Jewish News writers take home seven SPJ awards.
The Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists held its 2018 Excellence in Journalism Awards banquet April 18 in Troy, and Jewish News contributors walked away with several honors.
During the event, Walter Middlebrook, former assistant managing editor of the Detroit News, and Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press columnist, were presented with lifetime achievement awards. Robert Snell of the Detroit News was named Journalist of the Year, and Hasan Dudar of the Detroit Free Press was named Young Journalist of the Year. Three scholarships were awarded to rising college student journalists.
The banquet also lauded the best journalism produced the prior year by local media. For the first time, the JN was competing against larger daily newspapers: the Detroit News, Oakland Press and Macomb Daily. Despite the tough competition, the JN collected seven awards.
JN Contributing Writer Alan Muskovitz won first-place honors for his monthly column, beating out Ingrid Jacques and Nolan Finley of the Detroit News. “Witty and funny, these columns were a welcome reprieve from the daily grind of politics in 2017,” said the judges. Alan did his best Sally Field impression to his colleagues. “You like me. You really like me!” he said to the table after he received the award.
JN Contributing Writer Stacy Gittleman took first place in the Feature Story category for her story “Squeezed Out” about Paul Wasserman, aka Henry the Hatter, being forced out of his longtime home on Broadway in Detroit. “Very nice work here. It explains the human stories behind gentrification and redevelopment. The reality of what happens to people is very vivid, and the reporter lets the sources tell their own stories,” the judges said.
Also in the Feature Story category, JN Contributing Writer Barbara Lewis won second place for her story “Eye on Poland,” about how a book of pre-war photographs helped Ruth Webber find her father again 70 years after she lost him in the Holocaust. Contributing Editor Robert Sklar took fourth place for his story “Max-imum Effect,” a retrospective on Max Fisher for the JN’s 75th anniversary issue.
Contributing Writer Suzanne Chessler won third place in the Localization of a National Story category for her story “The Great Gap” about how an increasing number of Metro Detroit high school grads are opting to take a gap year before starting college.
Contributing Writer Shari S. Cohen won fourth place in the Explanatory Story category for “Jewish Detroiters on the Move,” a story about the role Jews played in housing issues around the time of the Detroit civil disturbance in 1967. The story was part of the Intersection Project, a program of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, in which the JN participated.
In the Spot or Breaking News category, Stacy Gittleman won third place for “Offering Support,” a story about how the Jewish community stood together with Chaldeans over the deportation issue.
“I’m so proud of the journalism the JN staff and contributing writers produce week after week,” said JN Managing Editor Jackie Headapohl. “These wins prove what I’ve always known — the Jewish News has some of the best journalists in the business.”