Publick Occurrences

Larry Parnass’ series of articles about the troubled state of shopping centers in the Berkshire Mall family has won a 2020 Publick Occurrences Award, which recognizes the “very best work” in New England journalism.

This year, the New England Newspaper & Press Association’s judges honored 12 pieces of journalism, published between June 1, 2019, and May 31, from eight newspapers with Publick Occurrences awards.

For Parnass, the series was the fourth Publick Occurrences he has been involved with since joining The Eagle in 2016 as investigations editor.

This is The Eagle’s fifth Publick Occurrences since 2017.

‘MALL STALL’Inspired by the Lanesborough shopping mall’s demise, Parnass set off in June 2019 on a 3,000-mile journey and visited malls in seven states — as far west as Iowa — owned by the Kohan Retail Investment Group. Kohan owned the Berkshire Mall, which is now vacant but, at the time, was on the brink of a final collapse. He has since sold it.

From the road, Parnass filed five stories that captured a fabled commercial sector in free fall. Parnass occasionally had to dodge security teams in order to capture his on-the-ground rich and colorful accounts and interviews with struggling shop owners who, like those at the Berkshire Mall, were at war with the mall’s owners.

JUDGE COMMENTSThe Publick Occurrences Award judge offered the following praise for the series The Eagle named “Mall Stall.”

“News organizations often disrespect context, and this series brings it with folksy, lively color that you just keep reading. That their leadership would support this work deserves a nod, especially with the time and money commitment to get a full story. The presentation is so compelling here! Great writing.”

The award is named after Publick Occurrences, the first newspaper published in America. Four days after it appeared in Boston in 1690, Publick Occurrences was suppressed by the royal governor.

The winners were honored at the New England Newspaper and Press Association’s annual fall conference, which was held remotely over three days last week.