2021-2022 Competition

The 2021-22 Lowell Thomas Competition has now closed to entries. Thank you to all who entered!

2021-22 Lowell Thomas Competition

This year's contest is closed. The deadline was April 1, but you can still access information about it and see results of contests in the past on our website.
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SATW FOUNDATION
LOWELL THOMAS TRAVEL JOURNALISM COMPETITION

The SATW Foundation sponsors the annual Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition to honor excellence in the field. The first contest celebrated work done in 1984, and since that time, the Foundation has awarded more than $550,000 to journalists.

Today the Foundation gives more than $25,000 annually in prize money and more than 100 awards to journalists and publications for outstanding print, digital, multimedia and broadcast work.

The contest traditionally opens in late February, and April 1 is the deadline for entries. Journalists from around the world may enter work following the contest’s eligibility guidelines and rules. From 1,200 to 1,400 entries are received each year. Judging is done independently by the faculty of a top U.S. school of journalism.

Awards are announced each fall at the annual convention of SATW, the premier professional organization of travel journalists and communicators. Journalists do not have to be a member of SATW or any other writers association to enter the Lowell Thomas competition.

For more information on the competition, contact the Foundation administrator, Victoria Larson, victoria@satwf.com.

The sustainability of the annual SATW Foundation Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition is supported by a generous contribution from Gold Supporter CARNIVAL CORP., the world’s largest cruise company.
The Society of American Travel Writers Foundation was begun in 1981 by a group of SATW writers, editors and public relations professionals who were concerned about the future of travel journalism.
SATW (the Society of American Travel Writers) is the pre-eminent professional association of travel journalists and communicators. Learn more about this premier networking organization by visiting its website, www.satw.org.

Awards For Works Published in 2020-2021

OVERVIEW OF AWARDS

Travel Journalism Shows its Mettle in 2021 Lowell Thomas Awards

Winners of SATW Foundation Competition Excel at Helping Readers Reckon with the Pandemic

A digital journalist, a regional newspaper and a reporter’s improbable tale of bull riding on an aircraft carrier were among the winners of top awards in the 37th Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition in a year for which there was no road map.

The awards were announced Monday, Oct. 4, at the SATW Convention in Milwaukee. The honor is considered the premier professional recognition for travel journalists and communicators. The Foundation is giving 104 awards in 27 categories and $22,550 in prize money this year.

The 1,278 entries in the annual contest, overseen by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation, were noteworthy for their style, scope and service to readers who struggled to make sense of a travelscape turned upside down by the pandemic. The University of Missouri School of Journalism oversaw the judging, which involved 27 judges this year.

The awards are named for Lowell Thomas, acclaimed broadcast journalist, prolific author and world explorer during five decades in travel journalism.

The sustainability of the annual competition is made possible by a generous contribution from Gold Supporter Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise company with a portfolio of brands. Its contribution helps make the prizes possible and supports the future of quality travel media.

Matt Crossman earned the Gold with his article in Experience Magazine for the Robert Haru Fisher Award for Travel Health/Safety Coverage, the first time this award has been given.

Travel Journalism Shows its Mettle in 2021 Lowell Thomas Awards
Winners of SATW Foundation Competition Excel at Helping Readers Reckon with the Pandemic

October 5, 2021 – A digital journalist, a regional newspaper and a reporter’s improbable tale of bull riding on an aircraft carrier were among the winners of top awards in the 37th Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition in a year for which there was no road map.

The 1,278 entries in the annual contest, overseen by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation, were noteworthy for their style, scope and service to readers who struggled to make sense of a travelscape turned upside down by the pandemic. The University of Missouri School of Journalism oversaw the judging, which involved 27 judges this year.

Winners “proved their mettle by producing original, useful and often moving stories that covered the moments and moods of the past year,” the judges said of the works, which covered spring of 2020 to spring of 2021. “Travel journalists were nimble and resourceful and showed in numerous ways the enduring value of their work.”

The awards were announced Monday, Oct. 4, at the SATW Convention in Milwaukee. The honor is considered the premier professional recognition for travel journalists and communicators. The Foundation is giving 104 awards in 27 categories and $22,550 in prize money this year.

