In our latest sampling of Best of SNO submissions, we’re bringing you some of the best political coverage we have received tackling all levels of government. We’re also highlighting a new approach to racial equity, and presenting you with a story package that’s sure to catch your eye.

Don’t pass over these great pieces we read over the last few weeks:

Closest Race in the Nation, by Rebecca Michaeli, Iowa City High School

While most of us probably found the presidential election vote count nerve-wracking, imagine a race being determined by a mere six votes. In Iowa’s second Congressional District, this was the case, making it the closest national race in 2020 and one of the closest congressional races in modern history. This story by The Little Hawk staff breaks down that race between Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Rita Hart, thoroughly describing the recount process and using interviews with local political players to emphasize how every single vote can impact the outcome of an election. Not only is this excellent local reporting that serves their local audience, but the topic is interesting and just thrilling enough to interest a national reader as well.

State politics through the eyes of Georgia’s reporters, by George Lefkowicz, Henry W. Grady High School

Bridging the gap between district-level congressional coverage and the presidential election is this outstanding state-focused piece by The Southerner. It takes a deep dive into the Georgia press corps in the midst of the 2020 election cycle, putting faces and names to coverage that some of us have probably consumed. What really makes this story impressive are the interviews that the writer included. By speaking to individuals from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the New York Times, Georgia Public Broadcasting, The Hill, WSB-TV, and Atlanta’s local NPR member station WABE, the author provides great representation and insight from a diverse pool of sources. Given that a large portion of the Best of SNO submissions we receive only contain one interview or source, this increased array of voices in a piece is especially refreshing.

Podcast: Inside the Mob: Jan. 6, 2021, by Logan Schiciano, The Masters School

In the wake of Jan. 6, a day that will go down in history due to insurrection in the U.S. Capitol, we received tons of excellent, timely coverage capturing responses and opinions from members of your local communities. What made this particular submission stand out was that it includes an interview with someone who was actually there capturing photos and video of the siege. Not only does this provide the ultimate insider perspective to the event and a fascinating listen, but the final product features an exceptional use of intentionally timed natural sound, helping further transport listeners to the scene.

Tech companies update computing terms to promote inclusivity, by Melissa Chen and Rachel Wu, Lynbrook High School

Since last May, Best of SNO submissions related to the Black Lives Matter Movement have been frequent. With that being said, the angle taken in this story by The Epic staff was definitely a first for us. The story focuses on efforts to address discrimination within the tech industry, specifically when it comes to select coding terms including “master-slave terminology,” “whitelist,” and “blacklist.” For those of us who aren’t tech wizards, the use of this language may be completely foreign, which is why we love this piece. It expands upon a coverage arena in an entirely different way, and ultimately teaches us something new.

Teens and religion: a lost faith or a renewed belief, by Cooper Ragle, Liberty High School

The primary draw of this three-part report leading up to World Religion Day is, without a doubt, its packaging. While the videos and accompanying text are thorough and well-balanced, the infographics and attention to presentation really make this story stand out. By placing graphics, pulled quotes and even a GIF throughout the story, the author strategically draws the readers’ eyes down the page and helps them stay engaged. This understanding of story formatting is not overlooked by our reviewers, and can play a significant role in upping the readability of a story when done well.

Read more great stories like these on Best of SNO.