2020 AAN Awards Finalists Announced

The finalists for the 2020 AAN Awards have been selected. The 92 finalists below were chosen as the most outstanding from a field of 526 entries submitted by 55 alternative publications across the U.S. and Canada (and Norway!).

Held every year since 1996, the AAN Awards recognize the best in alternative journalism and graphic design and are a unique chance for alt-weeklies to compete directly against the work of their peers in cities across the continent. The contest promotes excellence by recognizing work that is well written, incisively reported and effectively challenges established orthodoxies. These finalists truly represent the best of the best.

This spring, all members of AAN were invited to enter their work from 2019 for awards consideration. This year saw the addition of two new Writing Categories – Healthcare Reporting and Best Right Wing Extremism Coverage. Judging was conducted by faculty from Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York, Scripps School of Communication at Ohio University, University of Memphis, and Humboldt State University.

The winners will be announced during a virtual reception on Friday, September 18 at 3PM Eastern. Tune in here – https://tinyurl.com/aanawards

Finalists below are listed alphabetically by paper. Categories with four or more finalists indicate either a tie or an honorable mention. Questions may be directed to Molly Hilton at hilton@aan.org



Arts Criticism (Jim Ridley Award)

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

City Newspaper: Film Criticism (I, II, III) by Adam Lubitow

Nashville Scene: Film Criticism (I, II, III) by D. Patrick Rodgers

Seven Days: Quick Lit (I, II, III) by Margot Harrison

Triad City Beat: “Thanks I hate it: That Frida Kahlo mural” by Sayaka Matsuoka

Column (Billy Manes Award)

One $250 prize will be awarded, funded by Orlando Weekly.

Dig Boston: “Dear Reader” (I, II, III) by Chris Faraone

Jackson Free Press: “Dossier: Truth to (Media) Power in Mississippi” (I, II, III) by Donna Ladd

Pittsburgh City Paper: “Peepshow” (I, II, III) by Jessie Sage

Pittsburgh City Paper: “Voices” (I, II, III) by Tereneh Idia

Investigative Reporting (David Carr Award)

One $500 cash prize will awarded, funded by Omaha Reader.

Monterey County Weekly: “How Nuestra Familia, a criminal organization, took control of MILPA, a community group in Salinas” (I, II, III, IV) by Monterey County Weekly staff with KSBW and Voices of Monterey Bay, Sara Rubin, Mary Duan

Seven Days: “Guarded Secrets” (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX) by Paul Heintz

Triad City Beat: “United Youth Care Services and Medicaid fraud” (I, II, III) by Jordan Green

LGBT Coverage

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

Dig Boston: “Unbearable Pressure” by Yidan Sun

Orlando Weekly: “Speed Trap” by Xander Peters

Seven Days: “HOWLing at the Moon: A Women’s Collective Grapples With a Gender-Fluid Future” by Chelsea Edgar

YES! Weekly: “Living with HIV” by Katie Murawski

Nonprofit Collaboration (The BINJ Award)

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

Eugene Weekly, with University of Oregon Catalyst Journalism Project: “An Unsuccessful Solution” (I, II, III) by Taylor Perse , Morgan Theophil, Catalyst Journalism Project , Eugene Weekly

INDY Week, with Duke University’s Ninth Street Journal: “The Death of Bill Bishop” (I, II, III, IV) by Ben Leonard, Erin Williams, Swathi Ramprasad

Santa Fe Reporter, with New Mexico Fund for Public Interest Journalism: “Roadmap to Resilience” by Julia Goldberg, Olivia Abeyta, Max Looft, Anna Girdner, James Taylor

Santa Fe Reporter, with New Mexico In Depth: “Case (not) Closed” by Jeff Proctor, Trip Jennings, Julie Ann Grimm

Right-Wing Extremism Coverage

One $500 cash prize will awarded, funded by Anonymous

INDY Week: “Send Her Back. Send Her Back. Send Her Back.” by Leigh Tauss

Jackson Free Press: “God Save the Governor: Phil Bryant, Brexit Soldier” by Ashton Pittman

