The Milwaukee Independent earned eleven top distinctions on May 12 from the Milwaukee Press Club for Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism, during the 2023 Gridiron Awards at the Pfister Hotel.
The journalism honors follow multiple years of double-digit recognition for the daily news magazine, in competition against all major media outlets in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin.
The Milwaukee Press Club (MPC) Awards are highly prestigious, and even winning a handful of them would be considered a remarkable achievement. Founded in 1885, the Milwaukee Press Club is the oldest continuously operating press club in North America.
The recognition of so many Gridiron Awards in 2023 is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the team at Milwaukee Independent. They have consistently produced high-quality journalism that highlights the important issues facing the communities of Milwaukee.
The 11 awards for Milwaukee Independent were split into 3 main categories this year, Writing, Visual Journalism, and Online. The work of 6 staff members was recognized in 8 categories, including Best Multi-Story Coverage of a Single Feature Topic, Best News Photograph, Best Use of Multimedia, Best Website Design, Best Hard Feature Story, and Reggie Jackson’s Best Column
Cinematographer and war photojournalist Sergi Mykhalchuk earned awards for excellence in visual journalism in two categories, “Best Photo Essay or Series” and “Best Feature Photograph.” Mykhalchuk’s images from Irpin that documented the early days of Russia’s brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and the aftermath when those forces were driven from the Kyiv region and Milwaukee’s sister city.
Milwaukee Independent earned a 3rd award for its coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, from its on-the-ground interviews with survivors in Bucha, Irpin, and Kyiv. The feature was produced by team members Lee Matz, Oleh Pinta, Yaroslav Zdyrko, and Halyna Salapata, from their 27-part Reports From Ukraine series.
Reporting from Ukraine was particularly noteworthy for Milwaukee Independent, because it provided valuable insight into the conflict, its impact on the Ukrainian American community in Milwaukee, and the suffering of the people of Irpin. The reporting shed light on issues that went overlooked by mainstream news outlets.
Recognition again this year by the Milwaukee Press Club shows that independent news organizations have an important role to play in American democracy.
The 2023 contest drew more than 800 entries from throughout Wisconsin in professional and collegiate categories. The competition was judged by professional journalists from press clubs throughout the United States, including statewide clubs in Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Western Pennsylvania, and Southeast Texas, and metro-area clubs in Cleveland, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco, and Syracuse.
Under the rules, news organizations could only enter work from last year in the Milwaukee Press Club’s competition. The 2023 awards reflect editorial features produced in 2022. Milwaukee Independent has earned a total of 59 awards for work since 2016. The winners selected for the 93rd Annual Gridiron Awards for Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism are:
[SLV] • BEST MULTI-STORY COVERAGE OF A SINGLE FEATURE TOPIC
Residents in Bucha and other cities wander the ruins of shattered lives after surviving Russia’s invasion
[SLV] • BEST PHOTO ESSAY OR SERIES
Images from the frontlines: Sergi Mykhalchuk gathers haunting visual evidence in aftermath of occupation
[SLV] • BEST NEWS PHOTOGRAPH
Juneteenth 2022: Milwaukee commemorates Federal holiday for Emancipation with 51st annual parade
[SLV] • BEST NEWS PHOTOGRAPH
Mahsa Amini: Milwaukee’s Iranian community holds vigil for woman who died in police custody in Iran
[SLV] • BEST FEATURE PHOTOGRAPH
Images from the frontlines: Sergi Mykhalchuk photographs the people of Kyiv living daily with war
[SLV] • BEST USE OF MULTIMEDIA
Sister Norma Pimentel: An impromptu chat with the “Pope’s favorite nun” during a drive to the border
[BRZ] • BEST USE OF MULTIMEDIA
A historic reemergence: America’s Black Holocaust Museum welcomes visitors for first time since 2008
[SLV] • BEST HARD FEATURE STORY
An injustice ends after 38 years: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue finally extends into Downtown Milwaukee
[BRZ] • BEST HARD FEATURE STORY
A Gallery of Heroes: War Memorial Center opens Wisconsin’s first Medal of Honor exhibit