Pasadena journalist Justin Chapman came in 2nd place in the Hard News (one day’s coverage of a hard news story) category and 3rd place in the Obituary/In Appreciation (politics/business/arts personalities) category in the 63rd annual Los Angeles Press Club’s Southern California Journalism Awards on Saturday. More than 2,000 entries were submitted this year.
“There are so many outstanding reporters doing yeoman’s work in Southern California, and I was honored to be recognized among them this year by the LA Press Club,” said Chapman, who frequently writes for Pasadena Now. “Congratulations to all the winners and nominees. Keep up the great work of keeping our community informed.”
Both nominations were for Chapman’s article in Alta Journal about Mad Mike Hughes, the flat earther daredevil rocketeer who launched himself in a self-made, steam-powered rocket in the desert outside Barstow in February. When a pneumatic cylinder damaged the rocket’s nozzle upon launch, it caused the rocket to jolt to the side, likely knocking Hughes unconscious. He flew several thousand feet into the sky and then nose dived into the desert floor without releasing the parachutes on board, killing him instantly.
Chapman, who was writing a book about Hughes, was at the scene and filmed the launch and crash. The video went viral on Twitter with 5 million views in three days, garnering significant national and international media attention. Chapman wrote two articles, one for Huffington Post, “The Spectacular Finale of Mad Mike Hughes,” and the other for Alta Journal, “The Daredevil Who Reached for the Stars.” He is continuing to work on a book about Hughes.
Chapman, who was born and raised in Altadena and Pasadena, has been an independent journalist since 2005. He has written hundreds of articles for two dozen print and digital publications, including KPCC/LAist, Alta Journal, Huffington Post, LA Weekly, Berkeley Political Review, and extensively for Pasadena Now and Pasadena Weekly. He is the Digital Content Writer & Editor at Michelson Philanthropies and previously served as the Communications Officer at the Pacific Council on International Policy.
He hosts two TV talk shows on Pasadena Media: “Well Read with Justin Chapman” and “NewsRap Local with Justin Chapman,” which launched in April and airs on the third Friday of every month on the Arroyo Channel on cable and Pasadena Media’s streaming apps. It is the only TV talk show that focuses exclusively on Pasadena news and politics. Congress members Judy Chu and Adam Schiff are scheduled as Chapman’s guests in the October and November episodes.
Chapman also served as the editor-in-chief of USC’s Public Diplomacy Magazine and as a staff writer at the Daily Trojan. He received his master’s degree in public diplomacy from USC and his bachelor’s degree in mass communications/media studies from UC Berkeley. His book about his travels across Africa, Saturnalia: Traveling from Cape Town to Kampala in Search of an African Utopia, was published by Rare Bird Books in 2015.
He serves on Pasadena Media’s Citizens Advisory Committee and is a member of the LA Press Club. He previously served as president of the Pasadena-based nonprofit Men Educating Men About Health, as secretary of the West Pasadena Residents’ Association (and currently as a member of the WPRA Advisory Board), as secretary of the ACLU SoCal Pasadena/Foothills chapter board, as a member of the United Nations Association Pasadena chapter’s Communications Committee, and as a commissioner on the city of Pasadena’s Northwest Commission. As a professional child actor, he performed in dozens of commercials, television shows, plays, and movies.