The DOWNING Journalism Award
Rewarding Journalism Excellence
A recent addition to the roster of prestigious awards offered by Women Writing the West, The DOWNING Journalism Award, recognizes journalism and articles first published in the year prior to the entry period. The inaugural year of 2018 brought substantial submissions, and WWW looks forward to honoring future recipients of this significant award.
Women Writing the West is pleased to present the Winner and Finalists for The 2023 DOWNING Journalism Award.
Deanna Dickinson McCall for “Rolling With the Punches” published in The Range.
Kathryn Wilder for “Ode to the Rain” published by The Gulch.
Micki Fuhrman for “Pioneering Women Who Filmed the West” published in Western Writers of America Roundup Magazine.
Introducing the 2024 DOWNING Journalism Award Judge
Mona Neeley recently retired as publisher and editor of Colorado Country Life magazine, which annually devoted its November issue to reviews of books authored by Colorado authors.
Originally from Iowa, Mona graduated from the University of Minnesota Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She started her career as a reporter for several local, award-winning Minnesota newspapers eventually becoming a newspaper editor. A career move by her husband brought her to Colorado in the early 1990s where she went to work for Colorado’s electric cooperatives in 1994 overseeing the co-ops’ magazine, Colorado Country Life. In 1997, Mona published the magazine’s first book review issue featuring eight books by Colorado authors. Having always loved to read, it was her way of getting to read some great books as part of her job.
And now she has more time to read, since she retired as publisher and editor of Colorado Country Life in March, after nearly 29 years leading the magazine.
In 26 years of finding good books by Colorado authors or on Colorado topics to recommend to magazine readers each November, Mona has read hundreds of amazing books, learned so much about her adopted state and come to eagerly anticipate new books from WWW members.
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 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 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, 2024
* Entry fee is $25.00.
* Eligible entry topics include farming and ranching, gardening, environmental, geology. animal husbandry, family issues, local and history topics as well as Native American issues and education.
* 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 2023.
* Article must be at least 750 words and no more than 5,000 words.
* Winner receives a trophy, Finalists receive a certificate. Publishers also receive a certificate.
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 three tear sheets or photocopies of said article (must include publication date) to be mailed to:
The DOWNING JOURNALISM AWARD Submission
C/O Linda Wommack
4284 W. Monmouth Ave.
Littleton, CO 80123
For more information, contact The DOWNING Journalism Award Chair, Linda Wommack at LWomm3258@aol.com or phone 303-798-4470
Congratulations to 2022 The DOWNING Journalism Award Winner and Finalists
It is my honor to announce the DOWNING Journalism Award Winner and Finalists.
This year’s winner is Kayann Short for “In the Land of the Sky Blue Weather”
Finalists are Corinne Joy Brown for “Architectural Gems” and
Carolyn Dufurrena for “Sisters in Fire”
This year’s judge, Johnny D. Boggs, determined the placements based on the DOWNING rubric and these were announced at the Women Writing the West conference in Oklahoma City in October.
As always, it was a wonderful group of writers who made this year’s contest a success.
Linda Wommack, DOWNING Journalism Award Chair
The DOWNING Journalism Award for 2021
“Wild Women of the West: Jenny Murphy” by Chris Enss
“Living Space” by Susan Tweit.
“Ripple Effect: Will the West Figure Out How to Share Water?” by Sofia Jeremias
The DOWNING Journalism Award for 2020.
The 2020 DOWNING Journalism Award winner is
Roni McFadden for “The Case of the Confounding Cough“
Gayle Gresham for “Heart of the Pueblo Chile”
Colorado Country Life
Jan Cleere for “Sharlot Hall Told the Region’s Stories as Writer, Historian”
Arizona Daily Star
The DOWNING Journalism Award Winner and Finalists for 2019
WINNER: Julia Bricklin for “Georgia Ann Hill Robinson” published in California History periodical
FINALIST: Jan Cleere for “Hopi Girl” published in the Arizona Daily Star newspaper
FINALIST: Amy Hale Auker for “Work Song” published in The Center for Basque Studies periodical