Michigan Advance wins 2021 Public Service Award, 18 total Michigan Press Association honors

By: - March 17, 2022 3:28 pm

Susan J. Demas

The Michigan Advance has won 18 Michigan Press Association (MPA) awards in its 2021 “News Media Publication of the Year”contest, including placing first in the Public Service Award for “How Michiganders are coping with the COVID crisis.”

Ken Coleman, Susan J. Demas, Allison R. Donahue and Anna Gustafson contributed to the Advance‘s winning Public Service coverage. Bridge placed second and Up Magazine was third.

Susan J. Demas

This year, the Michigan Advance competed against other statewide online publications and won second place for Newspaper of the Year, with Bridge placing first and Up Magazine coming in third. Previously, the Advance, a nonprofit politics and policy outlet that began publishing in December 2018, was named the 2020 Newspaper of the Year for Class D weekly publications. The Advance also took second place for Newspaper of the Year in that category in 2019.


The Advance also won third place in the statewide category for “Excellence in Policing and Social Justice Reporting” for its package, “The history and politics of police reform efforts in Michigan.” Bridge Detroit was first, Bridge was second and the Grand Rapids Press received an honorable mention.

“It’s incredibly humbling for the Michigan Press Association to recognize the Michigan Advance‘s reporting, design and photography with so many awards this year. It was particularly important to us to report on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and policing and social justice reform, shining a light on people whose stories often aren’t told. It means so much to be honored by our peers for our work and I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished in just three years at the Advance,” said Editor-in-Chief Susan J. Demas.

The annual contest ran from Aug. 1, 2020, through July 31, 2021. The Michigan Advance began publishing on Dec. 4, 2018, with Demas, a 21-year journalism veteran at the helm. The Advance has a staff of five journalists and is one of 26 publications part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

In total, the Advance took home 18 awards spanning 13 news categories. Demas won first place for Best Opinion; Rick Haglund won second place for Best Opinion; the Advance won first place Best Publication Design and more.

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

“It’s clear the huge amount of work our collective newsrooms are doing all over the state to serve their communities. Covering our beats is crucial work that supports the democratic process in each community in Michigan; it’s work that supports the spirit of each community we serve. We have wonderful examples here of the tremendous talent we have in our state. These recent years have been difficult, but we will look back on these times with pride for all the positive impact we’re having on our readers”. Paul J. Heidbreder, Michigan Press Association president and publisher of the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Here’s the complete list of awards the Michigan Advance won:

  • Public Service Award, “How Michiganders are coping with the COVID crisis,” First Place, Ken Coleman, Susan J. Demas, Allison R. Donahue and Anna Gustafson
  • Newspaper of the Year, Second Place
  • Excellence in Policing and Social Justice Reporting, “The history and politics of police reform efforts in Michigan,” Third Place
  • Best Opinion, First Place, Susan J. Demas
  • Best Opinion, Second Place, Rick Haglund
  • Best Video Presentation, “Women leaders speak up about harassment, misogyny in Michigan politics,” Second Place, Laina G. Stebbins
  • Best Digital Award, Third Place, Nelle Dunlap, Joe Wright and Susan J. Demas
  • Best Page or Pages Design, “What four new wilderness areas would mean for the U.P.,” First Place, Susan J. Demas and Laina G. Stebbins
  • Best Publication Design, First Place, Nelle Dunlap, Joe Wright and Susan J. Demas
  • Feature Photo, “Detroit Will Breathe co-founder Nakia Wallace continues her fight against police brutality,” Third Place, Ken Coleman
  • Feature Photo, “Highland Park Senior Coordinator Sharmaine Robinson working at a COVID vaccine clinic,” Honorable Mention, Ken Coleman
  • Government/Education News, “Here’s what could happen in Michigan if Roe v. Wade is overturned,” Honorable Mention, Allison R. Donahue
  • News Enterprise Reporting, “Black lawmakers warned of extremism and white supremacism for months. Leaders didn’t take action,” Honorable Mention, Allison R. Donahue and Susan J. Demas
  • News Photo, “A group of Trump supporters pray over a Black Lives Matter protester at a Trump rally after the race was officially called for Joe Biden,” Second Place, Anna Liz Nichols
  • News Photo, “Former President Obama rallies Democrats in Flint days before the close 2020 presidential election,” Third Place, Andrew Roth
  • News Photo, “Biden makes Michigan stop masked up after Trump tests positive for COVID,” Honorable Mention, Andrew Roth
  • Spot News Story, “In wild meeting, Wayne Co. board certifies Biden as winner after GOP members initially blocked it,” Third Place, Ken Coleman and Susan J. Demas
  • Spot News Story, “At Michigan-Wisconsin border, enviros and tribes fight to keep new mine at bay,” Honorable Mention, Laina G. Stebbins


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