Katherine LaGrave, digital features editor for AFAR Media, was honored as the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year. Judges praised her storytelling and reporting as well as her focus on what readers needed to know to navigate today’s travel challenges.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer earned the Gold award for newspaper travel coverage. Judges cited editor Susan Glaser’s “laser focus on readers” who sought closer-to-home destinations in the wake of the pandemic.

Matt Crossman took Gold in a new category this year, the Robert Haru Fisher award for Travel Health and Safety Coverage. Crossman’s story, ostensibly about bull riding on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Mexico, was really about filling the need for community and connection in a time of isolation. The Fisher award was made possible by a significant bequest from the late Bob Fisher, a past president of SATW and the first president of the SATW Foundation.

A team of reporters from the Miami Herald earned the Gold in the Travel News/Investigative Reporting category for its examination of “COVID Cruises.” Judges praised this “excellent investigation on a breaking news story” that focused on accountability and provided actionable information for
readers.

Gold in Travel magazines went to Travel + Leisure, Jacqueline Gifford, editor-in-chief. Judges cited “service-centric stories that anticipated what readers would want.”

The Gold for Special Packages and Series went to The New York Times for “A Year Without Travel,” which “employed strong writing, graphics, videos and first person-accounts to illustrate the far-reaching impact of the pandemic,” judges said. The New York Times was honored with a total of eight awards, including five golds in a variety of categories.

BBC Travel tallied nine awards, including a Gold for Amanda Ruggeri’s “In Guatemala, the Maya World Untouched for Centuries” in Special-Purpose Travel. Judges cited her “storytelling and courage.”

Amanda Williams took Gold for her work on “A Dangerous Business Travel Blog,” a mix of trip tips and business advice, and CNTraveler earned the top award for Travel Journalism Websites.

Tonya Fitzpatrick, Ian Fitzpatrick and Edward Cole won Gold in Podcasts and Guides, one of two audio categories, for their “Escape From India During COVID-19,” the chilling story of American journalist Anietra Hamper’s fishing trip gone terribly wrong. In the other audio category, Annita Thomas took Gold for “Travel Bags With Annita Explores the Rice Culture of the Southern Low Country” on WDUN AM 550 and FM 102.9 in Gainesville, GA.

The awards are named for Lowell Thomas, acclaimed broadcast journalist, prolific author and world explorer during five decades in travel journalism.

The sustainability of the annual competition is made possible by a generous contribution from Gold Supporter Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise company with a portfolio of brands. Its contribution helps make the prizes possible and supports the future of quality travel media.

End

The 2020-2021 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition Awards Presentation Video

Watch the video that was first shown at the 2021 SATW Annual Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

Winning Stories Covered the Moments and Moods of the Year

Winners “proved their mettle by producing original, useful and often moving stories that covered the moments and moods of the past year,” the judges said of the works, which covered spring of 2020 to spring of 2021. “Travel journalists were nimble and resourceful and showed in numerous ways the enduring value of their work.”

Katherine LaGrave, digital features editor for Afar Media, was honored as the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year. Judges praised her storytelling and reporting as well as her focus on what readers needed to know to navigate today’s travel challenges.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer earned the Gold award for newspaper travel coverage. Judges cited editor Susan Glaser’s “laser focus on readers” who sought closer-to-home destinations in the wake of the pandemic.

Matt Crossman took Gold in a new category this year, the Robert Haru Fisher award for Travel Health and Safety Coverage. Crossman’s story, ostensibly about bull riding on an aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Mexico, was really about filling the need for community and connection in a time of isolation.

A team of reporters from the Miami Herald earned the Gold in the Travel News/Investigative Reporting category for its examination of “COVID Cruises.” Judges praised this “excellent investigation on a breaking news story” that focused on accountability and provided actionable information for readers.

Gold in Travel magazines went to Travel + Leisure, Jacqueline Gifford, editor-in-chief. Judges cited “service-centric stories that anticipated what readers would want.”

The Gold for Special Packages and Series went to The New York Times for “A Year Without Travel,” which “employed strong writing, graphics, videos and first person-accounts to illustrate the far-reaching impact of the pandemic,” judges said. The New York Times earned eight awards, with five of them Gold.

