ASJA's Annual Writing Awards

Congratulations to this year's 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!

2018 Awards Co-Chairs:
Janine Latus and Salley Shannon, ASJA Past President

ASJA Awards Winners 2018

ARTICLES -- Categories open to all freelance writers:

The Arlene Award for an Article that Makes a Difference: When Hurricane Warnings Are Lost in Translation” by Terena Bell, writing in The Atlantic.  

The Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism: “The Watson Files” by Laura Heaton, published in  

ARTICLES -- Categories Open Only to ASJA Members:

Blog Post/Personal: “A Better Excuse than ‘The Dog Ate My Homework,’” by Martin Hirsch.

Business/Technology/Science: "The Blood of the Crab" by Caren Chesler, writing in Popular Mechanics.  

Honorable Mention: "The Uncertain Future of Puffin for Dinner" by Cheryl Katz, published in Hakai Magazine.

Excellence in Reporting: “Journey to Gunland" by Melinda Wenner Moyer, writing in Scientific American.  

Honorable Mention: "Protecting Negative Heritage in Rwanda" by JoAnn Greco, published in The Pennslyvania Gazette.

First Person Experience Article or Essay: “Drinking Chai to Savannah: Reflections on Identity, Inclusion and Power in the South,” by Anjali Enjeti, writing in Longreads.  ​

Health and Fitness: "When drinkers suffer liver disease, should getting a transplant be so hard?" by Alexandra Fleming, published in The Washington Post.

Honorable Mention: How Anti-Choice Lawmakers Are Getting Around Roe v. Wadeby Sarika Chawla, published in Vice Tonic.

How-To Article:  "College Advice I Wish I’d Taken" by Susan Shapiro, writing in The New York Times.

Honorable Mention: "The Special Bond of Older Dogs and Older Owners: Money-saving 'Seniors for Seniors' pet adoption programs are gaining popularity" by Jen Reeder, published in PBS’s Next

June Roth Award for a Medical Article: "Deserted” by Melinda Wenner Moyer, published in Women’s Health.  

Honorable Mention: “After the ICU” by Kenneth Miller, writing in Prevention.  

Lifestyle:  "A Japanese Baseball Tour: The Healing Power of Baseball in Japan" by Todd Pitock, published in Travel & Leisure Magazine.  

Honorable Mention: "Quest for Gray Ghost: Tracking the Snow Leopard in Ladakh" by Jill Robinson, writing in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Opinion/Op-Ed: “The Wealthy Are Poised for the End of the World,” by Lara Kristin Herndon, writing in   

Honorable Mention: “A Kindness While Dying” by John Moir, published in Catamaran Literary Reader.  

Profiles:  "In Pursuit of Justice” by Julia M. Klein, writing in The Pennsylvania Gazette.

Honorable Mention: “Homeland Insecurity” by Jack El-Hai, published in the Minnesota Alumni Magazine.

Trade: "When the Target of Bias is the Doctor" by Robin Warshaw, writing in AAMCNews.  


Biography/History:  Through a Glass, Darkly: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Quest to Solve the Greatest Mystery of All by Stefan Bechtel and Laurence Roy Stains.  

Children/Young Adult Nonfiction:  50 Wacky Things Animals Do by Tricia Martineau Wagner.   

Honorable Mention:  The Encyclopedia of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises by Erich Hoyt.  Published by Firefly Press (US, Canada, UK.)  

General Nonfiction:  Little Soldiers: An American Boy, A Chinese School and the Global Race to Achieve by Lenora Chu. Published by HarperCollins Books, NYC.  
Honorable Mention: The Book of Noticing: Collections and Connections on the Trail by Katherine Hauswirth.  Published by Homebound Publications, Pawcatuck, CT.  

Memoirs/ Biography/ Autobiography:  At the Broken Places: A Mother and Trans Son Pick Up the Pieces by Mary Collins. Published by Beacon Press.  

