Jackson Free Press Awards and Prizes: A Full List Since 2004 | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Jackson Free Press Awards and Prizes: A Full List Since 2004

The Jackson Free Press and our journalists have won many awards and prizes since we launched in late 2002—more than 120 and counting—much of it for deep work that had clear impacts on the community and the state, from our “Two Lakes” and "One Lake" investigations to our work on Michelle Byrom that helped get her off death row, to our impactful criminal- and juvenile-justice work.

Our collaborative journalism and commentary have stopped a bad gang law (twice), introduced the idea and need for violence interrupters and credible messengers to the capital city and Mississippi, and led to new Jackson Police Department policies on releasing mugshots of minors and successfully challenged the long-held policy of not releasing the names of officers involved in shootings and deaths.

Our work on the failed Personhood amendment helped lift up voices of the “grassroots mamas” who would ultimately prevail at the ballot box, surprising the world. (Many of them are named below in public-service awards for Personhood coverage, due to their powerful opinion pieces.) Our journalism led directly to two trials and heightened scrutiny of Mayor Frank Melton, culminated with him losing re-election, as well as to officials taking his guns away and removing the young men he was “fostering” in his home without being a certified foster parent and while playing with guns while drunk as we observed first-hand.

And our work helped find former Klansman James Ford Seale alive and then put him on trial, ultimately sending him to prison for his role in the kidnapping and murders of Henry Dee and Charles Moore in 1964 (and even as others tried to take full credit for it and erase our role). Our journalism is widely cited in many federal court cases, in fact, including our work on Mississippi's anti-LGBT HB 1523.

Those examples only touch on the impact of our award-winning journalism in Mississippi. We are particularly proud of all the public-service awards below, because that is our primary goal. Following is a full list of awards, with links to much of the work (and more links on the way). Thanks to Leslyn Smith for “reading” our award walls and putting together this exhaustive list, which we had never taken time to put in one place. Both the Green Eyeshade Awards and the Diamond Awards are awarded by chapters of the Society for Professional Journalists serving the southeastern U.S. The Association of Alternative Newsmedia is a national contest.

Note that most journalism occurred the previous calendar year before the official awards year. Some categories, such as public service and for investigative work, can also honor work outside the previous calendar year. We appreciate all the hard work that led to these awards over the years.

2020 Awards (announced to date)

Associated Press (Louisiana/Mississippi) Awards, for work in 2019

Investigative reporting, 1st Place: Ashton Pittman, "God Save the Governor: Phil Bryant, Brexit Soldier”

Business reporting, 1st Place: Seyma Bayram, "A Colorful Past: Can the Sun-N-Sand Be Saved?” Judges: “Well-researched … pulls reader in and covers a lot of ground.”

Features, 1st Place: Seyma Bayram, "Long Sentences, Broken Lives" Judges: “Good piece. Humanizes a serious problem in the Mississippi justice system and why a reader needs to pay attention.”

Features, 2nd Place: Aliyah Veal, “More Love Than Hate: Rappers' Deaths Sobering, Yet Inspirational" Judges: “Nice piece that illustrates why Nipsey Hussle was important to local musicians.”

Breaking News, 2nd Place: Ashton Pittman, "White Supremacists Caught at Emmett Till Memorial Making Propaganda Film" Judges: “Good timing and good background.”

Continuing Coverage, 2nd Place: Ashton Pittman, "Mississippi ICE Raids, Before and After" Judges: “An expansive look at many different angles of a frustrating and scary situation.”

Personal Columns, 2nd Place: Donna Ladd, Editor’s Notes Judges: “Strong voice on important topics.”

General News, 3rd Place: Ashton Pittman, "Mississippi: The Battleground for Roe v. Wade's Future?" Judges: “This piece tells a compelling story of the potential struggle women in Mississippi could once again face.”

Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Alumni Award: Donna Ladd

Connecting the Dots Foundation, Women of Courage and Strength Award: Donna Ladd


2019 Awards

(Click here for links to all JFP award-winning work in 2018)

Associated Press (Louisiana/Mississippi) Awards for work in 2018

Business Reporting, 1st Place: Arielle Dreher, "Private Prisons on Trial"

Political Reporting, 2nd Place: Ashton Pittman, Donna Ladd, Amber Helsel for coverage of Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s Re-election Campaign, Segregation Academies

Green Eyeshade Awards for Work in 2018

Public Service, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, Ko Bragg, Taylor Langele and Marie Weidmayer for Office-Involved Shooting Transparency

Politics Reporting, 1st Place: Ashton Pittman, Donna Ladd, Amber Helsel, Coverage of Cindy Hyde-Smith’s Re-election Campaign

Public Affairs Reporting, 1st Place: Arielle Dreher, School Choice and Vouchers

Serious Commentary, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, Editor’s Notes: Tackling Structural Racism and Sexism

Editorial Writing, 1st Place: Editorial Board, City Development, Crime, Transparency, Press Freedom

Travel Writing, 1st Place: Ko Bragg, "From Mississippi to Liberia: The Living Legacy of America’s West African Colony"

Courts & the Law Reporting, 1st Place: Donna Ladd and Arielle Dreher

Courts & the Law Reporting, 2nd Place: Ko Bragg, Policing Beat Coverage

General News Reporting, 2nd Place: Arielle Dreher, Reversing 'Roe'; Planned Parenthood, Immigration

Features, 2nd Place: Ko Bragg

Consumer Reporting, 2nd place: Arielle Dreher and Marie Weidmayer, Lake Development Drives Flood-control Project (archive)

Diamond Journalism Awards for work in 2018

Outstanding New Journalist, 1st Place: Ashton Pittman Judges: "Ashton Pittman provides impressive depth and context to his reporting. He brings a much-needed historical perspective to current political stories."

Community Service, 1st Place: Donna Ladd and Arielle Dreher for Mississippi gang coverage in 2018 Judges: “Excellent example of community-service journalism with a significant impact.”

Robert McCord Freedom of Information Award, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, Ko Bragg, Taylor Langele and Marie Weidmayer, Police-shooting transparency, including editorials Judges: "While many questions are yet to be answered, the persistent coverage by the JFP to hold the police accountable must be applauded. This is seeking information and closure for the families affected by these shootings."

News coverage, 1st Place: Arielle Dreher, Battle Over Education Funding Judges: "A very significant issue is that of school vouchers. This group of stories on pros and cons of public versus private educational funding used as a human interest story to personalize the issue of inadequate special ed funding in public schools and statistics that showed poor students who moved to private schools with vouchers actually did worse than those still in public school. It showed how a state issue soon became a national battleground, including funding from the Walton and Koch families. It also probed the difference between two plans proposed for the area. Thorough and a good roadmap for reporting on the issue in other communities."

Arts and culture coverage, 1st Place: Amber Helsel (See archive) Judges: "Was pleasantly surprised by these stories. While I don’t typically enjoy food-type activities, the author draws one in by talking to the people behind the food and going from there. Well written with style that effectively had me feeling like I was in the

Politics coverage, 1st Place: Ashton Pittman, Donna Ladd and Amber Helsel for for “Cindy Hyde-Smith: Segregation academies and hanging quips” Judges: "Entries were enterprising, in-depth and insightful."

Opinion writing, 2nd Place: Donna Ladd


2018 Awards

Green EyeShade Awards for Work in 2017

"Best in Division”: Ko Bragg, Arielle Dreher, Donna Ladd, Juvenile-Justice Reporting in Mississippi

Public Service, First Place: Ko Bragg, Arielle Dreher, Donna Ladd, “Juvenile Justice Reform in Mississippi”

Editorials, 2nd place: JFP Editorial Board, Editorials

Feature writing, 3rd place: Arielle Dreher, "Still Fighting at Home: Transgender Veterans Caught in the Flux"

Courts and the Law reporting, 3rd place: Ko Bragg, "Hinds DA on Trial, Again" Serious commentary, 3rd place: Donna Ladd, Editor's Notes: From Scientific Racism to #MeToo

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2017

Political Columns, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, for Editor’s Notes, “Playing Politics with Race, Civil Rights”


2017 Awards

Associated Press (Louisiana/Mississippi) Awards for work in 2016:

Investigative/Public Service, 1st Place: Donna Ladd and Imani Khayyam for "A Hunger to Live: Interrupting Violence in Jackson, Miss." and several follow-up stories.