BBC Travel tallied nine awards, including a Gold for Amanda Ruggeri’s “In Guatemala, the Maya World Untouched for Centuries” in Special-Purpose Travel. Judges cited her “storytelling and courage.”

Amanda Williams took Gold for her work on “A Dangerous Business Travel Blog,” a mix of trip tips and business advice, and CNTraveler earned the top award for Travel Journalism Websites.

Check out the complete list of winners in 27 categories.

The Winners Gallery showcases all the winning entries.

In each category, information is displayed about the winners, including comments by the judge. For each award, there are icons to click and see the winning entry or entries, either online or in a PDF. In a few cases, like magazine and book categories, links are not available.

BetterBNC, the online awards platform the Foundation uses for the contest, provides the Winners Gallery. From the page with the list of categories, you can click the SATW Foundation logo to return to the Foundation website.

We are happy to salute all our winners and showcase their entries. We hope you enjoy seeing their work.

The Prizes

This year, the SATW Foundation is giving 104 awards in 27 categories and $22,550 in prize money to journalists in recognition of outstanding travel journalism.

The Grand Award earns the Gold winner $1,500, the Silver winner $750 and the Bronze place $500.

In individual categories, first-place Gold carries a $500 prize, Silver $250 and Bronze $150. The categories for Best Newspaper Travel Coverage, Best Magazines and Best Travel Journalism Websites are not given monetary awards.

The sustainability of the annual competition is made possible by a generous contribution from Gold Supporter Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise company with a portfolio of brands. Its contribution helps make the prizes possible and supports the future of quality travel media.

About Lowell Thomas

The competition and awards are named for Lowell Thomas, an acclaimed journalist, prolific author and modern-day world explorer who achieved numerous “firsts” during five decades in travel journalism. He’s known as a broadcast journalist, but his career touched nearly all disciplines. His indefatigable spirit of adventure and discovery epitomizes that of the inquiring travel journalist.

He began his career in newspapers and in 1914, at age 22, convinced his editor to send him on the road to write about a cross-country train trip. Bitten by the travel bug, he headed north to Alaska with a movie camera and upon his return started doing travel lectures, which first earned him national attention.

Appointed by President Wilson to help document the history of World War I, Thomas traveled to Europe and the Mideast as a war correspondent. Upon his return, his “With (Gen.) Allenby in Palestine” and “With Lawrence in Arabia” lectures in New York’s Madison Square Garden led to a world tour and his first book, “With Lawrence in Arabia,” published in 1924 – it sold 500,000 copies.

While he continued to write books (about 50), he became most famous for his radio broadcasts, starting in 1930 and lasting for 46 years with both CBS and NBC. In 1939, on NBC, he did the first televised newscast. He also served as the voice of Movietone News – film clips shown in theaters before featured movies in the 1940s and ‘50s.

As a globetrotting journalist, he became a celebrity in his own right, taking many listeners on his journeys to discover places that at the time were truly far away and entailed arduous travel to reach. He did a PBS TV series in the ‘70s about his adventures.

He assisted SATW in a 1960s public service campaign called “Welcome a Visitor,” designed to encourage Americans to be friendly to travelers. His half-minute message, which mentioned SATW, was played on radio stations across the country.

Former SATW president Len Barnes knew Thomas personally. As Len and a small group of SATW members began forming the SATW Foundation in 1981, Len asked Thomas to be the first chairman. Thomas agreed – but died of a heart attack the next day at age 89. In planning a competition to recognize and reward outstanding travel journalists, the Foundation directors decided to name the program for Thomas.

A mark of his stature: His obituary in The New York Times spread across the top half of an entire page, with a six-column banner headline and copy that ran more than half a page deep – about 78 inches in all, including a picture of him on location with some African tribesmen.

OPEN FOR ENTRIES

Information on entering the 2021-22 Lowell Thomas Competition is available here

2021-22 Lowell Thomas Competition

You can now enter the Lowell Thomas Competition for 2021-22. Deadline for entries is April 1, 2022.
LEARN MORE
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