today, Omaha World-Herald and Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  1. Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg News, “U.S. Farmers’ $100 billion-a-year profit fades away: commodities” – Judge: “This story is a classic illustration of preparation, depth of knowledge and good sources combining to turn a news announcement into an insightful, well-rounded report. Beginning with a strong, straightforward lead, the writer weaves the personal and the factual into a readable, informative story. He provides historical context as well as current data. And it’s all done in a tightly written and easy to follow style.
  2. Barbara Soderlin, Omaha World-Herald, “Meet the new meats” – Judge: “This breezy read explains a news development and puts it in context for the reader as it explores various facets of the situation. Interestingly, she opts not for an anecdotal lead, but saves an individual for the closing to drive home the story’s key points. Thorough reporting from grocery store shelves to corporate decisions puts the reader on the scene.”
  3. Dan Miller, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “An eye from above” – Judge: “This story begins in a straightforward manner, laying out the news and why it matters. It then quickly moves to explore various aspects of the development and what it could mean for farmers. Avoiding jargon, the story uses solid data and concrete examples to drive home the key elements.”

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)

  • Jonathan Knutson, Agweek, “A howl of wolves, an uproar of ranchers” – Judge: “While humanizing the controversy over a court ruling, this story is careful to present various views clearly and objectively.”
  • Lydia Mulvany and Jeff Wilson, Bloomberg News, “With Bacon So Cheap, Even Veggie Burgers Get Two Strips on Top” – Judge: “Cleverly written with an extraordinary array of examples from the ‘bacon flight’ to raw bacon ‘flying off the slicers.’”
  • Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg News, “Canada Puts Global Trade Deal at Risk to Defend Family Dairies” – Judge: “This compelling examination of the human side of one aspect of a international trade deal is a model of how to make technical, complex issues come alive.”
  • Luzi Ann Javier and Marvin G. Perez, Bloomberg News, “Your New Coffee Habit Is Way Too Efficient for a Reeling Market” – Judge: “A strongly reported, well written look into the consequences of new technology on on old business that readers will likely never have considered.”
  • Amy Bickel, Hutchinson News, “Taxing uncertainty” – Judge: “This in-depth report on the potential impact of a legislative proposal is well done, presenting both the human and financial aspects.”

SPOT NEWS

Judged by Margo Goodhand, retired editor of the Winnipeg Free Press Margo Goodhand is a Winnipeg native. She graduated from the University of Winnipeg in 1979 with an honors degree in politics and English. She completed post-graduate studies in journalism in British Columbia.  She began her career with the West Ender in Vancouver. She was the first female news editor in Medicine Hat. She worked for both the Winnipeg Sun and the Winnipeg Free Press.  Goodhand has been a reporter, columnist, copy editor and section editor. He was named editor of the Winnipeg Free Press in 2007. The newspaper won the Excellence Award from the Canadian Journalism Foundation and a Michener Citation for meritorious public service journalism in 2009. She has been a member of the National Newspaper Board of Governors and other boards and councils.

Competition comments from the judge:

I’ve judged this category before, and was really impressed with the quantity and quality of entrants this year. To me, it shows an increased emphasis on spot and breaking news in agricultural publications, serving a crucial niche as ‘mainstream’ media continues to shrink.

  1. Chris Clayton, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “H5N2 confirmed in Arkansas” – Judge: A first-rate example of spot news — thorough and well-written with context and perspective. Impressive work on a tight deadline, particularly the followup.
  2. Barbara Soderlin, Omaha World-Herald, “Bleak day for Omaha, ConAgra pulls up stakes” – Judge: This is a terrific package produced within a day by a strong, smart news team. Great work.
  3. Allan Dawson and Terry Shiells, Manitoba Co-operator “Canola crop succumbs to final blow with May 30 frost” – Judge: A very good, wide-ranging news report compiled under a challenging deadline of just a few hours.

Honorable Mention

  • Emily Unglesbee, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Bollworm invades U.S.” – Judge: Well-written, informative and interesting, with good links at the end for readers.

FEATURES

Judged by Cheryl Magazine, deputy features editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where she has worked since 2007. Cheryl was associate editor at The Hartford Courant where she worked for 13 years before moving to Virginia in 2006. Previously she worked for U.S. News & World Report, The Louisville Times, The Courier-Journal (also in Louisville, Ky.), The Milwaukee Journal and Bloomington Herald-Telephone.  She is a graduate of Indiana University.

  1. Patricia Callahan, Chicago Tribune, “A father, a son, a family farm and a conflict over chemicals” – Judge: Terrific. The family brings the tension between philosophies of farming to life and shows the pluses and minuses of different approaches — to farming and to life.
  2. Bryan Gruley, Bloomberg News, “For $725 Million, You Can Buy a Texas Ranch the Size of a Country” – Judge: What an enjoyable read. Comprehensive and never dull with lots of history and fascinating facts woven into this intriguing yarn.
  3. Jim Patrico, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Land of Niches” – Judge: Engaging approach, lively writing — who can resist the description of “frozen happiness”? Informative and entertaining.

Honorable Mention

  • Pamela Smith, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Explore Your Roots” – Judge: A true feature, not a tarted up general news story. Clear and clever writing without calling undue attention to itself. i.e. “The decision to use insecticide on trait was a $21-per-acre decision.”
  • Marvin G. Perez, Bloomberg News, “Why Cocaine Farmers Are Getting Into Chocolate Instead” – Judge:  Well reported, tightly written story that puts humanity into a surprising market trend.
  • Urban Lehner, Fortune, “Commercial farming … in your subdivision?” – Judge: Excellent storytelling, engaging explanation of an “accidental pioneer.”
  • Pamela Smith, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Weed Whackers: Walking Beans Makes a Comeback” – Judge: What a good writer! real feature feel to the writing with strong information threaded in.

SERIES

Judged by Mike Toner, retired Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter and 1993 Pulitzer Prize winner for “When Bugs Fight Back,” a series that explored the diminishing effectiveness of antibiotics and pesticides.

  1. Emily Unglesbee and Katie Micik, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Sorghum’s Growing Pains” – Judge: “A timely and comprehensive analysis of the convergence of forces – from international trade to changing climate – that are driving a revival in the sorghum market. A particularly insightful series because it not only looks at the causes of the revival, but at the potential future pitfalls.”
  2. Todd Neeley, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Ag’s draining water fight” – Judge: “A thorough, insightful presentation of the issues and what’s at stake in the legal clash between rural Iowa drainage districts and the Des Moines Water Works that may foreshadow tensions between upstream and downstream interests across the country.  Fairly balanced and clearly presented.”
  3. Rhonda Brooks, Dan Crummett and Dan Miller DTN/The Progressive Farmer “In the beginning” – Judge: “A highly readable, richly detailed look at the decisions yield-conscious farmers make before their crop emerges and in the crucial early growing season that follows. These case studies excel in showing the myriad micro-decisions that add up – or don’t add up – to a successful crop.”

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)

  • Marcia Zarley Taylor and Elizabeth Williams, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Cash rent reset” –
  • Judge: “An impressively balanced and nicely documented account of the pressures and risks cash-for-rent farmers face in coping with the business of managing their costs. Farm finance made interesting.”
  • Thomson Reuters staff, “Chicago Pits: End of an era” – Judge: “Whatever, one wonders, will television do without the visuals of hand-waving commodity traders? A nicely nostalgic look at the soon-to-be bygone age of ‘the pits.'”
  • Jerry Hagstrom, The Hagstrom Report, “From field to float” – Judge: “Flowers? Well, maybe they’re not the biggest crop in America, but these articles – with perfect Rose Parade timing – offer a delightful hint of the breadth of the nation’s agriculture.”

 

COLUMNS

Judged by Joe Carroll. Joe is a Chicago-based Bloomberg News reporter covering Big Oil. He was the recipient of NAAJ’s Glenn Cunningham Award as agricultural journalist of the year in 2003.

  1. Heidi Clausen, The Country Today
  2. Mikkel Pates, Agweek
  3. John Harrington, DTN/The Progressive Farmer

Honorable Mention

  • Lori Potter, Kearney Hub

EDITORIAL

Judged by Jane Schmucker, a copy editor at the Toledo Blade. Jane was the recipient of NAAJ’s Glenn Cunningham Award as agricultural journalist of the year in 1996 when she was a reporter at the Youngstown Vindicator.

