LOWELL THOMAS TRAVEL JOURNALISM COMPETITION
Awards for Work Published in 2015-2016
Faculty members of the Missouri School of Journalism judged the competition, with Prof. John Fennell, Prof. Jennifer Rowe and administrative assistant Kim Townlain coordinating. There were 1,307 entries. For questions, contact: Mary Lu Abbott, SATW Foundation administrator, 281-217-2872, or email@example.com.
Category 101: Grand Award — Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year
Gold: Aaron Teasdale, freelance writer-photographer
Aaron Teasdale says “If you want to write for cyclists, skiers, paddlers, climbers, whoever, you’ve got to live it.” He lives to hurtle on bicycles down mountainsides, ski where others don’t and camp in Glacier National Park in the dead of winter. His stories are expertly crafted to capture the tension and the scenes. His readers ride with him. His stories are narratives with character, tension and resolution. He also can do the meat-and-potato travel lists.
Silver: Kim Brown Seely, freelance writer
From luxury cruises to lists of best lodges, from dude ranch stays to ski trips, Kim Brown Seely brings a reporter’s eyes and a writer’s ear to her craft. Her narratives are full of anecdotes and scenes. She takes her readers to the dude ranch and mountaintop. She puts herself in her stories, but the stories are not about her. She uses her voice to make the trips personal for readers. Her work is both informative and entertaining.
Bronze: Peter Guttman, freelance photographer, writer and author
In the most eclectic Grand Award entry, Peter Guttman shows his range as a book author, video podcast host, photographer and writer. His strength is his outstanding photography. His books, including one titled “Extreme Adventure,” show off his marvelous ability to tell stories with his camera. One book was not enough; his entry has three excellent books.
Category 102: Newspaper Travel Coverage
Gold: Los Angeles Times, Catharine Hamm, Travel Editor
“We write about what is important to our readers,” states the Los Angeles Times in the cover letter for its entry. And, really, truly, it does. The articles are deep and wide and solid with accompanying maps and always more information online. The articles are well-researched. The topics are inviting, with both local and international travel scenes. Even Disney, yes, Disney — 60 years strong and still not stale. It’s definitely the elephant in the Los Angeles travel-sphere, and the Times is wise to acknowledge its weight in the community. It’s obvious from this selected slice of the Travel section that the Times cares about its readers.
Silver: The New York Times, Monica Drake, Travel Editor
The New York Times’ mix of strong topics and strong writing offers its readers a hefty bite of travel news. Articles about international travel prevail and scratch the armchair travelers’ urge to pack a bag and skip town. The cultural history of the travel site is woven into each article, adding a rich texture. Service articles — how to assess health risks and how to find the best deal — delve deep to provide the latest and greatest information that readers need to know. “After Attacks, the Soul of Paris Endures,” a collection of seven essays about Paris after the Nov. 13 attacks, is a wondrous idea for a travel section.
Bronze: San Francisco Chronicle, Spud Hilton, Travel Editor
The San Francisco Chronicle offers an eclectic mix of travel articles, columns and news to create a strong section. Wide-ranging feature topics are bolstered by service pieces. It contains both a broad picture of travel — from a lesser-known ancient trade center in Vietnam to the iconic Matterhorn in Switzerland — and tiny slices of life — a group of tourists in Lithuania who proved to be in Vilnius to compete in a folk music festival. A story on New York City takes a new angle for touring this popular destination — seeing it from the waterways. The “If-you-go” information is always a plus for readers.
Category 103: Magazines
103A — Travel Magazines
Gold: National Geographic Traveler, Maggie Zackowitz, Editor-in-Chief
National Geographic Traveler bursts with excitement about the wonder of traveling. Its content is inspiring, yet grounded in the service details that readers need to know. The Notebook departments in the front of the book offer a variety of short takes on destinations such as secluded hot springs, cities for running and worldwide van Gogh museums, and the My City column invites readers to see a place through the knowing eyes of a native. Feature stories about the Colorado River or locales affected by climate change are thoroughly reported and interestingly written while never losing sight of the service aspects of travel coverage. The design takes advantage of the beautiful photography yet keeps ease of reading top of mind to create a successful, visual magazine package.
