First Things

Something to Crow About

Encore stories, photos win MPA awards

Encore was the recipient of several awards in the Michigan Press Association’s 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, including four first-place honors. The contest recognizes quality journalism by media across the state. As a monthly magazine, Encore competes in the Class D category for weekly news media.

In the Feature Story category, writer Chris Killian took home first place for “The Father of Legal Pot,” which explored Martin Chilcutt’s lifelong effort to legalize marijuana. It was published in the February 2020 issue. Kara Norman earned third-place honors for her piece “‘We’re Still Here,’” which looked at Kalamazoo’s indigenous roots. It was published in November 2019.
Photographer Brian K. Powers’ poignant “Porch Portraits” of families during the Covid-19 lockdown in the spring of 2020 nabbed first place in the Photo Story category. It was featured in Encore’s May 2020 issue.

The Homefront: Confronting Kalamazoo’s Homelessness Crisis, a deep-dive, solutions-oriented journalistic collaboration of Encore and Now Kalamazoo, won several top awards as well. With reporting by Ben Lando, Chris Killian and Miranda Drake, The Homefront won first place in the Special Section category, first place for News Enterprise Reporting, and third place for Government and Education Reporting. The Homefront even did well competing with the state’s major media, including the Detroit Free Press and MLive, snagging an honorable mention in the Public Service Award Open Class. Lando was the lead editor and publisher on the project, with Encore providing photography, design, editing and production as well as initially hosting the content on (it can also be found at

The Michigan Press Association has 320 members, including print and digital media outlets across the state. The 2020 Better Newspaper Contest recognized work published between August 2019 and July 2020. You can find Encore’s winning stories at .