Triad City Beat: “Guns Up, Saftey Off: First responders and public safety personnel joined militia Facebook group” by Jordan Green

Willamette Week: “A Tiny Problem” (I, II, III, IV, V) by Katie Shepherd



Arts Feature

C-Ville Weekly: “Hitting the right note” by Erin O’Hare

Orlando Weekly: “Black art’s new dawn: Orlando artists carve out a space for expressions of Blackness” by Renata Sago

Salt Lake City Weekly: “The Beyhive State: Inside one Utah author’s bootylicious mashup of Beyoncé and academia” by Enrique Limón

Washington City Paper: “Life, Camera, Action” by Kayla Randall

Beat Reporting

Mountain Xpress: Education Beat (I, II, III, IV, V) by Virginia Daffron

Nashville Scene: Executions (I, II, III, IV) by Steven Hale

Washington City Paper: Criminal Justice Beat (I, II, III, IV, V) by Joshua Kaplan

Washington City Paper: Housing Beat (I, II, III, IV, V) by Morgan Baskin

Feature Story

Chicago Reader: “Fear and loathing at a South Shore Co-op” by Maya Dukmasova, Sujay Kumar

Chicago Reader: “Pangea has taken thousands to eviction court. The story of an apartment empire” by Maya Dukmasova, Sujay Kumar

Dig Boston: “The Longest Trip” by Jenny Rollins

Little Village: “Michelle Martinko’s murder ‘haunted’ the Cedar Rapids community for 40 years. Now, her suspected killer is set to go on trial” by Jen Moulton, Emma McClatchey

Food Writing

Arkansas Times: (I, II) by Stephanie Smittle

Chicago Reader: (I, II, III) by Mike Sula, Kate Schmidt

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

The Pitch: “They serve food at the midtown Home Depot now. You will want to read the menu carefully.” by Liz Cook

Health Care Coverage

Santa Fe Reporter: “No Place To Rest” by Leah Cantor

Seven Days: “Hooked” (I, II, III, IV, V) by Kate O’Neill

Willamette Week: “Alt-Vaxx” by Rachel Monahan

Immigration Coverage

Boulder Weekly: “Windows, Walls and Invisible Lines: Portraits of Life in Sanctuary” by Joel Dyer

Cincinnati CityBeat: “Without a Country” by Nick Swartsell

Jackson Free Press: “ICE Raids in Mississippi” (I, II, III, IV, V) by Ashton Pittman Aliyah Veal

Nashville Scene: “Resisting ICE” (I, II) by Steven Hale, Alejandro Ramierez

Long-Form News Story

Chicago Reader: “The big house and the picket fence” by Mari Cohen, Sujay Kumar

Queen City Nerve: “Then and Now: Segregation Still Pervades in CMS” (I, II, III) by Brenna Swanston

San Antonio Current: “Detention Inc.: Trump’s Immigrant Crackdown Means Big Money for Private Prisons” by Sanford Nowlin

Willamette Week: “Both Sides Now” by Nigel Jaquiss

Music Writing

Boulder Weekly: (I, II, III) by Caitlin Rockett

Chicago Reader: (I, II, III) by Leor Galil

Jackson Free Press: (I, II, III) by Aliyah Veal

San Antonio Current: (I, II, III) by Chris Conde

Political Column

Charleston City Paper: (IIIIII) by Andy Brack

INDY Week: “Soapboxer” (IIIIII) by Jeffrey Billman

Jackson Free Press: “The Political Hell Women Face in Mississippi” (IIIIII) by Donna Ladd

The Memphis Flyer: (IIIIII) by Jackson Baker



Cover Design

Good Times Santa Cruz: (I, II, III) by Tabi Zarrinnaal

INDY Week: (I, II, III) by Annie Maynard

Pittsburgh City Paper: (I, II, III) by Abbie Adams, Jared Wickerham

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

Editorial Layout

INDY Week: “Murder in the Bull City” by Annie Maynard

INDY Week: “Waiting for Good Dough” by Annie Maynard

Las Vegas Weekly: “Henderson: There’s Something for Everyone in One of the Nation’s Fastest-Growing Cities” by Corlene Byrd

