Portland Press Herald photographer Brianna Soukup has been named the 2020 winner of the MacGregor Fiske Award, which recognizes exemplary work by promising young journalists in New England.

This is the second time a Press Herald staff member has won the award in the last four years. Staff Writer Megan Gray was the 2017 recipient.

Soukup, 29, originally from Nebraska, is the first-ever photojournalist to win the award that was founded eight years ago by Mary McCann Fiske to honor her late husband’s legacy of mentoring young journalists during his long career. The award is intended to recognize journalists with less than five years in the field, to encourage them to persevere in the profession and to honor the contributions of journalists to sustaining an informed society, McCann Fiske said in a news release this week.

Staff photographer Brianna Soukup.  Staff photo by Derek Davis

In announcing the award, which comes with a $2,000 cash prize, McCann Fiske highlighted some of Soukup’s photos, including her work on a family trying to find an apartment after living in a homeless encampment in Portland, contributions to a series on the opioid epidemic and a photo essay on Maine’s one-room schoolhouses.

“Brianna’s powerful photos captured the ups and downs and difficulties of a homeless family’s life and also showed she understands the community she covers,” McCann Fiske said in a statement.

Prior to coming to Maine, Soukup held internships at The Palm Beach Post and The Virginian-Pilot. Press Herald photo editor Michele McDonald said hiring Soukup four years ago was one of the best decisions she’s made in her career.

“Brianna is smart, hard-working, articulate and oh so talented,” McDonald wrote in her letter nominating Soukup for the award. “Her photographs are classic, nuanced and authentic. She doesn’t use odd angles, extreme lenses or visual tricks to make a powerful photograph; instead she relies on her eye, and a connection with her subjects.”

Among her countless daily assignments and long-term projects, each year she’s been at the Press Herald Soukup has produced a collection of photos from area high school proms.

MacGregor Fiske, who died in 2009 at age 75, was a lifelong newspaperman – a writer, editor and columnist whose work appeared in the Providence Journal-Bulletin and the MetroWest Daily News of Framingham, Massachusetts.

In addition to Soukup, Hadley Barndollar of the Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald/Seacoast Online and Colin Flanders of Seven Days, in Burlington, Vt., were recognized for their work and will receive $500 apiece.


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