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Outside, National Geographic Traveler Earn Most Honors In SATW Foundation Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition

October 25, 2019 Competition No Comments Email Email

Outside magazine earned nine awards and National Geographic Traveler eight, including Best Travel Magazine and Best Travel Journalism Website, in the 2019 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition. Winners were announced today by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation, which oversees the annual contest.

“Travel writing today, as demonstrated in this year’s entries, is at once riveting, entertaining, heart-breaking and thought-provoking,” said Missouri School of Journalism Associate Professor Jennifer Rowe, who with MU Emeritus Professor John Fennell, coordinated the 2019 SATW judging.

Elaine Glusac, freelance writer from Chicago, IL, is Travel Journalist of the Year, earning the Grand Award. She was praised by the judges for “a portfolio that demonstrates a mastery of every form of travel writing, from breaking news … to beautifully written features about her adventures.” Her articles included plenty of practical tips as well as deeply reported and meticulously contextualized pieces, judges added.

Also honored for Grand Award travel portfolios were Nikki Ekstein, Travel Editor, Bloomberg Pursuits (Silver); Alex Pulaski of West Linn, OR (Bronze); and Christopher Reynolds, travel writer, Los Angeles Times (Honorable Mention).

The competition, for work from spring 2018 to spring 2019, drew 1,335 entries. The Lowell Thomas awards, recognized as the most prestigious in travel journalism, were announced in El Paso, at the annual conference of SATW, the premier professional organization of travel journalists and communicators.

The Washington Post won Gold for Best Newspaper Travel Coverage, cited by the judges for stories that are original both in topic and expression, delivering the facts through inviting narratives and strong photos.

Silver for Newspaper Travel Coverage went to the Los Angeles Times, praised for an editorial mix that is “relevant and rewards or challenges the reader.” Commended for its informative and interesting articles that deliver a body of facts, The New York Times took Bronze. Honorable Mention went to the Star Tribune (Minneapolis).

Outside’s nine awards include three Golds: “The Greatest Show on Earth,” in Special Packages/Projects, Christopher Keyes, Editor; “Mayday,” by Ali Carr Troxell, in Adventure Travel; and “The Survivors,” by Florence Williams, in Special-Purpose Travel. Outside also won three Silver awards, two Bronze and one Honorable Mention.

In earning Gold as Best Travel Magazine, National Geographic Traveler was praised for its photos, strong content, original reporting and varied editorial mix with substantive features that make each issue an “inviting, information-laden publication.” Judges called its winning website “the epitome of what a website should be: constantly updated, global in scale and featuring authoritative, well-written and well-edited content.” The magazine also earned Gold in Foreign Travel and in Culinary-Related Travel plus two Silver awards, one Bronze and one Honorable Mention.

Smithsonian Magazine won three Gold awards, two of them for articles by Jeff MacGregor, in the Personal Comment and Cultural Tourism categories, and the third by Mark Jenkins in U.S./Canada Travel.

BBC Travel and the New York Times each won five awards, as did Bloomberg Pursuits, which is the global luxury lifestyle arm of Bloomberg News, and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Among the four awards won by The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) were two Golds, to staffers Brian Peterson in Photo Illustration of Travel and Kerri Westenberg in Short Work on Travel. The newspaper also won a Silver award and an Honorable Mention.

Afar also won four awards. Several media won two and three awards each.  This year the SATW Foundation is giving 97 awards in 25 categories and more than $20,000 in prize money to journalists in recognition of outstanding work in covering travel.

Twenty-six faculty members from the University of Missouri School of Journalism were judges. In additional comments on the overall entries, Prof. Rowe noted that themes were as varied as travel itself, “but this year the environment emerged as an increasingly important topic, along with race, culinary experiences and a continued interest in national parks.”

Winning Gold in this year’s new category, Multimedia Single Work, are Michael Benanav and Monika Agarwal for “The Last Dokpas of North Sikkim,” Traditional Cultures Project. The category honors work that uses multiple techniques to tell a story.

Among other Gold Winners are Yankee Magazine for Travel Coverage in Other Magazines (with varied topics); Allison Coffelt in Travel Books for “Maps Are Lines We Draw: A Road Trip Through Haiti,” from Lanternfish Press; and Becky Lomax in Guidebooks with “Moon USA National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 59 Parks,” from Avalon Travel.

