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Detroit News staffers won nearly 50 honors Wednesday night during the Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual awards dinner, including its highest honor for the second consecutive year.

Robert Snell earned the 2017 Journalist of the Year title during the Excellence in Journalism Awards held at the San Marino Club in Troy.

The multimedia reporter covering federal courts and enterprise received a nearly perfect score from the board of veteran journalists outside Metro Detroit that judged this year’s competition. They cited his coverage that “ranged from consistently revealing new details of a federal investigation into a joint training center between the United Auto Workers union and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to uncovering the government’s usage of a counterterrorism tracking device to hunt undocumented immigrants amid the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown,” SPJ officials said.

Snell previously notched the accolade in 2014 for his coverage of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick as well as the city’s bankruptcy.

“Robert Snell is the type of dogged reporter that we need more of in our industry,” Michael Wayland, SPJ Detroit chapter president and reporter for Automotive News reporter, said in a statement. “I’ve had the privilege of working alongside him and know he is not only one of the best writers and reporters in Detroit, but in the country.”

His win followed News Staff Writer Karen Bouffard and former staffer Joel Kurth sharing the 2016 Journalist of the Year honor.

The News won in other categories during the SPJ banquet Wednesday night, including the staff taking first-place in Spot or Breaking News for covering the death of mogul Mike Ilitch, Little Caesars founder and owner of the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings.

Others earning first-place honors were Christine MacDonald in Consumer/Watchdog Reporting for “Persistent evictions threaten Detroit neighborhoods;” Jonathan Wolman, Nolan Finley, Ingrid Jacques and Kaitlyn Buss in Editorial Writing; Kim Kozlowski in Personality Profile for “The Rise and Fall of Larry Nassar”; and former reporter Stephanie Steinberg and Shawn D. Lewis in Explanatory Story for “Detroit 1967.”

Also ranking at the top in their categories were designers Antone Amye and Julie Altesleben in Feature Page Design and Sports Page Design, respectively; Snell, Melissa Burden, Daniel Howes and Ian Thibodeau in Investigative Reporting for “UAW scandal”; copy editor Steve Wilkinson in Headline Writing, including “Detroit the place to bee / As human population shrinks, another is buzzing”; Matt Charboneau in Sports Reporting for “It’s one year later, but it isn’t any easier”; photographer Robin Buckson in Sports Photography for “Dreams crushed, dreams realized”; and photographer Daniel Mears in Feature Photography for “Interactive art.”

First place wins also went to Bouffard and MacDonald in Localization of a National Story for “Detroit’s lead poisoning rates top Flint’s”; Clarence Tabb Jr. in News Photography for “Travel ban protest”; designer Diana Thomas McNary in Magazine Spread Design for “Down on the Farm”; Henry Payne in Car Review; and former reporter Michael Gerstein in Open Government for “Police: Bottled water being taken from Flint.

Among the nearly 240 honors handed out Wednesday were Lifetime Achievement Awards for Walter Middlebrook, a former News assistant managing editor, and Rochelle Riley, a Detroit Free Press columnist. Hasan Dudar of the Detroit Free Press was named Young Journalist of the Year.

“Our annual Excellence in Journalism banquet is a celebration of the greatest writing and reporting by Detroit area journalists, and this year’s finalists produced some of the best the industry has to offer,” Wayland said.

Others News SPJ awards

Consumer/Watchdog Reporting: Second place, Louis Aguilar, “Arena fines slam lag in Detroit hires

Editorial Writing: Second and third place, Jonathan Wolman, Nolan Finley, Ingrid Jacques, Kaitlyn Buss.

Explanatory Story: Third place, George Hunter, “Coping with crime.”

Feature Page Design: Second place, Jean Johnson; third place, Diana Thomas McNary.

Cover Design: Second place, Antone Amye

Feature Photography: Second place, Daniel Mears, “Hanging with the guys;” Third place, Todd McInturf, “Foot race.”

General Column: Second place, Nolan Finley; third place, Ingrid Jacques.

General News: Second place, Christine Ferretti, Mike Martindale, Robert Snell, “Half of Detroit mayor hopefuls are felons”; third place, Robert Snell, “Inside Victory Inn raid.”

Headline Writing: Second place, Andreas Supanich; third place, Keith Roberts.

Investigative Reporting: Second place, George Hunter, “Death of Chris Cornell.”

Localization of a National Story: Second place, Karen Bouffard, “Quarter of Michigan counties see rise in opiods.”

News Photography: Second place, David Guralnick, “Spilled stones.”

Open Government: Second place, Jonathan Oosting, “Calley’s part-time legislature bid taps ‘dark money.’

Page One Design: Second place, Antone Amye.

Magazine Spread Design: Second place, Diana Thomas McNary.

Personality Profile: Second place, Melissa Nann Burke, “Vietnam medic to be honored for ‘worst 48 hours;” third place, Francis X. Donnelly, “Goodbye, Mr. I.”

Sports Column: Second place, Bob Wojnowski; third place, John Niyo.

Sports Photography: Second place, Daniel Mears, “Warp speed;” third place, David Guralnick, “True grit.”

Sports Reporting: Second place, Angelique Chengelis, “Handling of Speight injury riles father;” third place, Tony Paul, “Florida woman hits Cabrera with child-support suit.”

Spot or Breaking News: Second place, The Detroit News staff, John Conyers’ resignation.

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