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Arkansas Business Takes National Awards

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Senior Editor Mark Friedman won a second straight gold prize for best body of reporting work June 21 at the annual awards dinner of the Alliance of Area Business Publishers in Baton Rouge.

Friedman won the top prize for his body of work in 2023 and took the same award last year for work in 2022. He also shared a gold prize for explanatory reporting last week with former Arkansas Business reporter Lara Farrar; the package they produced, “Mothers and Babies at Risk,” delved into Arkansas’ poor ratings for maternal and infant mortality.

Farrar also took a silver prize in investigative reporting for a package on the state’s vulnerable levee system.

The awards to Arkansas Business Publishing Group’s flagship weekly came in the medium tabloid division of the yearly awards for excellence in the AABP. The alliance is, a national group of 57 publications in North America with a combined circulation of 1.2 million. Arkansas Business won the group’s best newspaper prize in its division last year.

ABPG of Little Rock took another top prize in Baton Rouge, where “Greenhead,” its annual duck hunting title, won best ancillary magazine in the medium publications division.

“Greenhead” has won that top award for at least seven years in a row.

The award program’s judges, from the University of Missouri journalism faculty, offered high praise for Friedman’s “dogged” reporting on health care.

“Many news outlets flocked to cover the embarrassing downfall of the chair of the state Medical Board, but only one reporter was able to uncover the actual testimony given before a little-known state agency,” the judges’ remarks said. “And strong sourcing led to a scoop on how Arkansas isn’t monitoring the quality and availability of maternity care, despite the state ranking at the bottom in maternal deaths. All these stories have strong data scaffolding wrapped with precise writing.”

The judges said Farrar’s levees article “does what great watchdog reporting should do — holds officials accountable for promises and highly publicized plans.” They noted that a state task force’s recommendations for important levee improvements led to little real action, leaving Arkansans at serious risk of river flooding.

The triumph of “Greenhead” drew praise for Chris Bahn, the magazine’s former publisher; Brent Birch, its editor; Todd Traub, its former managing editor; Assistant Editor Addison Freeman and Art Director Dean Wheeler.

“With story topics ranging from conservation to gear, recipe suggestions to artist profiles, the reader gets a comprehensive view of the subject and the area,” the judges wrote. “Engrossing visuals and design pair with clever storytelling and headlines. The design style stands out as having a clear point of view, with strong department styling and playful features.”

Best newspaper awards went to the San Fernando Valley Business Journal for small tabloids, Providence Business News  for medium tabloids, and Crain’s Chicago Business for large tabloids.


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