Michigan Advance wins 2020 Newspaper of the Year, best Michigan coronavirus coverage award

Publication nets 19 awards in Michigan Press Association contest

By: - March 26, 2021 7:18 am

The Michigan Advance staff (L-R): Ken Coleman, Laina G. Stebbins, Allison Donahue and Susan J. Demas.

The Michigan Advance has been named 2020 Newspaper of the Year in its circulation category by the Michigan Press Association (MPA). The nonprofit politics and policy outlet, which began publishing in December 2018, took second place for Newspaper of the Year in 2019.

Susan J. Demas

The Advance also won the statewide award for “Best coverage of the Coronavirus in Michigan,” which is open to all print publications part of the MPA. Ken Coleman, Susan J. Demas, Allison Donahue, Laina Stebbins, Anna Liz Nichols, C.J. Moore and Anna Gustafson contributed to coverage. The Detroit News and Leelanau Enterprise tied for second place and the Detroit Free Press placed third. Bridge was given an honorable mention.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled for the Michigan Advance to have been recognized by the Michigan Press Association for our reporting on the coronavirus. The pandemic has touched every part of our lives in Michigan and there has been so much incredible reporting statewide. Our goal has always been to tell the stories of those impacted, especially those whose voices are not always heard. And to be recognized as Newspaper of the Year in our category during only our second year of publication is a tremendous tribute to the hard work, talent and dedication of our journalists,” said Editor-in-Chief Susan J. Demas.

The annual contest ran from Aug. 1, 2019, through July 31, 2020. The Michigan Advance began publishing on Dec. 4, 2018, with Demas, a 20-year journalism veteran at the helm. The Advance has a staff of four journalists and is one of 21 publications part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

In total, the Advance took home 19 awards spanning 12 news categories. For Class D weekly publications, Demas was named Best Columnist; Coleman won first place for Feature Photo; Demas won first place for Government/News reporting; Nichols and Demas won first place for Spot News Story; the Advance won Best Newspaper Design and more. Donahue received an honorable mention for Rookie of the Year, an award across all publications.

The MPA announced its awards Thursday afternoon in a virtual event due to the pandemic.

“To my way of thinking, every single person in this industry who has come through the past year deserves recognition. If we were presenting these awards in person — as was tradition before 2020 — I’d ask for a round of applause to celebrate and recognize all of us. In the midst of the chaos that was last year, a number of member papers submitted their best work as part of the Michigan Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest. Today, awards were given to those entries that stood out to our judges as some of the best of the best. What is clear from this contest and from our collective efforts over the past year is that Michigan journalists and our hometown newspapers are talented, passionate and dedicated to making sure our readers stay informed,” said Julie Stafford, MPA president and publisher of the Greenville Daily News.

The following is a list of all the MPA awards for the Advance:

  • Newspaper of the Year, Weekly/News Media Publication, Class D, First Place.
  • Best coverage of the Coronavirus in Michigan, First Place, Ken Coleman, Susan J. Demas, Allison Donahue, Laina Stebbins, Anna Liz Nichols, C.J. Moore and Anna Gustafson.
  • Best Columnist, First Place, Susan J. Demas.
  • Best Newspaper Design, First Place, Joe Wright, Nelle Dunlap and Susan J. Demas.
  • Best Page Design, First Place, “A tale of two oil pipelines and their place in the presidential race,” Laina G. Stebbins and Susan J. Demas.
  • Feature Photo, First Place, “Rep. Brenda Lawrence speaks against gun violence at a demonstration in Ferndale,” Ken Coleman.
  • Feature Photo, Second Place, “Elizabeth Warren at her emotional final campaign stop in Detroit,” Allison Donahue.
  • Feature Photo, Third Place, “MSU students gather for a St. Patrick’s Day house party despite the coronavirus pandemic,” Anna Liz Nichols.
  • Government/Education News, First Place, “Michigan almost had robust sick leave in 2018. Republicans killed it,” Susan J. Demas.
  • Government/Education News, Second Place, “How do you teach science experiments at home? How educators are adjusting to the school shutdown,” Allison Donahue.
  • News Enterprise Reporting, Third Place, “I didn’t expect to get tackled trying to do my job,” Ken Coleman.
  • News Enterprise Reporting, Honorable Mention, “A tale of two oil pipelines and their place in the presidential race,” Laina G. Stebbins.
  • News Photo, First Place, “Sanders speaks to a packed Ann Arbor crowd before Michigan primary,” Andrew Roth.
  • News Photo, Second Place, “Lansing police officer stands guard as a counter-protester’s car burns,” Anna Liz Nichols.
  • Photo Story, Second Place, “Here’s the moment when Trump read aloud the impeachment vote results at his Battle Creek rally,” Andrew Roth.
  • Spot News Story, First Place, “Tyrants Get The Rope: Small anti-Whitmer protest rocks Capitol, reporter hit by gun,” Anna Liz Nichols and Susan J. Demas.
  • Spot News Story, Second Place, “Breaking: Judge grants AGs request for temporary Line 5 shutdown,” Laina G. Stebbins.
  • Spot News Story, Third Place, “Inman found not guilty on lying to FBI, mistrial declared on bribery, extortion charges,” Nick Manes.
  • Rookie of the Year, Honorable Mention, Allison Donahue.



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