Afar magazine, Travel + Leisure and the Los Angeles Times were the top winners in the 2013 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition.
Mary Jo McConahay, author, freelance writer, blogger and documentary filmmaker, is the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year for a portfolio of her work that included exceptional storytelling in “Maya Roads: One Woman’s Journey Among the People of the Rainforest.”
The Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and Virtuoso Life magazine won awards as the best travel print publications in North America.
Forty-eight (48) publishers, both in print and online, along with six broadcasts and six books, took honors.
“It is the most diverse group of travel journalists, publications and websites in the history of the Lowell Thomas contest,” said David Molyneaux, SATW Foundation president.
The competition, for original work published from spring 2012 to spring 2013, drew 1,257 entries. Judging was conducted by faculty members at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Afar topped the winner’s list with five awards, including Gold and Silver honors.
Travel + Leisure won four awards, including Gold in the special-purpose travel category for an article on escaping to the South Seas by actor and writer Andrew McCarthy, who was Travel Journalist of the Year in 2010. McCarthy also won Gold in the travel book category for “The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down,” Free Press/Simon & Schuster.
The Los Angeles Times took home four awards; National Geographic Traveler and Associated Press each won three.
“Writers who submit entries repeatedly astound me with their creativity,” said Paul O’Connor, a judge and faculty member at the University of North Carolina.
“So many of the entries are worthy of recognition. Often, there are five, 10 or 15 pieces that could be chosen as the third, fourth and fifth best. That is a testament to the great work that the writers are doing.”
The Silver winner in the travel journalist of the year award was Genevieve Shaw Brown, travel and lifestyle editor at ABC News.
Kerri Westenberg, travel editor of the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, took home the Bronze award. Honorable mentions went to Ellen Creager who writes for the Detroit Free Press and to The (North Jersey) Record’s Jill Schensul, who was the Gold winner in 2012.
The online travel journalism site Gold winner was RoadsAndKingdoms.com. Judges said: “More than a basic how-to or checklist travel site, Roads & Kingdoms is a must-bookmark site for anyone interested in the things that make this world so complicated and worth discovering.” The Silver award went to Afar.com, and FathomAway.com received the Bronze.
The Gold honor for best travel blog went to PerceptiveTravel.com/blog, which, according to the judges, offers “crisp stories, compelling photos, useful travel tips and reader engagement.” ChangesInLongitude.com won Silver and AuthenticLuxuryTravel.net took Bronze.
Best travel video winner for an unprecedented fifth year in a row was Richard Bangs with “South America: Quest for Wonder,” as seen on American Public Television. Best travel broadcast went to Rick Steves and staff for a Mother’s Day tribute that included “Sweet Home Croatia” and “An American Mother in Paris” segments on public radio.
Other top winners for their publications, writers and photographers include the Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, Midwest Living, Outside, Southern Living, Washington Post, Departures, Nowhere, Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel, Westways, Everything-everywhere.com, Gadling, enRoute, Cruise & Travel Lifestyles, Private Clubs, TravelAge West, Bicycling, TRVL magazine for iPad, Backpacker, Fox News Latino online, National Parks, Sierra, Food & Wine, Travel Stories from Around the Globe, B’nai B’rith, Peloton and BBC Travel.
The winner for best travel guidebook was J.W. Ocker for “The New York Grimpendium: A Guide to Macabre & Ghastly Sites.”
The best app Gold honor went to Fodor’s City Guides for iOS and Windows Phone.
The awards are named for Lowell Thomas, acclaimed broadcast journalist, prolific author and world explorer during five decades in travel journalism. The competition is open to all North American journalists.
The SATW Foundation distributes nearly $20,000 to individual winners. “We thank this year’s underwriters – the Tourist Office for Flanders – Brussels and Travel Guard – for their support in recognizing and rewarding excellence in travel journalism,” said Molyneaux. “Their generosity helps make our prizes possible.”
A full list of the winners and the judges’ comments are available on the SATW Foundation website, www.satwfoundation.org.
For more information about the Foundation or awards, contact Mary Lu Abbott at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Foundation’s website, on Facebook and follow on Twitter via @SATWFoundation. For information about SATW, visit www.satw.org.