The first annual Ethnic and Community Media Awards packed the Black Forest Inn banquet room December 5, in an event co-sponsored by New America Media and the Twin Cities Media Alliance. Matthew Little, Lauretta Dawolo Towns, Anne Holzman, David Zander, and Anna Pratt took top honors. The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder was the leading publication of the evening, with top articles in three categories, but overall the entries and winners represented the diversity of Minnesota media.
Anthony Advincula (New America Media-San Francisco) and Sarah Bauer (Minnesota News Council) presented the awards. Top winners in each category are automatically nominated for New America Media’s National Ethnic Media awards, which will be presented on June 4, 2009, in Atlanta, Georgia. Additional support for the awards was provided by Everyday Democracy: Ideas and Tools for Community Change; the University of Minnesota Press; and Brant Houston, Knight Chair in Investigative & Enterprise Reporting, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Matthew Little won first prize in the Editorial/Commentary division for his Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder weekly column, Little by Little, which focuses on civil rights issues locally and nationally. Matthew Little, now 87 years of age, is an infantry combat veteran of WWII, and has 40 years of civil rights leadership, during which he edited an in-house monthly publication called “NAACP Today” while president of that organization. He has been a “stringer” for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder since 1965, and has contributed a weekly column since 1974.
Second place in the Editorial/Commentary division went to Ron Edwards, also writing for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, for columns addressing challenges Black police officers face, fighting for equality in the Minneapolis Police Department. Barb Kucera of Workday Minnesota won third place for Why we take a stand on anti-immigration language, which explains the publication’s use of terms like “undocumented immigrant,” or “undocumented worker” instead of the term “illegal,” saying that the latter promotes divisiveness and bigotry. The Bridge won an honorable mention for “In our own words,” a regular column that features personal essays and reflections from people in the neighborhoods they serve.
The Community Service division honored coverage of a particular issue that has had a significant impact on the well-being of a community, covering issues of public health and safety, social justice, human rights, civil liberties or criminal justice. Lauretta Dawolo Towns won first place in the Community service division for her three-part series, published in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, which covered the Service Employees International Union strike in Minneapolis at critical junctures during and after the strike. Towns, a native of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, LA, formerly the news director at KFAI, is now a “full-time mom” who also contributes to the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and the TC Daily Planet.
Second place went to Natalie Zett’s article in the Park Bugle for Catholic Charities opens new facility,, which profiled the impact of the Charities’ new facility opened in 2007 in south St. Anthony Park that houses chronic substance abusers and the homeless. Third place went to Martha Vickery and the Korean Quarterly for Teens take a stand against human trafficking, which profiles a Woodbury High School project, “End Slavery Now.” Anna Pratt, writing in The Bridge, won honorable mention for Framework for the future, or failure?, which covered differing opinions on Minneapolis’ plan for sustained neighborhood funding as the 20-year Neighborhood Revitalization Program ends in 2009.
Anne Holzman, writing in the Korean Quarterly won first place in the Arts and Culture division for her feature, “Standing at the edge of Asian American theater.” Holzman explores the development of Asian American theater, profiling playwright David Henry Hwang, best known for his award-winning play “M. Butterfly.” Holzman is a Twin Cities-based freelance journalist.
Second place in the Arts and Culture division went to Anne Otieno, writing in Mshale, for Runway Africa, which looked at the annual international fashion show, “Runway Africa” featuring African fashion, music and art – a “display of Africa’s talents, skills, abilities and culture.” Third place went to Wameng Moua and Louisa Schein, writing in Hmong Today. Their two-part series profiles the search for Hmong actors in the upcoming Clint Eastwood film “Gran Torino” – including a look at the five young Hmong men cast into the production.
The Global/Local Connection division honored an article or series of articles that best illustrates the interconnections between global and local: the impact that Minnesotans are having on the global stage, and/or the impact that globalization is having and global forces are having on local communities.
David Zander, writing in Asian Pages, won first place for The Other Face of Bhutan: A Report on the Latest Refugee Arrivals in the U.S., which outlined a talk by Bhutanese refugee Mangala Sharma who gave a firsthand account of life in refugee camps, oppression of ethnic minorities in Bhutan, and tips to help Bhutanese families resettle. Zander is an anthropologist at the State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans and a frequent contributor to Asian Pages.
Issa Mansaray, writing in the African News Journal, won second place for Minnesota’s Lonely Elders, which profiles the aging immigrant populations facing isolation, loneliness, boredom and challenges finding adequate healthcare, transportation and other resources. Martha Vickery, writing in the Korean Quarterly, won third place for “Korean studies from the ground up,” which profiles University of Minnesota Korean language professor Hangtae Cho, and the development of the school’s Korean Studies program. Honorable Mention went to Lisa Steinmann of the Park Bugle for her “Volunteering Matters” column.
The In-Depth division selected in-depth or investigative stories or series that identify and explore important issues largely ignored by the mainstream news media.
First place went to Anna Pratt, writing in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, for a two-part series looking at diversity in workforce of the state’s courts. Anna Pratt is a Twin Cities-based freelance journalist who writes for a variety of local publications covering social issues, including race and class, civil and human rights and immigration.
Second place went to Jeremy Stratton and Liz Riggs of for their ongoing coverage of the Seward Neighborhood Group’s financial problems, from October 2007 through July 2008. Third place went to Wameng Moua, writing in Hmong Today, for Are Hmong Schools Making the Grade?, which takes an in-depth look at Hmong-focused charter schools in the Twin Cities.