L.A. Times Wins National Headliner Awards for vaping investigation, trucking feature

Emily Baumgaertner and Jaweed Kaleem
(Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Times took home two prizes in the National Headliner Awards program, sponsored by the Press Club of Atlantic City. Staff Writer Emily Baumgaertner’s investigative piece examining who is responsible for the nation’s vaping crisis received first place in the Health, Medical and Science Writing category, while Staff Writer Jaweed Kaleem’s feature about how Sikh drivers are transforming U.S. trucking won third place in the Special or Feature Column category.

Baumgaertner’s article detailed the FDA’s efforts to ban vaping flavors years before kids became addicted to vaping, and revealed how officials in the Obama administration rejected the plan.

Judges praised Baumgaertner’s article as “informative without being preachy.” After her report — and the reporting of several other media outlets — Juul removed all vaping flavors from the market except for tobacco and menthol. In addition, the Trump administration went on to ban flavored pods, and Congress voted to ban sales of e-cigarettes to anyone under 21.

Baumgaertner’s article was also a finalist in the IRE awards, the annual contest of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.

Kaleem’s feature, which took readers on an interstate jaunt aboard an 18-wheeler with a Sikh truck driver, also received recognition in other recent competitions. It received fourth place in the Feature Story category in the recent California Journalism Awards competition and also earned a Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council.


Kaleem said he thinks the article may have resonated with people “because it offered a peek into worlds many people don’t know about, including the life of truckers, the stories of immigrants in small-town America, and delicious South Asian food.”

The complete list of National Headliner Award winners can be found at