Association of Alternative Newsmedia Announces Finalists for 2023 Journalism Awards

Association of Alternative Newsmedia Announces Finalists for 2023 Journalism Awards

Seven Days (Burlington, Vt.), Chicago Reader, The Reader (Omaha, Neb.), Washington City Paper, Willamette Week (Portland, Ore.), and The Inlander (Spokane, Wash.) receive five or more Finalist nods; over 30 publishers recognized. 

The Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) is pleased to announce this year’s finalists for the 2023 AAN Awards. Celebrating excellence in local journalism, these awards recognize outstanding reporting, writing, photography, and multimedia storytelling across various categories.

This year’s finalists represent a group of journalists, publications, and collaborations who have consistently pushed the boundaries of investigative reporting, feature writing, and innovative storytelling. With their work, these finalists have demonstrated a deep commitment to delivering thought-provoking, impactful, and transformative stories to their communities.

“We are thrilled to showcase the incredible talent and dedication of local journalists who tirelessly pursue truth and shed light on pressing issues in their communities,” said AAN Board President Graham Jarrett. “The works of the finalists exemplify the fundamental principles of AAN journalism, placing emphasis on exceptional reporting, captivating storytelling, and a resolute dedication to serving and engaging our readership unlike anyone else in the local newscape.”

Finalists were selected through an impartial judging process led by a panel of distinguished industry experts and academics. Each submission was evaluated based on its journalistic integrity, originality, impact, and contribution.

The winners of the 2023 AAN Journalism Awards will be announced during the awards ceremony, which will take place on July 21, 2023, in Dallas, Texas, during the 2023 TexAAN AAN Convention.

For more information about the AAN Awards and a complete list of past finalists and winners, visit

FINALISTS are listed in random order. We will reveal the placement at the live event in July.

Arts Criticism (Jim Ridley Award)

  • Houston Press – “Selection of Arts Criticism” – Jessica Goldman
  • Isthmus – “Theater reviews” – Gwendolyn Rice
  • Nashville Scene – “Arts Criticism by Laura Hutson Hunter” – Laura Hutson Hunter
  • The Reader (Omaha) – “Lava Conquers All, Nothing Nowhere Nebulously Never, The Only Safe Place for a Gun Is in a Tom Cruise Movie Title” – Ryan Syrek

Arts Feature

  • Seven Days – “The Next Stage: After Four Years of Turmoil and Transition, the Flynn Enters a New Era” – Dan Bolles
  • Chicago Reader – “‘Will lightning strike Podlasie Club twice?'” – Micco Caporale, Philip Montoro
  • Washington City Paper – “Understudies: The Unsung Superheroes of D.C. Theater” – Laura Sturza
  • City Newspaper – “How the humble frame went from sidekick to the spotlight” – David Andreatta, Max Schulte, Rebecca Rafferty

Beat Reporting

  • San Antonio Current – “San Antonio Symphony coverage by Sanford Nowlin” – Sanford Nowlin
  • Seven Days – “Alison Novak: Education Reporting” – Alison Novak
  • Washington City Paper – “Police Misconduct Reporting by Mitch Ryals” – Mitch Ryals
  • The Inlander – “Camp Hope” – Nate Sanford

Best Collaboration (The BINJ Award)

  • Riverfront Times – “Shadow of Death” – Ryan Krull, Monica Obradovic, Sarah Fenske, Kathy Gilsinan, Sylvester Brown Jr., Leyla Fern King
  • The Reader (Omaha) – “As Nebraska’s Latino Voters Grow in Power, Candidates Fight for Their Support in the Second District” – Bridget Fogarty, Elizabeth Rembert
  • The Reader (Omaha) – “In one city, the pandemic accelerated a wave of white flight” – Bridget Fogarty, Sarah Garland
  • The Reader (Omaha) – “Past Union President, Now Running for Sheriff, Was Deemed to Have Used Excessive Force. Then Omaha’s Police Chief Stepped in.” – Chris Bowling, Matthew Hansen, Matt Wynn


