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.

Meet 2023 Judge Stuart Rosebrook | Guidelines | Rubric | Past DOWNING Award Winners

Women Writing the West is pleased to present the Finalists in The DOWNING Journalism Award.
The Winner and Finalists placing will be announced at the 2023 Virtual Conference on October 13, 2023.

Kathryn Wilder for “Ode to the Rain” published by The Gulch.

Deanna Dickinson McCall for “Rolling With the Punches” published in The Range.

Micki Fuhrman for “Pioneering Women Who Filmed the West” published in Western Writers of America Roundup Magazine.

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

Kayann Short
Corrine Joy Brown
Carolyn Dufurrena


2023 DOWNING Journalism Award Judge

Stuart Rosebrook, Ph.D. is editor of True West magazine. A professional historian, writer, editor and public speaker, he has been part of the True West editorial team since 2013. He has over 35 years of experience in the media industry, including television production, television news, nonprofits, magazine and book publishing. With his late-father Jeb Rosebrook, he is the author of Junior Bonner: The Making of a Classic with Steve McQueen and Sam Peckinpah in the Summer of 1971 and the author of At Work in Arizona: The First 100 Years. Additionally, he is very active in Arizona’s history community, serving as a board member for Prescott’s Western Heritage Center, Sharlot Hall Museum, Arizona History Convention and Coordinating Committee for History in Arizona.
He is married to Julie E. Rosebrook, Ph.D., and father of two children. They live in Prescott, Arizona.

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 Downing, founding member of WWW

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, 2023
* 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 2022.
* 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:

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

View The DOWNING Journalism Award Rubrics Here

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

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


Second Place:
Gayle Gresham for “Heart of the Pueblo Chile”

Colorado Country Life

Third Place:
Jan Cleere for “Sharlot Hall Told the Region’s Stories as Writer, Historian”
Arizona Daily Star

The DOWNING Journalism Award Winner and Finalists 2019

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