ASJA's Annual Writing Awards

Congratulations to our 2019 winners! Our judges worked hard to select from the abundance of great submissions. Our members are so talented! A special thanks to the members who volunteered their time to judge. ASJA thanks you! 

2020 Awards Co-Chairs:
Salley Shannon, ASJA Past President and Janine Latus

Past Award Winners

*New categories for 2020: Outstanding Fitness Articles, Outstanding Sports Articles

Nominations for the 2020 ASJA Annual Writing Awards will open in mid-December. 


2019 Award Winners


Article awards open to the public:

The Arlene Eisenberg Award for an Article that made a difference:A Star Surgeon Left a Trail of Dead Patients -- and his Whistleblowers Are Punished” by Eve Herold, appearing in

The judges said “Herold’s story reveals a new aspect of a medical fraud that’s had lots of press: how blatantly now-fired scientists worked at killing the careers and grant hopes of four truth-telling young doctors. The article is helping right that wrong.”

The Donald Robinson Prize for Investigative Journalism: "Dog Fight: Dog rescuers, flush with donations, buy animals from the breeders they scorn" by Kim Kavin, appearing in The Washington Post.  

The judges said “This exhaustively researched article turned a powerful light on what everyone assumed was a good deed -- until Kavin showed us that it isn’t. The story is an example of the very best investigative journalism.”

Outstanding Fitness & Sports Article:  Saudi Women Will Run the Kingdom” by Michelle Hamilton, appearing in Runner’s World.

The judges said “Hamilton combines fitness with the ways social change affects all sports and especially, Saudi women runners. Her easy-going style draws you in and the unexpected social commentary keeps you reading.”

Outstanding Food & Drink Article winner: “Black Nightshade and the Bierocks, Connecting to my Volga German ancestors through recipes” by Heather Arndt Anderson, writing in The Oregon Humanities Magazine.     

The judges said “this beautifully written, engaging piece explores a hidden culinary history of Portland, Oregon. The writer strikes a fine balance between her personal story and historical fact.”

Honorable Mention: “Black Gold from Tank to Table” by Andrea Cooper, writing in Roads & Kingdoms and reprinted in The Guardian.

The judges said “Cooper’s story about caviar, and especially North Carolina caviar, offers intelligent, comprehensive coverage of the latest developments in providing and marketing the food of kings.”

Outstanding Opinion/Op Ed Article: Anti-Vaccine Activists Have Taken Vaccine Science Hostage” by Melinda Wenner Moyer, published in The New York Times Sunday opinion section.

The judges said “Moyer argues that scientists should not self-censor because they fear that unexpected or controversial results will rouse the anti-vaxxers. Her command of the subject is deep and impressive.”

Article Awards Open to ASJA Members Only:

June Roth Memorial Award for an Outstanding Medical Article: “A Surgeon So Bad It Was Criminal,” by Laura Beil, writing in ProPublica.

The judges said “Step by horrifying step, Beil’s extensive reporting shows us an incompetent neurosurgeon and the colleagues and hospitals that knew of mangled and dead patients, yet did nothing because neurosurgery is a huge ‘profit center.’”

Outstanding Blog Post: Pittsburgh: Never Again? Just Words” by Eugene Meyer, which appeared in the blog bearing his name. 

The judges said “We liked how Meyer thoughtfully compared past pogroms to the Tree of Life synagogue shooting.  Structurally, the post was concise, and each element flowed naturally to the next.”

Outstanding Business Article: The Factory That Oreos Built” by Katherine Martinelli, published in Smithsonian Magazine.

The judges said “This is a mouth-watering story about the history and questionable future of New York City’s Oreo factory turned Google complex. The article richly describes how the building morphed into a tech hub that preservationists fear may harm the neighborhood.”

Excellence in Reporting Article: Waste Land, Promised Land, Refugee farmers replant hope in post-hurricane Houston,” by Kimberly Meyer, writing in Orion Magazine.

The judges said “Our winning story reads more like a novel than what it is: a deep look at a  community gardening program for refugees. The writing is crisp, descriptive, compelling. (Make this into a book, Kim Meyers!)

Honorable Mention:On The Other Side” by Ann Babe, writing in The California Sunday Magazine.

The judges said “This robust narrative starts as many like it have done: we see a teenager and her mother flee North Korea and build new lives. But, no happy ending here. Babe shows us that the deprivation scars within a person never heal.”

Outstanding Personal Essay: "Your Leaving" by Laura Laing, published in Consequence: An International Literary Magazine Focusing on the Culture of War.

The judges said “Laing’s essay, which was always descriptive and at times, downright lyrical, tackles how their relationship altered when her partner was deployed to a combat region.”

Honorable Mention:  "The Reality of Empty Arms, a Father on the Grief of Stillbirth" by Todd Pitock, published in Noted.

The judges said “With beautifully detailed, evocative writing, Pitock’s essay helps us understand the immediate pain of a stillbirth, and also the longing that persists even after much time has passed.”       

Outstanding Health Article: Inside the Shadow Clinics” by Maya Kroth, appearing in Medium.

The judges said “From the opening anecdote to the final poignant point, Kroth spotlights a politically charged health issue, anti-abortion clinics hiding in plain sight. The included legal information widens the article’s reach.” 

Honorable Mention: Transgender College Students’ Health Care is Far From Guaranteed” by Donna Jackel, writing in The Progressive.

The judges said “Using geographically broad sources and a compelling mix of real people and experts, Jackel gives a concise, dramatic overview of the legal travails these students face.”

Outstanding How-To Article:Couponing for a Cause” by Laura Daily, appearing in the The Washington Post.

