ChicagoNow's Best Posts of August

A few weeks ago I let ChicagoNow's bloggers know we'd be having a contest to select the top posts of the month. The ground rules were pretty simple: At the end of the month each blog could submit one post as their best of the month. There would be ten finalists and then a top three would be selected with each of the top three awarded an Amazon gift card.

Here was the criteria I gave them: "We will look at the quality of headline, quality of content, quality of writing, overall creativity and presentation. We will not consider how much traffic a post has received, reader comments, your responses to reader comments or the number of Facebook "likes" or times a post is sent out on Twitter."

There weren't any rules other than the post must have been originally published during the month of August. And so when the submission deadline came I started to look at them. Most I'd already read during the course of the month but we have 700 posts or so a week so I don't always see them all, or read all the way through.

There were 80 submissions, and the way I started to winnow it down was to read them all from top to bottom and make a list of posts I felt shouldn't immediately be eliminated from top ten consideration.

All this did was get me down to 40 posts. 40.

Honestly, I didn't think I'd be able to do it and for a time was cursing myself for offering up this contest. But after going through the posts over and over and making a lot of changes I finally got down to a top 10. Here they are:

The Top 10

If you read these and then read the other 30 that made my initial cut I suspect you'd find very little difference among them, and there certainly would be disagreements. So why these posts? Well, for one because I wanted to get it done before October arrived. But if you look at the ten selected posts, in addition to having the criteria laid out, they each had an honesty about them I found very attractive. And I think ultimately writing honest pieces, whether it's how you feel about your pet, your fishing, your White Sox or yourself is going to separate the great blogs from the good blogs.

I did make one change from my initial rules for this contest. I was going to outsource the selection of the top three winners to a colleague but the more I thought about it the more I realized that was a case of me wimping out and afraid I'd be called biased or unfair and lose credibility with this group I work so closely with. So realizing this, I went ahead and picked the three winners myself. Here they are with a quick note about why I felt they stood out among the others:

Third place: Cheaper Than Therapy: Dear Youth Travel Sports Coach

Why: As a parent and as a former kid, I loved this post. Pretty much everyone falls into one of those categories so it was hard not to relate to this post on some level. Jill's conversational writing style isn't overdone and has no pretensions at all, I felt like I could hear her saying these words to this coach and that he'd be listening verrrrrrry intently.

Second place: White Sox Observer: Great moments in routine throws to the infield

Why: Besides being really creative and funny, James shows he has a great understanding and knowledge about his subject, the White Sox. You can tell he's simultaneously amused and fed up with what's happened this season and I thought it was tremendous the way he tied several events from this season together into one post.

First place: Waterdog Journal: Music to fish by

Why: This was beautifully written with perfect images. I'm not a fisherman but after reading this I felt like Ken had taken me into his world for a few minutes. One of his trademarks is to intersperse his posts with images, which you'll notice he does in a very clean way. They aren't slapped in at different sizes or with spaces missing, his presentation is always excellent. And I loved the surprise ending. If you don't know what I'm talking about be sure to click on his "Music to live by." Very wise of him to make it a link and not an embeddable video or it wouldn't have been as nice of a surprise.

Thanks to everyone who submitted a post and congratulations to all the winners, hopefully everyone enjoyed this and we can do it again next month.


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  • Great posts--and some that I'd missed. I can't imagine how much time you must have spent selecting these. Congratulations to the winners--kind of our own Oscars/Grammys/Emmys/ and Peabodys all wrapped into one. It is always nice to be recognized. Thanks, Jimmy for doing this.

  • In reply to Carole Kuhrt Brewer:

    You're welcome, Carole. It took awhile but I really enjoyed the process and made me realize all over again what an incredible community of people we have here.

  • Congratuations to the winners of Jimmy's contest! Enjoyed reading them all! Fun contest and looking forward to the next contest!

  • Who do I need to sleep with to win next time?

  • Great posts and NICE job, Jimmy! Also, enJOYed your beard video while here...:)

  • Congrats winners and nominees! Excited for the reading I have ahead of me.

  • Congratulations to all the winners. Well done!

  • I joke all the time that nobody reads my stuff, it's just fishing. Kind of. I would have been flattered to be number 39 out of the 40. I greatly appreciate this. You hit the nail on the head with what I've been trying to do for almost 15 years, get people into my little world. It's a very nice place to visit.

    Now I have a lot of reading to go do. I'm looking forward to it.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • You mean Milkin It's "Don't Have Sex When You're Tired" didn't make the cut?

    This contest is fixed.

  • Good pick's. I really loved the Youth Travel Sports Coach. I had already read that when it first was posted and could totally relate. I'll try harder next time, Coach Greenfield.

  • Congratulations to the winners! You should be eligible for the Article Foreign Exchange Program: 'I'll adopt your 10 brats for Oreos if you take my 5 kids to work for a day."

  • Congratulations to the winners! You should be eligible for the Article Foreign Exchange Program: 'I'll watch your 10 brats for Oreos if you take my 5 kids to work for a day."

  • Congrats to the winners and all the Top 10 finalists (including my homegirl Jessica LaShawn of "Such is Life")! That was a brilliant piece, JL! I've got a lot of reading (and writing) to do before September finalists are announced...

  • I forgot to thank Jimmy G. for individual care in selecting all finalists. This month forward can we play by the rules?

    [excerpted from 8-26-11 email ChicagoNow "Best Posts of the Month" contest]
    - From the finalists, a Tribune Co. employee will select a first place, second place and third place winner, who will receive Amazon gift cards in the amount of $150, $100 and $50. Because the selection is by a Tribune employee, employees of Tribune Co. who have a ChicagoNow blog aren't eligible.

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