A New Times story about a cult YouTube bodybuilding star and his oddball cast of characters has won national honors from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).
SPJ announced today that the story by former New Times Broward-Palm Beach staff writer Kyle Swenson won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for feature writing.
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Swenson's story chronicled the rise of Jason Genova, a Publix checkout employee who has built a devoted online following for his gym-rat videos that follow his attempts to make it as a competitive bodybuilder. Here's how Swenson explained the rise of Genova in the story:
[A] one-minute, 59-second video is immediately uploaded onto his YouTube channel in late October. In less than ten hours, the clip will total 3,000 views; in three days, 13,800, with 382 comments from users. Maybe not quite the kind of brushfire web attention that fixes on a fresh Kardashian cleavage selfie, but damned incredible for a Publix checkout employee.
On paper, Jason Genova is a broke Boynton Beach nobody. But thanks to a combination of single-minded drive and the internet's weird magic, he's become a looming figure in the corners of the web devoted to fitness, weightlifting, and bodybuilding.
Swenson — alongside fellow winners from the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere — will be feted June 20 in Washington, D.C.