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Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Winners Named

DEARBORN, Mich., May 2, 1998 - The Chicago Tribune, the Orange County Register and The Record in Hackensack, NJ, have won first places for best newspaper travel sections in the 14th annual SATW Foundation Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition. Arizona Highways was named the best monthly travel magazine and Islands the best non-monthly travel magazine. All awards honor work done in 1997.

Alan Solomon, travel writer for the Chicago Tribune, won the Grand Award honoring the best portfolio of work. As the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of 1998, Solomon will receive $1,000 and a plaque. Solomon also won four other awards, a gold and three bronze, in categories for individual articles.

Beyond the Grand Award, the gold-place winners in individual categories each receive $500 and a plaque; no monetary award is given in the competition for Best Newspaper Travel Sections and Best Travel Magazines. Judging was done by Department of Journalism faculty members at University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications. The competition, sponsored by the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) Foundation, honors excellence in travel journalism in North America and is open to all travel journalists. This year's competition drew a record 1,192 entries, 150 more entries than the previous record set two years ago. This is the first year that the University of Florida has judged the competition. The journalism schools at Northwestern University and the University of Missouri each handled the competition for a number of years; the sponsoring SATW Foundation periodically changes judges.

"We were impressed by the really high talent level we saw overall," said Prof. William McKeen, who served as competition coordinator. "The writing was not just entertaining but really good journalism. It also was the most fun competition we've ever done."

Mary Lu Abbott, SATW Foundation president, said most of the 21 categories showed an increase in entries from last year. Entries in the category for electronic media/Internet more than tripled, showing the mushrooming of work in this new discipline. Entries in the category of U.S./Canada articles in magazines more than doubled and major increases in submissions were seen in the categories for articles on cultural tourism, environmental tourism, adventure travel and investigative reporting.

Awards will go to 52 journalists in print, audio-visual and electronic media; 20 magazines and 14 newspapers are represented among the 72 gold, silver, bronze and honorable-mention awards. Six books, one video, one audio and three Internet entries were cited. The awards will be presented at a meeting of the Greater Los Angeles Membership of SATW at the newly opened Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA, July 13.

SATW, founded in 1956, is the pre-eminent professional organization of travel journalists and communicators, with membership numbering nearly 1,100. Its headquarters are in Raleigh, NC.

Among the newspaper entries, several publications were multiple winners. The Chicago Tribune earned seven awards, the Seattle Times six, the Los Angeles Times and The Record of Hackensack, NJ, each four and the Orange County Register three. Among magazines, Islands and Travel Holiday each won three awards, and Arizona Highways, National Geographic Traveler and Historic Traveler each earned two awards.

In the Grand Award, the silver place carrying a prize of $500 went to Peter Guttman of New York City, a free-lance journalist. The bronze was a tie between Christopher Reynolds, travel writer for the Los Angeles Times, and Jill Schensul, leisure/travel editor of The Record of Hackensack, NJ. Reynolds, who has won the gold or silver place in the Grand Award the last three years, also took one gold and two silver awards for individual articles in this year's competition. Schensul also earned a silver and a bronze for individual articles and the gold for her Travel section this year; last year she took five awards, including a silver place in Grand Award.

The competition for Best Newspaper Travel Section has three divisions based on circulation. Among newspapers with circulation above 500,000, the Chicago Tribune won the gold award, the Dallas Morning News the silver and the Seattle Times the bronze. Among newspapers with circulation of 350,000-499,999, the Orange County Register in California took top honors, followed by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Sunday Oregonian in Portland.

Among newspapers under 350,000 circulation The Record in Hackensack, NJ, won the gold, The Daily Herald in
Arlington Heights, IL, the silver and the Kansas City Star the bronze.

For Best Travel Magazine, winners in the monthly (or more frequent) category were Arizona Highways, gold; Westways, silver; and Attache, the USA Airways magazine, bronze. Among magazines published less frequent than monthly, winners were Islands, gold; Travel Holiday, silver; National Geographic Traveler, bronze.

The SATW Foundation travel journalism awards are named for the late Lowell Thomas, acclaimed broadcast journalist, prolific author and modern-day world explorer who achieved numerous "firsts" during five decades in travel journalism. The SATW Foundation annually gives $10,500 in prize money to the winning travel journalists.

Mary Lu Abbott, President 404-320-7137
Larry Keller, Secretary 313-436-7445, 
SATW Foundation

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