National Geographic Traveler, Outside Magazine Top List of SATW Foundation Lowell Thomas Contest Awards

National Geographic Traveler and Outside magazines, the New York Times and Los Angeles Times are the top winners in the 2012 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition.

The Washington Post, Portland Oregonian and Afar magazine win awards as the best travel publications in North America.

Newspaper writer and columnist Jill Schensul is the 2012 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year for her work in The Record in northern New Jersey. “In a series of adventures, she chooses colorful words and just the right phrasing to hold us captive. Jill Schensul proves that she’s a professional storyteller,” judges said.

This is the 28th year of the Lowell Thomas competition, overseen by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation ( The awards, recognized as the most prestigious in travel journalism, were announced in Indianapolis at the annual conference of the Society of American Travel Writers (, the premier professional organization of travel journalists and communicators.

The competition, for work from spring 2011 to spring 2012, drew 1,163 entries. Judges were the faculty at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

National Geographic Traveler tops the winner’s list with seven awards, including gold for its website and for commentary by Andrew McCarthy, actor and writer who was Travel Journalist of the Year in 2010.

Outside magazine wins four awards, three of them gold for articles on U.S./Canada travel, foreign travel and environmental tourism.

The New York Times wins four awards, the Los Angeles Times three. Winning two awards are Southern Living, the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Associated Press, USA Today and The Record.

“Inviting the reader to engage in the splendor was a key component to many of the entries,” said Terence Oliver, a judge and faculty member at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “Page after page, the reader is taken on an adventure. There were so many powerfully compelling entries that instantly captured the essence of the destination.”

In the first year of Lowell Thomas awards for best apps, the gold goes to Peter Landau for “Travel by Handstand (HST)” for the iPad; silver to George Steinmetz, “Above & Beyond” for iPad; and bronze to National Geographic Traveler, “50 Places of a Lifetime” for iPad.

Gold for best travel blog goes to Kara Williams, Jennifer Miner and Beth Blair of Silver goes to the National Geographic Traveler Digital Team for Intelligent Travel ( and bronze to Scott Tharler for Fodor’s Travel Tech blog (

Other top magazine and newspaper website winners, for their publications, writers and photographers, are Midwest Living, Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel, Westways, Islands, Western Horseman, Overnight Buses Travel Magazine for the iPad, The Affluent Traveler, The Globe and Mail (Toronto), West of the City (Ontario), Wired, Detroit Free Press, Miami Herald, Miller-McCune, Departures, Via, Swarthmore College Bulletin, AOLTravel/Huffington Post, and Gadling.

Best travel video winner is “Richard Bangs’ Adventures With Purpose — Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong: Quest for Harmony,” as seen on American Public Television. Best Travel Broadcast goes to Rudy Maxa, “Rudy Maxa’s World,” a syndicated radio travel show.

Winning best travel book is “Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves: Culinary Adventures in the Dordogne,” by Kimberley Lovato, Running Press. Gold winner for guidebook is “The Great American Ale Trail,” by Christian DeBenedetti, Running Press.

The awards are named for Lowell Thomas, acclaimed broadcast journalist, prolific author and world explorer during five decades in travel journalism. The competition is open to all North American journalists.

The SATW Foundation distributes nearly $20,000 to individual winners. “We want to thank this year’s underwriters — the Tourist Office for Flanders – Brussels and Travel Guard — for their support in recognizing and rewarding excellence in travel journalism,” said David Molyneaux, SATW Foundation president. “Their generosity helps make our prizes possible.”

A list of the winners and the judges’ comments are available on the Foundation website, Also, for updates and reactions follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter (@SATWFoundation). For information about SATW, visit, and to see more about the convention in Indianapolis, visit

A list of the winners and judges’ comments can be found here.