Silver: Afar, Julia Cosgrove, Editor-in-Chief
The covers of Afar are like vibrant postcards from destinations around the world. Inside its pages, the visually stunning photography continues with a relatable writing voice that is personal yet aspirational. Engaging department stories offer windows into locales such as Spain’s La Rioja region or Havana, Cuba, while features take readers on jaw-dropping journeys to Japanese mountain peaks or Turkish carpet shops. The design is clean and bright and makes the most of the vivid photos while also being easy to read. Readers of Afar should feel well-equipped to make travel decisions and also learn a lot about the world along the way.
Bronze: Southbound, Kevin Benefield, Editor-in-Chief
Southbound magazine explores a region with inviting, creative content that is peppered with complete service details to help guide any would-be Southern traveler. Tightly written departments uncover lesser-known Southern destinations and activities and also offer insight about higher-profile hot spots. Features provide actionable travel advice, such as finding an island retreat, or introducing readers to locals such as Sissy Spacek and her own favorite Southern destinations. And the Southbound quiz on the last page is a wonderful ending note. Throughout, its approach resonates with warmth and a realness that is refreshing.
103B — Travel Coverage in Other Magazines
Gold: Coastal Living, Steele Thomas Marcoux, Editor-in-Chief
The travel content in Coastal Living is highly serviceable and often aspirational, presented in well-designed pages that are visual and varied. With writing that is breezy and personable, bright photography and engaging subjects, the magazine invites readers to plan their next trip to locales such as Puerto Rico, Uruguay or Bermuda, or daydream about owning a private island. The recurring Navigator section is packed with useful information, and travel features cover all the bases — where to stay, what to wear and what to eat and do. Web content offers additional service-driven information to complement articles or themes.
Silver: Departures, Richard David Story, Editor-in-Chief
Departures spans the globe with in-depth stories about travel to places as far-flung as Cambodia or as close to home as Denver. The engaging writing introduces readers to the people who make travel experiences great, such as a Viennese bread maker. Stunning photography throughout and a well-organized, inviting design make for an enjoyable read. A special issue about London offers potential travelers all they need to plan a trip to this iconic city with the ultimate guide about what to do and see. And the recurring Blackbook section contains a variety of content that celebrates the wonder of travel.
Bronze: Private Clubs, Don Nichols, Editor-in Chief
Private Clubs opens each issue with an Indulge Travel section that offers a wonderful variety of service-driven topics. It includes small bites of information about places to visit and where to stay and go once you’re there. That alone makes for solid travel content, but the magazine also contains regular features that cover golfing and cruising — two topics of particular interest to its target audience — as well as engaging stories about Kenya, Indonesia or 62 places to visit right here in the United States.
Category 104: U.S./Canada Travel
Gold: Michael Callahan, “Small Town, Big Story: Monroeville, Alabama,” Departures
While the world debated the debut of the new Harper Lee novel, this story took you on a literary journey to the town where it all began. The writing sparkled, and readers could actually taste this gem of a town.
Silver: Susan Nerberg, “In Your Wildest Streams,” Air Canada enRoute
Description is what makes this story sing. Readers can almost feel the splash of water as they terrifyingly navigate the rapids in the Northwest Territories’ remote Nahanni National Park.
Bronze: Sandy Lang, “Chebeague: Island Town So Near,” Maine magazine
Charm, charm, charm. Vacationers no doubt lapped up this tale of life on a vintage Maine island. It’s a simply told story that’s rich in detail, such as why cars there don’t have licenses plates — they are just irrelevant on an island where everyone is family.
Category 105: Foreign Travel
Gold: Sarah Khan, “7 Days, 1,500 Miles in Namibia,” The New York Times
What sets this apart is both its structure and its wit. Each numbered lesson is a chunk of wisdom as these women trek through Namibia in a 4-by-4. Readers are pulled into the vignettes and can feel as if they are part of the adventure. Helpful information, such as get tire insurance and book your vehicle early, is woven into the story and included in detailed lists at the end.
Silver: Ellen Himelfarb, “On Holiday With the Mob,” The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, UK
This charming narrative just brims with humor, energy and high spirits. It is as much a precisely recorded journal about a family trip as it is a guide to navigating Italy with three generations in tow. Along the way, the reader is treated to details about the food, the arts and other pleasures of this wonderful country.
Bronze: Catherine Watson, “A Return Visitor to Cuba is Drawn to its Contradictions,” Los Angeles Times
Cuba is the fascination of the moment, but here readers are blessed with observations from a writer who has a long history with the country. Thus there are comparisons and contrasts, lessons in culture and perspectives on health care, education and the economy. It is a rich account, informed by a deep relationship between writer and her realm.
