Feature Writing

Finalists have been announced since 1980. Full texts, photographs and cartoons are available for Journalism winners from 1995–2015 only.


2015 Diana Marcum of the Los Angeles Times

For her dispatches from California’s Central Valley offering nuanced portraits of lives affected by the state’s drought, bringing an original and empathic perspective to the story.

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2014 No award

No award

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2013 John Branch The New York Times

For his evocative narrative about skiers killed in an avalanche and the science that explains such disasters, a project enhanced by its deft integration of multimedia elements.

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2012 Eli Sanders The Stranger, a Seattle (Wash.) weekly

For his haunting story of a woman who survived a brutal attack that took the life of her partner, using the woman’s brave courtroom testimony and the details of the crime to construct a moving narrative.

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2011 Amy Ellis Nutt The Star-Ledger, Newark, NJ

For her deeply probing story of the mysterious sinking of a commercial fishing boat in the Atlantic Ocean that drowned six men.

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2010 Gene Weingarten The Washington Post

For his haunting story about parents, from varying walks of life, who accidentally kill their children by forgetting them in cars.

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2009 Lane DeGregory St. Petersburg Times

For her moving, richly detailed story of a neglected little girl, found in a roach-infested room, unable to talk or feed herself, who was adopted by a new family committed to her nurturing.

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2008 Gene Weingarten The Washington Post

For his chronicling of a world-class violinist who, as an experiment, played beautiful music in a subway station filled with unheeding commuters.

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2007 Andrea Elliott The New York Times

For her intimate, richly textured portrait of an immigrant imam striving to find his way and serve his faithful in America.

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2006 Jim Sheeler Rocky Mountain News, Denver

For his poignant story on a Marine major who helps the families of comrades killed in Iraq cope with their loss and honor their sacrifice.

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2005 Julia Keller Chicago Tribune

For her gripping, meticulously reconstructed account of a deadly 10-second tornado that ripped through Utica, Illinois.

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2004 No award

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2003 Sonia Nazario Los Angeles Times

For "Enrique's Journey," her touching, exhaustively reported story of a Honduran boy's perilous search for his mother who had migrated to the United States.

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2002 Barry Siegel Los Angeles Times

For his humane and haunting portrait of a man tried for negligence in the death of his son, and the judge who heard the case.

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2001 Tom Hallman Jr. The Oregonian, Portland

For his poignant profile of a disfigured 14-year old boy who elects to have life-threatening surgery in an effort to improve his appearance.

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2000 J.R. Moehringer Los Angeles Times

For his portrait of Gee’s Bend, an isolated river community in Alabama where many descendants of slaves live, and how a proposed ferry to the mainland might change it.

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1999 Angelo B. Henderson The Wall Street Journal

For his portrait of a druggist who is driven to violence by his encounters with armed robbery, illustrating the lasting effects of crime.

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1998 Thomas French St. Petersburg Times

For his detailed and compassionate narrative portrait of a mother and two daughters slain on a Florida vacation, and the three-year investigation into their murders.

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1997 Lisa Pollak The Baltimore Sun

For her compelling portrait of a baseball umpire who endured the death of a son while knowing that another son suffers from the same deadly genetic disease.

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1996 Rick Bragg The New York Times

For his elegantly written stories about contemporary America.

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1995 Ron Suskind The Wall Street Journal

For his stories about inner-city honor students in Washington, D.C., and their determination to survive and prosper.

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1994 Isabel Wilkerson The New York Times

For her profile of a fourth-grader from Chicago's South Side and for two stories reporting on the Midwestern flood of 1993.

1993 George Lardner Jr. The Washington Post

For his unflinching examination of his daughter's murder by a violent man who had slipped through the criminal justice system.

1992 Howell Raines The New York Times

For "Grady's Gift," an account of the author's childhood friendship with his family's black housekeeper and the lasting lessons of their relationship.

1991 Sheryl James St. Petersburg (FL) Times

For a compelling series about a mother who abandoned her newborn child and how it affected her life and those of others.

1990 Dave Curtin Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph

For a gripping account of a family's struggle to recover after its members were severely burned in an explosion that devastated their home.

1989 David Zucchino The Philadelphia Inquirer

For his richly compelling series, "Being Black in South Africa."

