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30 Years of Rewarding Journalists for Outstanding Work in the Field

The SATW Foundation sponsors the annual Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition. The first contest honored work done in 1984. Today the Foundation awards nearly $20,000 annually in prize money for outstanding print, online and multimedia works and for travel photography and both audio and video broadcast. It is the premier competition in North America in the field of travel journalism. It has gained its stature for several reasons, most notably:
* it does not promote any particular destination or travel product,
* it is open to all North American journalists, not just SATW members, and
* it is judged independently by the faculty at top U.S. schools of journalism.
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Four Magazines, NJ Writer Earn Top Honors in SATW Foundation
Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition

National Geographic Traveler, Islands, Travel + Leisure and Afar magazines are top media winners in the 2014 Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) Foundation 30th Annual Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition.

For the third time in the 30 years of the contest, Jill Schensul, senior writer for The Record of northern New Jersey, is the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year. Since 1995, Schensul has won 29 Lowell Thomas awards for herself, and The Record travel section has taken 39 awards in total.

Also honored for Grand Award travel portfolios were Skye Mayring of TravelAge West, Brian J. Cantwell of The Seattle Times and Beth J. Harpaz of the Associated Press.

National Geographic Traveler and its Intelligent Travel Blog won nine awards. Outside magazine earned a total of five awards, while The New York Times and The Recordin New Jersey each tallied four awards.
Islands, Travel + Leisure and Afar won Gold, Silver and Bronze, respectively, as top travel magazines. Private Clubs took Gold for travel coverage in other magazines. In best newspaper travel sections, The Washington Post and The Seattle Times earned highest honors in their respective circulation categories. 
The Lowell Thomas competition is overseen by the SATW Foundation. The awards, recognized as the most prestigious in travel journalism, were announced Sept. 16 in Iceland at the annual conference of SATW, the premier professional organization of travel journalists and communicators.
This year, the SATW Foundation presented 90 awards in 25 categories and nearly $20,000 in prize money to journalists. Since the first competition for work in 1984, the SATW Foundation has presented more than 2,100 awards and $420,000-plus in recognition of outstanding travel journalism.
See the full story

Individual Award Winners
For the third time in the 30 years of the contest, Jill Schensul, a prolific writer-blogger-photographer for The Record of northern New Jersey, earned the title of Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year. “From ‘wellness tourism’ to on-the-road toilets, Jill Schensul covers a diverse range of subjects,” judges at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication said.

Of the Grand Award competition, judge Joe Bob Hester, said: “This was an outstanding selection of entries and the judging was quite difficult. There was so much good writing, reporting, storytelling here: news, adventure, romance, information and fun! Ultimately, the winners did share one thing in common: diversity. They all reported on a wide variety of subjects, and they all demonstrated the ability to tell stories in different styles for different audiences using multiple tools (words, photos, video). This diversity is the defining characteristic of today’s outstanding travel writers.”
Writer Tony Perrottet took two Gold awards: in the U.S./Canada travel article category for “Houston on the Verge” in Smithsonian magazine, and in the personal comment category for “Rich Tourist, Poor Tourist” in The New York Times.
Dave Bouskill also earned two Gold awards: in photo illustration of travel with his “23 Epic Photos of Remarkable Arctic Ice” on ThePlanetD.com, and in travel blog for ThePlanetD.com, produced with his wife Debra Corbeil. 
Check out the complete list of winners in 25 categories

What the Judges Said
The competition, based on work published between spring 2013 and spring 2014, drew 1,177 entries and was judged by the faculty at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication. For the first time, the competition was handled electronically with the BetterBNC Media Awards Platform.
Of the two newspaper travel sections earning Gold in their respective circulation categories, the judges said: The Washington Post “ranks high in curb appeal: compelling design, bright headlines, captions a cut above the rest” and of The Seattle Times, “From the moment you look at its headlines, the NWTraveler connects with readers.”
In travel magazines, Islands was the top winner, cited by judges as “one of the most practical and beautiful magazines out there. It realizes the power of good photography in storytelling…”
In the category of Special Projects, which recognizes expanded coverage in multiple platforms, Jeff Ritter writing in Golf Magazine won Gold for “The Mexican Golf Course That Survived the Drug War.”
“It is not often that travel stories include tales of murder and the drug cartel,” wrote one of the judges. “This complete package on the lone golf course in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, that never closed despite the violence surrounding its greens is a compelling and well-told story through multiple mediums. The article is quality journalism … The creative portrait photography shows seemingly ordinary workers like sports stars, and this juxtaposition challenges the viewer to see them in a different light. This fine piece of multimedia journalism is about more than a destination or a golf course. It is about the resolve of the people … in times of great difficulty.”
See the judges’ comments for all winners