Honorable Mention: Edward Readicker-Henderson, “Dream Weavers, Afar
“Dream Weavers” takes us on a delightful and informative journey through Turkey, in search of the perfect Turkish rug. The writer’s influence and inspiration, and his world-traveling Aunt Eleanor, are skillfully woven throughout, adding a layer of emotion and interest. Sidebars provide useful information to help replicate the experience. The ending is surprising and also quite satisfying.
Category 106: Photo Illustration of Travel
Gold: Catherine Karnow, “The Glow of Vietnam,” National Geographic Traveler
National Geographic Traveler’s “The Glow of Vietnam” goes beyond what readers would expect from typical travel coverage. The photographer not only has created stunning images of Vietnam but also has juxtaposed classical Asian-influenced images with photos that reflect the rise of the young and capitalistic culture sweeping the country. Images such as the two women shown in the reflection of the Gucci window seem to perfectly sum up the nation’s rapid transition.
Silver: Dave Bouskill, “Meteora Magic in Photos: Sacred Monasteries on Monoliths,” ThePlanetD.com
The Planet D provides a unique perspective on the six Greek monasteries that dot the almost other-worldly region of Meteora and gives readers a glimpse into what a real-life storybook land looks like. The photographer has used the surreal landscape of rock monoliths to show off monasteries built atop the high outcroppings that seem impossible to reach. Some of the monasteries, which date back to the 9th century, seem to be born out of the rock they sit upon.
Bronze: Susan Portnoy, “15 Incredible Photos of a Tribe You’ve Probably Never Heard Of,” TakePart
When it seems almost every corner of the world has been documented, it is refreshing to find photos of a largely untouched people or place. Susan Portnoy’s images for TakePart of the Himba tribe of Namibia capture the lives of these desert people. Her images go beyond typical ethnographic portraiture, adding a sense of personality to them. Viewers and readers come away with some understanding of and sense of connection with the Himba people.
Category 107: Special Packages/Projects
Gold: Ryan Bell, “Comrade Cowboys,” a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship,
Ryan Bell’s “Comrade Cowboys” is both original and fascinating. This series of online stories, photos and podcasts traces how American cowboys helped revitalize Russia’s meat industry following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Through these well-researched stories, readers learn how the cowboys trained Russians who want to be cattle farmers. We learn the history of how the industry collapsed as well as how it has turned around today to provide meat for Moscow’s new, popular steakhouses. As a first-person cowboy participant, Bell is an expert and amiable guide who takes readers into unknown and unexpected territories — what great travel writing is all about.
Silver: Dave Seminara and Ellie Cobb, “Announcing 2015’s Travel Pioneers,” BBC Travel
The videos in BBC Travel’s 2015 Travel Pioneers series are spectacular, and the Q&As with these six innovators and explorers are inspiring and moving. This series generates a real emotional connection with these travel pioneers, each on a quest that tests his or her mental and physical endurance. From human-powered circumnavigation around the globe and documentation of disappearing tribes to a woman who became the first person to cycle to the South Pole, these unforgettable stories take readers on adventures that have become the stuff of legend.
Bronze: Leslie Mieko Yap, Elizabeth Harryman and Eric Van Eyke, “We Salute the National Park Service
For the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Westways went all out documenting the origins and history while also supplying readers with a collection of fun and informative items, like best spots for stargazing, a parks’ bucket list from an expert, wildlife conservation and more. The print package is extensive, and the online stories with great photos, background about many of the parks and travel tips is worth bragging about. This ambitious, well-edited package is a must-consult guide for any traveler heading to a U.S. national park.
Honorable Mention: The New York Times Staff, “52 Places to Go in 2016” The New York Times
From all of the places in the world, what a herculean task to name THE 52 Places to Go in 2016! Yet in this well-researched and artful section, The New York Times travel editors succeed. The choices are familiar (New York, Mexico City, St. Louis) and unexpected (Korcula Island, Croatia, and Cesme Peninsula, Turkey). Along with the destinations, editors include some great service information: how to save money traveling, how to handle cancelled flights and milestones in travel. There are also sidebars on food and music. Online the photos are awe-inspiring and include some cinemagraphs — looped videos that help bring the package to life. Drone footage, a readers’ photo feature, Facebook threads and photo essays on a handful of the destinations combine to make this one spectacular package.