1988 Jacqui Banaszynski St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch

For her moving series about the life and death of an AIDS victim in a rural farm community.

1987 Steve Twomey The Philadelphia Inquirer

For his illuminating profile of life aboard an aircraft carrier.

1986 John Camp St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch

For his five-part series examining the life of an American farm family faced with the worst U.S. agricultural crisis since the Depression.

1985 Alice Steinbach The Baltimore Sun

For her account of a blind boy's world, "A Boy of Unusual Vision."

1984 Peter Mark Rinearson The Seattle Times

For "Making It Fly," his account of the new Boeing 757 jetliner.

1983 Nan Robertson The New York Times

For her memorable and medically detailed account of her struggle with toxic shock syndrome.

1982 Saul Pett Associated Press

For an article profiling the federal bureaucracy.

1981 Teresa Carpenter The Village Voice, New York, NY

(The prize was first awarded to Janet Cooke of The Washington Post, but it was returned two days later after The Post learned that the winning story was fabricated.)

1980 Madeleine Blais The Miami Herald

For "Zepp's Last Stand."

1979 Jon D. Franklin Baltimore Evening Sun

For an account of brain surgery.


2015 Sarah Schweitzer of The Boston Globe

For her masterful narrative of one scientist's mission to save a rare whale, a beautiful story fortified by expansive reporting, a quiet lyricism and disciplined use of multimedia.

2015 Jennifer Gonnerman of The New Yorker

For a taut, spare, devastating re-creation of the three-year imprisonment of a young man at Rikers Island, much of it spent in solitary confinement, after he was arrested for stealing a backpack.

2014 Scott Farwell of The Dallas Morning News

For his story about a young woman's struggle to live a normal life after years of ghastly child abuse, an examination of human resilience in the face of depravity.

2014 Christopher Goffard of the Los Angeles Times

For his account of an ex-police officer’s nine-day killing spree in Southern California, notable for its pacing, character development and rich detail.

2014 Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

For his meticulously told tale about a group of first-year medical students in their gross anatomy class and the relationships they develop with one another and the nameless corpse on the table, an account enhanced by multimedia elements.

2013 Kelley Benham of the Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, Fla.

For her searing personal account of the survival of her premature baby, born barely viable at 1 pound, 4 ounces, and her exploration of the costs and ethics of extreme medical intervention.

2013 Eli Saslow of The Washington Post

For his moving portrait of a struggling swimming pool salesman that illustrates the daily emotional toll of the nation’s economic downturn.

2012 John Branch The New York Times

For his deeply reported story of Derek Boogaard, a professional hockey player valued for his brawling, whose tragic story shed light on a popular sport’s disturbing embrace of potentially brain-damaging violence.

2012 Corinne Reilly The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk

For her inspiring stories that bring the reader side-by-side with the medical professionals seeking to save the lives of gravely injured American soldiers at a combat hospital in Afghanistan.

2011 Tony Bartelme The Post and Courier, Charleston, SC

For his engaging account of a South Carolina neurosurgeon’s quest to teach brain surgery in Tanzania, possibly providing a new model for health care in developing countries.

2011 Michael M. Phillips The Wall Street Journal

For his portfolio of deftly written stories that provide war-weary readers with fresh perspective on the conflict in Afghanistan.

2010 Dan Barry The New York Times

For his portfolio of closely observed pieces that movingly capture how the great recession is changing lives and relationships in America.

2010 Sheri Fink of ProPublica, in collaboration with The New York Times Magazine

For a story that chronicles the urgent life-and-death decisions made by one hospital’s exhausted doctors when they were cut off by the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina. (Moved by the Board to the Investigative Reporting category.)

2009 John Barry St. Petersburg Times

For his concise, captivating story about a rescued baby dolphin that needed a new tail and became a famous survivor, illuminating the mysterious connection between human beings and animals.

2009 Amy Ellis Nutt The Star-Ledger, Newark, NJ

For her poignant, deeply reported story of a chiropractor who suffered a severe stroke following brain surgery and became a wildly creative artist, in many ways estranged from his former self.

2009 Diane Suchetka The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH

For her harrowing tale of a mechanic whose arms were reattached after being severed in an accident, a disciplined narrative that takes readers on the man’s painful personal and physical journey to recover.