The judges said: “Daily’s clear writing and reporting puts a fresh, surprising spin on an overdone and unremarkable subject. Many readers will undoubtedly be moved to action.”

Outstanding Lifestyle Article: Arab and Coming Out in Art That Speaks Up” by Michael T. Luongo, appearing in The New York Times.  

The judges said “In his eye-opening story about the growing number of Arab LGBT artists incorporating sexual identity in their work, Luongo’s well-chosen interviews lend historical perspective on discrimination and a nuanced look at the very human issues involved.“

Outstanding Profile Article: The Rigors of Success” by Julia M. Klein, appearing in The Pennsylvania Gazette.

The judges said “Klein’s elegant, fast-paced story illustrates everything a profile should be. She provides a nuanced portrait while simultaneously providing the complex context. This was the unanimous choice of six judges.”  

Outstanding Reported Essay:What Are We Doing Here? Drought, Dread, and Family in the American Southwest" by Cally Carswell, writing in High Country News.

The judges said “Carswell's stellar reported essay is a skillful synthesis of personal memoir and environmental reporting.  It’s braided with rich details and told in compelling language.”

Outstanding Science or Technology Article:Clicks, Lies and Videotape” by Brooke Borel, writing in Scientific American.

The judges said “Borel wades into a complicated, fast-moving topic, the intersection of artificial intelligence and how using it may violate privacy and erode public trust. This comprehensive look at the tech involved is a must-read.”

Outstanding Trade Article:  “Fighters: Veterinary Professionals Face Unique Challenges While Undergoing Cancer Treatments” by Jen Reeder, writing in Trends Magazine.

The judges said: “Reeder’s story thoroughly explores an unresolved struggle, giving us important information in a succinct and engaging way.”

Travel:  “In Chad, the Elephants (So Many Elephants) Are Back” by Rachel Love Nuwer, writing in The New York Times.

The judges said “Nuwer’s beautifully paced narrative strikes a balance between first-person travel experience and insightful reporting on a little-known country that may well become a destination site.” 

Honorable Mention: “Cold Comfort” by Todd Pitock, appearing in the Saturday Evening Post

The judges said “We were all drawn to the lovely storytelling and detailed reporting within Pitock’s piece.  Only exceptional writing can make a story about an ice hotel soar.


Book Award Open to the Public:

The Arlene Eisenberg Award for a Book That Made a Difference:  The Dog Merchants: Inside the Big Business of Breeders, Pet Stores, and Rescuers  by Kim Kavin, published by Pegasus Books.

The judges said “Man’s best friend couldn’t have a better advocate than Kim Kavin. The Dog Merchants is a disturbing, definitive exploration of mass production dog breeding and selling, and Kavin braved death threats to produce it. Her book has inspired revisions in both state and federal laws, plus a host of other changes.

Book Awards Open to ASJA Members:

The June Roth Memorial Award for an Outstanding Medical Book: The Informed Parent, A Science-based Resource for your Child’s First Four Years by Tara Haelle and Emily Willingham, PhD., published by TeacherPerigree, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

The judges said “Women contemplating pregnancy and mothers -- even experienced ones -- will find The Informed Parent authoritative and reassuring. The format is accessible and the research base is solid and easy to verify.”

Outstanding Biography/History book:  Five for Freedom: The African American Soldiers in John Brown's Army by Eugene L. Meyer, published by the Chicago Review Press.

The judges said “Meyer’s impressive research turned up never-before-revealed stories about five African American men whom history has ignored -- until now.  Interviews with some of the men’s descendents is an unusual and welcome addition.”

Outstanding Children/Young Adult Nonfiction book: Vaccination Investigation: the History and Science of Vaccines by Tara Haelle, published by the Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.

The judges said “Weaving together science and history, Haelle offers an engaging, thoughtful exploration of an essential medical treatment.  She aptly explains this complicated subject for middle and high school students.”

Outstanding General Nonfiction book: Poached: Inside the Dark World of Wildlife Trafficking by Rachel Love Nuwer, published by Da Capo Press. 

The judges said “Nuwer's first-hand accounts of animal cruelty are riveting, heart-breaking and at times, stomach-turning. There is nothing more powerful than ‘I was there. This is what I heard and saw.’" (Also, we’re glad she didn’t get herself killed!)

Honorable Mention:  The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids are Less Disciplined Than Ever -- And What To Do About It by Katherine Reynolds Lewis, published by PublicAffairs, an imprint of the Hachette Book Group.

The judges said “All parents want to teach their children how to become responsible adults, but some days, you just want a way to get them into bed on time.  Lewis's book offers tested advice on how to do both.”

Outstanding Memoir/Autobiography book: Let Your Mind Run: A memoir of thinking my way to victory by Deena Kastor with Michelle Hamilton, published by Crown Archetype, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

The judges said “the book weaves together reflection and reality in a fresh, compelling narrative arc.  We see the author’s growth during the course of her journey.” 

Outstanding Service/Self-help book: The Byline Bible: Get Published in Five Weeks by Susan Shapiro, published by Writer’s Digest Books.    

The judges said “Have Shapiro’s book on your shelf for times when your creativity needs a jolt. It’s clear, direct, and filled with information for many types and levels of writers.”

  • A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
    – Sidney Sheldon
  • A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
    – Kenneth Tynan
  • A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self–addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.
    – Ring Lardner
  • A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
    – Marguerite Yourcenar
  • All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
    – Somerset Maugham
  • Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
    – Christopher Hampton
  • Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.
    – Lawrence Kasdan
  • Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
    –Wilson Mizner
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    – Flannery O'Connor
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    – Stephen King
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