Beth Harpaz and Warren Levinson won top honors in Travel Audio/Podcasts category with work for Associated Press Travel “Get Outta Here.” In Travel Video, Lee Cowan, Aria Shavelson, David Bhagat, Rand Morrison and Henry Bautista won Gold for work on “CBS Sunday Morning.”

Caroline Eubanks took Gold in Travel Blogs for

The awards are named for Lowell Thomas, acclaimed broadcast journalist, prolific author and world explorer during five decades in travel journalism.  The competition is open to all North American journalists.

The sustainability of the annual competition is made possible by a generous contribution from Gold Supporter Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise company with a portfolio of brands in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, including Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Cunard, Seabourn and Princess Cruises.

See following list of winners by category.



Faculty members of the Missouri School of Journalism judged the competition, with Emeritus Prof. John Fennell, Prof. Jennifer Rowe and administrative assistant Kim Townlain coordinating. There were 1,335 entries.

In the following list of winners, numbers in parentheses denote number of entries in the category.

For questions, contact: Mary Lu Abbott, SATW Foundation administrator, 281-217-2872, or The results, along with judges’ comments, also may be viewed online at the Foundation website,

Category 101:  Grand Award—Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year (39) Gold:     Elaine Glusac, freelance writer, Chicago, IL

Silver:   Nikki Ekstein, Travel Editor, Bloomberg Pursuits

Bronze: Alex Pulaski, freelance writer, West Linn, OR

Honorable Mention: Christopher Reynolds, travel writer, Los Angeles Times

Category 102:  Newspaper Travel Coverage (7)

Gold:     The Washington Post, Nicole Arthur, Travel Editor

Silver:   Los Angeles Times, Catharine Hamm, Travel Editor

Bronze: The New York Times, Amy Virshup and Steve Reddicliffe, Travel Editors

Honorable Mention: Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Kerri Westenberg, Travel Editor

Category 103:  Magazines (16)

103A—Travel Magazines

Gold:     National Geographic Traveler, George W. Stone, Editor-in-Chief

Silver:   Travel + Leisure, Jacqueline Gifford, Editor-in-Chief; Nathan Lump, former Editor-in-Chief

Bronze: Southbound, Kevin Benefield, Editor-in-Chief

Honorable Mention: Afar, Julia Cosgrove, Editor-in-Chief

103B—Travel Coverage in Other Magazines

Gold:     Yankee Magazine, Mel Allen, Editor

Silver:   Midwest Living, Trevor Meers, Editorial Content Director

Bronze: Private Clubs Magazine, Don Nichols, Editor-in-Chief

Honorable Mention: Outside, Christopher Keyes, Editor

Category 104:  U.S./Canada Travel (125)

Gold:     Mark Jenkins, “The Big Unknown,” Smithsonian Magazine

Silver:   Freda Moon, “Where the Wilderness Is,” Afar

Bronze: Heidemarie Brandes, “From German Roots to Vines of Wine, Fredericksburg, Texas, Is a Colorful Trek,” ROVA magazine

Honorable Mention: Langdon Cook, “Big Fish Tale,” National Geographic Traveler

Category 105:  Foreign Travel (110)

Gold:     Christopher Vourlias, “New Greek Odyssey,” National Geographic Traveler

Silver:   Justin Paul, “Rock It,” Virtuoso Life

Bronze: Stephanie Pearson, “In the Land of Giants,” Outside

Honorable Mention: Anne Sigmon, “Hemingway, Cuba & Me,” GeoEx Wanderlust

Category 106: Photo Illustration of Travel (74)

Gold:     Brian Peterson, “Feeling Superior — Thru-Hiking the Superior Hiking Trail,” Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Silver:   Ian Shive, “Living Monuments,” National Parks magazine

Bronze: Corey Arnold, “Big Fish Tale,” National Geographic Traveler

Honorable Mention: Jill Peters, “Intimate Portraits of Women Who Live as Men in Remote Albania,” Afar

Category 107:  Special Packages/Projects (24)

Gold:     Outside, “The Greatest Show on Earth,” (Journey down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon), Christopher Keyes, Editor

