Soapbox recognized for excellence in journalism from Cincinnati SPJ and Press Club of Cleveland

Last Thursday, June 23 at the 2022 Excellence in Journalism awards presented by Society of Professional Journalists Greater Cincinnati Pro Chapter, three Soapbox Cincinnati team members were recognized for written communication in four categories. Additionally, Soapbox was honored at the Press Club of Cleveland’s 2022 All Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards ceremony earlier this month.

Overall, Soapbox was honored in a total of six categories from the two different organizations. To be recognized with these prestigious honors speaks volumes for how the quality of the work is viewed among peers.

Regular contributor and NKY thrives managing editor, David Holthaus was honored to receive the Greater Cincinnati Chapter’s Camilla Warrick Award, which goes to journalists “who use their professional role to make a difference in the community.” Holthaus received the special award for 2021 stories from the Case for Cities series plus other urban issues reporting.

He also received the Best of Show for Best Overall Freelance Reporting with a submitted portfolio that included Case for Cities, plus features on West End in transition, Ohio River Trail, City Heights, and the group Spring in Our Steps. The Best Overall Freelance Reporting also recognizes his work in a Cincinnati Magazine story on gambling expansion in Cincinnati. In the COVID Pandemic reporting category, Holthaus was a finalist with a story from the “How Cincinnatians responded to COVID-19” series.

[Cursor down to the end of this story for award-winning story links.]

The Press Club of Cleveland recognized Holthaus as Best in Ohio: Freelance Writer. Comments about this category are “These freelance writers are providing solid coverage to a level most often seen by dedicated staff reporters. Their publishers are fortunate to have such able journalists at hand.” 

The judges commented on the submitted body of work which included Soapbox and Cincinnati Magazine: “Cincinnati Magazine, Soapbox Media housing and real estate development is in focus for this array of reports. Heavy detailing helps provide context for understanding projects whose local impact can be profound. Good work.”

Contributing writer Bob Sandrick covered challenging topics that continue at the top of the headlines today in the strategic grant initiative “to improve the civics knowledge of Ohio adults” in year three of the Ohio Civics Essential series. Sandrick was recognized for stories covering justice reform; alternative dispute resolution; data collection; second chance and the electoral college.

He earned second place for Analysis, a category competition that “displays fine examples of work diving deep into important topics. They demonstrate commitments to providing service for their communities.” The judges commented “This collection of reports analyzes such vital issues as justice reform and the electoral college. Details from numerous sources help deliver solid work that informs the public.”

Sandrick’s work for the Ohio Civic Essentials series was additionally recognized by the Greater Cincinnati Pro Chapter in the Written Communication awards for Government and Community Issues Reporting.

Former managing editor Jessica Esemplare was a Greater Cincinnati Chapter finalist for her story “Critical Race Theory: Why Race Isn’t Theoretical”.

Soapbox Cincinnati is honored to be recognized by the judges from both the Press Club of Cleveland and Greater Cincinnati Chapter Excellence in Journalism competitions. Congratulations to David Holthaus, Bob Sandrick, and Jessica Esemplare for their good work.

Issue Media Group's Ohio publications are grateful for the ongoing support received from our readers and our underwriters. It keeps us motivated to produce stories using solutions journalism and narrative storytelling to connect people to place.

Follow the links below to read the award-winning stories and series:


Case for Cities

Ohio Civics Essential


Critical Race Theory is not, in fact, theoretical
A neighborhood in transition: What will happen to housing in the West End?
The Ohio River Recreation Trail promotes geotourism and economies in river cities in three states
As an era in public housing nears an end, what's next for City Heights?
They work to bring neighborhoods back, a step at a time

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Read more articles by Patrice Watson.

Patrice Watson is publisher of Soapbox Cincinnati and Hub Springfield. Follow her on Twitter @patricewatson10.