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St. Louis Public Radio wins 12 Society of Professional Journalists Awards

File Photo / Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Public Radio received two Diamond Awards for ongoing coverage of Missouri's Medicaid expansion in 2021.

St. Louis Public Radio wins 12 Society of Professional Journalists Awards

St. Louis Public Radio received 12 recognitions at the 2022 Diamond Journalism Awards, sponsored by the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The awards recognize the best in professional journalism in print, radio, television, newsletters, art/graphics, online news and research.

“We’re overwhelmed with gratitude for being recognized so many times by the Diamond Journalism Awards for the great journalism STLPR produced last year,” said Brian Heffernan, the interim executive editor and digital/special projects editor at STLPR.
“Taking home eight category wins and four finalist honors speaks to our newsroom’s dedication to serving our community with strong journalism.”


STLPR was recognized several times for its ongoing coverage of issues affecting the greater St. Louis region.

Medicaid expansion

Two Ongoing Coverage Diamond Awards, one for Print/Online, and one for Radio/Audio & TV/Video, were given to STLPR politics correspondent Jason Rosenbaum for his continuingcoverage of Missouri’s Medicaid expansion.

“I’ve been covering the push to expand Medicaid in Missouri for literally my entire 16-year journalism career,” Rosenbaum said. “Being able to tell the stories of some of the Medicaid recipients who fought all the way to the Supreme Court was humbling. It’s even more humbling to have this print and radio work recognized.”


The Diamond Award for pandemic coverage went to STLPR’s health reporter Sarah Fentem for her yearlong reporting on COVID.

“Our COVID coverage has been a complete team effort and I’m so proud of how the newsroom has responsibly told stories from all angles,” Fentem said.

“From public health recommendations to legal battles to how the pandemic has affected different groups of people economically and socially. I don’t know if I would have been able to find the motivation to keep up the slog if it weren’t for my talented coworkers inspiring me to work hard!”

The Arts

Culture and Arts reporter Jeremy D. Goodwin received a Diamond Award for his coverage of the St. Louis arts scene.

“The judges singled out my piece about St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s Afrofuturist production of ’King Lear,’ Goodwin said. “That story led to a wider one for NPR about racism in the world of Shakespeare performance. What makes these stories possible is the compelling work of our regional arts organizations. It’s a privilege to engage with their work and help tell their stories.”


Four St. Louis Public Radio reporters were recognized for compelling stories about the greater St. Louis region.

One-room schoolhouse

In the Features – Radio/Audio category, newscaster Marissanne Lewis-Thompson received a Diamond Award for coverage of Missouri’s oldest one-room African American schoolhouse.

“This story was a fun one for me.” Lewis-Thompson said. “I got to hop into my time machine and see a raw piece of history that’s still standing after all this time.

“Talking to Mrs. Doris Frazier was a big highlight for me. I remember closing my eyes as she was describing to me over the phone what it was like teaching her students in a one room schoolhouse. She painted such a vivid picture of where things were, how she taught multiple grades at one time, and how it compared to her own school experience,” Lewis-Thompson said. “She is living and breathing history. I am so glad that this story was recognized.”

Sports and Photojournalism

Photojournalist Brian Munoz received two Diamond Awards from the SPJ. His coverage of the St. Louis high school band regional competition received the Photo Spread/Essay Diamond Award.

“This marching band story was the very first story he pitched,” said STLPR interim editor Heffernan. “Brian has made huge contributions to the quality of St. Louis Public Radio’s visual journalism since he joined the newsroom last year.”

In Sports/ Radio/Audio & TV/Video, Munoz received a Diamond Award for his coverage of the St. Louis/Metro East Chorizo Bowl soccer tournament.

Munoz said, "Being able to share stories — like the one surrounding the decades-long Chorizo Bowl — help connect us to our neighbors and make our region that much stronger. Growing up I would hear about the Chorizo Bowl and am excited I finally had the opportunity to dig into the event’s history. A big thank you to the judges for honoring this work."


Reporter Chad Davis received a Diamond Award in Explanatory Reporting – Radio/Audio for his piece on ending the racial wealth gap in St. Louis. The story also received a First Place Documentary/Public Affairs award from the Missouri Broadcasters Association.

"I’m honored that this piece was recognized,” Davis said. “It was something that my editor and I had talked about doing since St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and mayors across the country announced their reparations initiatives.

“I think this was an important story to cover since talks surrounding reparations have grown, especially over the past several years. I really hope the story enlightened people and brought valuable context to a very important issue," he said.

St. Louis Public Radio received four additional Finalist recognitions.

Explanatory Reporting – Radio/Audio Black St. Louisans using therapy, nature and family to heal from police violence by Marissanne Lewis-Thompson

Features – Radio/Audio Rolla’s annual vacuum cleaner enthusiasts conventions by Jonathan Ahl

Investigative Reporting – Radio/Audio & TV/Video for ongoing coverage of St. Louis homeless services by Shahla Farzan

Features – Online Only Missouri inmates sewing quilts for foster children by Shahla Farzan

About St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio (STLPR) is a non-profit media organization, delivering accuracy and understanding. Its team of local reporters and producers push the boundaries of storytelling, bringing context and humanity to the issues and ideas that affect life in the metro region, Rolla, Quincy and rural areas in Missouri and Illinois. Reflecting the voices of the community, STLPR engages in crucial conversations that bring people together. With award-winning local news coverage, original podcasts, jazz and classical music channels, and national and international news from NPR and the BBC, STLPR is a listener-supported service of theUniversity of Missouri-St. Louis.

As the Communications Specialist for St. Louis Public Radio, Fontella gets to showcase the award-winning local reporting, original programming and community engagement that make STLPR a beloved regional institution.