Humble as they come, Vegas Seven senior writer Steve Bornfeld would be the first to tell you he doesn’t peck away at his keyboard hoping that the prose that unfolds will someday impress an anonymous judge in a faraway land and result in an award that will gather dust on his bookshelf. Rather, like most gifted storytellers, Bornfeld’s only hope when he taps that final punctuation mark is that he’s spun a yarn that will connect with readers on an emotional level—whatever that emotion may be. Now keep that thought in mind as we rewind back to late last year, when Bornfeld filed a piece about Wynn Las Vegas lounge singer Michael Monge (“A Tale of Two Dreamers,” November 6). Seeing Monge perform and learning of his rags-to-riches backstory took Bornfeld back to his childhood, when a singer near and dear to him dreamed of a similar career path, but one that would never be. That singer was Bornfeld’s late father.
Bornfeld’s deeply personal narrative comparing the destinies of Monge and his dad indeed connected emotionally with everyone in the Vegas Seven newsroom (and, dare we predict, all of our readers). It also connected with an anonymous judge from a faraway land, as Bornfeld was honored Tuesday with a first-place award from the Society for Features Journalism for “A Tale of Two Dreamers.” The competition was open to all news-gathering outlets in the U.S. and Canada, including newspapers, magazines and websites, and Bornfeld won the award for Division 1 (up to 90,000 circulation).
“I am so humbled by this recognition, and I thank the Society for Features Journalism for a milestone moment in my journalism career,” Bornfeld says. “‘A Tale of Two Dreamers’ was tricky to write, as a parallel narrative of two singers and performers I greatly admire, and also as a tribute to my late dad, whom I loved dearly. I hope where he is now, he is smiling on some heavenly bandstand, crooning a happy tune.”
We’ll let the judge have the final say: “This exquisitely told tale about two small-time musicians with big dreams was the standout in this category. … The piece is touching, revealing and beautifully written. You can almost hear the Vegas crooner, who ‘cradles the finishing notes like delicate china,’ and the dad, who wailed away in a tiny Bronx apartment, ‘letting go in a way that showed me what joy looked like.’ Feature writing at its finest.”
We here at Vegas Seven couldn’t agree more …