Award-winning journalism

During my professional career, my writing has been honored with a number of awards.

I have won three awards apiece from the Michigan Associated Press Editorial Association and the Michigan Press Association. For the awards, my stories competed with stories from other daily newspapers with circulations up to 15,000.

In October 2004, I've received a first place award for spot news story (with Erin Alberty) from the Michigan Press Association for our coverage of the death of Staff Sgt. Paul J. Johnson. I also received a third place award in the same category for my coverage of Michigan Tech University's dismissal of President Curt Tompkins.

Here's a breakdown of the awards and the stories that I wrote.

First Place - Spot news story - 2004

The series earned a first place award from the Michigan Press Association in the spot news story category for myself and former Gazette writer Erin Alberty. We each wrote one story in the early morning hours of Oct. 22, 2003 on the death of Staff Sgt. Paul J. Johnson.

My story took a broad look at Johnson's life, including details about the fatal attack in Fallujah, Iraq and reaction from Johnson's wife, mother-in-law and friends. Alberty's story focused on community reaction as well as some of Johnson's history in the area.

Regarding our entry, judges wrote: "The quality of the writing and the breadth and depth of coverage made this amazingly detailed report the winner. Strong leads, multiple sources, powerful quotes; this package had it all."

Here is my contribution (Alberty wrote one additional story):
The ULTIMATE SACRIFICE: Calumet native killed in ambush (Oct. 22, 2003)

First Place - Sports enterprise - 2003

The March 2003 series about the death and resurrection of the Michigan Tech University football team earned a first place award from the Michigan AP in the sports enterprise category for myself and former sports writer Kevin Colbert.

The series of stories, written over a two-week period, details the university's reasons behind the decision to ax the team and the reaction to the decision including efforts by alumni to restore the program with private backing.

Here are my stories for the series (Colbert wrote one additional story):

Tech shocker: School will drop football (March 18, 2003)
Football supporters angry MTU cutting program (March 19, 2003)

MTU alumni want football saved (March 24, 2003)
Tech football to be saved? (March 28, 2003)
MTU won't punt football program, after all (March 31, 2003)

Second Place - News column - 2002

For 2002, I won a second place award for a news column from the Michigan AP about the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test. The state and local schools held community days where the public (and myself) could take a small portion of the test and learn more about the program.

Back to school: Mastering MEAP not child's play (Nov. 19, 2002)

Third Place - Spot news story - 2004

Curt Tompkins, the longtime president of Michigan Tech University, announced that he would leave the university in March 2004. However, the governing Board of Control decided later that month to terminate his contract immediately.

The package of three stories I wrote about the board's decision for Saturday, March 27, 2004 won a third place award from the MPA for spot news story. Details about the reporting process can be found here.

According to the MPA press release, judges remarked: "This report told the reader everything they could possibly want to know about the removal of a longtime college president. The writing is straight forward and easily understood. The detailing shows good reporting ability."

Here are the three stories (and follow-up) in the series:
Tompkins Fired
Legacy includes new programs, facilities
MTU students, faculty react to firing

Third Place - Sustained coverage of a single news event - 2001

In November 2001, there was an attempted fire bombing at the university. The series written by former staff writer Steve Neavling and myself earned a third place award from the Michigan AP for sustained coverage of a single news event. The package of stories also won a second place award from the MPA in 2002 for spot news.

Here are the stories I wrote for the series (Neavling wrote three additional stories):
Police suspect bombs at MTU (November 5, 2001)
Group spokesman familiar with devices (November 6, 2001)
Researchers recall other attacks (November 8, 2001)
No lasting effects anticipated (November 8, 2001)

Site © 2004, Ryan Olson
Material from The Daily Mining Gazette © 2001-2004, Ogden News Publishing of Mich.