Sahan Journal won the Community Engagement and Service award at the LION Publisher’s third annual Local Journalism Awards. In an online ceremony Tuesday evening, LION Publishers—a professional journalism association for independent news publishers—celebrated the best of independent digital media. The community engagement award recognizes “projects that demonstrate sustained engagement with a publication’s audience or community.” 

Since its creation in 2019, Sahan Journal has provided fair, groundbreaking news coverage that illuminates issues affecting Minnesota’s immigrants and communities of color. 

The LION award honors the newsroom’s 2020 efforts to deepen its connection with the state’s underserved Latino, Hmong, and Somali audiences.  This includes:

  • A community-centered voter guide ahead of the Minneapolis city elections, published in English, Spanish, Somali and Hmong. To make sure the guide met community needs, Sahan Journal collaborated with nine organizations that work directly with Latino, Somali, and Hmong residents in the Twin Cities.  
  • A call-out asking first-time Muslim homebuyers in Minnesota about the specific challenges they face in looking for a home. This initiative turned into an illuminating explainer piece and a community conversation about how Minnesota’s immigrants and communities of color have been locked out of building generational wealth, starting with homeownership. 
  • A collaboration with Somali TV Minnesota—a Somali digital TV channel—to increase awareness about the closing of Cedar Riverside Community School. (This pioneering local charter school had served Minneapolis’ large Somali population for three decades.) This broadcast brought together the key players involved in the decision to close the school, and encouraged them to answer questions from concerned community members. 
  • A special election-focused broadcast with community media partners 3HmongTV and La Raza 95.7 FMz. The collaboration examined issues of concern for Hmong and Latino voters in the runup to the 2021 Minneapolis city elections. 

In the Community Engagement and Service Award category, Sahan Journal and four other organizations reached the contest’s final round. The other finalists included,

  • El Tímpano, a media organization in Oakland, for its community-driven reporting using SMS
  • The Kansas City Beacon, for its civic-engagement approach to election coverage
  • Wisconsin Watch and Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, for a collaboration called News414, which has used text messages to deliver critical information about issues like rental assistance, COVID-19, and domestic violence.

“At Sahan Journal, we work hard every day to deepen our relationship with immigrants and communities of color who trust us with their stories,” said Mukhtar Ibrahim, Sahan Journal’s founder and executive editor. “We are dedicated to meeting their information needs and prioritizing issues that are relevant and important to them.” 

More than 30 judges from across the industry evaluated a record-breaking 240 award entries from LION members ranging from solopreneurs to large newsrooms.

The awards, presented by the Google News Initiative, announced 25 winners across 15 categories, all of whom were independent online media across the U.S. and Canada.

You can find the full list of winners and finalists at the 2021 LION Publisher’s Local Journalism Awards here

Sahan Journal is a nonprofit digital newsroom dedicated to reporting for immigrants and communities of color in Minnesota. Our diverse staff creates exceptional journalism: coverage that truly represents...