2019 AAN Awards Finalists Announced

The finalists for the 2019 AAN Awards have been selected. The 92 finalists below were chosen as the most outstanding from a field of over 600 entries submitted by 55 alternative publications across the U.S. and Canada. For the first year ever, size divisions based on print circulation were eliminated, allowing AAN members to compete for the title of “Best of” within AAN.

The AAN Awards recognize the best in alternative journalism and are a unique chance for alt-weeklies to compete directly against the work of their peers in cities across the continent. These finalists truly represent the best of the best.

The winners will be announced during a reception on July 13 at the AAN Convention in Boulder.

Finalists below are listed alphabetically by paper. Categories with four or more finalists indicate either a tie or an honorable mention.



Investigative Reporting (David Carr Award)

One $500 prize will be awarded.

Metro Silicon Valley: Sheriff Texting Scandal (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII) by Jennifer Wadsworth

Miami New Times: Marijuana in Miami (I, II, III) by Meg O’Connor

Orlando Weekly: Everyone’s a suspect: Amazon Rekognition (I, II, III, IV) by Monivette Cordeiro, Joey Roulette, Colin Wolf

Feature Story

One $500 prize will be awarded, funded by Isthmus Founder Vince O’Hern.

Chicago Reader: Justice Delayed by Maya Dukmasova, Dave Newbart

Chicago Reader: The trials of Stuart V. Goldberg, Chicago’s flashiest defense attorney by Maya Dukmasova, Kevin Penczak, Jake Malooley

INDY Week: Ronnie Long Has Spent Four Decades in Prison for Rape. Did He Really Do It? by Erica Hellerstein

Riverfront Times: The Pool Repairman and the Hollywood Hustler by Robert Langellier

Free Speech & Open Government

One $500 prize will be awarded, funded by Monterey County Weekly founder & CEO Bradley Zeve.

Dig Boston: The Massachusetts Public Records Law Fails Three out of Three Times by Maya Shaffer

Monterey County Weekly: Taking on Greenfield City Hall, getting sued for it, and winning (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX) by Mary Duan, Sara Rubin, Kelly Aviles

The Memphis Flyer: Behind Closed Doors by Toby Sells

LGBT Coverage

One $500 prize will be awarded, funded by Boulder Weekly publisher Fran Zankowski.

Orlando Weekly: Say Her Name by Monivette Cordeiro, Colin Wolf

Salt Lake City Weekly: Pride Issue by Enrique Limón & City Weekly Staff

Tulsa Voice: Every single other: Tulsa’s LGBTQ+ community comes to worship by Fraser Kastner

Washington City Paper: Asylum Seekers by Andrew Giambrone

Arts Criticism (Jim Ridley Award)

One $500 prize will be awarded, funded by the Nashville Scene.

INDY Week: Arts Criticism (I, II, III) by Brian Howe

The Memphis Flyer: Book Reviews (I, II, III) by Jesse Davis

Washington City Paper: Arts Criticism (I, II, III) by Kriston Capps

Willamette Week: “Baring It” and Other Stories (I, II, III) by Shannon Gormley


One $250 prize will be awarded, funded by The Billy Manes Foundation.

Coachella Valley Independent: Know Your Neighbors (I, II, III) by Anita Rufus

Nashville Scene: Vodka Yonic (I, II, III) by Elizabeth Jones, Laura Hutson, Kat Ridley

North Coast Journal: Seriously? (I, II, III) by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Pittsburgh City Paper: Peepshow, a sex and social justice column (I, II, III) by Jessie Sage


One $250 prize will be awarded, funded by The Billy Manes Foundation.