2008 Thomas Curwen Los Angeles Times

For his vivid account of a grizzly bear attack and the recovery of the two victims.

2008 Kevin Vaughan Rocky Mountain News, Denver, CO

For his sensitive retelling of a school bus and train collision at a rural crossing in 1961 that killed 20 children.

2007 Christopher Goffard The St. Petersburg Times

For his fresh and compelling stories about a young public defender and his daily challenges.

2007 Inara Verzemnieks The Oregonian, Portland, OR

For her witty and perceptive portfolio of features on an array of everyday topics.

2006 Dan Barry The New York Times

For his rich portfolio of pieces capturing slices of life in hurricane-battered New Orleans as well as his own New York City.

2006 Mary Schmich Chicago Tribune

For her intimate and compelling story about a federal judge whose husband and mother were murdered by an angry former plaintiff.

2005 Robin Gaby Fisher Star-Ledger, Newark, NJ

For her exhaustive look inside the lives of students at an alternative high school, shattering stereotypes and delineating memorable characters.

2005 Anne Hull The Washington Post

For her clear, sensitive, tirelessly reported stories on what it means to be young and gay in modern America.

2004 Anne Hull and Tamara Jones The Washington Post

For their intimate exploration of the lives of wounded soldiers returning from Iraq.

2004 Patricia Wen The Boston Globe

For her story chronicling more aggressive efforts by states to terminate the rights of parents.

2004 Robert Lee Hotz Los Angeles Times

For his lucid story on the efforts to unravel the mystery of why the Columbia space shuttle fell from the sky.

2003 Connie Schultz The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH

For her moving story about a wrongfully convicted man who refused to succumb to anger or bitterness.

2003 David Stabler The Oregonian, Portland, OR

For his sensitive, sometimes surprising chronicle of a teenage prodigy's struggle with a musical talent that proved to be both a gift and a problem.

2002 Ellen Barry The Boston Globe

For her empathetic and illuminating portrait of teenaged Sudanese boys resettled in the U.S. who must engage with American culture.

2002 David Maraniss The Washington Post

For his moving and textured reconstruction of the tragic events of September 11th, described through the actions of several key participants.

2001 Robin Gaby Fisher The Star-Ledger, Newark, NJ

For her inspirational stories that chronicled the care and recovery of two students critically burned in a dormitory fire at Seton Hall University.

2001 Richard E. Meyer Los Angeles Times

For his elegant, insightful portrait of a Tennessee family whose son shot three people at his high school.

2000 David Finkel The Washington Post

For his moving account of a woman forced to choose between staying with her family in a Macedonian refugee camp, or leaving to marry a man in France.

2000 Anne Hull The St. Petersburg Times

For her quietly powerful stories of Mexican women who come to work in North Carolina crab shacks, in pursuit of a better life.

1999 Tom Hallman Jr. The Oregonian, Portland, OR

For his unique profile of a man struggling to recover from a brain injury.

1999 Eric L. Wee The Washington Post

For his moving account of a Washington lawyer whose collection of postcards helps to preserve his memories of a fleetingly happy childhood.

1998 J.R. Moehringer Los Angeles Times

For "The Champ," an extraordinary documentation of a heavyweight boxer's glory days and his fall.

1998 Steve Giegerich Asbury Park Press

For his startling and original story about a bond that formed between four medical students and the cadaver they studied.

1997 Jeffrey Fleishman The Philadelphia Inquirer

For his versatile storytelling, notably including an account of the flight of 15 Buddhist monks from Tibet through the Himalayas.

1997 Julia Prodis Associated Press

For her trio of vivid stories about three teenagers on a deadly journey, a photograph from the Oklahoma City bombing, and a vacuum cleaner that catches prairie dogs.

1996 Richard E. Meyer Los Angeles Times

For "Buried Alive," his chilling profile of a woman's desperate attempts to communicate after being left mute and paralyzed by strokes.

1996 Hank Stuever The Albuquerque Tribune

For his detailed and highly personal account of returning to his hometown of Oklahoma City after the bombing there.

1995 David Finkel The Washington Post

For his story examining middle class flight from the District of Columbia, and for two profiles: of a family that watches television 17 hours a day, and of a Rush Limbaugh fan.

