An in-depth feature article on the design, standards and
controversy surrounding pool suction-outlet covers has won the 2012
Jesse H. Neal Award, widely considered the Pulitzer Prize of
the Drain,” which first appeared in the Oct, 28, 2011,
issue of Pool & Spa News, received the nod for Best
Technical Content during an awards ceremony March 16 at the
Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York.
The article was written by Rebecca Robledo and edited by Erika
Taylor. Graphic artists Denise Baker and Tim Bobko also were
honored for their layout and design work.
“We’re still ecstatic over the win,” said Taylor,
editor of Pool & Spa News. “To be granted the
ultimate recognition from some of today’s leading journalists
is both gratifying and humbling.”
In fact, this is the second straight year Robledo and Taylor have
taken top prize in the Best Technical Content category. The article
which offered a comprehensive report on safety vacuum release
systems, won in 2011.
Marking their 58th year, the Neal Awards are sponsored by American
Business Media, an association serving the business-to-business
media model. In 2012, the group’s prestigious awards program
drew approximately 725 entries in 18 categories.
Judging, which was conducted by editors and publishers from some of
the nation’s top newspapers and magazines, involved multiple
rounds over the course of several months.
“Just being nominated once in a journalist’s lifetime
is a high recognition,” said Dick Coleman, publisher of
Pool & Spa News. “But actually winning a Neal
Award is, indeed, a very high honor for a very talented and
professional journalist who has made us all very
Inspired by the massive drain-cover recall that took place in late
spring 2011, “Covering the Drain” provided
groundbreaking information and acute analysis of this critical
product. The article expertly deconstructed the science behind the
equipment, the criteria that govern them, and the various testing
procedures that are utilized to ensure their integrity.
The editorial package was accompanied by a number of striking
visual elements, including time-lapse video captures of a
body-entrapment study, diagrams illustrating how the products
function, and a timeline of key events leading up to the
“It’s startling to look at all the considerations
involved in designing and testing drain covers for safety,”
Robledo said. “We’re so grateful to the sources who
gave us an insider’s look at this complicated issue. They
truly helped us fill a need, which we know existed based on the
feedback we’ve received from both inside and outside the
The magazine captured its first Neal Award in 2007 with the feature
story “In the Minority,” a winner in the Best Single
Pool & Spa News, based in Los Angeles, is a
publication of Hanley Wood Business Media.