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Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Jonathan Oosting is Michigan Journalist of Year; Bridge wins top digital site

bridge group photo
Bridge Michigan staffers John Bebow (left), Jonathan Oosting, Kelly House, Bill Emkow, Zahra Ahmad and Yue Stella Yu on March 17, 2022 in Lansing, Michigan.

Bridge Michigan Capitol reporter Jonathan Oosting was named the Richard Milliman Journalist of the Year by the Michigan Press Association and Bridge Michigan was named digital news publication of the year during a Thursday ceremony that also saw Bridge Michigan win 19 other awards.

Oosting was honored for his fact-based reporting surrounding the November 2020 elections, including the contentious battle to certify Michigan’s elections and numerous false claims of fraud. Oosting also was cited for extensive reporting about the extremist and militia movement in Michigan.

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“Oosting is an excellent writer and knows how to capture and hold the reader’s interest,” said Journalist of the Year judge Tom Tolen.

Related: Bridge Michigan boosts Lansing, education and news coverage with new hires

Fellow judge Sarah Mahone cited “Oosting’s determination to tell the story through the eyes of real people, from an Upper Peninsula state legislator and dairy farmer to tiny-town extremists, makes it clear this is a problem close to home.” 

Oosting is a Grand Rapids native who has a master’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University. He previously covered politics for MLive Media Group and The Detroit News before joining Bridge Michigan in 2019.

“Jonathan is a hell of a reporter,” said Bridge Michigan Managing Editor Joel Kurth. “His meticulous reporting and encyclopedic knowledge of Michigan politics were never more vital than in the wake of the 2020 election, when he worked tirelessly to fact check fraud claims and explore the shadowy world of extremism.

The Journalist of the Year award has been given out annually by the MPA since 2014. Current Bridge Michigan staffers have been named journalist of the year four of the past six years.

Bridge Michigan data reporter Mike Wilkinson won the award last year; business editor Paula Gardner won in 2018 while working for MLive Media Group; Kurth won in 2016 while working at The Detroit News, an award he shared with colleague Karen Bouffard.

Bridge Michigan earned digital publication of the year in the statewide contest. Bridge has previously won Newspaper of the Year four times in its 11 years of existence from the journalism organization, before a digital division was added.

Other awards won by Bridge Michigan and its staff:

Freedom of Information Act story: first place, Oosting, “Emails: Michigan sheriff sought to seize voting machines amid Trump claims.”

Best Writing, across entries in all divisions: first place, Robin Erb, “He had dementia and COVID. She wanted to hold him when he died.”

Excellence in policing and social justice reporting: Second place, Kelly House and Oosting for a series of stories on Northern Michigan’s struggles with racism.

Business/Agricultural news: first place, Gardner, for ‘These people want to work.' When GM and Flint post jobs, people line up”; second place, to Erb, for “Michigan Michigan caregivers got a $2 raise during COVID. Should it be permanent?”; third place, to Sophia Kalakailo and House, for “Wolf wars: As Michigan packs grow, a battle brews over killing the predators”; honorable mention, to Gardner, for  “In 'dire need,’ 1 in 5 Michigan restaurants may not survive winter.”

Feature photo: First place, Daytona Niles, for “Virtual school blues;” second place, Niles, for “He had dementia and COVID. She wanted to hold him when he died.”

Feature story: Second place, Erb, for “He had dementia and COVID. She wanted to hold him when he died.”

Government/education news: First place, to Ron French, Erb and Wilkinson, for a series of stories that pushed for government transparency in school Covid reporting.

News enterprise reporting: First place, Erb and Corrie Barrett of Side Effects Public Media, for a series on Michigan Mental health among children during COVID; third place, House, for “Loved to death: iconic Michigan lakeshores battered by crowds.”

News photo: First place, to Dale Young, for a photo of a young girl at a militia rally.

Public service: Second place, to Oosting, Wilkinson and Madeline Halpert, for truth-telling in post-election Michigan.

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Sports writing: First place, House, for “Long odds, short season: Michigan sturgeon a zany conservation success”; second place, French, for “Michigan schools outraged that bars can open in Michigan, but not winter sports.”

Spot news: First place, Oosting, for “Far-right groups recast selves as mainstream at Lansing gun rally”; second place, to Oosting, Gardner, Erb, French for “Michigan bars, high schools closed as COVID spikes.”

BridgeDetroit, Bridge Michigan’s sister publication that is operated by The Center for Michigan, won two first-place awards for excellence in policing and social justice reporting for a story about the history of politics and police reform efforts in Michigan and the open class category of social justice reporting for a story about a wall built to separate Black and white residents in Detroit

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