Jun. 4, 2024  

Stillwater success

We lose and everyone wins. Including us.

By Michael Koretzky

When SPJ Florida launched the Stillwater Awards in January, we always hoped to give it up by June.

Mission accomplished.

The nation’s only prison journalism contest has moved from this site to SPJ’s national website – where the winners have just been announced. Check them out.

Eight rotating judges debated on multiple Zoom calls to choose winners in nine categories. Two of those judges were j-school professors, four were professional journalists, one was an attorney-turned-writer, and one was a grad student studying prison education.

Our partner, the Prison Journalism Project, urged the judges to include detailed comments for each winner. When we learned just how much the inmates crave outside feedback, we took care to explain the winners. It wasn’t easy, because we got way more entries than we expected.

Stillwater executive director Mike Anguille, who spent more than eight years in prison and knows how difficult communication is from the inside, predicted around 50-75 entries. I (ever an optimist) predicted 75-100. We got 165.

The results have been as overwhelming as the entries. PJP told us that family members of the winners want to celebrate. So there’s a Zoom event from 7:30-9 pm ET Monday, June 17. Some of the judges will be there to explain the challenges and answer questions. If you want to join us, please do.

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