Feature Writing (under 25,000 circulation)

Winner: Cory Smith, Stratford Beacon Herald

This journalist is a natural writer; there’s a lovely rhythm to his writing. His use of quotes, details, story structure, variation of sentence length and many other writing devices, which make a feature story memorable, are on full display. A reader is hooked into the story quickly, realizing there is no way they can leave this story without finding out how it ends.

The journalist has taken the time to convince subjects to talk to him for the first time about this tragedy and has obviously given those subjects the space and time they need to move beyond quick quotes. He’s taken care with his sources and their stories. He’s able to convey a real sense of who these people are and what their relationships were to the lost firefighters.

The story is also an important one in reminding all members of society of the sacrifice and potential danger firefighters face every time they answer a call.

Runner-up: Elliot Ferguson, Kingston Whig-Standard

This story is a standout because it is a true feature story; it’s not pegged to any news event or occurrence — it’s a “slice of life” story that the writer has developed, recognizing the nugget of a good story and patiently waiting for the right time for all the pieces to come together. The story has a captivating lede that immediately puts you in the fishing boat with the subjects, and from there, it’s an effortless read into an incredibly well researched piece of feature journalism. At the same time that the story provides a “micro” look at a fascinating fish, it reflects a “macro” theme —”any creature deserves to be able to exist.”

Runner-up: Denis Langlois, Owen Sound Sun Times

This three-part feature represents the best type of feature writing local newspapers can do. They can cover a local issue in-depth that no other media will come close to covering in scope — and that’s exactly what this writer does in these stories. He explores an issue of life-and-death importance to readers and does an expert job of taking readers behind a headline such as “Car crash kills two.” He deftly writes about the human loss and emotional toll vehicle accidents can take, while shining the light on a dangerous stretch of road and affecting change in that area. This work was also a standout because it was completed under a tight timeframe, while the writer was also producing other stories for the paper.


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2021 ONAs: Feature Writing (under 25,000 circulation)