Service/self-help:  Thriftstyle: the Ultimate Bargain Shopper’s Guide to Smart Fashion by Allison Engel, Reise Moore and Margaret Engel. Published by Imagine Books. 


ASJA is awarding its prestigious Conscience in Media Award to the Maltese journalist, writer, and anti-corruption activist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Ms. Caruana Galizia, 53, was murdered in her native Malta, a Mediterranean island nation, on October 16, 2017 after numerous threats and attacks to her and her family. She had been writing since 1987 and was the first person in Malta to have a signed opinion column. Since 2008 she published her self-funded personal blog, Running Commentary, and at the time of her death she was a regular columnist with the Malta Independent. 

The Conscience in Media award calls attention to the increasingly dangerous profession of investigative journalism. More than 700 journalists have been killed over the past decade, according to Reporters without Borders (RSF). Six murders occurred in 2017; in 2018 a Slovak reporter was shot to death while investigating corruption. For more information, click here


The presentation program was emceed by Joanne Lipman, author of That's What She Said: What Men Need to Know About Working Together. Until December 31, 2017, she was Chief Content Officer of publishing company Gannett, and Editor-in-Chief of USA TODAY and the USA TODAY NETWORK.

Past Award Winners


The Arlenes: Books and Articles That Make a Difference

ASJA member Howard Eisenberg established the Arlene Eisenberg Memorial Fund to honor his late wife, the author of What to Expect When You're Expecting and other bestselling books that made a difference in the lives of mothers worldwide. Income generated by the fund allows ASJA to give monetary awards to winners of "Arlenes," which are given annually for articles and once every three years for books.

The winning book or freelance article must have "made a difference" by inspiring positive action within a locale or community, society, or the world. In the past, the award has been given for articles or books that inspired readers to do such things as lobby for legislation or to form an advocacy group. Past winners also have stirred officials to launch an investigation, correct an injustice, or remove a hazard.

The Arlene Article Award is presented annually for an article published within the prior two years. For 2018, eligible articles must have been published in 2016 or 2017.

The Arlene Book Award typically is awarded every three years. It will next be given in 2019 for a book published in 2016, 2017, or 2018. 

To be considered for an Arlene, articles and books MUST be:

  • Published in the United States within the stated period

  • Freelance written

  • Accompanied by documentation supporting the positive impact of the book or article. This may include evidence of media coverage, testimonials, or other public recognition.

  • Submissions should be scanned and uploaded as a single PDF file (including supporting documentation). If necessary, supporting documentation may be emailed to or sent by postal mail to: ASJA Awards, 355 Lexington Ave., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10017.

The Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism

A bequest from Donald Robinson, the third president of ASJA, established the Donald Robinson Memorial Fund. Money it generates allows us to give an annual monetary award to a writer who has published a freelance article that represents exceptional skill in writing and most notably, in investigative reporting or expose.

The work of any writer may be nominated so long as it is freelance-written and published or released in the United States during the eligibility period. (Staff-written work does not qualify.)

If the work was supported by a grant or payment from a foundation or other organization, or the author was otherwise aided (such as in data collection or statistical analysis) we ask that this be noted at the time of submission, along with the time period for any such support. This is solely for the purpose of establishing that the work was freelance-written.


Outstanding Book Awards

These awards are conferred upon ASJA members whose nonfiction books are deemed significant, exceptionally well-researched and skillfully written.

All books must be full-length, and published in 2017. Entries may be written by an individual author or may be collaborative works. Self-published books, ebooks, and traditionally published books may be nominated.

The categories:

  • Biography/History

  • Children/Young Adult Nonfiction

  • General Nonfiction

  • Memoir/Autobiography

  • Self-Help (or "How to")

Outstanding Article Awards

These awards honor ASJA members whose articles, produced on a freelance basis, have demonstrated excellence in writing, research and clarity of presentation. Categories:

  • Blog Post, Personal (Members may enter posts published on personal blogs. Articles appearing on third-party blogs should be entered in Opinion/OpEd.)

  • Business/Technology/Science (Any piece on a business, technology, or science topic is eligible.)

