NMPolitics.net, Sun-News win national feature writing award

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NMPolitics.net and the Las Cruces Sun-News have won second place in a national feature writing competition for a story about how a multi-ethnic family is working to make ends meet and get along in a complicated world.

The article, “Millennials like this mixed-ethnicity couple are reshaping America,” won second place in the feature story category of the National Federation of Press Women’s 2017 competition. Damien Willis wrote the article and Robin Zielinski created a video report and photos to accompany it.

“I’m honored to have been afforded the unique opportunity to share this important story,” Willis said.

He and Zielinski told the story of Luz Skywalker and Zach Eason, a multi-ethnic Las Cruces couple, and their daughter Luna. They placed the family in a larger context with statistics and other information, with the 2016 election as a backdrop.

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This is the third award the story has won, and the first for which it faced national competition. Earlier this year the New Mexico Press Women awarded the story first place for feature writing.

“Good use of the metaphor of color as a hook and to unify the ideas in the story,” a judge in the state contest wrote about the story. “There are several complex issues here, and the use of color helps move it along in a strong, concise manner.”

In addition, the New Mexico Press Association has notified the Sun-News that the story won a feature-writing award in its annual competition. How the story placed in that competition won’t be announced until November.

The article was part of a collaboration between NMPolitics.net and the Sun-News to tell stories about multi-ethnic families in New Mexico as a way to bridge our understanding of one another. The second article in the series told the story of a Las Cruces mother who makes sense of tragedy by doing stand-up comedy. The project was funded with help from the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance.

Willis and Zielinski invested many hours in the project. So did Skywalker and Eason, who Willis thanked for inviting the journalists into their home and spending “countless hours sharing very personal and private details of their relationship.”

“They opened up their lives to us so that we could better tell their story,” Willis said. He called the article “a difficult project, but also profoundly gratifying. This may be the very personal story of one young family, but I hope it’s also an example of why journalism matters.”

You can read the story about Skywalker and Eason here.

This is the second consecutive year an NMPolitics.net article has placed in the National Federation of Press Women’s annual competition. Last year, editor and publisher Heath Haussamen won first place in the investigative reporting category for shining light on a possible conflict of interest current N.M. State Auditor Tim Keller had when he was a state senator.

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