Indiana Lawyer wins 8 awards in annual Best of Indiana Journalism contest; 22 awards for all IBJ Media

Keywords IBJ / The Indiana Lawyer

Indiana Lawyer reporters and designers took home eight awards Friday at the Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2021 Best of Indiana Journalism Awards. IL senior reporter Marilyn Odendahl led Indiana Lawyer with six awards.

Additionally, IL sister’s paper Indianapolis Business Journal brought home 14 awards.

In the editorial categories, Indiana Lawyer competes among Hoosier newspapers with a circulation below 30,000.

Odendahl took home a first-place award for coverage of government or politics for a series of stories headlined, “The politics of confirmation.” The series included five stories delving into the judicial confirmation process, including the confirmation of two U.S. attorneys; the confirmation of Judge Candace Jackson-Akiwumi to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals; Judge Diane Woods’ plans to take senior status on the 7th Circuit; concerns about a lack of racial diversity in the Indiana judiciary; and calls to reform the confirmation process. 

Judges wrote that Odendahl’s coverage “introduced readers to a process that matters to everyone but which so few know anything about. Well explained. Thorough. Detailed.”

Odendahl also took home the second-place award in the government and politics category for her coverage of the 2021 redistricting process. That coverage included stories about rural and urban interests in the redistricting process; public hearings about that process; allegations of gerrymandering; voter concerns about proposed electoral maps; and concerns about a redistricting consulting contract.

Odendahl and IL editor Olivia Covington took home third place in the government and politics category for a series on changes to judicial selection in Lake and St. Joseph counties.

Covington wrote three stories about a 2021 bill that fundamentally changed the judicial selection process in the northern Indiana counties, as well as the negative reactions to that bill and Gov. Eric Holcomb’s appointment to judicial selection panels following the legislative change. Odendahl wrote two stories about a subsequent lawsuit against the judicial selection process in Lake County and the appointment of a judge to the Lake County bench that proceeded alongside the lawsuit.

In the nondeadline story category, Covington, Odendahl and IL reporter Katie Stancombe took home second place for their coverage of the April 2021 shooting at the FedEx ground facility in Indianapolis. Covington wrote about previous police encounters with the shooter, Brandon Scott Hole, Odendahl wrote about gun reform efforts in the Indiana Legislature and Stancombe wrote about the state’s red flag law.

Odendahl also took home two additional third-place awards. One was for breaking news coverage for a December 2021 story titled, “Marion County prosecutor drops death penalty for man accused of murdering Southport police officer.” The other was for coverage of children’s issues for a June 2021 story called, “Indianapolis mom celebrates reunification with son after 10-year battle.” 

In the design categories, which include all Indiana newspapers, Audrey Pelsor, lead designer at IL parent company IBJ Media, took home second place for design other than Page 1 for her Oct. 27, 2021, Open House feature.

Julie Kirkendoll, production coordinator for IBJ Media, took home third place for Page 1 design for the April 14, 2021, issue of Indiana Lawyer.

Reporters and designers at IBJ brought home a total of 14 awards, including:

  • IBJ reporter Leslie Bonilla Muñiz, first place for coverage of minority, diversity and inclusion issues. “This sustained and thorough reporting on business-related diversity and inclusion issues was clear, compelling and factually researched and cited,” the judges said. “The body of work is effective at increasing awareness of the need for increased equity and access.”
  • Greg Weaver, IBJ managing editor, first place for editorial writing for an editorial headlined, “Where’s the real punishment for FBI?” The judges wrote that the editorial “demanding a full criminal investigation of FBI staff who failed in their handling of the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse case was clearly structured, compelling and backed up with evidence. Concise, effective and persuasive.”
  • Pelsor, first place for the design of page 1. “Elegant,” the judges wrote. “Along with great use of photos and its captions.”
  • Brad Turner, IBJ Media production associate, first place in the graphics and illustration category for an illustration that accompanied a story about hospital readmissions. The judges said the piece “illustrates the inevitability of readmitted patients by using a conveyor belt between a ‘discharges’ and ‘admission’ door.’ The illustration is minimalistic yet impactful and grabs the attention of readers.” Turner also won third place in the category.
  • IBJ contributor Sam Stall, IBJ reporters John Russell and Bonilla, second place for environmental reporting.
  • IBJ contributor Mark Montieth, second place, and IBJ contributor Mike Lopresti, third place in sports column writing.
  • IBJ contributor, Angela B. Freeman, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, third place in the podcast category for “The Freedom Forum with Angela B. Freeman.”
  • IBJ reporter Mickey Shuey, third place in the business or consumer affairs reporting category for reporting on tourism and development.
  • IBJ reporter Susan Orr, third place in features writing for a story headlined, “Hardware store tries to Amazon-proof its business.”
  • Kirkendoll, third place for page 1 design.
  • Pelsor, third place for newspaper design for a page other than the cover for a collection of pandemic stories.
  • IBJ Media production associate Sarah Ellis, second place in the graphics and illustration category for a timeline in IBJ’s NCAA Tournament special section called The Rebound.

IBJ’s editorial staff competes among newspapers with a circulation greater than 30,000.

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected.

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