Category 108: Cruise Travel
Gold: Tara Isabella Burton, “Gently Down the Stream,” National Geographic Traveler
This fun and breezy yet informative article takes readers on a one-week cruise down the Oxford Canal. The piece is chock-full of engaging anecdotes of the many local characters travelers will encounter when on this unique ride through the English countryside. The piece provides useful details on the restaurants, scenery, architecture and other features to which the cruise offers access, all presented alongside lovely turns of phrase and personal insight, which makes for a read nearly as entertaining and transporting as the trip itself.
Silver: Aaron Gulley, “Uncharted Territory,” Virtuoso Life
An engaging, detailed, solidly reported look at a cruise along the coast of Greenland. The author not only provides helpful historical and cultural insight about the country but also delves into the effects of climate change on the icy landscape. All the while, readers embark on a journey with beautifully described portraits of the sights, sounds and people travelers will experience on this once-in-a-lifetime journey, including the famed Northern Lights. A well-written and researched article.
Bronze: Kim Brown Seely, “A World Away,” Virtuoso Life
For this detailed, enlightening report, the author takes readers on a sea-bound expedition to Papua, New Guinea. The writer combines useful historical and geographic context about the remote region with insight into the trend of expedition cruising, which appeals to an emerging demographic of travelers interested in experiencing nature as well as local culture and people. The writer blends these details with personal anecdotes, shedding light on the effects of globalization as experienced both while exploring her environs and engaging with fellow cruise travelers. Readers will feel as though they were along for the exciting, educational ride.
Category 109: Adventure Travel
Gold: Bill Donahue, “Kindergarten Can Wait,” Backpacker
Bill Donahue introduces readers to 5-year-old hiking wunderkid Christian Thomas. After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail with his parents, Buddy Backpacker, takes to the Pacific Crest Trail. The story offers wonderful scenes and snippets of dialogue to capture life on the trail with a pre-schooler. It also shows the critics who don’t believe the family conquered the Appalachian Trail and those who think it’s child abuse to have such a small child on the trail for such long treks in unpredictable conditions. It’s a surprising and touching look at travel, nature and family.
Silver: Tim Neville, “Skiing Kosovo, Abandoned Lifts and All,” The New York Times
This story has it all — a compelling narrative, with a rich and descriptive history and the exploration of a trend and burgeoning new industry. Impressively sourced, the article shows the potential for a resort’s rebirth while outlining the many obstacles. The writer brings himself into the story to show a skier’s enthusiasm for what awaits on the slopes and in the fresh powder of Kosovo.
Bronze: Joyce Maynard, “Peak Experience,” National Geographic Traveler
Joyce Maynard takes a White Mountain trek wedged between her recent second marriage and her upcoming 60th birthday. She uses a distinct and assured voice that allows readers an accompanying seat on her ride of discovery — about herself, her capabilities, her new life partner. This first-person story provides an account of the adventure with surprising insight along the way.
Honorable Mention: David Noyes, “The Everest Highway,” TravelPlus
This story provides an insider’s look at one of the marquee achievements on the Everest trekking circuit. With an authoritative voice and nice dose of context and history, David Noyes explains the compounding factors at play during the height of summit season while hundreds await their turn (with Mother Nature’s permission) to conquer just getting to Everest’s base camp.
Category 110: Travel News/Investigative Reporting
Gold: Bill Fink, “To Hunt or Not to Hunt, That Is the Question,” Yahoo Travel
Bill Fink’s story takes a deep look into this controversial topic of licensing big-game hunts. He closely examines several sides of the issue. Is responsible hunting the way to preserve and increase the animal populations in Africa? He writes, “Hunting groups say it is the ‘only way.’ Animal lovers say ‘no way.’” And a professor of conservation says, “It’s complicated.” Fink tries to answer the question. And though he doesn’t necessarily find a single answer, he does uncover how the culture of licensing of hunting safaris expands into and influences politics and corruption, environmental concerns, airlines’ shipping policies, poaching and population shifts while also protecting and expanding the herds. It’s complicated, indeed, but Fink does of stellar job of making the sides understandable.
Silver: Jeff Greenwald, “Nepal: We Shall Rise Again,” Travel Weekly
“Nepal” presents, almost paints, a portrait in vivid colors. Greenwald, who regularly reports from Nepal, captures the culture of the people who live in this mountainous country and maintain their values even in the face of adversity caused by both man-made and natural events. The article is filled with “real people” and not just officials or high-status business owners and provides a compassionate look reflecting the kindness and resiliency of the people.
