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Fort Lauderdale, FL, January 30, 2024 — The Florida Chapter of the Society for Professional Journalism (SPJ Florida) and Global Forum Online (PJP), a national initiative that trains incarcerated writers to be journalists and publishes their stories, are proud to announce the inaugural SPJ Florida-PJP Stillwater Prison Journalism Awards.

The national awards program will honor journalistic excellence in the incarcerated community for work published anywhere in the country across the following categories:

  • Prison Publication of the Year
  • New Prison Publication of the Year
  • Prison Journalist of the Year
  • Most Impactful Journalism
  • Best News Story
  • Best Collaboration
  • Best Feature
  • Best Op-ed
  • Best Illustration

The awards are the result of a joint effort between SPJ Florida and PJP, aimed at increasing the visibility of journalistic efforts among the incarcerated population. The name of the SPJ-PJP award is an homage to the first newspaper written and managed exclusively by incarcerated people in the U.S., The Prison Mirror, which was founded at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater in 1887.

The awards will join a roster of other journalistic awards hosted by SPJ Florida, including the Green Eyeshade Awards, which recognizes outstanding journalism in the southeastern United States, and the Sunshine State Awards, Florida’s oldest journalism contest, which recognizes outstanding journalism in the southeastern United States.

“At SPJ, we believe that a reporter's skills should be weighed beyond pedigree or the glossiness of the byline,” SPJ National President-Elect Emily Bloch said. “We want to acknowledge the changemakers who are improving our democracy by utilizing ethical journalism to improve their surroundings — whether it be their neighborhood, school or prison. Working with PJP, we hope to amplify the best in prison journalism in the hopes of encouraging even more of it.”

Prison newspapers have been an important part of the American media landscape since 1800, previously being recognized from 1965-1990 through Southern Illinois University’s annual Penal Press Awards. However, by 1998 the number of prison publications had dwindled to less than six. PJP’s Prison Newspaper Project found a resurgence of journalism from inside prisons, with at least 24 prison newspapers run by incarcerated people across 12 states as of February 2023.

“More prison journalists are sticking their necks out every day, working in severely restricted environments to shed light within some of the least accessible places in this country,” PJP CEO and Editor-in-Chief Yukari Kane said. “Writers behind bars are not only working directly with PJP, but also publishing articles in prison publications, general publications, personal blogs and other newsletters and zines for both inside and outside audiences. We are thrilled to partner with SPJ’s Florida chapter to celebrate these journalists’ best work.”

Award submissions can be sent online or handwritten by postal mail. They will be accepted from all 50 states and will be judged by a panel of professional journalists, editors and journalism educators. Entries may also be submitted by outside parties on behalf of writers. There will be no entry fee. The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2024.

Awards will be announced in early May 2024. Winners will receive SPJ membership and its benefits.

For more information, including submission information, visit: https://spjflorida.com/stillwater-awards/

Press Contact:
Michael Anguille
Executive Director, SPJ-PJP Stillwater Awards
561-667-7346
stillwater.awards@gmail.com

About SPJ Florida Chapter

SPJ is the nation’s largest and oldest journalism membership organization, with more than 200 professional and college chapters nationwide. For more information visit: https://www.spj.org/

Learn more about SPJ-Florida at: https://spjflorida.com/

About Global Forum Online

Global Forum Online is a national, independent, nonpartisan initiative that trains incarcerated writers in the tools of journalism and helps them reach an outside audience via their own publication as well as through partnerships with mainstream media organizations.

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For media inquiries and speaking requests, please contact: press@globalforumonline.com

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