  1. Barb Glen, Western Producer – Judge: “An easy first-place choice for me. I like how the “Responsible Irrigation” piece, for instance, gives very specific examples — improved nozzles — along with a very wide overview that includes numbers from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. I wonder though if “riposte” and “nascent” — words that both fit where they are used — are harder words than would be necessary to make your point. How many of us would be willing to bet our paychecks that the majority of our readers could correctly define those words? My fear is that most would be quicker to turn the page than they would be to google the word.
  1. Laura Rance, Manitoba Co-operator – Judge: “These editorials clearly draw on years of work in agricultural journalism. A newcomer to the field would not have produced these. I really hate, however, using CAHRC for the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council. If you must put the abbreviation in parentheses after the first reference, it’s just not commonly used enough to use at all. And I can’t imagine this one is that commonly used among the majority of readers — even for a specialized publication.”
  1. Geitner Simmons, Omaha World-Herald – Judge: “Quiet but very solid work. These editorials appear to be less reliant on original reporting and ideas by the author as those placed higher. I would have rather not had the abbreviation ‘NRD system.'”

BEST BLOG

Judged by Sue Burzynski Bullard. Sue teaches journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In 2014, the Society of Professional Journalists named her its Distinguished Educator of the Year. As a visiting faculty member of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, she has taught journalists both internationally and in the United States. Before joining academia in 2007, Sue was managing editor of The Detroit News.

 

  1. John Vogel, American Agriculturalist, “Nor’east Thinking'” – Judge: “John Vogel doesn’t shy from rooting out the details of a problem and giving readers unexpected insights. For example, in a piece on the decline of milk drinking by school age children, he points to suspicious competitors to milk found in dairy cases.  Good old milk need not even be an ingredient in “faker” milk drinks. Plus those single cans and bottles can be expensive, with one costing the equivalent of nearly $40 a gallon.”
  2. Urban Lehner, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “An Urban’s Rural View” – Judge: “Urban C. Lehner has a knack for succinctly contrasting opposing views into a single, readable blog. His own opinions are also to the point.  He liberally laces his writing with links to original sources, giving readers more facts with a click. Topics range from controversies over organic food to analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
  3. Emily Unglesbee, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Production Blog” – Judge: “Are bees addicted to nicotine? You’ll find the answer and more interesting topics in Emily Unglesbee’s informative blog.  She makes complicated stories easy to understand.  For example, she cheerfully details her problems with a specific weed in a small garden plot, then reports the larger weed issue facing farmers.”

Honorable Mention (in no particular order)

  • Ed White, The Western Producer – Judge: “How do ag reporters tackle the job? Ed White tells how in a collection of blogs tied to specific agricultural issues. He offers insights into how farm policy develops, and how it changes, or can be changed.”
  • Jenny Hopkinson and Helena Bottemiller Evich, Politico, “Morning Agriculture” – Judge: “This blog wraps up daily agriculture news with plenty of links to details. Agricultural-related issues are collected in an easy-to-digest snapshot by reporters Jenny Hopkinson and Helena Bottemiller Evich.”
  • Pamela Smith, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Production Blog” – Judge: Pamela Smith writes in ways that grab reader attention, and keeps them reading. Her blogs are populated with people grappling with the many issues facing agriculture. And when it gets to the core issues of each piece, she reports the available facts to help readers reach informed conclusions.

SPECIAL PROJECTS

Judged by David Skoloda

  1. Staff, DTN The Progressive Farmer, “Rebalance your business” – Judge: “Time to Rebalance, a thorough examination of how farmers are making the complex decisions they face in a period of low commodity prices and high operating costs. Staff writers accomplished this with interview-based story telling that makes the special edition highly readable. As with all the Progressive Farmer entries, the graphics and photography are excellent, providing further evidence of the investment the magazine made in this project.”
  2. DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “The Art of Planting” – Judge: “The Art of Planting, a farmer-narrated tour of planting preparations from reviews of new technology such as multi-hybrid planters and high speed planting to scrutiny of seed costs. As editor Jim Patricio put it in his thoughtful introduction to the special issue, “we lead off this issue with the story of how one Minnesota family plans its planting season. We also hear from an Arkansas family about its near obsession with getting seed in the ground early.” Farmers have their say in this extensive review of planting preparations. And the potential of new technologies is well explained.
  3. Mary Baxter, Better Farming, “An Ontario Phosphorous Reduction Strategy” – Judge: “Baxter’s ambitious project traces the routes by which phosphorous enters waterways from farm fields and contributes to algae blooms such as those in Lake Erie that spurred research. She writes for the Ontario farmers who want science-based regulation, but the research she cites will have broader implications for agriculture.”

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)

  • Staff, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Changing Climate: Food Security’s Fragile Balance” – Judge: “Changing Climate: Food Security’s Fragile Balance, includes stories about farmers who are already adjusting their operations to climate change. The special section includes examples of farmers who are focusing on climate- smart practices to manage nutrients, soil and water in response to highly variable weather. This venture into climate change reporting is a clear sign that agriculture is not in denial., includes stories about farmers who are already adjusting their operations to climate change. The special section includes examples of farmers who are focusing on climate- smart practices to manage nutrients, soil and water in response to highly variable weather. This venture into climate change reporting is a clear sign that agriculture is not in denial.”
  • Melody Bomgardner, Chemical & Engineering News, “A few tender shoots” – Judge: “Venture capital’s influence on the future of agriculture is examined in this fascinating story of the start-up companies that may contribute to world food security in the years ahead. It’s a solid mix of science and business writing.”
  • Staff, Iowa Farmer Today, “Water wise” – Judge: IFT’s stories examine what’s at stake in the efforts to keep nutrients on the farm and out of the waters headed for the Mississippi River.”

NAAJ writing contest categories

Writing contest categories:

News: Informs readers about a timely, important, interesting agricultural issue or event in an objective, thorough manner.

Spot News: Covers breaking news–news that is time-sensitive and written under tight deadline. Entries in this category would include (but not be limited to) stories written for wire services and the Internet. A statement of 100 words or less describing the conditions under which the story was written and/or the time significance of the story MUST accompany entries in the spot news category.

Feature: Takes a broader or more human look at an important or interesting agricultural issue, event or experience. It may be longer and more in-depth than a news story. This category includes human interest and technical articles.

Series: Contains multiple stories focused on an agricultural issue or event. The series objectively explores the subject in great depth from various points of view.

Column: Allows the writer to express personal observations, humor or feelings on a topic. Include three selected examples to submit as a single entry.

Editorial: Requires the writer to build arguments on fact and logic to address a certain issue. An editorial should state a position and convince the reader of the need for action. Include three selected examples to submit as a single entry.

Best Blog: Can be on any agricultural topic posted by one writer and updated regularly. A blog can include various writing styles to share the writer’s insight and expertise, but should encourage audience reaction. Blogs must have appeared on a media website or standalone, and were first online rather than in a publication. Blogs generally have features such as reader feedback and links to other sites. Include three examples of blog posts, along with any reader comments, to submit as a single entry.

Special Projects: Takes reporting to a higher level. The overall entry shows careful planning and enterprise. The entry also shows that time, talent, and in some cases, monetary commitments were made to produce the project. May be a team effort.

Student: There are no sub-categories for students. Each student may submit up to two entries, published in 2015 in a student publication or a publication that would have employees eligible for NAAJ membership.

NAAJ 63rd Annual Meeting Announced – Save the Date!

The 63rd meeting of the North American Agricultural Journalists will be April 24-26, 2016 in Washington, D.C.

The meeting will be headquartered at The Cosmos Club. To reserve a room at  the Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC, call 202-387-7783. The room block is under North American Agricultural Journalists. The rates are $190 to $255.  Reservations will be accepted through March 24, and you should act early to be sure of a room there.

The NAAJ-Sonja Hillgren Scholarship  and Writing Awards Banquet will be April 25 at the National Press Club.

Registration details are available here.

2014 Writing Contest Winners

(Awards for the best writing in 2014 were presented April 27, 2015 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.)