Editorials, 1st Place, Editorial Board:: State Flag, Voter ID, Frivolous Planned Parenthood Law (Judges: "Gutsy work among many strong contenders”)

GLAAD Media Award: Arielle Dreher, "Nowhere to Go: LGBT Youth on the Move”

Green Eyeshade Awards, for work in 2016:

Best in Division: Donna Ladd, “A Hunger to Live in the Washington Addition”

General News Reporting, 1st Place: Arielle Dreher on Trump, Human Trafficking; Refugee Kids; SNAP

Feature Writing, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, “A Hunger to Live in the Washington Addition”

Public Affairs Reporting, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, Tim Summers Jr., “DA Files: Prosecuting a Prosecutor”

Politics Reporting, 1st Place: Arielle Dreher, “The Money and Power Behind Mississippi Politics”

Editorial Writing, 1st Place: Staff on Voting, Juvenile Justice, Frivolous Laws

Public Service in Non-Daily Journalism, 2nd Place: Donna Ladd, Arielle Dreher, Tim Summers Jr., Sierra Mannie, “Preventing Violence: Reporting Solutions for the City’s Crime”

Business Reporting, 2nd Place: Tim Summers Jr., Arielle Dreher, “Hostile Takeover of the Jackson Airport”

Courts & The Law Reporting, 2nd Place: Arielle Dreher, Sierra Mannie, “HB 1523’s Journey from the Statehouse to the Courthouse”

Consumer Reporting, 2nd Place: Arielle Dreher, “Fight Against Planned Parenthood and the State’s Only, and Private, Abortion Clinic”

Serious Commentary, 2nd Place: Donna Ladd, Editor’s Notes on Policing, Racism and Seeking Higher Ground

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2016:

Public Service, 1st Place: “Interrupting Violence in Jackson, Miss.” by Donna Ladd, Arielle Dreher, Imani Khayyam, Tim Summers Jr., Sierra Mannie, Maya Miller, Marzavier Harrington, Kristin Brenemen

Political Columns, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, Editor’s Notes

Race Reporting, 2nd Place: Sierra Mannie, “Jumping the Line: Caught in the Crossfire of Ridgeland’s Demographic Struggles”


2016 Awards

Green Eyeshade Awards for work in 2015:

Best of Division: Donna Ladd, Arielle Dreher, Imani Khayyam and Kristin Brenemen, “Mississippi Flag: Unearthing a Difficult Past”

Public Service, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, Arielle Dreher, Imani Khayyam & Kristin Brenemen, “Mississippi Flag: Unearthing a Difficult Past”

General News Reporting, 1st Place: Arielle Dreher, Education and Politics in Mississippi

Serious Commentary, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, Editor’s Notes on Policing, Education and the State Flag

Editorial Writing, 2nd Place: Editorial Board, 2016 Editorials

Public Affairs Reporting, 3rd Place: Arielle Dreher, “The Battle for Initiative 42”

Courts & The Law Reporting, 3rd Place: Arielle Dreher, “The Legal Trials for LGBT Rights, Divorce, Adoption”

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2015:

Public Service, 3rd Place: The Fight to Change the Mississippi Flag, by Todd Stauffer, Donna Ladd, Arielle Dreher, Kristin Brenemen, Imani Khayyam, Amber Helsel, Micah Smith, Dustin Cardon, Adria Walker, Maya Miller, Zilpha Young, and Kimberly Griffin

Free Speech, Honorable Mention: Arielle Dreher and Donna Ladd for Secretive PACs in Mississippi (series)


2015 Awards

Green Eyeshade Awards 2015 for work in 2014:

Public Service, 1st Place: Ronni Mott, Donna Ladd, R.L. Nave, “Michelle Byrom: An Innocent Woman on Death Row?”

Serious Commentary, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, Race, LGBT Rights, Family Violence and An Innocent Woman

Editorial Writing, 1st Place: Donna Ladd and R.L. Nave, Editorials on Corruption, Transparency, School Choice

General News Reporting, 1st Place: R.L. Nave, Haley Ferretti, Anne Wolfe, “The Fight for LGBT Rights in Mississippi”

Politics Reporting, 1st Place: R.L. Nave, Anna Wolfe, Donna Ladd, Elections and PAC Transparency in Mississippi

Courts and The Law Reporting, 2nd Place: R.L Nave, Prisons, Jails and Juvenile Justice in Mississippi

Feature Writing, 3rd Place: R.L Nave, “Ferguson: An American Moment”

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2014:

Public Service, 2nd Place: Ronni Mott, R.L. Nave, Oliver E. Diaz Jr., Donna Ladd for “Michelle Byrom: An Innocent Woman on Death Row?” (series) Free Speech, 3rd Place: R.L. Nave, Anna Wolfe, Donna Ladd for “Fighting to Uncover Hidden PAC Money in Mississippi” (series)

