Today, the American Society of Journalists and Authors announced the winners of its 2019 Writing Awards. I am truly beyond grateful and humbled to share the news that I won two of the specialty awards, both of which are open to competition from every freelance writer in the United States.
I’m told that it’s the first time any writer has won these two awards in the same year, in the 71-year history of ASJA’s existence.
My 2016 book The Dog Merchants won the The Arlene Eisenberg Award for a Book That Made a Difference. Given every three years, the award is not just for reporting and writing, but also for documented impact. In my book’s case, the book has spurred new and updated legislation in several states, and is being taught on several college campuses.
About The Dog Merchants, the Arlene Award judges said: “Man’s best friend couldn’t have a better advocate than Kim Kavin. The Dog Merchants is a disturbing, definitive exploration of mass production dog breeding and selling, and Kavin braved death threats to produce it. Her book has inspired revisions in both state and federal laws, plus a host of other changes.”
(I appreciate the judges’ enthusiasm; for the record, the book inspired state-level legislation and legislative revisions; it also inspired work that led to an investigation by the federal Department of Agriculture.)
What’s most interesting is that Chapter One of The Dog Merchants is what led an industry insider to come forward and provide me with documents that became the basis for my article “Dog Fight” in The Washington Post, which won the ASJA’s Donald Robinson Prize for Investigative Journalism. The award honors outstanding writing and organization, plus previously unrevealed research.
About “Dog Fight,” the Donald Robinson Prize judges said: “This exhaustively researched article turned a powerful light on what everyone assumed was a good deed — until Kavin showed us that it isn’t. The story is an example of the very best investigative journalism.”
A lot of other great writers were named award-winners today for articles and books that span all kinds of categories and topics. Congratulations to all of my fellow winners, and I look forward to celebrating with you at the awards ceremony this May in Manhattan.
I’m so excited to share the news that three of my articles for Soundings magazine earned awards in the annual Boating Writers International competition, with the winners being announced this morning in Miami.
“ACLU Joins Boater’s Case Against Suspicionless On-Water Searches” took first place in the category of boating issues, news and analysis. I’m so happy that the judges saw the same thing in this story that I did: The tale is as much about personal freedom as it is about boating.
“Slowing Atlantic Conveyor Belt Will Bring Rising Sea Levels” earned second place in the environmental awareness and education category. This was an interesting one to report and write, because it involved talking with scientists about cutting-edge environmental research.
And last, “Lightship Ambrose was a Beacon of Hope and Promise” won a Certificate of Merit in the category of boat projects, renovations and retrofits. This is a story about a wonderful vessel that’s steeped in maritime and U.S. immigration history.
Many other talented writers took home awards today, including several at Yachting, Angler’s Journal, Soundings and Soundings Trade Only. I’m on retainer with all of those titles as an editor, and I could not be prouder of each editorial team’s showing in this year’s competition.
Congratulations to all the winners!
“Dog Fight” was the most complex article I’ve reported and written since I graduated from journalism school in 1994. It required 18 months of research; involved an endless stack of documents from a whistleblower and open-records requests; and included more than 60 interviews. I worked under the direction of the great Jeff Leen, head of investigations at The Washington Post, and received all kinds of help from The Post‘s amazing team of editors, fact-checkers, photographers, videographers, graphic artists and more.
The story marked the first time that anyone has ever documented—in dollars and cents—the multimillion-dollar river of cash that is flowing from rescue nonprofits, shelters and dog-advocacy groups through dog auctions and into the pockets of breeders who are regularly decried as “puppy mills.”
Congratulations to all my fellow contest finalists, whose work also was recognized when the DWAA gave out these awards last night in Manhattan.
Just two months after I learned that this article I wrote for Yachting won the Folio: Eddie award for best article in an enthusiast/hobby magazine, I’ve been notified that my article “Dog Fight” from the Sunday, April 15, front page of The Washington Post is a finalist for best newspaper article of the year, any topic, with the Dog Writers Association of America.
My article “It’s a War,” also for The Washington Post, was named a finalist for best newspaper article of the year, health or general care.
I’m of course humbled and grateful to receive this kind of acknowledgment, and I extend my sincere congratulations to all the other DWAA finalists.
And I must say, I’m especially excited to earn recognition for such different types of writing in a single year. The Yachting article, I’ve been told a few times, reads like a dramatic movie, with readers shouting at the pages toward the climax, hoping the main character will be able to save the lives of a family in distress. The Washington Post piece “Dog Fight,” on the other hand, is pure investigative journalism. That story has led to an ongoing federal investigation, a call on the U.S. Congress to act, and public outcry from leading dog-advocacy groups.
It’s one of my greatest pleasures as a freelance journalist to be able to report and write such a variety of pieces. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to earn a good living doing what I do, to have so many editors who support me in various genres, and to know that sometimes, my stories really do make a strong impact.