Feature Writing

General Observations

222 Entries

The entries in this category covered a wide range of topics, styles, and formats, from impressionistic memoirs to hard-nosed discussions of important issues. It was interesting to see different takes on the issues of race and gender (including transgender) which reflected and extended the public dialogue.

The large majority of entries had a kernel of merit, but were hampered by poor organization or editing, or by blandness in either how the topic was treated or in the writing itself. The entries we chose to recognize demonstrated solid, detailed reporting; compelling insights into the issues or people who were the articles' subjects; and zesty language that was a pleasure to read. These articles exemplify the best of magazine writing, not just alumni magazine writing.

Comments on Winning Entries

Gold Award

University of Chicago (IL) - Microbial Me

  • "The only article that made me laugh with delight in its writing. Benefits from a great lead character, but also has the sense to let him come alive."
  • "Fascinating story, brilliant style."
  • "Things I never thought I'd say: ‘I couldn't stop reading about microbes.' A most impressive research roundup."
  • "We need to know more about this topic, and the writer did a great job on it."

Silver Award

Stanford University (CA) - A Hard Look at How We See Race

  • "This is such a critical issue that must be understood by our society. The story shows how one person found a way to shed new light on a deep problem that is tearing us apart. We need to know about this work."
  • "This was a great article. It was an interesting topic and I found myself reading it with the heightened sense of attention."
  • "A compelling story well told."
  • "This was a great article. It was an interesting topic and I found myself reading it with the heightened sense of attention."

Bronze Award

Columbia University (NY) - "After the Deluge

  • "Superbly written. Thought-provoking. Poetic but informative. A gem."
  • "This provided new insight into what happened to New Orleans after the Katrina disaster, written by someone who knows and loves the city."
  • "Thoughtful, moving, classic essay that refuses to deliver the happy ending, but instead delivers a real one."

Duke University (NC) - The Legal Burden"

  • "Superb story arc that kept me reading with great anticipation of how the story would end.""
  • "A compelling story that was told in a tense voice."
  • "We need to know how many people are being unjustly imprisoned, and this article told the story of how hard it is to take on this task. I wasn't sure that I learned anything new in a significant way, though."
  • "An interesting story, but it dragged at times, especially with what feels like a digression to include other students' experiences."

Fordham University (NY) - "The Metadiplomat" 

  • "Outstanding backstory of an alumnus at the center of Bridge of Spies. Strong writing, great narrative arc, insightful, and inspirational without being sensational."
  • "It was fascinating to learn a bit about what happened behind the scenes."
  • "Strong but did not wow me."

Johns Hopkins University (MD) - Invisible Wounds

  • "Love the way this story connects the researcher, her veteran/medic brother and the veteran suffering from TBI."
  • "A great topic that could use more attention. Well written."
  • "Excellent story concept-the intersection of individual stories with an important issue. Writing has flaws in spots."

Johns Hopkins University (MD) - "Moment of Truth"

  • "I felt like I was there."
  • "A big story in the news recently, but the inside story of how HARD it was to do this is fascinating. It shows how brilliant human beings can be when we turn our minds to something meaningful."
  • "Attentive reporting in the hands of strong writer = excellent story."
  • "A disappointment. The writer could have chosen to focus on the science or the people, but trying to do both ended up doing neither."

University of California, Berkeley (CA) - In the Deep Freeze: What Kind of Person Gets Cryonically Preserved?"

  • Fascinating topic well told, lots of interesting detail and a multifaceted treatment."
  • "This story points to something that might be a trend in the future and poses a fascinating question: why doesn't everyone try it?"
  • "Talk about the business of hope; a fascinating window into the human quest for immortality. Written with an assured style and touches of dark humor; loved this peek into a quirky world of cryonics."

University of Iowa (IA) - "Rising Stars of Anthropology""

  • "Superior on all counts."
  • "Nice use of detail and good balancing of important discovery as a work in progress."
  • The judges' discussion of this piece also touched on the question of how involved the alumna actually was with the discoveries at the heart of the article, noting that she only handles the skull literally in passing.