I won a journalism award! Hurray!
Winning awards feels good. That's obvious.
Winning an award for writing something that resulted in mass amounts of hate mail feels even better.
The award was a second-place finish in enterprise reporting in the Michigan Press Association's Better Newspapers Contest. The three-part series was about teen pregnancy in Washtenaw County. I wrote it with two colleagues who, like myself, have since then left the newspaper business. Interesting, huh?
This has been exciting for me for three reasons. The first reason was the surprise factor. It was unexpected because I left journalism and am no longer "in the game." So the furthest thing from my mind was my past work and this contest.
The second reason? We moved into Class A. I have won MPA awards before, but at that point we were competing in Class C or D. This past year, however, reorganizations and restructuring that went on in our company meant that we had to compete in Class A this year. Winning something in Class A means you competed with the big circulation newspapers, all of which have higher staffing levels and, arguably, way more experience. So that's flattering.
The third reason for excitement came from wanting to rub a few faces in it. People really harassed me when this series ran, which was hard because this was the last thing I wrote at the newspaper before leaving for my new (current) job. I literally finished typing up the third installment, hit send, and started packing my personal belongings into a sad little box. The 2-3 weeks leading up to that moment had been riddled with hate mail, threatening voicemails, and even drop-ins who wanted to leave me with some "literature" to educate me.
It was controversial because the first installment discussed the merits of Planned Parenthood in terms of teen pregnancy prevention and support during a time when Congressional Republicans were pushing to revoke PP's federal funding.
Remember this soundbite?
Senator Jon Kyl's famous Not Intended To Be A Factual Statement rippled through pop culture, showing up in amusing Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert segments. It trended as #NITBAFS on Twitter. It was hilarious and fun.
But it wasn't fun when people accused me of killing unborn babies. It wasn't fun when people said I was most certainly going to hell, and that my ethics and writing were the worst they'd seen.
You know what is fun though? Winning awards.
"I win! Yeah! In your face! In your face! IN YOUR FACE!"