The Prizes for Winners
The SATW Foundation distributes nearly $20,000 in prize money to individual winners. The Grand Award earns the gold winner $1,500, the silver winner $750 and the bronze place $500. In individual categories, first-place gold winners each receive $500, with $250 going to silver and $150 to bronze winners. The categories for Best Newspaper Travel Sections, Best Magazines, Best Online Travel Journalism Sites and Best Travel Packages/Projects are not given monetary awards.  
“We thank this year’s many supporters and the Tourist Office for Flanders - Brussels for their donations, helping us to recognize and reward excellence in travel journalism,” said David G. Molyneaux, SATW Foundation president.
The awards are named for Lowell Thomas, acclaimed broadcast journalist, prolific author and world explorer during five decades in travel journalism.

Len Barnes
The SATW Foundation has lost a dear friend and supporter, Len Barnes. He died at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, MI, on May 12 at the age of 94. A longtime member of the Society of American Travel Writers, he was the driving force in starting the Foundation and its mission to recognize outstanding travel journalism.  Click here to read more about him and tributes from friends and colleagues.

                                  Click Here ---For  2013 Lowell Thomas Winners
The results of the 29th Annual Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition were announced by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation in a video presentation October 21 in Biloxi, MS, at the annual SATW convention.  

Winners were notified by email. Here on www.satwf.com, you can view the news release giving details about the competition, a complete
list of winners and the judges’ comments.

The competition for work from spring 2012 to spring 2013 drew 1,257 entries in 25 categories and was judged by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication, with Monica Hill as coordinator.

The Foundation awarded nearly $20,000 in prize money in honoring more than 70 journalists and publication.

At the SATW Conference in Biloxi, Mississippi, winners Toby Saltzman and Spud Hilton, holding awards, are shown with SATW Foundation president David Molyneaux and secretary Liliane Opsomer. Beth Ann Fennelly, right, accepts her 2013 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award from SATW Foundation administrator Mary Lu Abbott at Square Books in Oxford, MS, where Fennelly directs the MFA program at University of Mississippi. Her winning article appeared in Southern Living. She contributes to varied publications and is co-author with her husband, Tom Franklin, of the newly published novel “The Tilted World.” Photo courtesy of SATW member Tim O'Keefe of Longwood, Florida.

 Winners Honored by BATW in San Francisco

From left, Ginny Prior, president of the Bay Area Travel Writers (BATW), congratulates BATW members Laurie McAndish King and Mary Jo McConahay on their awards in the SATW Foundation Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition.
San Francisco area winners in the 2013 SATW Foundation Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition were honored at the December luncheon meeting of the Bay Area Travel Writers in San Francisco.

Five BATW members were among winners, including the top honoree, Mary Jo McConahay, whose portfolio of work earned her the title of Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year. She was presented her crystal Grand Award by Lee Foster, who is a BATW member, a director of the SATW Foundation and past recipient of multiple Lowell Thomas Awards, including Travel Journalist of the Year.

Laurie McAndish King received a plaque for her Gold place in the cultural tourism category for an article in “Travel Stories From Around the Globe,” an anthology of pieces by BATW members.

Silver awards were given to Thomas C. Wilmer for a public radio broadcast and John Flinn for a San Francisco Chronicle article. Unable to attend, honorary member Spud Hilton, travel editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, was cited for his section’s silver place. Others presented awards were Gregory Dicum, silver for an article in Afar; Julia Cosgrove, bronze for Afar in best travel magazines; and Davina Baum, silver for Afar.com in the websites category.

Other area winners who could not be present are Robert Holmes, bronze in guidebooks, and Chris J. Hook, silver in travel apps. The SATW Foundation thanks leaders of BATW for helping recognize these winners and put the spotlight on excellence in travel journalism

The SATW Foundation thanks this year’s underwriter — the Tourist Office for Flanders-Brussels — for its support in recognizing and rewarding excellence in travel journalism. Its generous contributions help fund the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards and support the future of quality travel media.

The northern part of Belgium is known as Flanders.  We are proud and happy to be an SATW Foundation and Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition underwriter.  Flanders extends a warm welcome to travel journalists and the traveling public.  Learn more about Flanders at: www.visitflanders.us/






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Who was Lowell Thomas?

The Foundation

We are a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) foundation, started in the 1980s. Our mission is to recognize and reward outstanding work in travel journalism. The Foundation funds the competition through entry fees and donations, which are tax-deductible. 

Society of American Travel Writers (SATW)

The Society of American Travel Writers is the pre-eminent professional association of travel journalists. Click here to learn more or visit the SATW Web site, www.satw.org. 

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