Alek Haak-Frost named finalist for 2023 LION Local Journalism Award

Deborah and Alek Haak-Frost pose with the 2022 Public Service Award (micro revenue tier) at the 2022 LION Local Journalism Awards in Austin, Texas. Alek won the Public Service Award and Outstanding Coverage Award in 2022, and is a finalist for the Public Service Award again in 2023.

Watershed Voice Executive Editor and Publisher Alek Haak-Frost has been named a finalist for LION Publishers’ 2023 LION Local Journalism Awards in the Public Service category. The LION Awards recognize excellence by local independent online news businesses in award categories focused on LION’s pillars of sustainability –– journalistic impact, financial health, and operational resilience. 

In 2022, Haak-Frost won the Public Service Award and Outstanding Coverage Award at the LION Local Journalism Awards in Austin, Texas. This year he is a finalist for the Public Service Award in the micro revenue tier for his story on the benefits and drawbacks of teletherapy.

The Public Service Award recognizes a LION member that achieved general excellence in journalistic impact by successfully connecting people with the information and services they need to navigate their lives and help make their communities more inclusive and equitable. Judges will consider evidence of impactful people-centered journalism alongside a clear demonstration of working in an equitable and inclusive, collaborative and systemic-thinking way. 

Here is how the Public Service Award finalists in the Micro Revenue Tier stack up this year:

Micro Revenue Tier

Less than $50,000 in annual revenue

The Coronado News

A five-part Coronado News series ​​brought new attention to a nearly century-old sewage problem and public health crisis that not only affects the affluent community of Coronado, California but also the impoverished cities of Imperial Beach, California and Tijuana, Mexico. The Coronado News’ reporting resulted in Imperial Beach and Coronado working together along with other public officials to try to get the attention of the White House to expedite funding and to finally fix a problem that has existed since the Great Depression. 

State Affairs

For their 2022 election coverage, State Affairs assembled an Election Team of 10 distinctly different Georgians to share their experiences with reporters. Reporters called “E- team” members every Tuesday in the month leading up to the November election. Reporters asked about an “issue of the week,” based on recent polling: inflation, preserving democracy, abortion rights/health care and crime. Through a series of nine stories, reporters learned more about how people across the state were thinking and feeling about the election beyond the sound bites and traditional headlines — shared those insights with State Affairs readers.

Watershed Voice

Watershed Voice examined the benefits and drawbacks of teletherapy, which is more common than ever after the COVID-19 pandemic practically made its use a necessity. Watershed Voice reporters spoke with individuals with different experiences addressing mental health with the help of technology to find out what works and what doesn’t. The story was part of the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative’s Mental Wellness Project, a solutions-oriented journalism initiative covering mental health issues in Southwest Michigan.

The 2023 LION Awards received nearly 300 entries in 10 distinct award categories and 99 entries have been recognized as finalists. Winners will be announced during the LION Awards Ceremony and Dinner on October 3, 2023, in Durham, North Carolina. LION will distribute at least $55,000 in cash prizes to award winners, with each winning entry receiving at least $1,000.