Best American Newspaper Narrative (BANN)

In an effort to foster narrative nonfiction storytelling at newspapers across America, Jim Moroney sponsors the annual Best American Newspaper Narratives writing contest conducted by the Mayborn Conference.

Our 2018 Best American Newspaper Narrative winners (representing work published in 2017) are announced below. These honorees will be published in the 2019 anthology, Best American Newspaper Narratives, Vol. 6.

  • First place – “The loneliest polar bear” – Kale Williams – The Oregonian
  • Second place – “Doomed by delay” – Patricia Callahan – Chicago Tribune
  • Third place – “Dirty John” – Christopher Goffard – Los Angeles Times
  • Runner-up – “Twelve seconds of gunfire” – John Woodrow Cox – The Washington Post
  • Runner-up – “His heart, her hands” – Tom Hallman Jr. – The Oregonian
  • Runner-up – “The last refugee” – Jenna Russell – The Boston Globe
  • Notable narrative – “Wrong way” – Lisa Gartner & Zachary T. Sampson – Tampa Bay Times
  • Notable narrative – “About a boy” – Casey Parks – The Oregonian
  • Notable narrative – “Hope for the rest of us” – Jennifer Emily – The Dallas Morning News
  • Notable narrative – “There’s nowhere to run” – Kent Babb – The Washington Post
  • Notable narrative – “The house on the corner” – Lane DeGregory – Tampa Bay Times

Congratulations to all!

Each year, we invite submissions of extraordinary long-form narrative nonfiction that were published the prior year in a daily U.S. newspaper or a U.S. newspaper website. Writers and editors may submit up to five narratives, including narratives that are part of a series. A series will count as one entry. Individuals whose work was published the prior year in a daily U.S. newspaper or a U.S. newspaper website may enter. The Best American Newspaper Narratives writing contest jurors, a pool of award-winning narrative writers and editors from around the country, will select three winners, three runners-up and four notable narratives.

  • First place winner will receive $5,000 and free registration to attend the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference July 19-21, 2019, in Grapevine, Texas
  • Second place winner will receive $2,000
  • Third place winner will receive $1,000

If the winning narrative is co-authored by more than one writer, the Mayborn will divide the award among all authors. The three winning narratives, the three runners-up and the four notable narratives will be published by the University of North Texas Press/Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism in both print and e-book form, in an anthology called the Best American Newspaper Narratives. Rights are granted nonexclusively and the newspaper retains copyright (see entry agreement/release form for additional details).

Details for the 2019 contest:

  • Entries must have been published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2018.
  • Entries must be submitted electronically via email to
  • Each emailed submission should be in Word format and be capable of printing out on 8.5X11-inch paper. Entries submitted as PDFs also must be capable of printing out on 8.5X11-inch paper. If submitted as a PDF and selected for publication in the anthology, the entrant MUST then provide the submission in Word format to facilitate the anthology's publication.
  • Type “BANN Writing Contest” in the subject line of the entry email.
  • Entries must be submitted to the contest no later than 11:59 p.m. CST Feb. 15, 2019. A complete entry includes the entry; the completed, signed entry agreement/release form; and entry fee payment.
  • Cost is $50 per entry. An online, secure portal is provided for credit card payment. The maximum number of entries is five from a daily U.S. newspaper or U.S. newspaper website. A series is considered one entry. Individuals whose work has appeared in a daily U.S. newspaper or U.S. newspaper website may also enter.
  • Entry agreement/release form per entry requires signatures of editor(s) and all authors on a story. Entrants are responsible for securing all required signatures.
  • Entrants to the BANN writing contest are not required to register for the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference but are encouraged to do so and join us!

Editors and writers are strongly encouraged to submit a short, one-page cover letter for each entry explaining the challenges involved in producing the narrative and readers’ reaction to the story after it was published.

Please download the entry agreement/release form via the button below. Entrants must read, fill out, sign and return a completed entry agreement/release form for each entry.


Jo Ann Livingston: or 214-403-5853 cell phone for contest questions

Download the application

Submit your entry fee payment