Register now: Sept. 23 awards lunch includes investigative journalism session with IndyStar’s Tony Cook, Michelle Pemberton


After a two-year hiatus, the Hoosier State Press Association awards event is returning to an in-person gathering. The luncheon will take place Friday, Sept. 23 at the Biltwell Event Center in Indianapolis.

The luncheon is an opportunity for journalists across the state to celebrate recognition for the exceptional work done at their newspapers last year.

The event will include the presentation of the Blue Ribbon Newspaper awards — HSPA’s highest recogni­tion given to one daily and one weekly member newspaper honoring overall excellence.

The awards event was suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am very excited that we are able to host an in-person event this year,” said HSPA Foundation President Robyn McCloskey. “It’s another sign that life is starting to get back to normal and this is an event that I know a lot of people look forward to each year.”

Attendees will start the day at 10:30 a.m. with an investigative journalism session before lunch featuring Tony Cook and Michelle Pemberton from the Indianapolis Star.

The session will focus on the paper’s report on Indiana’s red flag law which allows law enforcement to seize weapons from people they deem dangerous whether they are committing a crime or not. The Star’s in-depth project examined holes in the law. “Red Flagged” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and can be viewed here.

“We’re going to use that story,to go through various aspects of how we did the investigation and what about that might be instructive for others,” said Tony Cook, IndyStar investigative reporter.

Cook said he and Pemberton will talk about including visual journalists early on in the investigative process, how to use public records laws, obstacles in obtaining information and dealing with vulnerable sources.

This event will also be an opportunity for members to meet HSPA’s new executive director, Amelia McClure, who started in her position in May.

“Journalists from across the state deserve this opportunity to have their hard work recognized and it’s also an excellent opportunity for journalists to network with their peers,” McCloskey said. The investigative session promises to provide excellent insight and advice members can use, she said.

HSPA Director of Operations Pam Lego said the organization wants to hear members’ thoughts on shaping future events including the annual awards. A survey will be provided to attendees and those unable to attend to give members an opportunity to share ideas.

The ticket price for the awards luncheon is $50 per person and can be purchased here. For questions, contact Shawn Goldsby at



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