Our judges refuse to follow the rules.

In fact, they insist on making up their own. For the second week in a row, they’ve decided to award more than one winner and two honorable mentions. Why? “Because there’s too much good stuff,” one judge said. “Not our fault.”

Here’s who to blame…

Angela DiMichele and Dana Cassidy, Fresh Take Florida

These stories were submitted individually, but our trio of judges decided – all by themselves – to merge them into the most lauded entry so far. And that covers 258 from two weeks ago and 172 from last week.

The two University of Florida students reported on separate stories that resonated well beyond their campus. DiMichele – who shared first place last week, believe it or not – wasn’t the first to report on pandemic-fueled gun sales. But she took it to another level, using new FBI stats and insightful interviews (which she conducted from her parents’ home). Said our judges…

What began as a local story ended up becoming a national story distributed by the AP and CNN with DiMichele’s byline. Excellent work in anticipating and jumping on the story about an increase in gun sales, starting in Florida and then expanding her reporting nationally. This is what enterprise reporting is all about.

Meanwhile, Cassidy made her own headlines when her school refused to reveal its COVID-19 plan – which is legal because of a loophole in Florida’s public records law that was intended to keep emergency plans from terrorists. Judges lauded Cassidy’s deadline hustle in tracking down the state lawmaker who sponsored the law – and who was shocked to learn how Florida schools are using it.

Judges called it “an important examination and exposé of government’s addiction to secrecy” an concluded: “You know you’ve struck gold when your story includes a legislator pleading with school officials to stop misusing legislation he co-sponsored.” Sadly, those schools aren’t listening. Yet.

Eduardo Medina, Auburn Plainsman

‘My whole body was aching’: One Auburn student’s story of being diagnosed with coronavirus

The EIC tracked down Auburn University’s patient zero but didn’t stop there. Medina documents every significant development between March 15-23 – not easy to do while sheltering in place.

“Terrific description in telling the story of Auburn’s first student to contract COVID-19,” judges said. “It’s a compelling read and clearly illustrates that young adults are anything but immune to the dangers this virus presents.”

The Daily Iowan staff

Journalism is still a team sport, and few staffs play as well together as the newsroom at the University of Iowa. This entry features a rousing letter from the editor, a nuts-and-bolts report on student pay, and a very visual feature about Chicago, “Iowa’s neighbor to the east.”

Judges said, “Readers will appreciate the powerful message of commitment and determination to be a reliable information source.” The image atop this post is from this winning entry.

The Miami Hurricane

Another solid team effort, this one from the staff at the University of Miami. What clinched it: An interactive map that lets you navigate through a novel concept: The far-flung staff is reporting from wherever they’re self-quarantining, which totals a dozen states.

“A nice mix of stories and presentation,” judges said. “The map of Canes across the country was a neat idea, executed well.”

TuAnh Dam, NY City Lens

On the Frontlines: “A Deserted Island of Death”

Judges plucked this from a trio of submissions from NY City Lens, run by Columbia j-school students. It’s a Q&A with an emergency room doctor working in one of the city’s hardest-hit areas.  The judges called it “one of the most in-depth looks at what’s happening inside hospitals that we’ve read so far.”

Jonah Ocuto, The Columbia Chronicle

Column: Angry filmmaker yells at cloud, and other thoughts about procrastination

The judges wanted to recognize column-writing, and this was their favorite, especially this passage…

“I’m unable to stop my mind from thinking about how the rest of the world is dealing with this, how I should have taken it more seriously earlier on, how I wonder what my Animal Crossing villagers are up to and whether or not the air smells any different with everybody herded inside like grief-stricken cows.”

The next deadline for The CCC Awards is Friday at 11:59:59 p.m.


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