Let's pause for a moment to recognize and celebrate the eye-popping talent of our Mercury writers... many of whom snagged awards this year for excellence in journalism and culture writing from the Oregon chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for stories published in the Mercury and elsewhere! Let's check 'em out:

Hard News category (second place): Former Mercury news reporter Isabella Garcia for her February 2022 feature, "Pumping the Brakes: How Can Portland Slow Its Rising Traffic Fatality Rate?" Isabella dug deep into the numbers, reporting on a startling rise (30 percent) in traffic-related deaths, and what the city is doing to slow down speeding drivers.

Review category (first place): Mercury Arts & Culture editor Suzette Smith for her March 2022 food review "Astral PDX's Han Oak Pop-up Is a "Fucked-up Good" Exploration of Mexican Cuisine." Suzette's smart and drool-worthy description of Astral PDX's five course prix fixe meal was a delight for all the senses.

Education reporting category (second place): Mercury News Editor Courtney Vaughn's (during her tenure with Pamplin Media) article "Teachers Say Special Education Is in Crisis." Special education teachers are understaffed and underpaid to the point where a crisis is imminent, and Courtney's deep dive into the situation was illuminating.

Review category (second place): Mercury Arts & Culture editor Suzette Smith for her September 2022 performance review "Four Hilarious Things That Happened at Takahiro Yamamoto’s NOTHINGBEING." Suzette offered a fun and intelligent description of TBA's thought-provoking NOTHINGBEING, a performance filled with amazing visuals, occasional hilarity, as well as... something kinda scary?

LGBTQ+ equity reporting category (first place): Mercury/EverOut Editor Janey Wong for her December 2022 piece for Eater PDX titled "This Nonprofit Provides Free Meal Deliveries to Portlanders Having Gender-Affirming Surgery." Janey reported on local nonprofit Meals On Us and their program Trans Meal Train, which delivers meals to folks post-surgery when their mobility is limited, while also highlighting the organization's necessary work and the people it helps. Check out Janey's excellent work every day at Eater and the Mercury's EverOut!

Plus it goes without saying (but since I'm here, I'll say it anyway), I'm super proud of all our Mercury staffers and freelancers, who I think are the most thoughtful, smart, and funny writers in the city! Help us keep all these great people employed and working for you every day by making a small contribution to the Mercury. Don't forget: Your contributions go directly to paying our editorial staff and nowhere else! PLEASE AND THANK YOU! ❤️