Alta Journal Takes Home Five First-Place Honors, 18 Total at SoCal Journalism Awards

Alta received recognition for reporting, feature writing, illustration, photography, and more.

alta winners la press club socal journalism 2021
Alta Journal

In a broad range of categories, Alta Journal received 18 awards from the L.A. Press Club for the magazine’s contributions to Southern California journalism, in a ceremony held in Los Angeles on October 16.

Five of these 18 awards were first place, in the categories of Travel Reporting, Crime Reporting, Illustration, Feature Under 1,000 Words, and Personality Profile (Politics/Business/Arts Personalities).

Alta editor at large Mary Melton took home the award for Best Travel Reporting for her story “A Mother’s Road,” a personal essay about a 15-day road trip with her husband and autistic son. The judges applauded Melton’s story for “reaching a wide range of readers” with a story “that not only warms the heart but increases understanding.”

“I’m touched that my family’s story struck a chord with the judges,” Melton said. “I’m grateful to the Alta team that shepherded this piece with so much care and to my son for giving me permission to tell it.”

Andrew Dubbins won first place for Crime Reporting for his gripping story of a car dealer turned undercover FBI agent, “When the Mafia Came to Lodi.” Judges called it a “page-turner” and commended Dubbins for his “storytelling and details.”

In the category of Feature Under 1,000 Words, Susan Straight won the highest honors for her story “Badass Women of the West,” an abridged look at the Vietnamese immigrant population of California. “This writer did a great job of drawing the reader in with interesting details that were surprising and engaging,” the judges commented.

Geoffrey Gray won first place in Personality Profile (Politics/Business/Arts Personalities) for his story of Inga Arvad, a journalist courted by John F. Kennedy. The judges praised Gray’s story as “an outstanding article, beautifully written and engrossing.”

First, second, and third place for Illustration all went to Alta contributors for their work in the print magazine. Steve Carroll won the highest prize for his black-and-white portrait of Mary Austin, which the judges dubbed “jaw-dropping.” Victor Juhasz won second place for his illustrations in “‘Ribs, Muscle, Bone,’” and Mark Smith’s noir illustrations in “The Port of Missing Women” won third place.

In second place, Alta books editor David L. Ulin received recognition in the Columnist category for “Looking Backward from the Future.” Justin Chapman’s “The Daredevil Who Reached for the Stars” in the Hard News category and David Kipen’s “Thomas Pynchon Unmasked” in the Humor/Satire Writing category both received second place.

Alta’s full list of third-place finishers includes Laura Fraser for Travel Reporting, Phil Bronstein for Crime Reporting, Smith for Illustration, Marcela Davison Avilés for Criticism of TV, Tim Greiving for Personality Profile (Politics/Business/Arts Personalities), Chapman for Obituary/In Appreciation (Politics/Business/Arts Personalities), Davison Avilés for Race and Society (Print), Gustavo Arellano for Immigration Reporting, and Walter Feller for Photo Essay (Single Topic, Culture/Entertainment).

This is the second year that Alta has received honors at the SoCal Journalism Awards. In 2020, the magazine received four awards for page design, commentary, and feature writing. A complete list of the L.A. Press Club’s 2021 SoCal Journalism Awards winners can be found here.

The same week, Alta picked up four special recognition awards, five wins, and five honorable mentions at the 2021 Folio: Eddie and Ozzie Awards.•

Jessica Blough is an assistant editor at Alta Journal.
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