NEWS

Judged by Mike Toner, retired Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter and 1993 Pulitzer Prize winner for “When Bugs Fight Back,” a series that explored the diminishing effectiveness of antibiotics and pesticides.

Judge’s Overall Comments:
On the heels of last year’s record American grain harvest, this year’s entries in the NAAJ news category yielded a bumper crop of journalistic gems. Choosing the best was no easy task. But there were so many top-notch articles it was nonetheless a rewarding experience. It was a reassuring one too. In an era when some lament the demise of news reporting, the overall quality of these articles attests that, at least in the world of agricultural journalism, the traditions are still strong.

1. Tom Polansek, Thomson Reuters, “Syngenta risks fresh China corn dispute with unapproved trait.” – Judge: A thorough, thoughtful, and nicely balanced account of the tangled web of decision-making that faces farmers, corporations, and public policy makers each time a new genetically engineered trait moves out of the laboratory and onto the farm. This analysis provides a clear, concise and yet satisfyingly complete overview of the chain of decision-making, or indecision, that that stretches from export markets halfway around the world to the local grain elevator.

2. Jonathan Knutson, Agweek, “The Forgotten Ones.” – Judge: Insightful reporting on of how efforts to tame nature’s excesses often have unintended consequences. The story – one community’s flood control is one cattleman’s nightmare – is a familiar plot line, but this article tells the story from the grass roots — a scale enables the reader to appreciate, on a human scale, the impact of alterations in the quantity and seasonality of stream flow projects.

3. Gil Gullickson, Successful Farming, “@#$*% Weather! No, it’s @#$*% climate change!” – Judge: Much has been, and will be, written about the prospect of climate change. This account, however, succinctly chronicles the changes that are already occurring. Neatly avoiding the trap of blaming single isolated on climate change, this account provides a broader perspective that documents, with hard statistics, how climate – not the weather – is changing around us.

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):

  • Mikkel Pates, Agweek, “No Room in the Bin” – Judge: A readable, informative report – one of number submitted this year – on how farmers have coped with the surfeit of riches resulting from record grain harvests and transportation bottlenecks.
  • Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg News, “California Drought Transforms Global Food Market” – Judge: A fine account of how multi-year shifts in climate, here manifested by the drought in California, not only change the face of farming at home, but create ripples in the market that reach around the world.
  • Dan Miller, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Dowdy Posts Historic Yields” – Judge: An informative report – rich both in technical details and in colorful anecdotes – of one man’s persistent, some might say obsessive, effort to squeeze ever greater yields out of the land he farms.

SPOT NEWS

Judged by Catharine Richert, a Minnesota Public Radio News reporter. Catharine was the recipient of NAAJ’s Glenn Cunningham Award as agricultural journalist of the year in 2008 when she was a Congressional Quarterly reporter.

1. Tom Polansek, Thomson Reuters, “Deadly pig virus re-infects U.S. farm, fuels supply fears” Judge: For me, this story had it all: it was well-written, well-sourced and clearly required aggressive reporting to nail down the specifics. The author clearly and concisely explained why the second wave of sick pigs was important to the industry and national policy. I was also impressed that the reporting spurred federal action.

2. Rod Nickel, David Ljunggren and Solarina Ho, Thomson Reuters, “Canada orders railways to boost grain shipments to ease logjam” Judge: This is a great example of spot reporting done well. The authors took a seemingly mundane news development and surrounded it with political and economic context.

3. Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg News, “Crop forecast sends corn prices to near taxpayer subsidy trigger” Judge: This author clearly knows his stuff. Rather than write a run-of-the-mill story about corn prices, he put the situation in context, explaining how the development could impact the long-term cost of the Farm Bill.

Honorable Mention: (in no particular order)

  • Christine Stebbins, Thomson Reuters, “Hedge Fund Buying Doubles MGE seat prices” – Judge: This is a great little scoop, one that clearly demonstrates the author’s deep sourcing and knowledge of the issue.
  • Jamie Klein and Garry Lenton, Reading Eagle, “Weather-related ills snowball for farmers’ – Judge: This story had several strong points. First, it gave a general audience a hint of what it’s like to grow crops in difficult weather. The authors used vivid language and imagery to describe unique challenges to area farmers.
  • Helena Bottemiller Evich, Politico, “Nutrition labels set for a major overhaul” – Judge: Great scoop about the timing of the administration’s upcoming nutrition label announcement as well as strong political context.
  • Chris Clayton, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “PED continues to spread” – Judge: What impressed me most about this entry was the author’s depth of knowledge on the subject, which made two quick turn-around stories that much more interesting to read.

FEATURES

Judged by George Edmonson, retired Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter.

Judge’s Overall Comments:

With more than 100 separate pieces to read, I knew I’d have to be fairly brutal in my approach. Nonetheless, I often found myself lost and fascinated as I read about an event such as the founding of the Joplin Stockyards or the impact of sugar quotas on the workers at Goetze’s Candy.

Overall, the quality of the entries was excellent. Whether originating in a publication with a specialized audience or a general news service, the level of thoughtfulness in the approach and clarity of the writing was admirable. My only complaint was that a handful seemed, to me, more appropriately suited for a category covering investigative or news writing.

As in past years, I came away from my reading impressed by the quality and diversity of coverage in this field. And while I’ve no doubt that economics and demographics continue to exert a strong influence, the evidence of a corporate willingness to support travel and in-depth, on-the-scene reporting was heartening. Now, to the winners.

1. Bryan Gruley and Leslie Patton, Bloomberg News, “Starbucks Seeks Rust-Resistant Coffee to Save Joe as We Know It” – Judge: “A lyrical examination of a giant company’s efforts to combat the deadly fungus threatening its future. Gruley and Patton put readers on the scene and guide them expertly through the processes and procedures. Using colorful descriptions (the wet mill is “a groaning, hissing contraption of tubs, troughs, hoses and augers that strip the fruit of its skin, washes a slimy coating from the beans and begins to separate the best.”) and clear writing (“Although coffee is one of the world’s most valuable commodities, it’s essentially an orphan crop. No developed nation farms it in a significant way. Until recently, the squads of scientists toiling over corn and soybeans in multimillion-dollar laboratories had left it alone.”), the writers draw readers in and propel them along the way. This story was a joy to read, appealing to both the reader’s senses and intellect. It is a fine example of thorough reporting and excellent writing.

2. Jesse Hirsch, Modern Farmer, “So You Want to Be a Farmer” – Judge: With a clever conversational style and a clear step-by-step story structure, Hirsch provides an entertaining and revealing look at what wanna-be farmers actually face. Using his own experiences lend color and scene, while broader facts and figures provide context. The reader is rewarded along the way with choice nuggets, such as learning that trendy heritage chickens look great but don’t taste so good or discovering that the consultant who gives seminars to aspiring farmers got out of full-time farming and recalls that “the stress was unbelievable!”

3. Jim Patrico, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Last Rock on the Planet” – Judge: This story showed how a tightly written, thoroughly reported feature can be fun to read and informative. Patrico deftly guides his readers through the beauty, hardship and quirks of New Zealand farming.

Honorable Mention (listed by judge in no particular order):

  • Jonathan Knutson, Agweek, “Mixing Oil and Cattle”
  • Barbara Soderlin, Omaha World-Herald, “More Beef, Less Cost”
  • Chris Clayton, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Farming on the Mother Road”
  • Amy Bickel, The Hutchinson News, “Politics Aside, Food-Stamp Need Real”
  • Jamie Klein, Reading Eagle, “Hopping Ahead”
  • Luzi Ann Javier and Marvin Perez, Bloomberg News, “U.S. Can’t Get Enough Sugar for Dum Dums with Import Curb”
  • Helena Bottemiller Evich, Politico, “Behind the School Lunch Fight”

SERIES

Judged by Steve Buist, investigations editor, The Hamilton (Ontario) Spectator. Steve was NAAJ’s Glenn Cunningham Award winner in 2009.

1. Marcia Zarley Taylor, Katie Micik and Todd Neeley, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Ag’s Great Affluenza.”

2. Brian Cross, Western Producer, grain transportation.

3. Jamie Klein and Ford Turner, Reading Eagle, “Unwanted Horses.”

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):

  • Chris Clayton, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Farming on the Mother Road.”
  • Jeff Wilson and Lydia Mulvany, Bloomberg News, “Crop Slump.”
  • Bloomberg News staff, “Turning the Tables: The Global Food Challenge.”

EDITORIALS

Judged by Joe Carroll, a Chicago-based Bloomberg News reporter covering Big Oil. Joe was the recipient of NAAJ’s Glenn Cunningham Award as agricultural journalist of the year in 2003.

1. Mikkel Pates, Agweek, “Battling the Critics” “Who Wins?” and “Measure 5 a Setback” – Judge: Wow! From the very first line this is a punch-up of a read: long knives, dirt-on-the-boots, Spud Scam, etc. All of these entries represent top-of-the-line, crisp and compelling writing. It feels like your smartest friend confiding at your elbow. The insistence on listing everybody’s hometown is a little distracting but I realize every publication has their reasons for certain style requirement. This author’s stuff is brilliant.

2. Jim Massey, Country Today, “Ag should target animal abusers, not videographers,” “FDA gets egg on its face for cheese-aging flip-flop” and “Immigration action gets discussion off dead center” – Judge: Strong writing and clear, cogent reasoning that lead to rock-solid stances on difficult issues. More publications and editorialists would benefit from mimicking this model. Well done.

3. Barb Glen, Western Producer, “Data on losses by wildlife…,” “Environmental policy must…” and “Federal funding adds…” – Judge: (no remarks)

Honorable Mention :

  • Phyllis Griekspoor, Kansas Farmer, “With Farm Bill passed, let’s move on immigration reform.” “KanCare ‘savings’ proving quite costly” and “Waters of the U.S. serious issue that deserves thoughtful comment”

COLUMN

Judged by Jane Schmucker, a copy editor at the Toledo Blade. Jane was the recipient of NAAJ’s Glenn Cunningham Award as agricultural journalist of the year in 1996 when she was a reporter at the Youngstown Vindicator.

Judge’s Overall Comments: In the midst of all the doom and gloom surrounding journalism careers these days, I am encouraged by poring over this good group of entries in the columns contest. Newsrooms might be getting smaller and budgets leaner, but readers across the country are still getting sound advice and easy-to-understand explanations of complicated issues as well as the generally delightful columns that result in newspaper and magazine pages being pushed across the kitchen table, urging someone to “Read this one!”

1. Urban Lehner, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Fix school meals? Sorry, we’re from Washington,” “Keep the lights on for the bluefin tuna” and “Walk a mile in the Europeans’ shoes” – Judge: I really like these columns. I like them so much that I feel like I did as a kid in school, faced with writing a book report on a novel that that was my new favorite book ever and wanting my report to be a worthy tribute to a long dead Harriet Beecher Stowe or Margaret Mitchell. Fact is, these columns by Urban Lehner, which boil the economic, political, and social issues of our times down into an interesting, easy-to-read form, make some of the columns that I read on a daily basis look, in comparison, like a collection of paragraphs written by a kid in school. Urban’s work is just that good. The only “fault” I jotted in my notes as I read and reread these columns was his use of the word “comestibles.” Will all of his readers know that word? I wondered. Is he showing off a little? I asked myself. I don’t think all of his readers know that word. (I ran it by three Ohio farmers. None knew the word. One was a high school valedictorian in the 1980s. Two are four-year college graduates.) And any thesaurus offers a number of easier words that mean the same thing. But if he’s showing off a little bit, he has every right too. The readers will stick with him in these columns. And he just might teach them a new a word in the process.

2. Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg News, “Biotech Wheat Grows in Montana — So Does Industry Mistrust,” “Drought may need to get worse before California finds answers” and “Ethanol’s Era Ending as Bacon Now Brings Profits Home” – Judge: Short, succinct columns that busy people have time to read and that relay need-to-know information in an easy-to-absorb format. I liked the leads and I found the columns to be fact-filled.

3. Laura Rance, Manitoba Co-operator, “Hay there,” “Finding a better balance” and “Lunar eclipses, voodoo — and doughnuts” – Judge: “I was so encouraged by “Hay there.” I think it’s incumbent on publications to take responsibility for corrections and even clarifications and amplifications. And here’s a column built on explaining what happened with a phrase that wasn’t even really incorrect, but wasn’t the best choice of words for a photo caption. All of the columns’ voice is one of great knowledge of the local agriculture scene.”

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):

  • Ed White, Western Producer, “Railways need crop forecasting assistance to plan service,” “Profits will be harder to find in future markets” and “Farmers need first-hand market assessment”
  • Pamela Smith, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Dow’s gutsy decision,” “Weed patch lessons; diversity is the key” and “Rotate your thinking”
  • Jacqui Fatka, Feedstuffs, “Immigration implosion” “EPA water rule still murky” and “Getting FSMA right”
  • Cheryl Tevis, Successful Farming, “Compassion contagion,” “Mind your own business” and “Clearing financial landmines”

BEST BLOG

Judged by Patricia Klintberg, a former Farm Journal writer and recipient of NAAJ’s Glenn Cunningham Award as farm writer of the year in 1995.

1. Jim Patrico, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, Machinery Chatter Blog – Judge: Jim Patrico’s entries combine a conversational style with tight writing and descriptions that put you in the driver’s seat with him. “You are there”, as they used to say on TV. As he recounts his adventure, living the dream, of driving any new Chrysler vehicle of his choice, he tells us when things began to go wrong: “On my second trip through the road course, I noticed signs for the off-road trail. They lured me like the scent of pizza lures a teenager.” In the 2nd entry, One of Those Days, an account of one family’s handling of the unexpected machinery breaks, mud-slogged and overheated trucks during harvest, again, you can visualize every delay and feel their well-concealed frustration. Any farmer would identify with this story. In the 3rd entry, Launch Season after the Gold Rush, Patrico leads us into a lucid discussion about how market conditions influence machinery manufacturers decisions on the type of equipment innovations to pursue. Low commodity prices, high meat prices equal new machines that cut, condition and bale. Good reporting, analysis and story telling. If a Blog is for readers who can never get enough information, they will be waiting for the next installment from Patrico.

2. Pam Smith, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, Production Blog – Judge: Pam Smith’s writing is detailed, full of color and good reporting. In Bringing Down the Bee Barrier, she tackles a subject — the care and feeding of honeybees and why it is important –that is at the periphery of most farmer’s consciousness. Grain farmers don’t need bees to make a crop. As she says, “So there was a great sucking sound when I expressed the viewpoint that I think farmers can be arrogant about this issue.” She makes a strong case for a change in attitude. Likewise in Tending Your Traits, which covers the complexities of choosing from the potpourri of genetically engineered seed, she says farmers need to be sure that the seeds they choose to grow result in a crop that can be sold overseas, citing Viptera as an example. China won’t import grain with this trait. You can almost see her wagging her finger at farmers telling them to “go into this planting season with your eyes open as to the risks and benefits. know what traits you are growing. Communicate with your grain buyer. We’ll all sleep a little better if we follow through and keep our grain stream clean…” She also provides a National Corn Grower’s Association website called Know Before You Grow, that farmers can use. In “Filling Out a Big Crop” she shows her farmer creds, carefully hedging her predictions about the 2014 crop with great reporting and years of observation.

3. Ed White, Western Producer – Judge: Ed White adds a new dimension to blogging with video interviews that expand his reporting and bring his points home. With the trend to put every bit of writing online, the addition of video adds a welcome element to his stories. Ed’s writing is conversational and engaging. In the story about the Agri-Innovation Forum, he includes a video interview with Rob Wong, whose company has developed a product called Neo-Pure, an all natural, residue-free sanitizer. White’s story concludes: “There’s a huge gulf between isolated farms in Western Canada, the laboratories of science-based startups and the concrete canyons of Bay Street and Wall Street, but when people can successfully connect those three elements, good things for farmers, consumers and investors can flow.” The story, On GMOs, if the informed and the users don’t get out and talk, who will?. includes a video that seeks to rebut the inaccuracies that prevail about GMOs with an interview of two public sector scientists who are blessed with the ability to put complex scientific terms into plain English. A third story, For grain, farmers and railways there’s never a normal year, but let’s start acting normal again, covers the realities of the demise of the Canadian Wheat Board and the new reality that has left some of the players–railroads, grain companies and farmers–without a net. Still he says, “I sense there’s a more constructive mood out there, after the glib optimism of 2012-13 and furious outrage of 2013-14 have left many wanting to get beyond the politics and ideology and into practical solutions.'”