Dig Boston: Apparent Horizon (I, II, III) by Jason Pramas

Maui Time: Coconut Wireless (I, II, III) by Axel Beers

Triad City Beat: Citizen Green (I, II, III) by Jordan Green

Triad City Beat: Columns (I, II, III) by Brian Clarey

Best Nonprofit Collaboration (The BINJ Award)

One $500 cash prize will awarded to the author/team, funded by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism

INDY Week, with NC Health News: State Law Orders Insurers to Cover Autism Therapies. Why Are So Many Families Going Without? by Sarah Ovaska-Few

INDY Week, with The AppealThe Cheat Sheet Taught N.C. Prosecutors How to Get Rid of Black Jurors by Jacob Biba

Santa Barbara Independent, with KCRW: One Year Later by Tyler Hayden

Santa Fe Reporter, with New Mexico Fund for Public Interest Journalism: Place Making by New Mexico Fund for Public Interest Journalism

Salesperson of the Year

This year, an additional competition took place, in which AAN Member papers submitted nominees for Salesperson of the Year, based on a winning pitch deck that demonstrates a focus on meeting client needs, offering creative and integrated solutions. Three finalists were chosen by a judging panel of past AAN Ad Directors. All three finalists receive free registration for the AAN Convention and tiered cash prizes, funded by The Media Audit. Winner will be announced during the main AAN Awards Ceremony. 

Pittsburgh City Paper: Blake Alexander Lewis

Pittsburgh City Paper: Kaitlin Oliver

The Georgia Strait: Robyn Marsh



Arts Feature

Cincinnati CityBeat: Magical Realism by Zachary Petit

Colorado Springs Independent: Beam me up, Grandma by Alissa Smith

Good Times Santa Cruz: Santa Cruz Goes Dark by Steve Palopoli

Willamette Week: Roll of a Lifetime by Matthew Singer

Beat Reporting

INDY Week: Incarceration and Criminal Justice Reporting (I, II, III, IV) by Sarah Willets

Phoenix New Times: Criminal Justice Coverage (I, II, III, IV, V) by Sean Holstege

Seven Days: Education Writing (I, II, III, IV, V) by Molly Walsh

The Inlander: Sexual Harassment in Higher Ed (I, II, III, IV, V) by Wilson Criscione

Food Writing

The Inlander: Don’t Sauté Your Laptop (and Other Home Cooking Tricks) by Daniel Walters

Monterey County Weekly: Burning Questions (I, II, III) by Dave Faries

Salt Lake City Weekly: Food Reviews (I, II, III) by Alex Springer

Seven Days: Food Writing (I, II, III) by Hannah Palmer Eagan

Immigration Coverage

INDY Week: Credible Fear: A Triangle Woman Says She Could Be Killed If She’s Deported to Honduras by Erica Hellerstein

INDY Week: The Hunted: What’s Life Like for a Young North Carolina Man After Being Deported to El Salvador? by Victoria Bouloubasis

The Memphis Flyer: There Is No Line: The Troubled State of our Immigrant Community by Maya Smith

Westword: Here Today, Here Tomorrow by Chris Walker

Long-Form News Story

Phoenix New Times: Missing Deadly Signs (I, II, III) by Bill Myers

Seven Days: Sheriff, Inc. by Alicia Freese

The Inlander: A Long Road to Die by Samantha Wohlfeil

Music Writing

Boulder Weekly: Music Writing (I, II, III) by Angela K. Evans

Charleston City Paper: From hip-hop veterans to freshly tapped talent, meet the women who are changing the local rap game by Kelly Rae Smith and Heath Ellison

Cincinnati CityBeat: Revenge of the Synth by Mike Breen

San Antonio Current: Ada Vox: How a Singing Drag Queen from San Antonio Got America to Listen Up by Chris Conde



Cover Design

Metro Times: Covers (I, II, III) by Tom Carlson

Orlando Weekly: Covers (I, II, III) by Melissa McHenry, Robert Bartlett, Chris “Tobar” Rodriguez

Pittsburgh City Paper: Covers (I, II, III) by Lisa Cunningham, Jared Wickerham, Xiola Jensen, Maya Puskaric

