Tuesday, June 29, 2010

TOP STORY >> Leader honored again for general excellence

IN SHORT: Newspaper wins 22 awards, including for best news, sports and editorial.

By Rick Kron
Leader staff writer

The Leader was named Saturday the best large weekly in the state for the third year in a row by the Arkansas Press Association, again taking the sweepstakes award.
The newspaper garnered 22 awards, including five first-place plaques.

The family-owned newspaper — which for more than 23 years has been covering Jacksonville, Sherwood, Cabot and Lonoke County, as well as White County — took first place in community coverage, editorial writing, best sports page, top sports news story and general excellence.

The Leader competed against 411 entries from 15 newspapers in the large-weeklies category.

“There were scores of outstanding entries, which is why we’re grateful we were the overall winner in the large-weekly category,” said Garrick Feldman, editor and publisher of The Leader. “The contest was so competitive, the state’s largest daily newspaper didn’t win the sweepstakes award in its division.”

That award went to the Texarkana Gazette.

In naming The Leader’s sports page the best, the judges said there was a lot of good material on the page. “Great photos and solid stories with a solid layout,” the judges wrote.

Senior staff writer John Hofheimer wrote the editorial that garnered first place for The Leader. The headline was “PCSSD puts students last.” The judges liked the writer’s comparison of two school boards — PCSSD to Cabot. “It presents a clear picture of the situation and presents definite problems to the solution,” the judges wrote.

The top sports news story was entitled, “Devils get their due,” written by Leader sports editor Kelly Fenton. The judges said, “It was well written, good game coverage and a good story about a major achievement.”

“What I like so much about our awards this year is that so many of them were group awards, like the second place for education coverage, the first place for community coverage and general excellence. We are truly a team here at The Leader,” said Feldman.

The awards were presented at the annual meeting of the Arkansas Press Association in Tunica, Miss. The state group tied in its convention with the press associations from Tennessee and Mississippi.

Members of the Mississippi press group judged the Arkansas papers. Other awards and honors for The Leader include:

• Second place in best front page went to staff designer Christy Hendricks. “Lots of great content and packaging,” the judges said.

• A team of reporters, Rick Kron, Jeffrey Smith, John Hofheimer and Nancy Dockter, won second place in coverage of education. “There was good basic coverage on topics from stimulus money to test scores,” the judges wrote.

• Second place in investigative reporting went to staff writer Kron for his series of articles, “Where is your alderman?” The judges said, “It was good work on making government accountable, even at the local level.”

• Editorial writer Ernie Dumas took second place for his piece, “Huckabee self destructs.” The judges said the writing was a “thorough examination of the events, their causes and the resulting consequences” of the former governor’s decision to pardon Maurice Clemmons, who later killed four Seattle-area police officers.

• Staff writer Joan McCoy took second in news story for “FBI, ATF arrest Cabot man,” who is alleged to be a Mafia member. “It was a very involved story that was well told,” the judges said.

• Placing second was the sports news story, “Stadium lights, camera, action” by sports editor Todd Traub. The judges said it was an interesting story and well written.

• Traub also took second in sports column writing with “Happy to be off the sidelines.” Judges liked the personal self-introduction and felt it was sincerely written.

• Staff photographer David Parker took second place in single sports action photography with his entry, “Record-setting run.” The judges commented that it was an excellent photo and told the story of the race.

• David Scolli, another staff photographer, took second place in the single sports feature photograph category with his photo, “Character study.”

• Sports Editor Todd Traub took third place in sports feature writing with his story, “Battling the heat.”

• David Scolli took third place in the single sports feature photograph category with “Clinton’s big day.”

• Eric Francis took third place in freelance writing with “Guilty verdict.”

• The Leader received honorable mention for in depth series reporting with its “War memories” articles by Jeffrey Smith, John Hofheimer and Aliya Feldman.

• David Parker took an honorable mention in the single news photograph category with “Lonoke hosts flu clinic.”

• David Scolli took honorable mention in single sports action photography with his “Arkansas State wrestling.”

• Scolli also took two honorable mention awards in the picture page and photo essay category with “Little big league” and “Lonoke County fair.”