LGBT/Gender Equality Coverage, 3rd Place: And LGBTQ Rights March On in Mississippi by Anna Wolfe, Haley Ferretti, Kit Williamson, R.L. Nave, Joce Pritchett, Eddie Outlaw, Zack Orsborn, Donna Ladd, Trip Burns, and Dustin Cardon

Political Columns, 3rd Place: Donna Ladd, Politics of Corruption; ‘Religious Freedom’; and A Barbour’s Racism


2014 Awards

Green Eyeshade Awards for work in 2013:

Serious Commentary, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, Editor’s Notes on bigotry and injustice in Mississippi

Courts and Law Reporting, 1st Place: R.L. Nave, Coverage of Politics and Criminal Justice in Jackson, Miss.

Public Service, 3rd Place: R.L. Nave, Donna Ladd, Ronni Mott, Jacob Fuller for coverage of the 2013 Jackson city elections

Feature Writing, 3rd Place: R.L. Nave

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2013:

Features, 3rd Place: R.L. Nave, “Killing Quardious Thomas”


2013 Awards

Green Eyeshade Awards for work in 2012:

Public Service, 1st Place: Ronni Mott, R.L. Nave, Vergie Redmond, Donna Ladd on Voter ID in Mississippi

Serious Commentary, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, "Yes, It Was That Bad"; "Walking with Mr. Meredith"; "Beating the Spread"; "Southern Strategy’s Last Stand"; "The Contraception Wars"

Feature Writing, 1st Place: R.L. Nave, "Inside The Abortion Clinic Battle"; "Rebel Land: A Racial History of Oxford and Ole Miss"; "Facing the Odds in the Washington Addition"; "Promised Land"; "Private Prisons, Public Problems"

Courts & The Law Reporting, 3rd Place: R.L. Nave, "Private Prison, Public Problems"; "MDOC Sticks With Private Prisons"; "Night Riders"; "Inside the Abortion Clinic Battle"; "Clinic Remains Open"

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2012:

Columns, 1st Place: Jackson Free Press: Donna Ladd, Editor’s Notes

Feature Story, 3rd Place: Jackson Free Press: R.L. Nave, “Rebel Land”

Music Criticism, 3rd Place: Jackson Free Press: Briana Robinson, “A Musical Family Affair”; “From the Ukulele to ’60s Pop”; “For the Sheer Joy of It”

Political Columns, 3rd Place: Donna Ladd, “A Romney Runs Through Us”; “The Southern Strategy’s Last Stand?”; “Beware the GOP’s (Un)Scientific Sexism”


2012 Awards

Green Eyeshade Awards for work in 2011:

Feature Writing, 1st Place: Valerie Wells, “The Rise and Fall of The Clarion-Ledger”

Serious Commentary, 1st Place: Donna Ladd

Public Service, 2nd Place: Mississippi Defeats Personhood “Ready, Boots? Start Marching!”; “Danger Looming Large”; “Preparing for Battle”; “It’s About Women’s Rights”; “Where is the Line?”; “Personhood Supporters Shocked”; “A Pandora’s Box”; “Grassroots Mamas Tell All”; “Inside Yes on 26”; and “What the Mamas Taught Us.” Contributors: Valerie Wells, Elizabeth Waibel, Lacey McLaughlin, Donna Ladd, Lori Garrott, Shannon Barbour, Stacey Spiehler, Funmi Franklin, R.L. Nave, Adam Lynch

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2011:

Public Service, 1st Place: Mississippi Defeats Personhood “Ready, Boots? Start Marching!”; “Danger Looming Large”; “Preparing for Battle”; “It’s About Women’s Rights”; “Where is the Line?”; “Personhood Supporters Shocked”; “A Pandora’s Box”; “Grassroots Mamas Tell All”; “Inside Yes on 26”; and “What the Mamas Taught Us.” Contributors: Valerie Wells, Elizabeth Waibel, Lacey McLaughlin, Donna Ladd, Lori Garrott, Shannon Barbour, Stacey Spiehler, and Funmi Franklin

Political Column, 2nd Place: Tom Head, “Hazardous Civility”; “Immigrants vs. Profit”; and “And the Good News Is…”

Innovation/Format Buster, 2nd Place: Staff, “Good Ideas” Issues


2011 Awards

Green Eyeshade Awards for work in 2010:

Serious Commentary, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, Editor’s Notes

Politics Reporting, 2nd Place: Adam Lynch, “Are Judges Up For Sale in Mississippi?”