  • Excellence in Reporting (Formerly called "Reporting on a Significant Topic." Consideration will be given to the relevance and universality of the topic, as well as overall excellence.)

  • First-Person Experience/Essays (May include as-told-to pieces.)

  • Health and Fitness (Any piece on a health or fitness topic is eligible.)

  • How-To (Formerly "Service" articles. These may include advice, self-help, or how to do something.)

  • Lifestyle (Narrative nonfiction on a lifestyle-oriented subject such as travel, food & wine, culture, art, music, leisure pursuits.)

  • Opinion/Op-Ed (May include blog posts published by third parties. In addition to the writer’s opinion, entries must include reported evidence/research.)

  • Profiles (Personal profiles, no matter where published, are eligible.)

  • Trade (Pieces published in a specialized industry publication intended for an audience with a common trade or profession.)

June Roth Memorial Awards for Outstanding Medical Book and Article

The June Roth Memorial Fund was established by her late husband to honor our 31st president, a well-known medical writer. Income generated by the fund provides monetary awards to ASJA members whose articles or books represent exceptional achievement in health and medical writing.

The June Roth Article Award is offered every year. For 2018, eligible articles must have been published in 2017.

The June Roth Book Award typically is presented every three years. It will next be given in 2019 for a book published in 2016, 2017, or 2018.

Extraordinary Awards

ASJA members consider the following four awards to be very special indeed. None are necessarily given each year, although they may be. The Awards Committee chairs receive nominations for the first three awards listed. The First Amendment Committee, chaired by Sally Wendkos Olds, receives nominations for the Conscience in Media / Open Book Awards, and the committee may itself make nominations by majority vote. The final decision on all four awards is made by ASJA's Board of Directors.

Founders Award for Career Achievement

The Founders Award for Career Achievement may be presented to any ASJA member whose ability to tell a story and whose style, range and diversity of career achievements exemplifies the skills of an outstanding independent, nonfiction writer. Members may nominate a fellow member by writing an essay outlining the nominee's career. (No self-nominations.) The award comes with lifetime membership in ASJA.

ASJA Extraordinary Service Award

The Extraordinary Service Award may be presented to any ASJA member whose pattern of service to the Society has, for many years, personally exemplified ASJA's mission to be an outstanding, continual help to members. Members may nominate a fellow member by writing an essay explaining why the individual deserves the award. (No self-nominations.) The award comes with lifetime membership in ASJA.

Robert C. Anderson Memorial Award

This award, first presented in 1992, honors an individual magazine editor, book editor, other purchaser of writers' work, a teacher, or a mentor who shares the outstanding qualities of our late colleague. Bob Anderson was generous with his advice and his time. He went far beyond the norm to support and encourage writers, and to help them develop their skills. The individual nominated need not be a member of the Society, but only ASJA members may make nominations by telling us how the nominee qualifies. (No self-nominations.)

Conscience in Media Award / Open Book Award

These awards go to individuals or institutions who exemplify and foster respect for the First Amendment to the Constitution by the testimony of their lives, their work, or both. Recipients do not have to be members of the Society, but only members may nominate.

To nominate someone for any of these Extraordinary Awards, fill out the online form HERE. There is no fee charged.

  • 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
  • Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
    – Flannery O'Connor
  • I just wrote a book, but don't go out and buy it yet, because I don't think it's finished yet.
    – Lawrence Welk
  • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
    – Douglas Adams
  • I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
    – Stephen Wright
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
    – Robert Benchley
  • It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.
    – Andrew Jackson
  • Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
    – Richard Curtis
  • No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self–deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
    – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
    –Somerset Maugham
  • Writing a novel is like paddling from Boston to London in a bathtub. Sometimes the damn tub sinks. It's a wonder that most of them don't.
    – Stephen King
  • Writing a novel is like spelunking. You kind of create the right path for yourself. But, boy, are there so many points at which you think, absolutely, I'm going down the wrong hole here.
    – Chang–rae Lee
  • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
    –Samuel Johnson