SATW Foundation
Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition
Awards for Work Published in 2015-16

National Geographic Traveler, NY Times Earn Top Honors
In SATW Foundation’s Lowell Thomas Travel Competition

National Geographic Traveler won three gold places among eight awards and The New York Times garnered seven awards in the 2016 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition, overseen by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation.

The Los Angeles Times earned Gold for best Newspaper Travel Coverage. The New York Times took Silver and the San Francisco Chronicle Bronze.

Freelance writer Aaron Teasdale of Missoula, MT, is Travel Journalist of the Year for his portfolio of narratives that judges from the University of Missouri School of Journalism lauded for “character, tension and resolution.”

Among its awards, National Geographic Traveler won Gold as Best Travel Magazine because it “bursts with excitement about the wonder of traveling. Its content is inspiring, yet grounded in the service details that readers need to know,” judges said.

The Lowell Thomas awards, recognized as the most prestigious in travel journalism, were announced in Wenzhou, China, at the annual conference of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), the premier professional organization of travel journalists and communicators.

The competition, for work from spring 2015 to spring 2016, drew 1,307 entries. This year, the SATW Foundation is giving 80 awards in 24 categories and nearly $20,000 in prize money to journalists in recognition of outstanding travel journalism.

See the full story

Watch the Video of 2016 Winners.

Individual winners: Travel Journalist of the Year Award Goes to Missoula Writer

Freelance writer Aaron Teasdale of Missoula, MT, is Travel Journalist of the Year for his stories about hurtling on a bicycle down mountainsides, skiing where others don’t and camping in Glacier National Park in the dead of winter.

“If you want to write for cyclists, skiers, paddlers, climbers, whoever, you’ve got to live it,” says Teasdale, who was cited by judges from the University of Missouri School of Journalism for narratives of character, tension and resolution. For his Gold place in the Grand Award — Travel Journalist of the Year category, he receives a cash prize of $1,500. He also won Gold in Audio Travel Broadcast for his Yellowstone National Park tour.

Also honored for Grand Award travel portfolios were freelance writers Kim Brown Seely of Medina, WA, (Silver) and Peter Guttman of New York City (Bronze).

In Culinary-Related Travel, a new category for 2015-2016, Tienlon Ho earned Gold for “Winter Worm, Summer Grass” in Lucky Peach magazine. Judges said, “This is an intimate portrait of a family, as well as a window onto the culture of the Tibetan Plateau.” Tim Neville won Silver for “Rites of the Caquelon” in Ski Magazine, and Shira Rubin took Bronze for “Land of Pork and Honey” in Roads & Kingdoms.

CBS Sunday Morning staffers earned Gold in Video Travel Broadcast for “Northern Exposure,” which judges said “combines lovely videography and elegant writing to tell a compelling story with implications far beyond the polar bear’s home.” CBS Sunday Morning also took Bronze in the category for “Aurora Borealis.” Silver went to Bob Krist’s “Gombeys: Behind the Mask” in National Geographic Traveler.

Check out the complete list of winners in 24 categories.

What the judges said

The competition, for work from spring 2015 to spring 2016, drew 1,307 entries. The contest is open to all North American journalists. It was judged by faculty at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, with Prof. John Fennell, Prof. Jennifer Rowe and administrative assistant Kim Townlain coordinating.

“Judges were impressed by the deep, nuanced reporting they encountered, combined with the creative approaches to storytelling,” said Fennell, an associate professor who holds the Meredith Chair in Service Journalism.

In awarding the Gold in Newspaper Travel Coverage to the Los Angeles Times, judges said, “The articles are deep and wide and solid … (and) the topics are inviting.”

In the category for best Travel Journalism Websites, BBC Travel took the Gold. “BBC Travel rises to the top with its obvious commitment to diversity in storytelling. The site strikes a healthy balance between compelling text, eye-catching photography and energetic, highly styled video,” judges said.

See the judges’ comments for all winners.

The prizes

The SATW Foundation distributes nearly $20,000 in prize money to individual winners. The Grand Award earns the Gold winner $1,500, the Silver winner $750 and the Bronze place $500.

In individual categories, first-place Gold winners each receive $500, with $250 going to Silver and $150 to Bronze winners. The categories for Best Newspaper Travel Coverage, Best Magazines and Best Travel Journalism Websites are not given monetary awards.

“We thank this year’s many supporters who help sustain this contest to recognize and reward outstanding travel journalism, led by a generous donation from Carnival Corp,” said David G. Molyneaux, SATW Foundation president.

The awards are named for Lowell Thomas, acclaimed broadcast journalist, prolific author and world explorer during five decades in travel journalism.