  • Charleston City Paper – “Marshall law; Lindsey; Vaccine; Shell; sycophant” – Robert Ariail
  • Seven Days – Tim Newcomb – Tim Newcomb
  • Charleston City Paper – “Banned books; Red state; No evil; Fascists; Freedom Caucus” – Steve Stegelin

Column (Billy Manes Award)

  • Dallas Voice – “Cassie Nova, Ask a Drag Queen” – James Love
  • The Inlander – “CMarie Fuhrman on motherhood, writing while Native, and autocorrect racism” – CMarie Fuhrman
  • Seven Days – “Life Stories by Sally Pollak” – Sally Pollak
  • Chicago Reader – “Columns by Deanna Isaacs” – Deanna Isaacs

Cover Design

  • Riverfront Times – “Covers by Evan Sult” – Evan Sult
  • Santa Fe Reporter – “Santa Fe Reporter Covers: Plight of the Pinyon Jay; Squirt this Cat; Does not Equal” – Anson Stevens-Bollen
  • Seven Days – “Seven Days: Cover Design” – Diane Sullivan, Harry Bliss, Rick Veitch, Luke Awtry
  • Charleston City Paper – “Oceans; Roads; Monsters” – Scott Suchy, Christina Bailey, Steve Stegelin

Editorial Layout

  • Nashville Scene – “Festival Frenzy” – Elizabeth Jones
  • Gambit – “Where In The World Is LaToya Cantrell” – Emma Veith
  • Las Vegas Weekly – “Las Vegas Labor Day Guide” – Ian Racoma
  • Seven Days – “On the Road: What Route 100 Says About Vermont” – Diane Sullivan

Election Coverage

  • Seven Days – “Becca Balint’s Campaign for U.S. House” – Sasha Goldstein
  • Seven Days – “In the August 9 Primary, Democratic Candidates Compete for the Jackpot: Vermont’s Lone U.S. House Seat” – Chelsea Edgar
  • Reno News & Review – “Our children’s future: Right-wing candidates run for the school board to ‘take back our schools'” – Frank X. Mullen
  • Mountain Xpress – “Outside groups recruit local poll observers” – Brooke Randle

Explanatory Journalism

  • Seven Days – “Working on the Railroad: How Family-Owned Vermont Rail System Became the Little Economic Engine That Could” – Ken Picard
  • Seven Days – “Locked Out: Vermont’s Housing Crisis” – Matthew Roy, Anne Wallace Allen, Derek Brouwer, Rachel Hellman, Courtney Lamdin, Colin Flanders, Chelsea Edgar, Kevin McCallum
  • Willamette Week – “The Mystery of the Taft Home” – Sophie Peel
  • City Newspaper – “Showdown over a downtown business improvement district” – David Andreatta, Max Schulte, Brian Sharp

Feature Story

  • Cincinnati CityBeat – “‘The King Thing’: Inside the Movement to Save King Records, the Cincinnati Studio that Produced Decades of Stars and Hits” – Katie Griffith
  • Washington City Paper – “The Story of Pictureman” – Ruben Castaneda
  • Seven Days – “Flower Powerhouse: Melinda Moulton Has Blended Business Savvy and a Hippie Ethos to Transform Burlington” – Ken Picard
  • The Inlander – “Ozzie vs. the World” – Daniel Walters, Nate Sanford

Food Writing

  • Chicago Reader – “Food writing by Mike Sula” – Mike Sula, Taryn Allen, Karen Hawkins
  • Triad City Beat – “Breadwinners: A complete guide to panaderías of the Triad” – Luis H. Garay
  • North Coast Journal – “On the Table” – Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Seven Days – “Food writing by Jordan Barry” – Jordan Barry

