Letter From the Editor: Check Out Our Award-Winning Journalism of 2022

The Rambler earned six awards from the Virginia Press Association for coverage in 2022.

Dear Reader:

You know that our journalism makes an impact.

Whether we’re exposing Roanoke’s superfluous Greyhound station, revealing a pro-choice resolution quietly killed by City Council or publishing today’s exclusive blockbuster on the Roanoke Star, the stories we bring to light matter to the community.

Now we can truly call some of our journalism “award-winning.”

Last week, The Rambler earned six awards from the Virginia Press Association for coverage in 2022, the first year we were eligible. We are humbled by the recognition.

This journalism would not have been possible without the support of our members. If you've been meaning to support our work, now would be a great time! You can do so at this link. If you're new to The Rambler, be sure to sign up for our free weekly newsletter.

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We're pleased to present our award-winning journalism of 2022 below, now made freely available:

We earned third place in the category of General News Writing for our series on how the Democratic-controlled Roanoke City Council advocated to roll back criminal justice reforms put in place at the state level by Democrats.

'We Got Soft on Crime': As Gun Violence Spikes, Roanoke Mayor Is Among Democrats Rethinking State Criminal Justice Reforms (Sept. 28, 2022)

Roanoke City Council Urges Virginia Lawmakers To Roll Back Criminal Justice Reforms (Nov. 29, 2022)

Confusion Clouds Roanoke City Council's Removal of No-Knock Warrant Request As It Endorses Other Police Reform Rollbacks (Dec. 6, 2022)

We also garnered a third place win in Feature Writing Portfolio for a collection of stories written by yours truly.

Sammy Oakey, president of Oakey's Funeral Home & Crematory, stands in a third-floor room in the company's Roanoke chapel. In the next room sit 80 boxes of unclaimed cremains. (He declined for them to be photographed.)

Who Is Roanoke Police Chief Sam Roman? Sometimes Even He Doesn't Know For Sure. (April 12, 2022)

For Roanoke's Forgotten Dead, City Makes Final Arrangements (May 24, 2022)

130 Years After Roanoke's First Lynching, Community Begins To Acknowledge City's Violent Past (Sept. 6, 2022)

The Rambler earned second place in the category of In-depth or Investigative Reporting for our coverage of former Roanoke City Councilman Robert Jeffrey Jr. We revealed how police bungled an investigation into Jeffrey's city-issued iPad; narrated his rise to power and fall from grace; and ran into him at Kroger, when he wasn't supposed to be.

Police, Not Roanoke Councilman, Destroyed Computer Records During Embezzlement Probe. (Feb. 23, 2022)

The Rise and Fall of Robert Jeffrey Jr. (March 23, 2022)

Debts, Civil Lawsuit and a Trip to Kroger: The Curious Case of an Ex-Councilman’s Bond Hearing (Aug. 2, 2022)

Our photography earned first-place awards, in the category of Personality or Portrait Photo for an image of the owners of Ursula's Cafe and in the category Pictorial Photo for an image of the present-day view of where an 1893 lynching took place in Roanoke. The photos below link to the stories in which they appeared.

Founders and co-presidents of Ursula's Café Ami Trowell (left) and Jordan Fallon envision the space as a donate-what-you-can cafe and community arts venue. PHOTO BY HENRI GENDREAU FOR THE ROANOKE RAMBLER
The corner of Franklin Road and Mountain Avenue as it appears in the present day. In 1893, a mob lynched Thomas Smith from a hickory tree at this intersection, riddled his body with bullets and burned his corpse on the banks of the Roanoke River. PHOTO BY HENRI GENDREAU FOR THE ROANOKE RAMBLER

And last but not least, we are thrilled to announce that contributor Jacob Steinberg earned a first-place award in the Infographic category. His post-election maps of where City Council candidates proved popular gave a fuller picture to the contentious race by tying early votes back to residents' precincts.

Thank you again for your readership and support!

Sincerely yours,

Henri Gendreau

The Roanoke Rambler
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