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):

  • Urban Lehner, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “An Urban’s Rural View.” – Judge: Urban also has a conversational writing style and uses short sentences to bring the reader along. In A Battlefield Report From the Food Wars he reminds us that perception is reality. If companies think it will improve sales to only use eggs produced from range roving chickens they will do it. Not a nod to food safety an acquiescence to consumer folly. He also takes on the locovore movement propelled by a Vermont based index that works best in–you guessed it –Vermont where small is the realm to which all farmers aspire. In Urban’s story the NYT reports that Alaska’s increase in the production of local produce makes it 16th in the nation in the locovore index. But as Urban says, “this is Alaska we are talking about.” A state that imports 95 percent of its food. Meanwhile California, which grows more fruits, nuts and veggies than anywhere else in the nation is 37th on the locovore index–BECAUSE–local food is sold in Chain stores. I love stories that reveal what’s behind statistics. Remember Mark Twain, “There are lies, damn lies and statistics.” The third entry about the value of the dollar was less engaging to me.
  • Emily Unglesbee, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Caterpillar Droppings,” “War of the Words” and “Get in the Mode” – Judge: Caterpillar droppings: sassy, clear, good reporting on a new potential pest. 2nd story–again, her personality adds a lilt to her writing. She makes you want to have a conversation. 3rd entry–note the play on words in the title–is about the excruciatingly complex resistance issue. Good website references for farmers to help prevent the spread of herbicide resistant weeds.
  • John Vogel, American Agriculturalist, “Can Amish Survive Economies of Scale?”, “EPA Loads Cleaner U.S. Waters With Red Ink” and “If Only Uncle Sam Would Think Like a Farmer.” – Judge: John’s voice is clear throughout. In the first piece he spells out why the Amish can compete: “Pennsylvania Dutch have different values: No cash rent to pay. Most purchases are made with cash-down discounts. No fertilizer bill since livestock generate all the nutrients needed. To them ‘high maintenance’ refers to horses that don’t pull their weight, not wives….” Likewise the opinion piece about the EPA rule makes a thorough and strong case against it. And finally he makes it plain that when people complain about what is going on in Washington DC–he offers 10 farm lessons that Congress should heed to end those complaints.

SPECIAL PROJECTS

Judged by Sharon Schmickle, a journalist with MinnPost.com since 2007. She previously worked for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Sharon was NAAJ’s Glenn Cunningham Award winner in 1992.

1. Reuters staff, “Farmaceuticals.” – Judge: Thanks to impressive investigative efforts, this timely series adds important, specific information to a vexing problem confronting poultry producers, regulators and consumers. It is courageous and tough-minded journalism.

2. Marcia Zarley Taylor, Katie Micik and Todd Neeley, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Ag’s Great Affluenza.” – Judge: This project represents ambitious enterprise journalism. The investment of time and effort to analyze the aftermath of the boom years is a true service to agriculture.

3. Mary Baxter, Better Farming, “Coping with Wild Weather.” – Judge: This well-written, well-researched piece explores a fresh angle on the age-old story of weather as it affects farming. The piece is loaded with new information, including specific tips for farmers.

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):

  • DTN/The Progressive Farmer staff, “Planning for Profits.” – Judge: This sophisticated annual economic review is appropriately global as well as local. Clear presentation of complex subjects. Good work.
  • Mary Baxter, Better Farming, “Our Collapsing Bee Colonies. – Judge: This important piece is rich in information but also skillfully nuanced to reflect the many unknowns surrounding the collapsing colonies.
  • DTN/The Progressive Farmer staff, “Weeds to Watch.” – Judge: The writers of this well-planned package have done a great job of presenting highly technical information in highly readable form.
  • Jamie Klein, Reading Eagle, “The Volunteers.” – Judge: An impressive amount of time and effort went into this coverage of one of rural America’s most important services.
  • DTN/The Progressive Farmer staff, “Technology Sets the Table to Feed the World.” – Judge: Few Americans adequately understand the global reach of their agricultural systems. This project not only addresses the reach but also puts it into perspective of the global needs.

2016 NAAJ WRITING CONTEST

The 2016 NAAJ Writing Contest is open!

We are using the same online platform as in recent years, so most of you should be more or less familiar with the process. Basic instructions and deadlines are below. The instructions (and your previous contest experience) should be adequate to get you launched.

The main chore to complete early is to gather your best work in an electric folder or file so the stories are easy to find and grab when submitting entries.

There are no new contest categories. The categories and descriptions are here.

The only change is a return to prohibiting entering a story in more than one category. That is, it is no longer possible to enter the same story in News and Features (or whatever categories).

This is a return NAAJ’s earlier, longstanding policy of requiring entrants to make a decision where a story belongs. It also, obviously, gives more members an opportunity to win an award for their good work. This rule change is noted in the general instructions for our contest on the BetterBNC site.

Good luck! Enter early and often!

David Hendee
Staff Writer, Omaha World-Herald
NAAJ Contest Coordinator
1314 Douglas St. Suite 700
Omaha, NE 68102

Desk: 402-444-1127
www.Omaha.com<http://www.Omaha.com>

NAAJ 2016 WRITING CONTEST INSTRUCTIONS FOR CONTESTANTS

This year again, entries to the 2016 NAAJ Writing Contest will be submitted using BetterBNC Media Awards Platform.

Below are directions for preparing and submitting entries. If you have questions, please contact contest coordinator David Hendee at 402-444-1127, david.hendee@owh.com

IMPORTANT: BetterBNC is optimized for the Google Chrome browser; and Firefox for PC and Macintosh/Apple. Please have a recent version downloaded and installed for the best contest experience.

The deadline for all entries is 11:59:59 p.m. EST, Feb. 8, 2016.

1. Login.

a. Go to www.betterbnc.com.

b. Click contestant login

c. Select the appropriate contestant type:

1. If you are the single point of contact for your organization, select Contestant Manager, then skip to “d. Contestant Manager Login”.

2. If you have received an email authorizing you to submit entries on behalf of your media organization, select “Authorized Entrant” on the log in page, then skip to “e. Authorized Entrant Login” below

3. If you are an individual submitting your own entries (including nonmembers and freelancers), please see the “Open Call Contestant Only” instructions below

d. Contestant Manager Login:

1. Select the contest you would like to enter

2. Select your Media Organization

3. Enter your password**

4. Click “Login”

**Note: If it is your first time logging into your account, use the temporary password: bnc (lower case). After you log in using that temporary password, the system will require you to update your password. Going forward (including future years) you will log in with the password you set. If the designated Contestant Manager should leave your media organization, please contact your  Contest Administrator to have the contact info in your account updated.

e. Authorized Entrant Login:

1. Select the contest you would like to enter

2. Select your Media Organization

3. Enter your email address

4. Enter your password

5. Click “Login”

f. Open Call Login:

1. Click “Open Call Login” in the blue bar at the top of the page

2. If you already have an Open Call Contestant account, enter your email address and password, then click “Login” and skip to section “g. Request to make entries in a contest” below

3. If you do not already have an Open Call Contestant account, click “Create your Open Call account”

4. Fill out the form

5. Click “Submit” at the bottom of the page

Once you fill out the form to create your Open Call Contestant account, the system will send you a validation email with a link that must be clicked before you can log into your account.

g. Request to make entries in a contest (Open Call Only):

1. Hover over the red “Open Call Contestant” text in the blue bar at the top of the page

2. Select “My Contests” in the menu that appears

3. In the “Available Contests” section, check the box next to the contest you would like to enter

4. Hover over the red “Open Call Contestant” text again

5. Select “Manage Entries”

2. Submit Entries

a. Click “Submit Entry” from the Manage Entries page

b. Select a Division (group of Categories)

c. Select a Category

d. Select the Media Organization where the entry was published or performed (Open Call Only)

e. Enter the entry headline or title

f. Add entry content (may vary by category)

1. To upload digital file attachments (other than audio/video), click “Browse”, navigate to the desired file, and then click “Open”. Allowed file types are PDF, DOC/DOCX, TXT, JPG, GIF, and PNG. To upload additional attachments to a single entry, click the “Browse and Attach More Files” button. BetterBNC will allow up to about a 20MB file, however, we suggest keeping your files around 5MB in case the judges have a slow connection. For files larger than 20MB, you can click the “RealView” icon on the Submit Entry page to create a free account, upload your files, and then copy and paste the URL into the URL field on the Submit Entry page. You may also use a similar 3rd-party website that provides hosting services (scribd.com, issuu.com, etc.)