Health Care Reporting

  • Willamette Week – “No Man’s Land and other stories on the Oregon State Hospital” – Lucas Manfield
  • Washington City Paper – “The New Fire at Engine 22” – Alexandra Moe
  • Seven Days – “A Vermont Drug Company’s Failure to Maintain Standards Led to Recalls — and Its Demise” – Colin Flanders
  • Riverfront Times – “In Missouri’s Bootheel, Reproductive Health Care Options Are Few” – Monica Obradovic


  • Santa Fe Reporter – “A Shot in the Dark” – Anson Stevens-Bollen
  • Isthmus – “Isthmus anniversary” – Tommy Washbush
  • Seven Days – “All the Best” – Jeff Drew
  • Isthmus – “Ice skating at Tenney Park lagoon” – Madeline Vogt

Innovation / Format Buster

  • Chicago Reader – “Visual arts coverage by Coco Picard” – Coco Picard, Salem Collo-Julin
  • Washington City Paper – “The Big Dunce: D.C. Agency Edition” – Ambar Castillo, Ella Feldman, Michelle Goldchain, Caroline Jones, Laura Hayes, Alex Koma, Sarah Marloff, Nayion Perkins, Mitch Ryals, Kelyn Soong
  • Austin Chronicle – “‘Dearly Departed Dishes'” – Melanie Haupt, Joel Fried, John Anderson
  • Chicago Reader – “The Secret History of Chicago Music” – Steve Krakow, Philip Montoro

Investigative Reporting (David Carr Award)

  • Willamette Week – “Trader Bob” – Nigel Jaquiss
  • LEO Weekly – “Death in Louisville’s Jails” – Josh Wood
  • The Pitch – “The Coterie Theatre’s Jeff Church faces internal investigation after harassment allegations” – Brock Wilbur
  • Lagniappe – “Lawsuit and Examiners’ report allege issues at State Bar” – Rob Holbert

LGBTQ+ Coverage (cash prize funded by Fran Zankowski)

  • City Pulse – “The Red Barn House Horrors” – Todd Heywood
  • Orlando Weekly – “‘Straight time'” – Eric Tegethoff
  • Triad City Beat – “Finding wholeness: What trans-affirming care looks like in the Triad” – Autumn Karen
  • Seven Days – “Women’s Rights Advocate Peggy Luhrs Leaves Behind a Complicated Legacy” – Chelsea Edgar


  • Seven Days – “Seven Days Aloud: Capitol Offense: Nicholas Languerand’s Quest for ‘Belonging’ Led Him to QAnon, the Insurrection — and Now Prison” – Derek Brouwer, Colin Flanders, Jeff Baron
  • Seven Days – “Seven Days Aloud: With ‘GUMBO,’ Rapper and DJ Fattie B Unites a Scene and Makes the Record of His Life” – Chris Farnsworth, Jeff Baron
  • Seven Days – “How Not to Get Stuck in the Mud in East Barnard with John Leavitt and The Crier” – Eva Sollberger
  • The Reader (Omaha) – “Reader Radio podcast” – Chris Bowling, Isa Luzarraga, Bridget Fogarty

Music Writing

  • Nashville Scene – “Music Writing by Brittney McKenna” – Brittney McKenna
  • San Antonio Current – “Music stories by Bill Baird” – Bill Baird
  • Arkansas Times – “Pizza, beer and punk: An oral history of Vino’s” – Lindsey Millar, Rhett Brinkley
  • Nashville Scene – “Music Writing by P.J. Kinzer” – P.J. Kinzer

News Story

  • City Pulse – “Church or cult?” – Todd Heywood, Kyle Kaminski
  • North Coast Journal – “Broken Trust” – Thadeus Greenson
  • Nashville Scene – “Code Snitching: Nashvillians Are Weaponizing Metro Codes Against ‘Undesirable’ Neighbors” – Radley Balko
  • North Coast Journal – “Title IX” – Thadeus Greenson


