The American-Statesman’s Austin360 team won eight awards in the annual Excellence in Features competition at Society for Feature Film Journalism, including four top prizes, was announced this week.
“We don’t do the job for the awards, but these awards make us proud of the importance of what we put in the world,” said editor Sharon Chapman. “Our team really pivoted through the tough times. We took a step back to see what we need to do when we are under staffed and are personally affected by what’s going on in the world.”
The team won first place for best digital presence.
“Whether you’re heading out into town – to one of America’s busiest cities – or staying at home, Austin360 is the perfect guide,” the contest judges wrote, adding, “If you want to pass a good time in Austin, that’s your ticket. “
Restaurant editor Matthew Odam won first place in food criticism for its review of the Deckhand Oyster Bar.
“The characters resonate as memorably as the food in Matthew’s vivid vision of this restaurant,” the judges wrote. “The review is filled with precise observations and descriptions, detailed enough to paint a picture. Readers who venture to this restaurant will certainly notice if the owner is wearing those ‘loud plaid golf pants’. ”
Austin360 Entertainment Editor Eric webb won first prize in the Arts and Entertainment Commentary Portfolio category, which included a track on the Waxahatchee 2020 album “Saint Cloud”.
Among the judges’ comments: “We loved the track on ‘Saint Cloud’ for a million reasons. This is a criticism. It is a (brief) chronicle of the years of plague. It has beautiful phrases: “We had to cut the spring off the stem and glue it into a vase, then summer came and dried all the petals, so now we are sitting in the last days of a Texan summer. waiting to see how fall and winter will express their own distinct calm and sadness. ‘ We wish we could write like that. We wish we could think like that. For now, we’ll have to rely on you, Eric. Let it come. “
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Brontë Wittpenn, who left the Statesman earlier this year for a job with the San Francisco Chronicle, won first place in the shorts category for her story about Jessie Thibideaux, who operated a shoe shine business on Congress Avenue.
“A fine example of brilliant and precise writing,” wrote the judges. “In just 600 words, Bronte creates a wonderful profile of an often overlooked man – the shoe shiner. The key to his story is the judicious use of details and quotes.”
Musical writer Deborah Sengupta Stith won second place in the Feature Film Diversity category for its Monday Music Mashup series. The judges praised the range of topics, which included looks at the experiences of Black, latino and LGBTQ musicians in Austin.
“It’s a great idea and a great way to encourage important conversations during the pandemic. The discussions, at times frank and brutal, are a refreshing departure from what we normally expect from newspapers, ”the judges wrote.
Addie Broyles, who left the Statesman earlier this year to pursue independent projects, won second place in Best Special Section for a guide to where Austin gets his food.
From the judges: “News publications do a great job of providing guides to local restaurants, but what do we do when restaurants are closed? The American statesman has a creative answer: a look at where we get our food, from local markets to farmers’ markets. “
The team won second place for the best section, which is judged on the basis of a portfolio of three to five printed numbers.
“This post excelled in its coverage of the double challenge of 2020 – the pandemic and the toll after the murder of George Floyd,” the judges wrote. While these topics may be difficult for an arts and entertainment section, Austin360 seized the opportunity with well-reported packages on the experience of being a black musician in Austin and a deeply reported article on the hardships faced by restaurateurs and club owners after the lockdown. ”
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They also rented “Are you happy,” a multimedia feature created by Webb and former Statesman visual reporter Ana Ramirez, as a “smart person on the streets in the vein of the Humans of New York photoblog.”
The judges added: “Overall, this was an engaging and inventive feature film collection during a difficult year for feature film writers.”
The team also received an honorable mention for a series of stories about how the pandemic has affected the arts and entertainment scene.
The competition covered stories, videos and other journalistic articles produced in 2020. Entries are grouped into divisions based on broadcast. The team also ranks third in the raffle category, which honors a post’s total number of awards.
The Austin360 team have won numerous awards over the years. In 2020 and 2019, the team won the best section of the Excellence in Features Awards, and they took second place in that category in 2018. This is the third consecutive year for the team to win the best presence. digital. Earlier this year, editors at the Texas Associated Press gave Odam second place and third place to Webb in his comments and reviews category.
“We are heading into some of the busiest months of the year, as Austin’s festival season is back in full force after 18 months,” Chapman said. “Getting this recognition helps us boost our energy at a time when our community relies on us the most. “