Santa Fe Reporter (I, II, III) by Anson Stevens-Bollen

Editorial Layout

City Newspaper: The Fate of Parcel 5 by Ryan Williamson

Eugene Weekly: I Married A White Supremacist by Tracy Sydor, Trask Bedortha, Todd Cooper

Las Vegas Weekly: Life Is Beautiful by Ian Racoma

Nashville Scene: Summer Guide by Elizabeth Jones


The Inlander: Scholastic Fantastic (I, II, III, IV, V) by Jeff Drew

Las Vegas Weekly: Raiders: The New Gruden Era Begins by Ian Racoma

Nashville Scene: Bonnaroo Bingo by Holly Carden

Riverfront Times: Title Mine by Evan Sult


Cincinnati CityBeat: Photography (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X) by Hailey Bollinger

Orlando Weekly: Havana or Bust by Robert Bartlett

Style Weekly: Protest (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X) by Scott Elmquist

Washington City Paper: 2018 by Darrow Montgomery





Charleston City Paper: Editorial Cartoons (I, II, III, IV, V) by Steve Stegelin

Seven Days: Cartoons (I, II, III, IV, V) by Tim Newcomb

Slowpoke Comics: Cartoons (I, II, III, IV, V) by Jen Sorensen

Tom Tomorrow: This Modern World (I, II, III, IV, V) by Tom Tomorrow

Innovation/Format Buster

The Inlander: Miller Cane: A serialized novel printed in weekly installments by Samuel Ligon, Jacob Fries

Maui Time: Walk Story (I, II) by Axel Beers, Tommy Russo

Monterey County Weekly: Student Voices (I, II) by Lorenz Cushman, Students at 13 Monterey County high schools , Marielle Argueza, Erik Cushman

Seven Days: Give and Take Series (I, II, III, IV, V) by Paula Routly , Paul Heintz, Matthew Roy , Sasha Goldstein, Andrea Suozzo, Candace Page, Alicia Freese, Mark Davis, Carolyn Fox , Elizabeth Seyler, Diane Sullivan , Taylor Dobbs, Molly Walsh, Katie Jickling


Chicago Reader: The Block Beat (series in collaboration with The TRiiBE) by Tiffany Walden, Morgan Elise Johnson, Philip Montoro

Eugene Weekly: Lincoln Street Sessions (I, II, III, IV, V) by Trask Bedortha, James Bateman, Todd Cooper, Sarah Decker, Meerah Powell, Hunter McNie

Santa Barbara Independent: Lompoc Riverbed Evictees’ Triage Center to Close by Erika Carlos

Seven Days: Stuck in Vermont: Photographer Matthew Thorsen Gets the Last Word by Eva Sollberger

Special Section

North Coast Journal: Media Literacy Issue by Staff

Pittsburgh City Paper: Election Guide by Ryan Deto, Lisa Cunningham, Alex Gordon, Jared Wickerham, Amanda Waltz, Hannah Lynn, Jordan Snowden, Maggie Weaver, Tereneh Idia, Gab Bonesso, Jessie Sage

Salt Lake City Weekly: City Weekly’s Beer Issue by Enrique Limón & City Weekly Staff

Santa Fe Reporter: Love and Sex by Alex De Vore, Anson Stevens-Bollen, Charlotte Jusinski, Hunter Riley, Anastacio Wrobel, JC Gonzo

Special Publication

Pittsburgh City Paper: City Guide by Lisa Cunningham, Alex Gordon, Ryan Deto, Hannah Lynn, Rob Rossi

San Antonio Current: San Antonio Flavor – Winter 2018 by Jessica Elizarraras, Greg Jefferson

Santa Fe Reporter: Restaurant Guide by SFR Staff and Freelancers

Seven Days: From Burlington With Love: Insider Intel on What’s Good by Carolyn Fox, Dan Bolles, Cathy Resmer, Katy Isaacs, John James, Kirsten Cheney, Todd Scott, Don Eggert, Brooke Bousquet, Diane Sullivan

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