2. To add web/audio/video content, copy and paste the content’s URL address into the provided Website URL field. To host your content online, either upload it to a free streaming content website (e.g.YouTube) or talk to your IT person about adding it to your stations/publications website. Make sure the content will be accessible online throughout the duration of the contest and awards process.

Here are some examples of free streaming content websites where you can upload audio and video content:

a. Audio: www.kiwi6.com, www.tindeck.com

b. Video: www.youtube.com, www.vimeo.com

3. IMPORTANT: Please be sure that items are not behind a paywall or a password-protected area. If they are, you must provide username/password info in the Comments section of your entry. Judges may disqualify your entry if work samples are inaccessible.

g. Add Comments

h. Enter Credits

i. Click “Submit Entry”. For hardcopy/mail-in entry categories, print and attach the entry label (which automatically appears after each entry is submitted) to each hardcopy item and follow contest shipping instructions (contact the contest administrator for more info).

3. Pay for Entries

a. When all entries are submitted log into your account

b. Navigate to the Manage Entries page

c. Click “Calculate Entry Fees.” You will be directed to NAAJ’s website for payment.

d. Follow the on screen instructions to pay for your entries.

Revised Jan. 12, 2016

Members visit Norman Borlaug statue

NAAJ members attending the annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in April 2014, were escorted to the new Norman Borlaug statue in the U.S. Capitol. Here is a video by member Ed White, The Western Producer. Pilgrimage to Norman Borlaug Statue

2013 Writing Contest Winners

(Awards for the best writing in 2013 were presented April 7, 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.)

NAAJ’s 2014 writing contest for stories published in 2013 attracted 260 entries. That’s roughly 60 more than the average total in any other year during the last decade.

The breakdown: News 77, Spot News 15, Feature 76, Series 27, Column 19, Editorial 14, Best Blog, 12, Special Projects 20. There were no entries in the Student category.

2014 Glenn Cunningham Agriculture Journalist of the Year – Shannon VanRaes, Manitoba Co-operator

NEWS

Judged by George Edmonson, retired Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter.

Overall comments: The quality of entries was impressive. In story after story, reporters delved deeply, thought comprehensively and wrote clearly. Where there was controversy, various views were fairly represented; where there were technical aspects requiring explanation, it was provided. It was truly inspiring to read these fine stories, and I can’t recall another contest where I agonized quite so much in making the final selections. Everyone involved should be proud of their work.

1. Tom Polansek, Thomson Reuters, “U.S. farm economy flowing in reverse as drought impacts persist.” Judge: It’s hard to resist a story that leads with the Mississippi River reversing course. Exploring what’s described as an unprecedented development, the story — like the river itself — flows along with the occasional twist and turn that keeps things interesting. A fine job of reporting and engaging writing.

2. Jim Patrico, The Progressive Farmer, “Mega auction.” Judge: Start with a colorful, lively lead. Then delve deeply and interestingly into the subject. Weave facts and color throughout. End with a nice kicker. All without going on too long. The recipe is easier to recite than to put into practice, but this story does it well.

3. Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg News, “Crop insurance hazards show in lost pheasants.” Judge: The story begins with a tight, colorful scene that lays out the theme and proceeds to explore an issue of farm policy thoroughly and clearly. Sources with different points of view are quoted, explanatory statistics are interwoven and the writing is clear. A virtual template for reporting on government issues that could easily be ignored or lost in a fog of bureaucratic jargon.

News Honorable Mention

  • Jen Skerritt, Bloomberg News, “Overflowing Canada grain bins compound global glut.” Judge: Abundance was the subject of several entries. This one stood out for the depth and breadth of reporting and clear writing.
  • Deborah Huso and Dan Miller, The Progressive Farmer, “Taking a stand.” Judge: Nicely written story that brings to life a court case with implications far beyond a single Texas farm.
  • Virginia H. Harris, The Progressive Farmer, “One meal at a time.” Judge: Fascinating look that delves into a program with sharp reporting on those who set it up and those who participate.
  • Mary MacArthur, The Western Producer, “Military solution creates farm problems” Judge: Great example of how strong reporting and writing can make a local issue have wide appeal.
  • Shruti Date Singh, Bloomberg News, “Deere lures Africa’s first-time buyers.” Judge: Deep reporting with business, historical and human context.
  • Jonathan Knutson, Agweek, “Shortchanging ag research?” Judge: A thorough, readable exploration of a critical issue.
  • Alastair Stewart, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Brazil crop outlook.” Judge: Tightly written, with a nice mix of color, hard data and human interest.
  • Christine Stebbins, Thomson Reuters, “Trick or treat? Grain hedgers haunted by the ghost of MF Global.” Judge: A readable, clear examination that takes in the past and looks to the future.

SPOT NEWS

Judged by Cheryl Magazine, Sunday editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Overall comments: The definition of spot news is expanded by enterprising reporters who don’t just react to what happens. They turn an interview prior to a two-day meeting into a story that prompts action; they work with challenging deadlines to bring fresh news of record-breaking corn yield results to readers in a timely manner, and they find obscure passages in a dense report that reveal significant changes in government policy. Two honorable mentions go well beyond the news event to provide important background and context to the news of the day.

1.Christine Stebbins, Thomson Reuters, “CME top exec: Grains trading pause doesn’t make sense.” Judge: Reporter got out ahead of the events with an interview before a planning conference. The story is well-constructed, interspersing necessary background information with quotes from the CME Group’s CEO pooh-poohing a request to amend current practices when the U.S. government releases major crop reports. Reaction to his comments prompted a change in policy and the company’s disavowal of the CEO’s opinions. Well done.

2. Dan Miller, The Progressive Farmer, “World record.” Judge: The combination of thorough reporting and deadline management shows how the definition of “breaking news” can stretch. The writers successfully combine a lot of technical nitty-gritty with the growers’ personalities and a sense of place.

3. Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg News, “Obama plan shifts aid form Bunge to Africa farmers.” Judge: A significant shift in U.S. food aid policy is clearly presented. The story covers all the bases: history, reasons for change, views from proponents and opponents. The writing is tight, the construction very efficient.

Spot News Honorable Mention

 

  • Charles Abbott, Thomson Reuters, “U.S. House deals shock defeat to Republican farm bill.”
  • Katie Micik and Greg D. Horstmeier, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “GE wheat found on Oregon farm.”

 

FEATURE
Judged by Richard Estrada, former Modesto Bee ag writer and recipient of NAAJ’s Cunningham Award as farm writer of the year in 2001.

1. Shannon VanRaes, Manitoba Co-operator, “Big dreams, big dollars lead to big trouble” Judge: Wonderful reporting work, particularly because it’s on an issue that has humiliated the Canadian government. We all know how difficult it can be to produce a story when the government wants it silenced, and I admire the grief that Shannon must have endured during her work. Great job with hitting me right away with the scale of the situation and I love the verb “pumped’ $3.1 million into Farm Genesis Group … What locked me into the story was the ‘scandal’ factor being established early: A consultant who got $160,000 in four months … and this great tidbit: the company had to loan the consultant a computer. That speaks volumes about the tragic comedy to come – and lack of oversight by government and financial officials. If you’re involved in a long-term project, I like that you tell me. As a reader, I like knowing that a lot of time and effort was exerted. Great job of getting people to talk about their role in this financial disaster. It can take some cajoling to convince people to talk about decisions they made that are now being questioned, or could be embarrassing. What a great public service that is a reminder to folks everywhere that we need to hold government accountable when it makes foolish decisions. Hopefully, this is the sort of story that will spark change and force regional governments to become more transparent to taxpayers. I’m so jealous! Great job on a difficult topic!

2. Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg News, “Foodies fight to save Detroit with job hopes pinned to arugula” Judge: This story left me jealous! I wish I had been able to write it! Love the financial data – and what a great way to talk about the economic struggles in Detroit without using the emotional crutch of ‘woe is me.’ I never would have thought of Detroit and farming – and I loved the teacher-turned-farmer angle. The $20K-30K an acre stat is a great piece of information, it helps me understand why this is a business story. Good line about why he doesn’t grown cantaloupes, and it goes perfectly with the photo and the ‘don’t-pick-me’ sign. Good job bringing the USDA in and noting that it doesn’t yet know how to react to this new farming. A great follow would be discussing how this urban farming could improve the health of inner-city residents. The old-school, corner-lot farms are trendy, but their production can’t serve a neighborhood the way these new ‘urban’ farms can. Great job of not relying on ‘shallow’ quotes, but instead being judicious in he use of quotes and giving us the meat in information-packed sentences and paragraphs.

3. Des Keller, Progressive Farmer, “Building a better pig” Judge: You had me at the word ‘Bacon.’ Great job of putting me in the hog pen from the start: I could feel that little piglet squirming out of my hands as I read the story. What kept me involved was the perspective you provide on the valuet be gained here: chefs will pay 4.5 times more for Blake’s pigs than what the grocery store sells it for. You back that up with testimony from a chef, and then more proof of the product by noting how he got his name on the ‘foodie’ map … and then the Travel Channel note. The story builds a solid platform for its premise. I don’t have to take the writer’s word for it, he gives me plenty of evidence and I get to make up my own mind. “U.S. pigs suck” … “The other white meat campaign is one of the worst things” … Thank you for making this in perspective by allowing a pig farmer to speak frankly about his peer group … I don’t now if he’s right or wrong, but I know where he stands. You balance the piece by noting he produces for the 1 percent and what a great quote from the ‘opposition’: “I would congratulate (Blake) him on serving the white linen restaurant trade” … You also give us enough clues about Blake’s personality so that he can carry the piece. You take a story that we’ve all read before – whether it’s building a better cow, chicken, ear of corn or wheat kernel – and you give it balance and bring it to life.

Feature Honorable Mention

 

  • Christopher Doering, Gannett, “It’s healthier, but will kids eat it?’’ Judge: Loved the graphic with the old-school and new-school lunches! Brings back a bit of nostalgia as we think about the school lunches we suffered through, and I liked the information presented from both sides of the argument. I enjoyed the sidebar focused on the ‘focus groups’ of students. Was a nice opportunity for a checklist of five ‘yays’ and five ‘nays’ as voted by the kids. You noted the like/dislike sheet – would have been good to mimic the loo of the sheet. Readers enjoy these snack-sized graphics. The ‘briefs’ on the left side of the jump page are very nice and do a great job of answering some of my questions. Putting all this info in the story would make it clunky, but here it is convenient.
  • Garry Lenton, Reading Eagle, “The lone hunter” Judge: I can hear the coyote howling as I read the story. Absolutely love the use of the graphic – great work introducing me to the subject of the story with a close-up shot. You do a great job of writing about the coyote in the context of making it an agribusiness story. Great tips list at the bottom of the story, and wonderful way to present the stats on coyote complaints. Good idea using circles and corresponding size – more complaints means bigger circle – to present the stats to the story. The timeline is a good element. You do a great of giving me key pieces of information in different formats. I love the variety, it keeps me from getting bored – which is what happens when the same format is used over and over to present data, a checklist or other information. You take what could be an emotion-driven topic and let the numbers do the talking, as well as a few folks who are on both sides of the issue. I raise Boer goats, but I’ve also got a couple of good dogs to keep the coyotes away. After reading our story, I feel even better about the safety of my herd.
  • Dan Looker, Successful Farming, “Farming’s new faces’’ Judge: Bringing real people into the stories can be a challenge when present a ‘demographic story,’ but it’s critical if you want to maintain reader interest. I enjoyed the writer’s presentation and subtle use of graphics, but the key for me was that he put us on the farm, next to the producer. What caught my eye was the section complaining of the potential vegetable overproduction by Hispanic farmers in Spotsylvania – the name along get your attentions. I like that angle because it provides some reality. Including some adversarial perspective elevates this story from a politically correct feel-good piece into a real look at the changing face of farming. These people are still competitors, don’t forget, and that needs to be noted. Good notes with the financial data, such as renting land for vegetables and strawberries at $100 per acre. It’s fun for farmers elsewhere to see what land and food prices are elsewhere – California farmers, for example, would drool at the prospect of vegetable acreage at that price.
  • Victoria G. Myers, Progressive Farmer, “The down side” Judge: The best of both worlds: A feature that provides a good look at people and has a strong business element to it. I’m not a big of fluff – just because it’s a ‘feature story’ doesn’t mean it can run in the financial section, as well. Victoria introduces crop prices, acreage prices, some perspective on ‘now’ vs. ‘then.’ She uses percentages, as well as whole numbers, and that’s critical. It does no good to tell me that cropland prices are up 30 percent, without also telling me that some of it sells for $12,000 an acre. She does both! Telling me about the decision to remove pasture on Horter’s cattle ranch – and moving it to corn – helps me understand the storyline. I love how she explains some of the business decisions being made. She also provides tight details (fifth-generation farmer, 3-year-old son, 225 head of cattle) without belaboring the point. I don’t need the whole family tree, just a few facts. Strong use of statistics, combined with academic folks and business people, without falling into the trap of making this just another financial story. Loved the rationale given by Dobbins, rattling off a grocery list of what could impact future land prices: ‘Commodity prices, interest rates … vs. inpt costs …’ Again, this is done in a tight fashion, then we quickly move on.

 

SERIES

Judged by Scott Kilman, former Wall Street Journal ag writer and recipient of NAAJ’s Cunningham Award as farm writer of the year in 1994, 1997 and 2004 (with Roger Thurow).

1. Alan Bjerga and David J. Lynch, Bloomberg News, “Crop insurance” Judge: The U.S. crop insurance program has long been fodder for journalists: it addicts farmers and is prone to fraud. Bloomberg reporters David J. Lynch and Alan Bjerga shed new light on these problems in their compelling series, which calls Congress to task for continuing to lavish billions of tax dollars on subsidies for prosperous farmers and insurers even as Washington promises to tame its budget deficit. The series is the hardest format to pull off because it asks readers to commit an extraordinary amount of time. The authors manage this by setting a high bar at the top of their first story and then artfully weaving together powerful anecdotes, surprising facts and an unflinching point of view.

2. Phyllis Jacobs Griekspoor, Kansas Farmer, “Time for action” Judge: This series brings the reader into the trenches of the water war in western Kansas, where overtaxed rivers and the depletion of the ancient Ogallala Aquifer will upend farm life. The depth of the reporting by Phyllis Jacobs Griegspoor is impressive. Among other things, we meet farmers afraid they will be sucked dry by a huge crop-irrigation scheme just across the border in Colorado and learn about a long-forgotten plan to build a mammoth aqueduct across Kansas. Most importantly, the author starts her series with a strong point of view and then guides readers through her line of reasoning with facts and anecdotes. Although written to warn High Plains farmers, even an outsider comes away convinced that the Ogallala Aquifer is one of the great environmental stories of this generation.

3. P.J. Huffstutter, Tom Polansek and Lisa Baertlein, Thomson Reuters, “Zilmax” Judge: These articles are a collection of stories based on breaking news over several months rather than a discrete series in the classic sense. I don’t think the word “series” is used anywhere in the articles themselves. But that takes nothing away from the exemplary work of the Reuters reporters, principally P.J. Huffstutter and Lisa Baertlein. They did a magnificent job covering the fall from grace of a hot-selling Merck drug called Zilmax, which the U.S. beef industry nicknamed “Vitamin Z”. It is that good at packing high-priced muscle onto the ribs of cattle. As meatpackers banned the drug, and then Merck suspended sales, the reporters wrote a string of riveting features off the news developments. As one of their articles showed, even farm kids had turned to Zilmax in the hunt for blue ribbons at the fair. Zilmax flew under the radar of consumers already worried about eating meat from animals treated with hormones and antibiotics because it is a class of drug known as beta-agonists. Indeed, use of this type of drug exploded in part because the FDA allows meat from cattle treated with it to be sold as “hormone-free” and “natural.” Then Tyson and other meatpackers grew concerned last year that Zilmax was harming cattle. As one article in this package revealed, Tyson went cold turkey after Zilmax-treated cattle began arriving at one of its slaughterhouse barely able to walk. Their hooves were disintegrating. The stories just kept getting better and better.

