Bridge staffers win 23 awards from Society of Professional Journalists

SPJ Excellence in Journalism - Bridge

Bridge Magazine reporters and editors won 23 awards in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Detroit chapter’s 2018 Excellence in Journalism contest, including five first-place honors.

Bridge, a publication of the nonprofit The Center for Michigan, also swept categories for localization of a national news story and for consumer and watchdog reporting.

May 2018: Bridge Magazine earns third consecutive Michigan Newspaper of the Year 
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Bridge’s first-place honors included a yearlong project that explored the political divides between Michiganders that were exposed in the 2016 presidential election, and a profile of the attorney who defended police officers accused of killing three black teens at the Algiers Motel in 1967.

Bridge competes in SPJ Detroit’s online division, for news websites.

Here are the Bridge winners:

Best localization of a national news story

First place: “Michigan Divided,” by Ron French, Nancy Derringer, Pat Shellenbarger and Jacob Wheeler

Second place: Chastity Pratt Dawsey and Nancy Derringer on Michigan’s medical marijuana industry.

Stories: “Reefer madness in Michigan. Marijuana shops face hazy future”

“Take two hits of Maui Wowie and call me in the morning: Baby boomers in the age of medical marijuana”

Third place: Chastity Pratt Dawsey for a project on the deportation of a young mother from Detroit.

Stories: “American dream, Mexican nightmare: A Michigan mom’s life after deportation”

“They grew up in the United States. They’re finding a better life abroad”

“Detroit deportee adjusts to Mexico’s poverty. ‘You can’t believe it’”


Second place: Lindsay VanHulle

Columns: “How to keep a millennial at your company? It ain’t with a ping-pong table”

“Year-round Daylight Saving Time? Michigan beware”

Third place: Phil Power

Columns: “Lansing fiddles while Michigan’s public schools go to hell”

“Residents are giving up hope for a better Michigan”

“Michigan’s plan for the robot invasion”

Consumer/Watchdog Reporting

First place: “The American Dream is fading everywhere, but almost nowhere faster than Michigan,” by Ron French

Second place: “Dear teacher: We want to hire you. Here’s a huge pay cut. Sincerely, unions,” by Mike Wilkinson

Third place: “Ban-the-box policy to hire ex-inmates is gaining backers,” by Lindsay VanHulle

Digital Media Presentation

First place: “In Michigan, path to elite colleges flows through richer high schools,” by Mike Wilkinson

Second place: “Michigan’s segregated past — and present,” by Mike Wilkinson

Third place: “Why Michigan needs newcomers. Told in 5 data maps,” by Mike Wilkinson and Ron French

Feature story

First place: “He became famous defending ‘Algiers Motel’ cops. Deal with it,” by Joel Kurth

Honorable mention: “A crusading attorney helped free a man framed for murder. They both ended up dead,” by Ron French

General news

Second place: “Michigan failing its special needs children, parents and studies say,” by Chastity Pratt Dawsey

Third place: “100 workers recalled. Then they all flunked their drug tests,” by Chad Selweski

Honorable mention: Ron French and Ted Roelofs for a project on gerrymandering in Michigan.

Stories: “Gerrymandering in Michigan is among the nation’s worst, new test claims”

“An uphill fight to take redistricting out of politicians’ hands”

“Michigan gerrymandering petition on pace for ballot. Will state justices stop it?”

“California holds clues to how a redistricting commission could change Michigan”

Honorable mention: “Want a better SAT score in Michigan? Book your hotel now,” by Mike Wilkinson

Investigative Reporting

Second place: “Soaring pneumonia deaths in Genesee County likely linked to undiagnosed Legionnaires’, experts say,” by Chastity Pratt Dawsey

Third place: “Detroit demo blitz linked to rising lead levels in children,” by Joel Kurth and Mike Wilkinson

Honorable mention: “Who’s certified to run Michigan’s schools? Nobody  knows,” by Chastity Pratt Dawsey

Spot or Breaking News

First place: “One envelope holds her fate. Is she getting deported today?” by Chastity Pratt Dawsey

Second place: “Amid protests over Trump, Muslims and guns, two enemies in Kalkaska bond near a giant trout,” by Ron French

In addition, Wilkinson shared second-place reporting honors with Chad Livengood of Crain’s Detroit Business in the Explanatory Story category in SPJ Detroit’s Print Class C division, for a joint project examining Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance system. The story: “How Michigan’s auto insurance premiums became the nation’s highest.”

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Fri, 04/20/2018 - 9:25am

My compliments to Bridge Magazine and all of the wonderful staff. Bridge does it right. They collaborate, they seek the voices of the citizens and are unafraid of speaking truth to power. The quality and integrity of the Bridge staff reflects the journalism of the future.


Bill Emkow
Fri, 04/20/2018 - 12:00pm

Thank you for your support, Bernadette! 

janet mendler
Fri, 04/20/2018 - 10:59am

I am very proud to showcase Bridge with my bumper sticker (actually in the back window), to wear my t-shirt and to be an "evergreen" supporter of its programs and journalism.

Fri, 04/20/2018 - 7:23pm

Congratulations. Things hard to find today: objectivity, facts, and clear,concise reporting.