Las Vegas Weekly: “Pot Culture: What To Watch, Eat and Listen To While You’re Enjoying 420” by Corlene Byrd


Charleston City Paper: Illustrations (I, II, III) by Scott Suchy

Las Vegas Weekly: “Electric Daisy Carnival Lights Up The Desert” by Sergio Vazquez

Las Vegas Weekly: “Pot Culture” by Zach Meyer

Nashville Scene: “Best of Nashville” (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII) by Lauren Cierzan


Boulder Weekly: “Windows, Walls and Invisible Lines: Portraits of Life in Sanctuary” by Joel Dyer

Pittsburgh City Paper: “Pittsburgh in Photos” (IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXX) by Jared Wickerham


Style Weekly: “Murder Vigil: In the aftermath of gun violence” (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X) by Scott Elmquist

Washington City Paper: “2019” (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X) by Darrow Montgomery




Little Village: “Futile Wrath” (I, II, III, IV, V) by Sam Locke Ward, Jordan Sellergren

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

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

Innovation/Format Buster

Austin Chronicle: “Austin Music Yearbook” by Kevin Curtin, Jason Stout

Chicago Reader: “Aldermania! The Board Game” (I, II) by Aimee Levitt, Ben Joravsky, Sue Kwong, David Alvarado

Seven Days: “Worse For Care” (I, II, III, IV, V, VI ,VII, VIII, IX) by Andrea Suozzo, Derek Brouwer , Emily Corwin

Willamette Week: “Portland At All Hours” by Nigel Jaquiss, Rachel Monahan, Katie Shepherd, Elise Herron, Laurel Kadas, Justin Katigbak, Henry Cromett, Matthew Singer, Sage Brown, Sophie Peel, Aaron Mesh, Katherine Topaz


Chicago Reader: “The Block Beat” (I, II, III, IV) by Philip Montoro, Arthur E. Haynes II, Darius Griffin, Jiayan “Jenny” Shi, Alex Y. Ding, ThoughtPoet , Tiffany Walden, Pat Nabong, Morgan Elise Johnson, The TRiiBE

Little Village: “Studio Visits” (I, II, III, IV, V) by Jason Smith

Pittsburgh City Paper: “Venue Guide Walkthroughs” (I, II, III) by Jared Wickerham, Jordan Snowden

Seven Days: “Stuck in Vermont: Lily Stilwell Competes in Gymkhana Ice Time Trials” by Eva Sollberger, James Buck

Special Section

Chicago Reader: “Best of Chicago 2019” by Jamie Ramsay, Sue Kwong, Lisa Predko, Brian Gladkowski, Karen Hawkins, Sujay Kumar, Leor Galil, Jamie Ludwig, Catey Sullivan, Maya Dukmasova, Kate Schmidt, Mike Sula, Salem Collo-Julin, Kerry Reid, Deanna Isaacs

Icepeople: “10 Years Of Total Lunacy (Icepeople’s 10th Anniversary Issue)” by Mark Sabbatini

North Coast Journal: “Media Literacy Issue” by North Coast Journal Staff

Volume One: “Bike Boom” by Lauren Fisher, Taylor McCumber, Eric Christenson, Andrea Paulseth, Tom Giffey, Mike Paulus, James Johonnott, Rebecca Mennecke

Special Publication

Boulder Weekly: “Feast” by Matt Cortina

Little Village: “Bread & Butter Dining Guide” by Frankie Schneckloth, Jordan Sellergren, Zak Neumann

Salt Lake City Weekly: “City Guide 2019” by Enrique Limón and City Weekly staff

Seven Days: “What’s Good: The Annual Field Guide to Burlington” by Seven Days Staff

Willamette Week: “Summer Road Trip 2019” by Andi Prewitt, Pete Cottell, Michelle Devona, Shannon Gormley, Elise Herron, Adam Sawyer, Matthew Singer, Cameron Vigliotta, Nicole Vulcan, Kat Topaz, Elise Furlan