Feature Writing, 3rd Place: Lacey Mclaughlin, “Kids Having Kids”

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2010:

Feature Story, 2nd Place: Valerie Wells and Donna Ladd, “Rush to Judgment: Trying Kids As Adults”

Public Service, Honorable Mention: Ronni Mott, Lacey McLaughlin, Donna Ladd, Kamikaze, Casey Purvis, and Sophie McNeil: Domestic Violence coverage, including breaking coverage of Gov. Haley Barbour’s pardon of brutal killers of women

Columns, Honorable Mention: Donna Ladd, “Ain’t That Something,” “For the Kids,” “All God’s Children”


2010 Awards

Green Eyeshade Awards for work in 2009:

Courts and Law Reporting, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, Ward Schaefer, Adam Lynch, “The Curious Case of Frank Melton” (series)

Non-Deadline Reporting, 1st Place: Ronni Mott, “Preventing Violence Against Women” and the murder of Heather Spencer: "Did She Have to Die?"

Serious Commentary, 1st Place: Donna Ladd

Public Service, 2nd Place: Adam Lynch, Donna Ladd, Todd Stauffer, Ward Schaefer for “Two Lakes” coverage

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2009:

Public Service, 2nd Place: Adam Lynch, Ward Schaefer, Todd Stauffer, Donna Ladd for “Two Lakes” coverage (series)

Investigative Reporting, Honorable Mention: Ward Schaefer on Jackson Public Schools contracts


2009 Awards

Parents & Kids Magazine, Family Favorite: Jackson Free Press


2008 Awards

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2007:

Public Service, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, Kate Medley, Matt Saldana: Road to Meadville: Justice for Henry Dee and Charles Moore (series)

Feature Story, 1st Place: Jackson Free Press: Donna Ladd: “We Are Family: A Klan Child Fans a Different Flame” News writing, Honorable Mention: Adam Lynch, “The State of JPD”

ACLU: Outstanding Coverage of Human Rights Issues: Jackson Free Press


2007 Awards

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2006:

Feature Story, 1st Place: Brian Johnson, “Deepest Midnight: Cedric Willis and the Failure of Mississippi Justice”

Investigative Reporting, 2nd Place: Jackson Free Press: Brian Johnson, Donna Ladd, Adam Lynch for Coverage of Mayor Frank Melton: “On the Road Again,” “Melton May Face Felony Charges,” “Nightmare on Ridgeway Street,” “D-Day For Mayor Frank Melton,” “Frankie’s Got a Gun,” “Can Melton be Removed?” “Another Melton Mentee Back in Jail”

Columns, 3rd Place: Casey Parks, “Pity Would Be No More,” “Mississippi: America’s Africa,” “There Is No Other”

Jackson 2000 Friendship Award (Racial Reconciliation): Donna Ladd, Derrick Johnson


2006 Awards

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2005:

News Stories, 1st Place: Adam Lynch, “Evacuees Face Confusion,” “Bellsouth Looting Competitors?,” “Booting Delinquents“

Investigative Reporting, Second Place: Jackson Free Press: Donna Ladd, "Road to Meadville: Justice for Dee and Moore" (series)

Political Column, 2nd Place: Donna Ladd, “Take the Time To Do It Right,” “The Hope Sleeps Tonight,” “We Need a Mayor, Not a Daddy“

Media Reporting/Criticism, 2nd Place: Todd Stauffer, “The ‘Perception’ of the Ledger,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Sensational Suburban Legends“

Feature Story, 3rd Place: Casey Parks, “No Apologies: Inside Mississippi’s Pro-Life Movement“

Website, Honorable Mention: jacksonfreepress.com


2005 Awards

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2004:

Feature Story, 1st Place: Donna Ladd, “Alleged Victims”

News Stories, 1st Place: Ayana Taylor

Food Writing, 2nd Place: Jesse Yancy


2004 Awards

Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for work in 2003:

Music Writing- Second Place: Donna Ladd, Mr. Dylan, Mr. Evers

Columns, 3rd Place: Donna Ladd, Editor's Notes

The Alvis Hunt Award: Donna Ladd for racial-healing work