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Published April 02, 2012, 09:58 AM

Agweek staff writers win NAAJ awards

Agweek staff writers scooped up several awards in the North American Agricultural Journalists 2011 writing contest.

By: Agweek staff report, Agweek

Agweek staff writers scooped up several awards in the North American Agricultural Journalists 2011 writing contest.

In the news category, Jonathan Knutson won first place for “A long, wet ag disaster,” which appeared in the April 25 issue.

In describing why he chose this feature, the judge Charlie Weaver, the digital media and design director for the Iowa State Daily, wrote: “I particularly liked the construction of the overall narrative where you take the reader almost through the stages of the ‘grieving process’ the individuals effected by the lake were facing. I was, however, still left wanting in regards to what the state planned on doing about the issue — which does well to punctuate the end of the story and reinforce the hopelessness the community members are feeling.”

Mikkel Pates won second place in the news category for his article “Whistle blower,” which was published in the May 16 issue. “I didn’t find myself choosing sides while reading — which, in my opinion is the cornerstone of great investigative journalism,” Weaver said.

Pates also received honorable mention in the news category for “The push,” which appeared in the Dec. 12 issue.

In the series category, Pates won second place for “Rick’s world,” which was published in the Sept. 12 and 19 issues of Agweek. “Rick’s world” dissects controversy surrounding a number of dairy-farm partnerships across three states,” wrote the judge, Sue Burzynski Bullard, who teaches editing, reporting and multimedia classes at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “Some 13,000 cows were involved in the deals. Subsequent bankruptcies spawned critics and inquiries. One farming couple said their part of the deal cost them $1.2 million, setting them back 10 years financially. Was it bad timing in a tough economy, mismanagement, or what? “Rick’s world” digs up details to help readers make up their minds — including an extensive time line showing when deals developed and, in some cases, soured.”

Jerry Hagstrom, Agweek’s Washington, D.C., correspondent, won honorable mention in the spot news category for his story “Super Committee failure means . . .”

Because Knutson won first place in the news category, he is eligible, along with the first-place winners in the other categories, — spot news, features, columns and analysis, special projects and series — to be named the recipient of NAAJ’s Glenn Cunningham Award as agricultural writer of the year. The winner of the Cunningham Award will be revealed at a National Press Club dinner April 16 during NAAJ’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.