illustration by Tyler Hildebrand
Graham Hillard, a contributing editor to Memphis magazine, has been named a finalist in the 2012 Livingston Awards for Young Journalists. Judges were impressed by his feature story, "Honor Bound:What Really Happened in the Trinity Commons Parking Lot?," which was our magazine's September 2012 cover story.
Administered by the Knight Foundation and the University of Michigan, the Livingston Awards honor the best work of journalists under the age of 35. The awards are divided into three categories: International Reporting, National Reporting, and Local Reporting. "Honor Bound" is a finalist in the latter category, and Hillard finds himself in good company. Other finalists have contributed work to LA Weekly, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.
"Honor Bound" explores a controversial shooting that took place in a Cordova parking lot in 2009. At the time, Hillard was living only a few blocks from the crime scene, and was curious about the motives behind the incident. He explains:
"In February 2009, two men — each of them legally armed — got into an argument outside a restaurant parking lot. The heated exchange, over how close one vehicle was parked to the other, ultimately left one of the men dead and the other convicted of second-degree murder. I interviewed family members of victims and of the accused, attorneys and witnesses for both sides, and the killer who is now serving 25 years in the state penitentiary. The story explores the importance of guns in Southern culture, the men who revere them, and the laws that allow — for better or worse — patrons to carry firearms into public places."
The Livingston Awards come with a $10,000 cash prize. Winners in each category will be announced June 6th at a luncheon in New York City.
In the Memphis magazine offices in August 2012, Graham Hilliard talked with publisher/editor Kenneth Neill about the research process for this story: