LOWELL THOMAS TRAVEL JOURNALISM COMPETITION
Awards For Works Published in 2020 - 2021
SATW Foundation Contact
Travel Journalism Shows its Mettle in 2021 Lowell Thomas Awards
Winners of SATW Foundation Competition Excel
at Helping Readers Reckon with the Pandemic
October 5, 2021 - A digital journalist, a regional newspaper and a reporter’s improbable tale of bull
riding on an aircraft carrier were among the winners of top awards in the 37th Lowell Thomas Travel
Journalism Competition in a year for which there was no road map.
The 1,278 entries in the annual contest, overseen by the Society of American Travel Writers
Foundation, were noteworthy for their style, scope and service to readers who struggled to make sense
of a travelscape turned upside down by the pandemic. The University of Missouri School of Journalism
oversaw the judging, which involved 27 judges this year.
Winners “proved their mettle by producing original, useful and often moving stories that covered the
moments and moods of the past year,” the judges said of the works, which covered spring of 2020 to
spring of 2021. “Travel journalists were nimble and resourceful and showed in numerous ways the
enduring value of their work.”
The awards were announced Monday, Oct. 4, at the SATW Convention in Milwaukee. The honor is
considered the premier professional recognition for travel journalists and communicators. The
Foundation is giving 104 awards in 27 categories and $22,550 in prize money this year.
Katherine LaGrave, digital features editor for AFAR Media, was honored as the Lowell Thomas
Travel Journalist of the Year. Judges praised her storytelling and reporting as well as her focus on what
readers needed to know to navigate today’s travel challenges.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer earned the Gold award for newspaper travel coverage. Judges cited editor
Susan Glaser’s “laser focus on readers” who sought closer-to-home destinations in the wake of the
Matt Crossman took Gold in a new category this year, the Robert Haru Fisher award for Travel Health
and Safety Coverage. Crossman’s story, ostensibly about bull riding on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf of
Mexico, was really about filling the need for community and connection in a time of isolation. The
Fisher award was made possible by a significant bequest from the late Bob Fisher, a past president of
SATW and the first president of the SATW Foundation.
A team of reporters from the Miami Herald earned the Gold in the Travel News/Investigative
Reporting category for its examination of “COVID Cruises.” Judges praised this “excellent investigation
on a breaking news story” that focused on accountability and provided actionable information for
Gold in Travel magazines went to Travel + Leisure, Jacqueline Gifford, editor-in-chief. Judges cited
“service-centric stories that anticipated what readers would want.”
The Gold for Special Packages and Series went to The New York Times for “A Year Without Travel,”
which “employed strong writing, graphics, videos and first person-accounts to illustrate the far-reaching
impact of the pandemic,” judges said. The New York Times was honored with a total of eight awards,
including five golds in a variety of categories.
BBC Travel tallied nine awards, including a Gold for Amanda Ruggeri’s “In Guatemala, the Maya
World Untouched for Centuries” in Special-Purpose Travel. Judges cited her “storytelling and courage.”
Amanda Williams took Gold for her work on “A Dangerous Business Travel Blog,” a mix of trip tips
and business advice, and CNTraveler earned the top award for Travel Journalism Websites.
Tonya Fitzpatrick, Ian Fitzpatrick and Edward Cole won Gold in Podcasts and Guides, one of two
audio categories, for their “Escape From India During COVID-19,” the chilling story of American
journalist Anietra Hamper’s fishing trip gone terribly wrong. In the other audio category, Annita
Thomas took Gold for “Travel Bags With Annita Explores the Rice Culture of the Southern Low
Country” on WDUN AM 550 and FM 102.9 in Gainesville, GA.
The awards are named for Lowell Thomas, acclaimed broadcast journalist, prolific author and world
explorer during five decades in travel journalism.
The sustainability of the annual competition is made possible by a generous contribution from Gold
Supporter Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise company with a portfolio of brands. Its contribution
helps make the prizes possible and supports the future of quality travel media.
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