Feature Story Awards
Sean Chase: Grand Rapids Community College
How A Self-Destructive Past Led To The Bet Of A Lifetime
"Thank you to the writer for sharing these experiences. I’d encourage you to keep writing. Besides being a great form of therapy (it is for me, anyway), it can be heartening for readers who have shared similar experiences and eye-opening for those who haven’t. There were several memorable chunks and lines in this piece. One was the image of the melted plastic doll covered in fire extinguisher residue. Another was the tears streaming down the mother’s face after the death of the cousin. I think more anecdotes and descriptive moments like this could help make this piece stronger. For example, I would lead with an anecdote of exactly what you experienced during the fire. Does the memory start with your mother shaking you awake? Did you see flames? Smell smoke? Bring the reader right in there with you and show us what you experienced rather than just summarizing it, since it’s such an important piece to the story. I would read through the whole article with that in mind – how you can bring the reader into the story where it makes sense. After the lead, I think a good sentence or two that sort of establishes the main theme of the piece would help pull it together and would also help you focus as you’re writing."
Kailua Claunch: Washtenaw Community College
Local farm aims to integrate formerly incarcerated people into the community
"I’m glad the publication covered the important work Melvin Parson and his nonprofit are doing for formerly incarcerated people. It’s definitely an issue that needs more attention. There are a lot of good chunks to the piece, and I appreciate the writer’s ability to find a good story. I think a little reorganization and a more engaging lead could make it stronger. I love the first line, so I wouldn’t cut it, but I’d instead lead with an anecdote about the nonprofit giving away food during the pandemic. And then you can move into what the nonprofit does and how it got started. The part about Zingerman’s is interesting, so I’d like to hear more about how that came about. Some facts about what the nonprofit has accomplished over the past five years, along with future goals, would also be good info to add."
Madison Ling: Schoolcraft College
Nurse of the Year
"This was a nice feature about the nurse of the year. It was a good decision to start the article with mention of her work during the pandemic, but I wish the reader could have been brought even deeper into that experience. I think you could have led with an anecdote of the nurse during a particularly stressful or otherwise notable day during the pandemic to shed a little light on what exactly she experienced. There were times that the article read as a PR piece, as in it seemed to sometimes praise the subject. As a journalist, it’s best to avoid that type of language and let the subject and the facts do the talking."