2023 Online Commentary, Package of Columns winner

Columnist Jeneé Osterheldt

About the Project

Jeneé Osterheldt is arguably the most important voice in Boston. Osterheldt makes race, ethnicity, gender, and identity central to her work. She explores these themes through a multitude of lenses and across a bevy of platforms, always bringing fresh perspectives that make our readers and viewers rethink their assumptions on everything from hate crimes to geopolitics to love.

She penned some of the most incisive, poignant columns in Massachusetts over the past year, taking on virtually every hard issue that arose. Part of her genius is being able to pinpoint the racial, gender, and identity inequities inherent in all of society’s injustices, not just the obvious ones.

Following the shocking rape of an Asian woman at a local transit station, Jeneé boldly called for the public to recognize the attack for what is was: a hate crime. Her column put the pressure on local officials to act and respond to under-recognized communities around Boston.

She melded the cases of Brittany Griner and Breonna Taylor in another column. Through that piece, she shined a light on the underlooked theme of Black women being used as soft targets, whether through the machinations of local law enforcement or geopolitics. Her work following the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo reminded readers that these were not just assaults on gun violence, but also on communities of color.

There are many columnists who can opine smartly about the major issues of the day. But what sets Jeneé apart is how her impact is felt on topics of community, health, and love.

To coincide with both Black History Month and Valentine’s Day in February, she pivoted her longstanding multimedia feature, A Beautiful Resistance, towards the theme of Black love. Through four high-quality videos spanning nearly an hour, Osterheldt interviewed a series of couples who explained what love meant to them and their identities as people of color – a novel twist that added depth to the topics.

She also chronicled the unveiling of “The Embrace,” a local art installation dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Corretta Scott King, through interviews with the city and artist, a column, and a half-hour documentary partnership with NBC.

Jeneé is that truly rare columnist, one who truly pushes her audience to rethink the societal context behind their assumptions, and also raises the voices of everyone in her community.

Judges Comments

Outstanding, powerful writing and commentary, with a strong connection to the community. There is a strategic approach to reaching the community on a variety of platforms and formats. It harnesses joy and gives spotlight to identities, thoughts and opinions that have traditionally been out of the spotlight in legacy media.