Bronze: David Koenig and Scott Mayerowitz, “Airlines Carve U.S. Into Markets Dominated by 1 or 2 Carriers,”
The Associated Press
“Oh, so that’s why it costs so much to fly nowadays” jarringly becomes apparent when reading this analysis by two AP reporters. They have taken a hard look into the strategies of how consolidating airlines freed those airlines to charge more. It’s a straight-forward, fact-filled article, more than enough to make the reading public quite angry.
Category 111: Service-Oriented Consumer Work
Gold: Kari Bodnarchuk, “Separation Adaptation: With Planning (and Socks), Kids Will Be All Right
When You Travel Without Them,” The Boston Globe
Must-read insights for traveling parents include quotes and advice from experts and travelers alike. This is the kind of article parents would read to each other over Sunday brunch. Grandparents would like it too for obvious reasons.
Silver: Kate Siber, “This Is How You Do It,” Outside
This is ideal material for the audience, both potential players and voyeurs. Tightly written copy blocks for a bucket list of adventures are backed by sources for more information on how to realize each one.
Bronze: Millie Ball, “Tips to Ease the Journey When Traveling With Portable Medical Devices Needing Power,”
Los Angeles Times
The writer aptly addresses an increasing problem among aging travelers. The story comes to life with the author’s personal and humorous approach, and its practical advice makes for a can-do service package.
Category 112: Environmental Tourism
Gold: Joel Clement, “Kio-Kio Economy: Can Bonefishing Help Anaa Atoll?” The Flyfish Journal
Crystalline waters, sandy beaches, hard-fighting bonefish — what’s not to like? Seriously, Joel Clement does a fine job of placing readers in the moment. The story comprises a nice blend of serious environmental discussion, sociological discussion and traditional travel description of this speck in the South Pacific.
Silver: Christopher Solomon, “Can Montana’s Smith River Survive a Nearby Mine?” The New York Times
A prediction: Readers of this story will not be content until they float the Smith River for themselves. The author takes a balanced approach to presenting the environmental issue at stake here. In describing the river and its environs, Christopher Solomon captures the thrill of a wilderness adventure.
Bronze: Beth Ann Fennelly, “Flight Pattern,” Garden & Gun magazine
Nicely written, with a strong narrative. Beth Ann Fennelly joins a group to find where ruby-throated hummingbirds go for the winter, discovering they make a long journey to Central America. The author does a good job of describing the environment around her, capturing the tiny, feathered subjects in words quite well. Reading this story made me want to take a birding expedition on my own — and that’s a high compliment.
Category 113: Cultural Tourism
Gold: Thomas Chatterton Williams, “In Another Country,” Smithsonian Journeys
Although “In Another Country” focuses on black Americans in Paris, the writer’s subject matter extends beyond one specific race or ethnic experience. The story is about identity and how we acclimate to our surroundings. When Paris resident Camille Rich, who grew up in Philadelphia, says, “There’s no way a child in today’s America can grow without the idea of race as core to their identity,” readers are reminded of the great divides in the United States. The focus is deep-rooted cultural perceptions and the complexities of racism that extend beyond black and white. New York City isn’t perfect, but neither is Paris — an observation not lost on Thomas Chatterton Williams when he writes about his father’s reaction to the latter — “the reality, however great, can only dissolve before the richness of our own imagination.”
Silver: Tara Isabella Burton, “Cafe Society,” National Geographic Traveler
The strength of “Cafe Society” is the sense of place. Even if readers have never been to Paris, the writer allows them to suspend disbelief and imagine themselves there. The topic — people-watching — is old but Burton makes it come alive. Anybody can relate to the narrator as en flaneuse who eavesdrops on others, whether in Paris or in their own backyards. In a culture saturated with devices that allow us to see what others are doing on social media, Burton reminds us that life happens in our immediate surroundings. And the ending — the double-provocateur where the writer becomes the one spied upon and sketched by a nearby woman in black — is perfect.
Bronze: Michael Gross, “Mexico City…is One of the World’s Greatest Cultural Destinations.
So What Are You Waiting For?” Departures
Mexico City isn’t often the first choice of travelers who want an urban experience. Yet, this writer provides historical context to help readers appreciate Mexico’s past and question negative stereotypes about drugs and violence that tend to dominate the news. No urban setting is completely safe — as noted with the mention of New York and Ferguson — and this story convinces readers that Mexico City should be tops on their list.
