Indiana Lawyer, IBJ Media earn top honors at 2020 Best of Indiana Journalism awards

Indiana Lawyer reporters and designers brought home 12 awards from the Indiana Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual Best of Indiana Journalism Contest, including four top honors. The awards were announced Monday in a virtual ceremony.

Also bringing home wins Monday night was the staff of the Indianapolis Business Journal, IL’s sister publication at parent company IBJ Media.

Indiana Lawyer competed with hundreds of journalists across the state in various categories for work in 2020, including categories for newspapers with a publication circulation of less than 30,000 and for all newspapers statewide.

IL senior reporter Marilyn Odendahl earned five awards, including two first-place honors. Judges awarded Odendahl top honors in the category of Coverage of Minority, Diversity and Inclusion Issues for her reporting on two U.S. Supreme Court opinions that, in turn, extended Title VII protections to transgender workers and expanded the ministerial exception in anti-discrimination lawsuits.

Judges wrote of Odendahl’s August 2020 story, “This entry was well-researched and well written. It provided interesting insights into the inner workings of the American legal system and was very interesting and intense while focusing on the possible consequences of the relevant decision.”

Odendahl also earned first place in the Coverage of Social Justice Issues category for her reporting on same-sex mothers’ fight for equal recognition on their children’s birth certificates. 

Also taking home a first-place honor was reporter Katie Stancombe, whose profile of an adoption attorney advocating for children via a documentary won the top spot in the Personality Profile category. Judges said Stancombe’s story was a “heart-warming look at an attorney doing important, often underappreciated work.”

IL’s final first-place winning went to editor Olivia Covington and former editor Dave Stafford for their coverage of the legal fallout from the May 2019 shooting of two Indiana judges in downtown Indianapolis.

Other honors for the IL editorial team included:

  • Second place for Odendahl in the Coverage of Children’s Issues category for her reporting on children in the Indiana child welfare system.
  • Second place for Covington, Odendahl and Stancombe in Coverage of Government or Politics for their reporting on former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill’s legal and professional problems.
  • Second place for Covington and Stancombe in Criminal Justice Reporting for their coverage of wrongful convictions in Indiana.
  • Third place for Odendahl in Education Reporting for her coverage of changes to the Indiana Bar Exam in 2020.
  • Third place for Covington in Election and Campaign Coverage for her reporting on the 2020 race for Indiana attorney general.
  • Third place for Stafford in Non-Deadline Reporting for his coverage of the discipline and criminal issues surrounding former judge Robert V. Monfort.

Indiana Lawyer designers were also honored Monday night. Audrey Pelsor and Julie Kirkendoll received a second-place award for their Page 1 design, while Brad Turner took home second place for a March 2020 illustration. 

Finally, the editorial and design teams at IBJ took home 11 awards on Monday.

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