Series Honorable Mention

 

  • Todd Neeley, Chris Clayton, Russ Quinn and Emily Unglesbee, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Stretching the Ogallala”
  • Marcia Zarley Taylor and Elizabeth Williams, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Health care countdown”

 

EDITORIAL

Judged by Patricia Klintberg, a former Farm Journal writer and recipient of NAAJ’s Cunningham Award as farm writer of the year in 1995.
Overall comments: The opinions entered in this contest range from solid, well thought out arguments to some that might require farmers to ask for more detail and less “inside baseball” reporting. Such writing tends to happen when an author is so steeped in a subject, he or she assumes every one else is too. And I speak from experience. The winners transcend that sort of writing. Their editorials engage the reader causing one to read from the first sentence to the last. Really well done.

1. Phyllis Jacobs Griekspoor, Kansas Farmer. Judge: The pros and cons of ending the ban on corporate farming in Kansas is extremely balanced and well written. It requires the reader to look at both sides of the issue and gently leads them to consider a sea action in the corporate ban. The piece is extensively researched which adds to its gravitas! 2nd entry: Really well argued especially to an audience not at all sympathetic to perceived restrictions on “gun rights.” The author goes to great lengths to put the constitutional caveat “of the right to bear arms” in to perspective by relating the reality of the time –over two hundred years ago–when the Constitution was written. Bravely done. 3rd entry–another well balanced opinion that makes a strong argument for action.

2. Laura Rance, Manitoba Co-operator. Judge: In the first two editorials the author does not mince words with the pork industry for behavior that exalts the status quo while ignoring growing consumer demand for change. “It is sheer folly for the pork industry to spend its declining resources to hear the views of Rick Berman [whose nickname is Dr. Evil] and his ilk. He’s telling them what they want to hear, not what they need to do.” In Waste Not Want Not, a good model of story telling, about a subject dull as dish water–infrastructure needs–that is a culprit in food waste, the author makes the reader see the importance of this issue in food security.

3. Pamela Smith, DTN/The Progressive Farmer. Judge: All the entries deal with what could be a deadly dull subject: weed and insect resistance developed from using genetically-modified seeds. But the author makes the subject readable by her familiarity with the science and knowing how to talk to farmers. “Negotiating the BT Maze” is a case in point. It examines the newest demands on farmers to learn the genetic makeup of seeds, weed killers, and their ever-evolving effects on the farm enterprise. The days when the “new best thing” to use in the field could offer some reassurance about harvest is long gone. The author makes clear that knowing how to switch up technologies is as important as marketing.

Editorial Honorable Mention

 

  • Greg D. Horstmeier, DTN/The Progressive Farmer.
  • Jim Massey, The Country Today
  • John Vogel, American Agriculturalist.

 

COLUMN
Judged by Deanna Sands, retired managing editor of the Omaha World-Herald (now back to full-time farming on her family operation in southeast Nebraska) and a past president of Associated Press Managing Editors.

Overall comments: This category drew strong competitors. Each writer presents a distinct personality that entices readers to keep going. Entries were well-thought-out, clearly written and topical. Each writer appears to understand the needs of his or her readership.

1. Ed White, The Western Producer. Judge: Good selection of timely topics. Well-reported and well-organized. The thoughtful approach encourages readers to keep reading.

2. Lori Potter, Kearney Hub. Judge: Strong sense of place in choice of topics. Clear, crisp writing invites the reader to continue. Surely rings true for her audience.

3. Laura Rance, Winnipeg Free Press. Judge: Good personalization that engages with the reader. Topics are interesting and on-point for more general audience.

Column Honorable Mention

 

  • Gregg Hillyer, The Progressive Farmer
  • Jonathan Knutson, Agweek
  • John Vogel, American Agriculturalist

 

BEST BLOG

Judged by Steven Lee, former ag writer for the Dallas Morning News and recipient of NAAJ’s Cunningham Award as farm writer of the year in 1990.

Overall comments: When I won the Cunningham, this category, and even this particular craft, didn’t exist. It’s been that long ago! I’ve since tended to think of blogs as an exercise in emptying one’s notebook of extraneous stuff that didn’t belong in news stories, or self-indulgent, unchecked ramblings. This contest has changed my mind. These submissions show the essential role of the journalist, identifying compelling issues and translating them for readers across the spectrum. They also include some of the best phrasing I’ve read in awhile. Agricultural journalism is alive — and well — by this year’s submissions. Together they reflect the intelligence and passion required to cover a discipline (Ag) that the community at large sometimes overlooks in a time of flashy, entertainment-driven supermarkets. Before we open our refrigerators, a lot (a heck of a lot) has to happen in chemistry, biology, global markets, smoke-filled political meetings. And this sampling from NAAJ punctuates the point. Well done!

1. Pamela Smith, DTN/The Progressive Farmer Judge: Ms. Smith’s leads gently pull in readers before they can resist. It doesn’t get much better than: “I smelled the start of the 2013 planting season.” Plus, she shows appreciation for the adjective, too long overlooked in print journalism, proving that a blog is the place for the latest and greatest.

2. Greg D. Hortsmeier, DTN/The Progressive Farmer. Judge: Greg Horstmeier demonstrates that topic selection is the first decision necessary in crafting a compelling blog. And his masterful follow-through, as in his recollection of a long-ago Paul Harvey talk resurrected in a modern-day ad, made this a very close race for first.

3. Alastair Stewart, DTN/The Progressive Farmer. Judge: Command of the complex places local agriculture at the top of world topics.

Best Blog Honorable Mention

 

  • Urban C. Lehner, DTN/The Progressive Farmer.

 

SPECIAL PROJECTS
Judged by Mike Toner, retired Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter and 1993 Pulitzer Prize winner for “When Bugs Fight Back,” a series that explored the diminishing effectiveness of antibiotics and pesticides.

Overall comments: This year’s special projects entries attest that, in the world of agricultural journalism, thoughtful reporting and good writing are alive and well. The large number of exceptionally well conceived and well executed entries are a tribute to the individuals who produced them, to the institutions that published them. and to the North American Agricultural Journalists for encouraging and recognizing their work.

1. Staff, DTN/Progressive Farmer, “Food security.” Judge: Gregg Hillyer’s insightful look at the looming crisis in the world food supply portrays a global challenge with solutions that are, in the final analysis, local in nature. His report is comprehensively framed against a sweeping statistical backdrop of a world that has 82 million new mouths to feed every year. But his story is solidly rooted in a handful of down-to earth efforts in Central America where a handful of human-scale sustainable agriculture projects offer a glimmer of hope that humanity as a whole might yet avoid the “food supply cliff.”

2. Jerry Hagstrom, National Journal, “Inside the House Committee on Agriculture.” Judge: Jerry Hagstrom went behind the headlines to look at one of the most closely watched and powerful committees in Congress to look at the changing role – and the changing dynamics — of the House Committee on Agriculture. His thorough, artfully crafted report provides an instructive glimpse, not only of the elected officials, but the staff, behind the legislation that sets the course of programs ranging from food stamps to the family farm

3. Todd Neeley, Chris Clayton, Russ Quinn and Emily Unglesbee, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Stretching the Ogallala” Judge: In a world increasingly conscious of the limits of of its water resources, the staff of the Progressive Farmer, DTN Grains edition, cast a wide geographic net to capture the multitude of ways farmers in Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska are “making every drop count” by using conservation and technology to extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer and the agricultural resources that depend on it.

Special Projects Honorable Mention

 

  • Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg News, “The wider world of immigration.”
  • Elizabeth Williams and Marcia Zarley Taylor, DTN/The Progressive Farmer, “Senior partners.”

 

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North American Agricultural Journalists - Award Spotlight

2015 Writing Contest Winners

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