Honorable Mention: Elisabeth Eaves, “A Hundred Cities Within Seoul,” The New York Times
Learning about South Korea from a filmmaker, a novelist, a designer and a musician is the perfect storm for telling the tale of cultural tourism. Seeking out native informants is a great way to learn for the writer and the reader. Elisabeth Eaves visits a museum, a place of work and two neighborhoods. We see that Seoul is constantly changing and that contributes to the city’s energy and focus on reinvention, notwithstanding exceptions to the rule: parks and centuries-old palaces and museums.
Category 114: Personal Comment
Gold: Kim Cross, “The King of Tides,” Southwest: The Magazine
A fishing line is the tie that binds a father and daughter in this warmly descriptive return to the rivers of the author’s youth. The writing is lively; the emotion is genuine. We share the experience of the outdoors and sense the love that has outlasted the expeditions.
Silver: Marcia DeSanctis, “Time or the Sahara Wind,” Tales To Go
A photo album brings back memories not only of trips taken but also, as importantly, of the photographer herself — the writer’s mother, who now is lost in the mists of Alzheimer’s. This personal and poignant story reminds readers of the fragility of life.
Bronze: Joseph Berger, “In Poland, Searching for Jewish Heritage,” The New York Times
The Polish village from which the writer’s family fled years ago bears witness to the tragedy of war and the permanence of family in a moving and effective story. This is the kind of piece that helps new generations understand the importance of learning from the past.
Category 115: Special-Purpose Travel
Gold: Peter Frick-Wright, “Cache Money,” Outside
This is a wild tale that unfolds like a detective story. An old man hides a chest containing a reported million dollars in gold. The biggest clue: a vague poem. Darrell Seyler, an ex-cop, is looking for the chest. Does he find it? Is it real? An estimated 30,000 people have looked for the treasure. The reporter, Peter Frick-Wright, makes all the right moves.
Silver: JK Nickell, “Freedom Riders,” Southwest: The Magazine
What a story! Readers get a seat on the old bus while the Anderson Monarchs weave two narratives into one trip: baseball and the history of Civil Rights in America. JK Nickell tells a compelling story.
Bronze: Michele Bigley, “Nurturing Romance in California’s Carmel Valley,” The Boston Globe
A trip designed to nurture the romance in a young marriage by going back to its beginnings works perfectly. But what really brings it home is the article’s beautiful framing device — the hawks that appear at the beginning and the end.
Honorable Mention: Maureen Orth, “How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman,”
This is a deep and compelling look at many of the Virgin Mary sightings around the world and why a woman who spoke so little in the Bible has become so powerful. There is a lot to learn, but the narrative draws the readers through.
Category 116: Short Work on Travel
Gold: Melanie Radzicki McManus, “Island Disputes,” Islands
This story does a fantastic job weaving information into a light, fun, readable narrative. Readers learn about disputed territories and the politics that still haunt some, such as this tiny rocky island off the coast of Maine that is claimed by both Canada and the U.S. Melanie Radzicki McManus makes her audience want to go on this same adventure by boat to see puffins on the island, even though her outing ultimately ended in failure.
Silver: Don George, “Finding Peace in 21st-Century Kyoto,” National Geographic Intelligent Travel blog
This superb personal reflection is mixed with a profile of a popular yet underappreciated site and city. It’s a great summary of both the historical and contemporary aspects of Kyoto.
Bronze: Christopher P. Baker, “My City: Cuba on the Cusp,” National Geographic Traveler
Christopher Baker provides a hilarious framework for a story that does a superb job of explaining contemporary Cuba and undermining misconceptions about the country. The author uses this vehicle to help readers relate to and understand the place in a really meaningful way.
Category 117: Culinary-Related Travel
Gold: Tienlon Ho, “Winter Worm, Summer Grass,” Lucky Peach magazine
The tone of this story is quiet and sinuous and catches readers up in so much more than just the world of the titular organism — part caterpillar, part fungus. This is an intimate portrait of a family, as well as a window onto the culture of the Tibetan Plateau.
Silver: Tim Neville, “Rites of the Caquelon,” Ski magazine
This is travel writing of the deepest kind, a description of the journey the writer undertakes to learn, and eventually master, the fondue craft, and with it to glean something essential about his identity. The tone is rich and witty and human, and you read slowly, and with building pleasure.
Bronze: Shira Rubin, “Land of Pork and Honey,” Roads & Kingdoms
Pork in Israel — say it ain’t so, Joe! What might have been a smirky story, or a piece that has sport with the incongruities, becomes an interesting examination of the culture of a time and place — of a changing people, and city, and the manifold tensions that abide.
