Top row (from left): Stuart V. Goldberg, James Allen. Bottom row (from left): Vic Mensa, Cupcakke, Taylor Bennett. These people are the subjects of AAN Awards finalist stories by Reader staff. Credit: KEVIN PENCZAK / ASSISTANT: SNAKEBITE; YANG PULONGBARIT-CUEVO; COURTESY OF ALLEN’S FRIENDS; MORGAN ELISE JOHNSON; QURISSY LOPEZ; THOUGHTPOET

Two features by Reader staff writer Maya Dukmasova and one multimedia series collaboration with The TRiiBE have been nominated as “the best of the best” in alternative journalism by the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN).

A total of 92 finalists was picked from a pool of more than 600 entries from 55 alternative publications in the U.S. and Canada. Winners will be announced on July 13 at the AAN Convention in Boulder.

Dukmasova has a 50-50 shot of bringing home a $500 cash prize—she was nominated twice for best feature story. “Justice Delayed” explores the failure of the Clerk of Circuit Court of Cook County to provide records that are vital for peopleconvicted of crimes to assert their constitutional rights to appeal. The other story takes a look at the trials of Stuart V. Goldberg, one of Chicago’s most peculiar criminal defense attorneys.

If she had to pick a favorite, Dukmasova says she’s rooting for the Goldberg profile to win first place. She feels a sense of accomplishment at having created a picture of the lawyer that jumps off the page. Stylistically, that’s what she strives for as a writer.

“Some of my favorite pieces of writing are profiles. . . . They don’t matter in any way beyond themselves, but they stick in my mind as being really good writing,” Dukmasova says. “And that’s what the Reader is for. One of its goals is to uplift writing, so I feel like that story is accomplishing a mission of this newspaper as well.”

Up for a multimedia award is The Block Beat, a series that roots Chicago musicians in places and neighborhoods that matter to them. The project has taken creators Morgan Elise Johnson and Tiffany Walden, cofounders of The TRiiBE, everywhere from a vintage store to a Baptist church, with local artists as insider guides.

They’re excited to see their vision come to fruition after years of pitching and hard work—it feels good to know that their passion project is resonating with people, they say. The multimedia series combines Johnson’s filmmaking background with Walden’s journalistic perspective to present a new kind of storytelling.

“We want to continue to show people different ways to tell stories,” Walden says. “It doesn’t have to just be written, it doesn’t have to just be a video, it doesn’t have to just be a photo essay. We can bring all of these different elements together and really enhance the experience of interacting with a story.”  v