The DOWNING Journalism Award

Rewarding Journalism Excellence

This new Award will be presented in 2019,
honoring articles and journalism first published in 2018

The entry period for the DOWNING Journalism Award closed on March 31. 2019.
Watch for the announcement of winners during the 25th Annual Conference, October 10 - 13


In keeping with the rich history of Women Writing the West, the DOWNING Journalism Award is presented in honor of the late Sybil Downing, a noted journalist and author in Boulder, Colorado, who was also a founding member of Women Writing the West. 

Sybil DowningSybil Smith Downing graduated as valedictorian of her high school class in 1947. She and her husband, Mancort Downing, moved to Boulder in 1967 where she became active in community affairs, including her local school board. Downing took advantage of “mini classes” at the University of Colorado University there and received her bachelor’s degree in 1976.

Sybil Downing was the great-granddaughter of U.S. Sen. Thomas Patterson, a one-time owner of the Rocky Mountain News. Consequently, she became a prolific writer for the Rocky Mountain News, focusing her articles about women. She also reviewed books for that paper and later for The Denver Post.

For several years Sybil Downing chaired the Colorado Center for the Book and was dedicated to improving literacy, a cause she was devoted to until her death on November 20, 2011.

When Women Writing the West was formed in 1994, Sybil Downing served as its first president. It is therefore fitting that this new journalism award be named in her honor to further the legacy of Women Writing the West.

We believe that through a working relationship with the various editors of the media WWW will be able to gain added exposure, a new venue in networking, and partnerships that will benefit all. For example, the print media will be able to tout their winning article while WWW gains a new audience and prestigious coverage.

Guidelines for the DOWNING Journalism Award

Magazine or Journal Article – Entries must be a western-themed nonfiction article or essay published in a commercial or literary North American publication.

* Entries must be received January 1 – March 31, 2019
* Entry fee is $25.00.
* Eligible entry topics include farming and ranching, environmental, local and history issues and animal husbandry.
* Entries are open to all, and not limited to WWW members.
* Professional media editors from newspapers, magazines, history journals, etc. not affiliated with WWW will select the Winner and two Finalists.
* Publication date must be 2018.
* Article must be at least 1,000 words and no more than 3,000 words.
* Winner receives a trophy, finalists receive a certificate. Publishers receive a certificate designed by Jenny Hancey, Hancey Design.

Entry form and payment will be available online during the entry period. Entry must contain one complete copy of media publication from newspaper or magazine that contains article, as well as two tear sheets or photocopies of said article (must include publication date) to be mailed to:

C/O Linda Wommack
4284 W. Monmouth Ave.
Littleton, CO 80123


View the DOWNING Journalism Award Rubrics Here

For more information, contact DOWNING Journalism Award Chair, Linda Wommack at or phone 303-798-4470