First place: Michael Smith, Spartanburg Herald Journal

About this entry: Michael Smith’s editorials cover a range of local and national issues, from a lack of answers a family has as to how a young man was shot and killed by police officers to the tragic events of the church shooting in Charleston.

Read online: Spartanburg senators cast the only no votes against domestic violence reform, Waiting too long for answers

Follow The Herald Journal on Twitter @GoUpstate

Michael Smith’s editorials cast clear moral purpose in strong language. His editorial about the Charleston church shooting was particularly notable. It was hardly the only one on the topic among the entries in this category, but it was both the best and most courageous, given that he was writing for an audience for whom the issues were local and visceral.

Second place: Barbara Carmen, The Columbus Dispatch

About this entry: “Barbara Carmen brings a persuasive and clear voice to the Dispatch editorial page, helping readers to understand complex issues and adding perspective and context to current events. This is a page that is widely read, given central Ohio’s well-educated population, and it carries great weight at the Statehouse, which sits across the street from the newspaper. Carmen brings 30 years of beat-reporting experience and a hometown-knowledge of her community to her writing.”

Read online: Buckeyes paid their dues, Cheap energy is a welcome relief, Upside-down development, Tidy probe, tidy result

Barbara Carmen was a close second in a strong class of entries. She has a unique and recognizable voice and an ability to put complex issues into easily understandable context.

Third place: Edward C. Achorn, The Providence Journal

About this entry: “Edward C. Achorn is a vice president and the editorial pages editor for the Providence Journal. In that capacity, Ed manages the company’s opinion pages that in 2015 drew 2.7 million page views to He is also a powerful voice for the citizens and for the general betterment of Rhode Island. The editorials submitted for your consideration are three of his best.” — Peter Phipps, managing editor – new media

Check it out: Providence Journal Opinion

Follow The Providence Journal on Twitter @projo

Edward Achorn’s editorials make sure the powers that be in Rhode Island can’t sweep uncomfortable truths under the rug. He wouldn’t let a former mayor pretend his felonious past was a joke, and he wouldn’t let state school officials absolve themselves of responsibility for poor test scores. That kind of writing serves the community well by focusing the public’s attention where it needs to be.