  • C-Ville Weekly – “A Clearer Picture”
  • The Pitch – “Chase Castor’s photo work at The Pitch” – Chase Castor
  • Charleston City Paper – “2023 photos, Charleston City Paper” – Ruta Smith
  • The Inlander – “The Inlander’s photos” – Young Kwak, Erick Doxey

Political Column

  • Houston Press – “Selection of Columns” – Jef Rouner
  • Charleston City Paper – “Poking free speech bear; Dems embarrassed; Weaver avoids” – Andy Brack
  • Lagniappe – “Damn the Torpedoes — Columns by Rob Holbert” – Rob Holbert
  • Dallas Voice – “Column — Political” – Tammye Nash

Right Wing Extremism Coverage (cash prize funded by Anonymous)

  • Willamette Week – “What Happened to Mike Bivins?” – Rachel Saslow
  • Reno News & Review – “‘Little Trump 2.0s’: Robert Beadles is spending big bucks to install ‘America First’ candidates in office in Washoe County and beyond” – Frank X. Mullen
  • Seven Days – “Capitol Offense: Nicholas Languerand’s Quest for ‘Belonging’ Led Him to QAnon, the Insurrection — and Now Prison” – Derek Brouwer, Colin Flanders
  • Austin Chronicle – “‘Has Round Rock ISD Hit Rock Bottom?'” – Brant Bingamon

Solutions Journalism

  • Chicago Reader – “‘Lukewarm welcome'” – Katie Prout, Jim Daley
  • Gambit – “Climate of Change” – Sarah Ravits, Kaylee Poche, Domonique Tolliver, John Stanton
  • Willamette Week – “Comeback” – Nigel Jaquiss
  • The Inlander – “Fixing the Missing Lynx” – Samantha Wohlfeil

Special Publication

  • Orlando Weekly – “‘Orlando City Guide'” – Jessica Bryce Young, Matthew Moyer, Daniel Rodriguez, Laura Cole, Jennifer De Witt, Rob Bartlett, Arlene LaBoy, Jim Leatherman, Mauricio Murillo, Jacquelin Goldberg
  • Willamette Week – “Oregon Summer” – Andi Prewitt
  • New Times San Luis Obispo – “Get Outside” -Alex Zuniga, Camillia Lanham, Bob Rucker, Peter  Johnson, Bulbul Rajagopal, Taylor O’Connor, Malea Martin, Jayson Mellom, Katy Gray, Drew Gilmore, Lee Ann Vermuelen, Cindy Rucker, Eva Lipson, Ikey Ipekjian, Mary Grace Flaus, Andrea Rooks, Kim Rosa, Jen Herbaugh
  • Boulder Weekly – “Fall Arts Preview” – Caitlin Rockett, Will Matuska, Jezy J. Gray, Matt Maenpaa, Angela K. Evans

Special Section

  • Chicago Reader – “The People Issue (Volume 52, Number 3)” – Enrique Limón, Salem Collo-Julin, Kirk Williamson, Amber Huff, Sujay Kumar, Jim Daley, Kerry Reid, Philip Montoro, Taryn Allen, Kerry Cardoza, Jamie Ludwig, Leor Galil, Deanna Isaacs, Ben Joravsky, Mike Sula, Debbie-Marie Brown, Kelly Garcia, Katie Prout, Micco Caporale, John Dunlevy
  • Washington City Paper – “The People Issue 2022” – Darrow Montgomery, Caroline Jones, Sarah Marloff, Nevin Martell, Camila Bailey, Mitch Ryals, Alex Koma, Tom Sherwood
  • Seven Days – “All the Best: Seven Daysies 2022” – Seven Days staff
  • Boulder Weekly – “The Cannabis Culture Issue” – Caitlin Rockett, Will Brendza, John Lehndorff, Susan France

Ed. note, 6/8/23 – New Times San Luis Obispo was incorrectly left out of the Special Publication category when we originally published these results. We regret the error.