Awards & Recognition

Society for Advanced Business Editing and Writing — Winner, 2020 Best in Business Award – Health/Science (Small Division), for “What does a vertical farm taste like?”

The judges are awarding this entrant the winner designation for her wonderful coverage of the growing vertical farm industry. What could have easily devolved into a regurgitation of PR talking points instead was a thoroughly reported and critical look into how the farms work, what they promise to change in the food industry and whether they deliver. The writing was excellent and gripping at times. The quotes added wonderful color. The research led to well-supported conclusions.

North American Agricultural Journalists Writing AwardsHonorable Mention, Technical Category, for “What does a vertical farm taste like?”

Building a story around an unknowable answer is daring. In this case, the dare pays off. The story is a thoroughly intriguing examination of the technology that makes indoor, vertical farming possible, as well as an exploration of whether marketing claims regarding flavor and taste could be true. The well-organized narrative explores the topic through multiple sources across a wide range of expertise, from growers and investors to academic researchers and NASA. Clear writing. Excellent story arc from opening paragraphs to a fitting conclusion.

The Newswomen’s Club of New York — Winner, 2020 Front Page Award for Special Reporting on the Environment, for “The misbegotten promise of anaerobic digesters

Jessica McKenzie dug deep into a messy story about why using anaerobic digesters to convert animal waste into renewable energy doesn’t do much to reduce greenhouse emissions and may actually create more problems, notwithstanding millions of dollars of government funding. Good reporting draws in experts but great reporting also draws in those with little expertise who then go on to share it with others, as the judges did with Ms.McKenzie’s winning story.


Stop & Shop now has big, goofy-looking robots patrolling its aisles. What, exactly, is the goal?” was one of the most-read, most-shared stories published by The Counter in 2019.

Love it or hate it, some of the best stories start as conversations on Twitter. When contributor Jessica McKenzie first encountered “Marty” patrolling the aisles of her local Stop & Shop, she took to Twitter to ask why, exactly, the store was sending cartoonish robots out to roam the grocery aisles. We thought that was a good question indeed, so we assigned her to go out and ask the tough questions. After learning some choice tidbits⁠—like that these robots were implemented at a cost of $35,000 each, right after a big labor strike⁠—McKenzie came back with a lively, thoughtful piece exploring retail surveillance, labor, and automation, some of the hottest-button issues of our times. And clearly it struck a nerve: A story that went from Twitter to publication within a week ended up being read and shared hundreds of thousands of times.