Category 118: Travel Book
Gold: Matt Goulding, “Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture,”
Roads & Kingdoms/HarperCollins Publishers
A good travel book makes you want to change your plans; a great one makes you want to change your life. “Rice, Noodle, Fish” falls into the latter category through its deft and delectable combination of gorgeous photography, compelling writing and cunning usability. Matt Goulding knows Japan and the importance of the “shokunin” to Japanese cooking, the artisan’s “quiet pursuit of perfection” in all things edible. This story is about more than just food; it’s about devotion.
Silver: George Steinmetz, “New York Air: The View From Above,” Abrams books
The trick of travel to a big city is somehow gaining a perspective of the whole — a virtual impossibility. “New York Air: The View From Above” overcomes that challenge by providing a series of “flyover” postcards of one of the world’s great cities. The clarity and composition of the photographs reveal the details of street level while the text provides the context, explanation and history. It’s a delightful and rich experience for anyone who loves New York for its sweep, grit and grandeur.
Bronze: David Noyes, “The Photographing Tourist: A Storyteller’s Guide to Travel and Photography,”
D.F. Noyes Studios
David Noyes provides a sensible and persuasive argument in text and photos for taking the time to learn how to take pictures more thoughtfully when we travel. The stories are there, all around us, and all we need to do is connect, interact, learn and shoot. The book provides clear and simple tips for how to bring home beautiful images, even in situations (like group tours) where access is limited and less conducive to creativity. It’s a real gift to the traveler looking for authenticity.
Category 119: Guidebook
Gold: Charles W. Mitchell, “Travels Through American History in the Mid-Atlantic: A Guide for All Ages,”
Johns Hopkins University Press
Charles W. Mitchell combines eyes-wide-open travel with serious, scholarly narrative to illuminate the special qualities of 16 historic sites/regions on or near the East Coast. The depth of each chapter and the learned but accessible prose distinguish the winner from the typical guidebook. It’s nice to see a university press enter this realm.
Silver: Fodor’s Travel Staff, “Fodor’s Brooklyn,” Fodor’s Travel
The neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach to a somewhat compact geographic area is especially welcome. Also appreciated are the commentaries by Brooklynites rather than observers who parachute into a location and write on the basis of superficial knowledge. With Brooklyn overtaking Manhattan as the trendy borough, this guidebook feels especially timely. The maps/illustrations are well-designed and useful supplements to the text.
Bronze: Candy B. Harrington, with photography by Charles Pannell, “Resting Easy in the US: Unique Lodging
Options for Wheelers and Slow Walkers,” Candy & Charles Creative Concepts
The concept of a guidebook for “wheelers and slow walkers” is fresh and appealing. The narrow emphasis on lodging becomes a strength rather than a drawback. Self-published books often look cheap and seem dashed off. But that is not the case with this practical, well-planned book.
Category 120: Travel Journalism Websites
Gold: BBC.com/travel, BBC Travel, Allison Busacca, Editor, and Anne Banas, Deputy Editor
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. Featured stories take visitors off the beaten path. Where else can you learn about India’s temples of sex, the abandoned mansions of billionaires and the slow death of the pastrami sandwich all within three clicks of a mouse button? Bravo to the BBC for taking a risk with Animated Video Shorts. This creative approach shows how journalists can incorporate travelers’ favorite personal tales even when visuals are scarce.
Silver: OutsideOnline.com/Adventure-Travel, Outside, Scott Rosenfield, Editor
If there’s one thing Outside Online knows, it’s its niche. This website is a virtual Valhalla for adventure travelers. Editorial content features the best places to climb, run, row and ride as well as reviews of sporting equipment, safety gear and accommodations. Its voice is authoritative and credible. The video features sprinkled throughout the site offer shots of adrenaline guaranteed to excite readers while they plot their next personal challenge. And, once it’s over, readers can share in that excitement, posting their own videos through Outside Online’s user-generated content tool.
Bronze: MapHappy.org, Map Happy, Erica Ho, Publisher, and David Lytle, Editor
Looking for the latest in breaking travel news? Go no further than Map Happy. This website stands out for its obvious commitment to staying current. You’re an ex-pat and it’s April 10th? Don’t worry, Map Happy has resources to help with your taxes. American Airlines is changing its booking policies? Map Happy explains how frequent fliers can avoid being burned. The editors set out to publish a product dedicated to practical traveling, to take the stress and anxiety out of getting there — and to simply go along for the ride. Map Happy accomplishes that and more.