Silver:   Star Tribune (Minneapolis), “Feeling Superior,” Bob Timmons, Melanie Radzicki McManus, Brian Peterson, David Braunger and Jenni Pinkley

Bronze: The New York Times, “The Love Issue,” Dan Chaon, Judy Mandell, Leslie Jamison, Rumaan Alam and Carmen Marie Manchado

Honorable Mention: The New York Times, “Secret National Parks,” Jenna Schnuer, Rosalind Bentley, Rachel Levin and Jordan Breal

Category 108:  Cruise Travel (59)

Gold:     Emma Yardley, “Beyond the Fjords,” VIE Magazine

Silver:   Emma Yardley, “How to See Iceland by Boat,” The Globe and Mail

Bronze: Peter Heller, “Hawaii, Here We Come,” Travel + Leisure

Category 109:  Adventure Travel (73)

Gold:     Ali Carr Troxell, “Mayday,” Outside

Silver:   Nicholas Schmidle, “Rocket Man,” The New Yorker

Bronze: Doug Robinson, “Snowbound,” Outside

Honorable Mention: Scott Yorko, “Surviving the Darien Gap,” Playboy

Category 110:  Travel News/Investigative Reporting (34)

Gold:     Zach Everson, “Inside the World’s Most Controversial Hotel,” Conde Nast Traveler

Silver:   Nikki Ekstein, “Caribbean Says Zika No Longer an Issue. Doctors Say Not So Fast,” Bloomberg Pursuits

Bronze: Megan Specia and Tariro Mzezewa, “Adventurous. Alone. Attacked,” The New York Times

Category 111:  Service-Oriented Consumer Work (76)

Gold:     Matt Jaffe, “Hello, Wine Country,” Los Angeles magazine

Silver:   Christopher Soloman, “Adventure Schools,” Outside

Bronze: Jeremy Tarr, Rachael Levitt, Teddy Minford, Lauren Cierzan and Jill Krueger, “Fodor’s Go List 2019,” Fodor’s Travel

Honorable Mention: Nikki Ekstein and Mark Ellwood, “Travel Hacks A to Z,” Bloomberg Pursuits

Category 112:  Environmental Tourism (53)

Gold:     Paul Kvinta, “One Scientist’s Valiant Mission to Save Two of Hawaii’s Endangered Seabirds,” Audubon magazine

Silver:   Leath Tonino, “Grand Theft Monument,” Outside

Bronze: Allison Entrekin, “Turning Tides,” Southbound

Category 113:  Cultural Tourism (112)

Gold:     Jeff MacGregor, “American Rhapsody,” Smithsonian Magazine

Silver:   Andrew Van Wey, “Keyboard Dreams: Observing a Virtual Rite of Passage in Korea,” GeoEx Wanderlust

Bronze: Leslie Oh, “What It’s Like to Break Bread in the Desert,” Saveur

Honorable Mention: Wes Eichenwald, “Where Life Is Still a Cabaret in Manhattan,” Austin American-Statesman

Category 114:  Personal Comment (89)

Gold:     Jeff MacGregor, “Taming the Lionfish,” Smithsonian Magazine

Silver:   Latria Graham, “We’re Here. You Just Don’t See Us,” Outside

Bronze: Robert Earle Howells, “The Only Way to Protect These Trees Is to Hide Them,” San Francisco Chronicle

Honorable Mention: Tyrone Beason, “A Reporter Feels the Spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Promised Land on a Mexican Mountaintop,” The Seattle Times

Category 115:  Special-Purpose Travel (94)

Gold:     Florence Williams, “The Survivors,” Outside

Silver:   Lisa Ballard, “Climbers as Humanitarians,” Appalachia journal

Bronze: Zora O’Neill, “Lesbos: A Greek Island Big Enough for Two,” BBC Travel

Honorable Mention: Christopher P. Baker, “Hidden Honshu,” BMW Motorcycle Magazine

Category 116:  Short Work on Travel (47)

Gold:     Kerri Westenberg, “Swimming With the One Percenters,” Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Silver:   Elaine Glusac, “At an Arizona Ranch, Desert Beauty With a Side of Border Politics,”

