ASJA Congratulates This Year’s Writing Award Winners

May 6, 2020
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This year, the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) Awards–honoring the outstanding nonfiction work produced on a freelance basis during the past year–are being presented online. One category will be reported each day for 23 days on ASJA’s websiteASJA’s Facebook page, on Twitter @ASJAhq, and on Instagram @ASJAhq, giving members more time to read each piece and give it social media love. Thank you to everyone who submitted entries and congratulations to the winners! Today, we post more winners here:

Lifestyle Articles — “The Survival of Japan’s Music Rests on Artificial Ivory,” by Rachel Nuwer in BBC Future
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID: There can be more to a conflict than meets the eye. Rachel Nuwer’s comprehensive, compelling article shows us how the use of ivory in traditional Japanese instruments puts the preservation of cultural traditions at odds with preservation of endangered wildlife, and how musicians and scientists are responding to the dilemma.

Honorable Mention — “Secret Life of a Mermaid,” by Maureen O’Hagan in Narratively
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID: Cleverly written and fast-paced, “Secret Life of a Mermaid” brings to life a culture alien to most of us while reminding us that the human need to be accepted is universal.

Profile Articles — “Randy Rainbow’s Witty World,” by Margaret Engel in The Washington Post Magazine
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID: This impeccably written piece does everything a good profile should: it tells the story of Randy Rainbow, flowing seamlessly between past and present, while also illuminating why the reader should care (even if they’ve never heard of him) and where he fits in the greater contexts of society, entertainment and politics. Hands down the best writing of all the entries.

Reported Essays — “How can I wean my children off their new habit of playing musical beds?” by Sarika Chawla in The Washington Post
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID: Chawla’s outstanding essay insightfully blends research about the parental practice of bed-sharing with her own personal experiences and insight.

Honorable mention — “The silver Christmas tree, an icon of Space Age kitsch, turns 60,” by Kate Silver in The Washington Post
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID: Silver’s musings about the Evergleam, a now-collectible aluminum tree her grandfather had a hand in creating, charmed the judges with its combination of personal storytelling, history and nostalgia.

Science — “A Significant Problem,” by Lydia Denworth in Scientific American
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID: The issue of “p” values and “p” hacking to the integrity of scientific research is neither sexy nor fun, but Denworth’s article makes it approachable and understandable. We think it should be required reading for young researchers and graduate students.

Technology — “Social Media Has Not Destroyed a Generation,” by Lydia Denworth for Scientific American
WHAT THE JUDGES SAID: Denworth capably explains how the latest study on kids and tech use employed a statistical tool, specification curve analysis, which lets readers see how results of one study stand in comparison to others on the same topic.

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