Category 121: Audio Travel Broadcast
Gold: Aaron Teasdale, “Just Ahead: Yellowstone National Park,” Just Ahead
Buckle up, we’re going for a ride… and by the time we go through Yellowstone National Park, we’ll know everything from its establishment as the first national park, to how different areas earned their name, as well as the best place to park. Each of the audio segments on the tour provides a level of detail you can “see” while you listen. This “virtual guidebook” engages listeners through the Just Ahead app, offering them an active experience a traditional podcast cannot.
Silver: Tonya Fitzpatrick and Ian Fitzpatrick, “In the Footsteps of Birmingham’s Civil Rights Movement,”
World Footprints Media
This broadcast brings the civil rights movement’s birthplace to life. Natural sound, compelling interviews and skillful storytelling combine to take this full-fledged multimedia report beyond the standard of most of today’s podcasts. Instead of talking about historic landmarks or museums, the producers take us to those places, letting us hear from the people who live and work there. The audio report features supporting text and links for listeners who want to learn more.
Bronze: Thomas Wilmer, “Ann Arbor — Arts, Culture and History,” National Public Radio Podcast
Many people know Ann Arbor, MI, as a college town, home to the University of Michigan. But this three-part work shines a light on its long cultural and military history. The use of music — from classical, to folk, to patriotic — helps drive the tone and pacing of each segment, and these sounds tie each piece together into a captivating experience to engage listeners of all ages.
Honorable Mention: Bob Howells, “Just Ahead: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks,” Just Ahead
Readers may not have been able to drive through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks while listening to this audio guidebook, but they might as well have been. The producers have proven their use of mobile and GPS technology using the Just Ahead app and have created a user experience that consumers can depend upon.
Category 122: Video Travel Broadcast
Gold: Lee Cowan, Dustin Stephens, David Bhagat and Mike Hernandez, “CBS Sunday Morning:
Northern Exposure,” CBS Sunday Morning
“Northern Exposure” beautifully communicates the majesty and vulnerability of the Arctic’s apex predator, the polar bear. This broadcast features compelling characters, both animal and human, and captures a sense of place on the tundra and in the town of Churchi ll, Manitoba. The piece combines lovely videography and elegant writing to tell a compelling story with implications far beyond the polar bear’s home.
Silver: Bob Krist, “Gombeys: Behind the Mask,” National Geographic Traveler
A vibrant examination of a rich cultural tradition in Bermuda, this story has both visual and aural rhythm and allows viewers to “see” the participants without ever glimpsing their faces. The videography and editing align perfectly with the precise and affectionate narration of historian Ruth Thomas.
Bronze: Lee Cowan, Dustin Stephens, Lauren Barnello and Mike Hernandez, “CBS Sunday Morning:
Aurora Borealis,” CBS Sunday Morning
“Aurora Borealis” offers a luminous portrait of the northern lights and the people who find a spiritual connection with them. Advanced camera technology helped capture the phantom dance of colors in real time, allowing viewers to be immersed in the experience. Interviews with Alaska residents Ronn and Marketa Murray further tap into the emotional resonance of the phenomenon.
Honorable Mention: Scott Mayerowitz, “Labor Day Flying: Behind the Scenes at a Busy Airport,”
The Associated Press
“Labor Day Flying” is a short, fast-paced narrative perfect for social platforms. The dramatic music complements the action, but the exceptional visuals and clean typography make the video just as effective without audio. The energetic time-lapse is a strong choice to demonstrate the controlled chaos of one of the United States’ busiest airports, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Category 123: Travel Blogs
Gold: LegalNomads.com, Jodi Ettenberg
This blog consistently delivers surprising and original content with an extraordinary sense of place. The author’s own experiences drive the writing, but it’s always focused on the interesting places, people and especially meals she finds. Outstanding work.
Silver: NerdTrips.net, Sharon Boston
This is a really fun take on a travel blog, with a focus that sets it apart from the typical. The structure of the blog entries allows for quick reading but also includes plenty of good “go and do” information.
Bronze: SlowTravelStockholm.com, Lola Akinmade Akerstrom
This travel blog flips the normal pattern by being hyper-focused on one individual city and the many things to do within it. Excellent photography adds to the overall presentation.
Honorable Mention: YoungAdventuress.com, Liz Carlson
This blog offers excellent advice for solo female travelers and an interesting look at the places the author has visited. It’s a welcome resource for women.