Homeland Security reporter Rebecca Santana and South Carolina reporter Jeffrey Collins relied on the deep expertise of their beats to deliver compelling portraits of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and South Carolina state Sen. Mike Fanning. Santana wrote a nuanced profile of Mayorkas, and then scored an in-depth one-on-one interview with the secretary just days after a Republican-led congressional committee voted to begin impeachment proceedings against him. Santana described how Mayorkas’ background as an immigrant and refugee shaped his upbringing and dedication to public service, gave examples of where supporters thought his tenacity had cut through government bureaucracy to bring about change and delved into the concerns that politicians and activists have over his job performance.

In South Carolina, Collins paired his decades-deep local knowledge with far-reaching storytelling to produce a character study of state Sen. Mike Fanning, who is among an ever-dwindling number of Democrats still holding office in a party that has lost 31 straight statewide elections. Collins told Sen. Mike Fanning he’d like to accompany him to a rotary club or festival where he was talking to voters, and Fanning responded by sending him back a 10-stop schedule of Saturday campaigning, on a sheet of legal paper. Together, they spent the day crisscrossing a district in Fanning’s 50-year-old, un-air-conditioned pickup. Collins also made his own video and photos for a multiformat package.