The New York Times

Bronze: Fran Golden, “The Galapagos Is Evolving With Luxury Yacht Cruises,” Bloomberg Pursuits

Honorable Mention: Damaine Vonada, “Gather ‘Round the Table,” Ohio Cooperative Living

Category 117:  Culinary-Related Travel (107)

Gold:     Lisa See, “One Perfect Cup,” National Geographic Traveler

Silver:   David Farley, “A Guest at the Feast,” National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Bronze: Naomi Tomky, “Feast by Ferry,” Hemispheres

Honorable Mention: Eliot Stein, “Vienna’s Unpredictable Vegetable Orchestra,” BBC Travel

Category 118:  Travel Book (11)

Gold:     Allison Coffelt, “Maps Are Lines We Draw: A Road Trip Through Haiti,” Lanternfish Press

Silver:   Doug Bock Clark, “The Last Whalers,” Little, Brown and Co.

Bronze: Cindy Ross, “The World Is Our Classroom: How One Family Used Nature and Travel to Shape an Extraordinary Education,” Skyhorse Publishing

Honorable Mention: Carl Hoffman, “The Last Wild Men of Borneo,” HarperCollins

Category 119:  Guidebook (17)

Gold:     Becky Lomax, “Moon USA National Parks: The Complete Guide to All 59 Parks,” Avalon Travel

Silver:   Amy Bizzarri, “The Best Hits on Route 66: 100 Essential Stops on the Mother Road,” Globe Pequot

Bronze: Caroline Eubanks, “This is My South: The Essential Travel Guide to the Southern States,” Globe Pequot

Honorable Mention: Michelle Young and Augustin Pasquet, “Secret Brooklyn,” Jonglez Publishing

Category 120:  Travel Journalism Websites (16)

Gold:, National Geographic Traveler, Christine Blau, Digital Director; George W. Stone, Editor-in-Chief

Silver:, Anne Banas, Editor

Bronze:, Julia Cosgrove, Editor-in-Chief

Honorable Mention:, Heidi Sarna and Ted Scull, editors

Category 121:  Travel Audio/Podcasts (43)

Gold:     Beth Harpaz and Warren Levinson, “Montgomery Alabama’s Lynching Memorial and Legacy Museum,” Associated Press Travel “Get Outta Here” podcast

Silver:   Mike Randolph, “Madrid’s Rastro: A Feast for the Ears,”

Bronze: Randy Sharman, “Wildlife Cruelty in Tourism,” The Informed Traveler SEG 1 (May 6/18),

770 CHQR, Calgary

Honorable Mention: Nikki Ekstein and Mark Ellwood, “Forbidden Travel and Chef Curtis Stone,”

Bloomberg Pursuits Travel Genius episode 8 (January 2019), Topher Forhecz, producer; and Francesca

Levy, podcast editorial director

Category 122:  Travel Video (25)

Gold:     Lee Cowan, Aria Shavelson, David Bhagat, Rand Morrison and Henry Bautista, “CBS Sunday Morning: Puffin Patrol,” CBS Sunday Morning

Silver:   Rebekah Barlas, Andrick Deppmeyer and Christoph Niemann, “This Artist Sketched His Way

Through Cambodia and Vietnam,” National Geographic Traveler

Bronze: Samantha Brown, “Samantha Brown’s Places to Love — Lafayette, Louisiana,”

PBS/Samantha Brown Media

Honorable Mention: Joseph Rosendo and Julie Rosendo, “Mekong River Adventure – Part 1,” Joseph Rosendo’s Travelscope

Category 123:  Travel Blogs (56)

Gold:, Caroline Eubanks

Silver:, Cory Woodard

Bronze:, Tamara Gruber

Honorable Mention:, Becky Pokora

Category 124:  Multimedia Single Work (28)

Gold:     Michael Benanav and Monika Agarwal, “The Last Dokpas of North Sikkim,” Traditional Cultures Project

Silver:   Christoph Niemann, “Along the Mekong,” an illustrated travelogue, National Geographic Traveler

Bronze: Eliot Stein, “The Last Film Poster Painter of Taiwan,” BBC Travel

Honorable Mention: Meg Lukens Noonan and Tom Garmeson, “The Rarest Fabric on Earth,” BBC Travel

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