1995 Anne V. Hull The St. Petersburg (FL) Times

For her account of a local businessman's secret life of drug addiction and consorting with prostitutes.

1995 Fen Montaigne The Philadelphia Inquirer

For stories about people who enjoy the outdoors, especially those with a passion for fishing.

1994 April Witt and Scott Higham The Miami Herald

For their chilling portrait of seven suburban teenagers accused of murdering a friend.

1994 Mark Feeney The Boston Globe

For his provocative profile of former President Richard Nixon.

1993 Hank Stuever Albuquerque Tribune

For his lively and vivid reporting of the celebration of a young couple's wedding.

1993 Judith Valente The Wall Street Journal

For her moving story about a family brought together by AIDS.

1992 Frank Bruni Detroit Free Press

For his profile of a child molester that challenged many assumptions about sexual abuse.

1992 Sheryl James St. Petersburg Times

For her gripping account of the effort to transplant the organs of a dead boy and turn the tragedy of his death into a gift of life for others.

1991 Tad Bartimus Associated Press

For her moving account of her father's death from lung cancer.

1991 Wil Haygood The Boston Globe

For three illuminating portraits of African-American life.

1990 Jay Reed The Milwaukee Journal

For a poignant series about his return to Vietnam.

1990 Mark Kriegel New York Daily News

For "The People's Court," a detailed account of the game of basketball as it is played on New York City playgrounds.

1989 Tad Bartimus Associated Press

For her story about the accidental drowning of three brothers and the effect it had on their small Missouri town.

1989 Bob Ehlert Star-Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN

For his stories about a local priest accused of sexual abuse.

1989 Loretta Tofani The Philadelphia Inquirer

For stories about a heroin addict's pregnancy and the birth of her addicted infant.

1988 Lynne Duke The Miami Herald

For her powerful story about life at a housing project overrun by the drug crack.

1988 John Dorschner The Miami Herald

For richly detailed stories about a violent neighborhood feud, ethnic tensions in the Miami police department and Holocaust survivors in South Florida.

1987 Michael Connelly, Robert McClure and Malinda Reink Fort Lauderdale (FL) News and Sun-Sentinel

For "Into the Storm--the Story of Flight 191," a sensitive reconstruction of an airplane crash.

1987 Barry Bearak Los Angeles Times

For three gracefully written stories dealing respectively with a prison lawsuit, a family murder and an aging stand-up comic.

1987 Alex S. Jones The New York Times

For "The Fall of the House of Bingham," a skillful and sensitive report of a powerful newspaper family's bickering and how it led to the sale of a famed media empire.

1986 David Lee Preston The Philadelphia Inquirer

For his account of how, by means of a trip through Germany and Eastern Europe, he managed to come to terms with his father's experiences in the Holocaust.

1986 Irene Virag Newsday, Long Island, NY

For her elegantly written and sensitive stories about the aspirations and accomplishments of ordinary people.

1985 Scott Kraft Associated Press

For his story about a family's search for the man who raped their daughter.

1985 Michele Lesie The Journal News, Lorain, OH

For her story of Jennifer Brandt, teen-age suicide.

1984 Charles Bowden Tucson (AZ) Citizen

For his stories on illegal immigrants, sexual abuse of children and the deaths of two men.

1984 Jay William Hamburg Birmingham (AL) Post-Herald

For a series documenting the world of a young boxer and his manager.

1984 Nancy Tracy Hartford (CT) Courant

For her moving account of Meg Casey, a victim of premature aging.

1983 Don Colburn The Everett (WA) Herald

For his documentation of the work of the nation's largest burn treatment center in Seattle, Wash.

1983 James Ricci Detroit Free Press

For his extraordinary account of an organ donation "Kelly's Gift," and the effects it had on the lives of four strangers.

1982 Erik Lacitis The Seattle Times

For his series on abortion.

1982 H.G. Bissinger St. Paul Pioneer Press

For his account of a near air crash and its aftermath

1981 Madeleine Blais The Miami Herald
1981 Douglas J. Swanson Dallas Times Herald
1980 Bonnie M. Anderson The Miami Herald

For "Execution of My Father."

1980 John R. Camp St. Paul Pioneer Press

For a series on Indians.

1980 Saul Pett Associated Press

On the snail darter.