Awards For Works Published in 2015 - 2016

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

Travel Journalist of the Year Award Goes to Missoula Writer

WENZHOU, CHINA (Oct. 25, 2016) — 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.

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 lauded by judges from the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism for narratives of character, tension and resolution. Teasdale also won a Gold award for Audio Travel Broadcast in Yellowstone National Park. 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).

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.” Among the magazine’s awards for adventure, culture, cruising, photography, short stories and video online, Catherine Karnow won Gold for Photo Illustration in “The Glow of Vietnam,” and Tara Isabella Burton earned Gold for Cruise Travel in “Gently Down the Stream” on England’s Oxford Canal.

Afar won Silver among Best Magazines; Southbound took Bronze. For Travel Coverage in Other Magazines, Coastal Living was the Gold winner, followed by Departures placing Silver and Private Clubs Bronze.

The Los Angeles Times won newspapers’ Gold because its “articles are deep and wide and solid with accompanying maps and always more information online,” said the judges. The Silver winner was The New York Times, which also took honors for special packages/projects, adventure, culture, environment, personal comment and foreign travel, which was a Gold award to Sarah Khan for “7 Days, 1,500 Miles in Namibia.” The San Francisco Chronicle earned Bronze for Newspaper Travel Coverage with “an eclectic mix … to create a strong section,” said the judges.

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.

“Judges were impressed by the deep, nuanced reporting they encountered, combined with the creative approaches to storytelling,” said John Fennell, University of Missouri associate professor, who holds the Meredith Chair in Service Journalism and coordinated the judging with Prof. Jennifer Rowe. “Evaluating and then ranking work in a journalism competition can be difficult, but when the entries display such excellence, judging can be pure pleasure.”

In Culinary-Related Travel, a new category for 2015-2016, Tienlon Ho earned Gold for “Winter Worm, Summer Grass” in Lucky Peach magazine. 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.

Among Gold winners were Michael Callahan in U.S./Canada Travel for “Small Town, Big Story: Monroeville, Alabama,” in Departures magazine; Ryan Bell in Special Packages/Projects for “Comrade Cowboys,” a Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship in National Geographic; Bill Donahue in Adventure Travel for “Kindergarten Can Wait” in Backpacker; and Bill Fink in News/Investigative Reporting for “To Hunt or Not to Hunt, That Is the Question” in Yahoo Travel.

Other Gold winners: Kari Bodnarchuk in Service-Oriented Consumer Work for “Separation Adaptation: With Planning (and Socks), Kids Will Be All Right When You Travel Without Them” in The Boston Globe; Joel Clement in Environmental Tourism for “Kio-Kio Economy: Can Bonefishing Help Anaa Atoll?” in The Flyfish Journal; Thomas Chatterton Williams in Cultural Tourism for “In Another Country” in Smithsonian Journeys; Kim Cross in Personal Comment for “The King of Tides” in Southwest: The Magazine; Peter Frick-Wright in Special-Purpose Travel for “Cache Money” in Outside; and Melanie Radzicki McManus in Short Work for “Island Disputes” in Islands.

Gold for best Travel Blog went to (Jodi Ettenberg), Silver to (Sharon Boston), Bronze to (Lola Akinmade Akerstrom) and Honorable Mention to (Liz Carlson).

Best Travel Journalism Websites: Gold to; Silver to; and Bronze to

Two of the best Travel Video Broadcasts were awarded to CBS Sunday Morning, Gold for “Northern Exposure” and Bronze for “Aurora Borealis.” Silver went to Bob Krist’s “Gombeys: Behind the Mask” in National Geographic Traveler.

The Gold winner for best Travel Book was Matt Goulding for “Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture,” from Roads & Kingdoms/Harper Collins Publishers. Gold for best Guidebook was Charles W. Mitchell, “Travels Through American History in the Mid-Atlantic: A Guide for All Ages” from Johns Hopkins University Press.

The awards are named for Lowell Thomas, acclaimed broadcast journalist, prolific author and world explorer during five decades in travel journalism. The competition is open to all North American journalists.

“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.

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