Chicago Reader, my former colleagues, and I won the 2023 AAN Award for Special Section

The Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) held its 2023 AAN Journalism Awards ceremony and announced first-place winners this past Friday, July 21, 2023, at The Rose Room in Dallas, Texas, during the 2023 TexAAN AAN Convention. The Chicago Reader, Seven Days (Vermont), and Willamette Week (Portland) led with four first-place wins each.

I was especially excited to see:

First Place: Chicago Reader – “The People Issue (Volume 52, Number 3)” – Enrique Limón, Salem Collo-Julin, Kirk Williamson, Amber Huff, Sujay Kumar, Jim Daley, Kerry Reid, Philip Montoro, Taryn Allen, Kerry Cardoza, Jamie Ludwig, Leor Galil, Deanna Isaacs, Ben Joravsky, Mike Sula, Debbie-Marie Brown, Kelly Garcia, Katie Prout, Micco Caporale, John Dunlevy

Judge’s Comment: “This report is executed in a fantastic way, from the thoughtful mix of people featured to the surprising details found in each profile. A refreshing take on a tried-and-true special report concept.”

It was such a privilege to have been part of the team doing this work, and it’s an honor to be recognized with them. I’m absolutely in awe of all the writers, editors, and designers—and the photographers!—who contributed. I knew this was something special when we published it in November 2022 (previously). The People Issue exists as an online package and as a PDF of the print issue.

Other Chicago Reader first place wins were for Food Writing (Mike Sula, including “Something magic’s growing at Back of the Yards Algae Sciences”, edited by Taryn Allen, Karen Hawkins), Arts Feature (“Will lightning strike Podlasie Club twice?” by Micco Caporale, edited by Philip Montoro), and Innovation / Format Buster (Visual arts coverage by Coco Picard, including for an illustrated conversation with artist Anna Martine Whitehead edited by Salem Collo-Julin). The Chicago Reader was also among the finalists in three other categories.

It’s also great to see the Reader’s former sister publication, The Washington City Paper with a first place win and well represented among the finalists, including snagging second place for their own The People Issue 2022.

See the full list of finalists and winners in order on the AAN website.

Updated August 2, 2023: The Reader has posted a press release covering these wins along with Excellence-in-Features journalism awards and Peter Lisagor Awards won “over the past few months.”