Despite any given day in 2022 feeling like the world could explode at any given moment, I’ve experienced some sweet milestones that *kind of* offset the current state of things.
For example, I’ve been fortunate that a few journalism awards came my way. It’s kind of redeeming knowing that somebody out there is reading my stuff, let alone regarding it as award-winning.
Last year, I wrote about a homeless man named Jeff. I wrote about him because it felt like the right thing to do—not because any of my editors were paying me to do so. I figured if nothing else, I’d publish the piece right here on my own website, which I did.
Then, one of my editors, Lawrance Binda at TheBurg, Harrisburg, re-blogged it. That made it eligible for a state journalism competition. And in April, I received word that it took first place among all journalism blogs statewide, in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Keystone Awards. My heart is full—not because of the award, but because Jeff’s story was heard. So much of our work as journalists is focused on giving a voice to the (otherwise) voiceless, and this is a good example.
I always feel lucky to meet the most fascinating people. I’m even luckier when they entrust personal stories and painful details of their lives to me—it’s something I never take lightly.
Last year, I was honored that an anonymous guy named “Sharkman Hbg” said yes, when I reached out to ask if he’d be willing to sit down for an interview. He was just a dude who wanted to cheer people up throughout the pandemic by roller skating around Harrisburg in a shark costume. But that’s who he was on the surface. I thought the story was going to be a fun feature, but it actually went much deeper so I titled it “Deep Waters.”
In April, his story won Second Place, Personality Profile in Pennsylvania’s Keystone Media Awards, by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association (PNA). Additionally, I was also awarded Second Place Podcast, statewide, in Pennsylvania’s Keystone Media Awards, by the PNA, for hosting/producing TheBurg Podcast. Many thanks to my editor at TheBurg, Lawrance Binda, for submitting my work in both PNA categories.
The next award completely knocked my socks off. My first national journalism award: Third Place, Short Feature, “Tight, bright writing less than 1,000 words,” for my piece on Gettysburg’s one-of-a-kind signmaker Marty Mummert, published in TheBurg, March 2021, awarded by the Society for Features Journalism. Pinch me…
Now for a milestone: Over the summer, I began writing for my first national publication, Dogster. This is pretty cool for two main reasons. First, I’ve always loved dogs (cats too, TBH). Secondly, while I’ve enjoyed widening my circle, writing for bigger regional publications like Baltimore Style and Philly MetroKids, I was still longing to widen the circle a bit more via a national magazine. To have my first national outlet be dedicated to doggos is just plain fun. Writing about dogs makes me happy.
Here’s my first article, “Guide to Dog Boarding for the Day – Dog Daycare.”
Fun fact: They also publish Catster, which got its start as Cat Fancy, apparently the longest-established cat mag in the world, but for now I’m on “team dog.”
All of these awards are fun feathers in my cap, but they are all tucked away where I keep all awards: In the very back of a big desk drawer. I wouldn’t want to see them every day, but remembering they’re there every once in a while makes my fingers dance a little lighter across my keyboard.
Thank you to all friends, family, colleagues, readers and subscribers alike for continuing to read, subscribe, support and appreciate journalism.