Zimmerman's award marks the fourth time in five years that the Observer has received a coveted Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Award, administered by one of the nation's most respected journalism schools. Last year, the contest honored the Observer for general excellence among newspapers of its size.
This year, five Observer writers in addition to Zimmerman were finalists for prizes. The contest results were announced last week.
Zimmerman, an Observer staff writer since 1990, won the Paul L. Myhre Award for the best single story for "Games grown-ups play," which was published on February 1, 1996. The story examined turmoil within Dallas-area youth soccer leagues, explaining how bickering among parents had spawned a nasty power struggle in the children's sport. Contest judges called Zimmerman's story "excellent work," saying it "used investigative reporting techniques and narrative storytelling to illuminate a topic."
Zimmerman's work was chosen over finalists from the Washington Post Magazine, The Miami Herald, the San Jose Mercury News, and several other newspapers for the award, which carries a $1,000 prize.
The Observer's other finalists in the contest were:
Mary Brown Malouf, finalist for the Myhre award, for her story "Soul Power," which explored the musings of the Dallas Institute of Humanities;
Matt Zoller Seitz, finalist in arts and entertainment writing, for "Slouching toward Hollywood," a story following the efforts of the four young Dallas men who wrote, directed, and starred in the independent film Bottle Rocket;
Mark Donald, finalist in arts and entertainment writing, for "Suspense! Intrigue! Betrayal!," a look at the politics besetting the Granbury Opera House;
Kaylois Henry, finalist in food and nutrition writing, for "Clara's last supper," a profile of Clara Miles, Dallas' aging soul food queen; and
Laura Miller, finalist in multicultural journalism, for "The truth about Townview," an examination of the racial politics that crippled the opening of Townview high school.
In another national contest, staff writer Kaylois Henry received a second-place award for feature writing from the National Association of Black Journalists. Henry earned the honor for her June 20, 1996, cover story, "Bishop Jakes is ready, are you?" Henry was the first writer in the area to profile Bishop T.D. Jakes, who has become one of the nation's most influential preachers. Jakes is pastor of The Potter's House church in southwest Dallas.