Tuesday, July 26, 2011

TOP STORY > >Paper wins top honors again from state group

In the largest and most competitive category in the state, The Leader grabbed the General Excellence award for large weeklies, six first-place honors and 27 awards altogether.

It is the fourth year in a row that the newspaper has been named best in its class.

The paper garnered first-place awards for its coverage of local politics, education and business and agriculture. Designer Christy Hendricks won first place for best front page, reporter Stephen Steed won top honors in the freelancer category and publisher Garrick Feldman took first place in news and political column writing with his column comparing pardons by governors.

Members of the South Carolina Press Association judged nearly 2,300 entries from 68 newspapers for this year’s awards.

The Leader was in the large weekly division and competed against 17 other newspapers, including the Cabot Star Herald and the North Little Rock Times.

Judges awarded first place to the newspaper for its political coverage after reading articles by John Hofheimer and Rick Kron. The judges called the coverage “thorough, aggressive, competent reporting with an edge.”

Articles winning the paper the first-place award in education coverage were written by Nancy Dockter, Jeffrey Smith, Kron and Hofheimer. Judges said the articles were a “really strong mix of interesting news, features and enterprise education stories” and that it was “solid reporting that holds schools accountable.”

The first-place honors in business and agricultural coverage were based on articles written by Hofheimer and Joan McCoy. The judges said their reporting was “sparkling and enticing writing and excellent stories.”

Steed’s story about legislative expense accounts, entitled “What lawmakers cost,” earned him first place in freelance writing. He also took second place in the same category with an article on former Pulaski County Clerk Pat O’Brien.

The judges said Steed’s award-winning entry was “good explanatory political journalism; this money issue was explained in dollars and cents that made sense to any reader.”

The judge’s called Feldman’s column on governors’ pardon an “intelligent comparison provoking analysis.”

Other awards for the newspaper include second place for picture page/photo essay with photographer David Scolli’s Little Rock Air Force Base air show pictures. Scolli also took third place in this category with his North Vs. South Civil War re-enactment pictures.

Editor Jonathan Feldman took second place in headline writing with his “Halter falters” headline, and Kron took third place with “Dogs collar runaway thief”.

Hofheimer placed third in the news-story category with his article on the state audit of the Pulaski County Special School District.

Sportswriter Jason King placed second and third in the sports feature category. He placed second with his “Remembering a true Wildcat,” and third with his “True GRITS” story. Honorable mention went to Todd Traub’s “Blood, sweat and tears” feature.

Traub took third place in sports column writing with his column about the boxing match between former major leaguer Jose Canseco and former local television sports anchor Gary Hogan.

Second place in the single-news-photograph category went to Jeffrey Smith with a storm-aftermath picture.

Scolli placed third in the single-feature-photograph competition with his “Too close for comfort” picture of two Thunderbird planes seemingly within inches of each other. Scolli also garnered another third-place award for his Red Devils win 6A East, dive-into-tourney picture in the single-sports-action photograph category. He grabbed a second-place award in the single-sports feature photograph category with “Hitting the lights.”

Hendricks and Traub combined for second-place honors for best sports page.

Hofheimer won second-place honors in in-depth reporting for his personal look at local airmen helping Haiti after last year’s earthquake. Kron placed third in the category with his story on Cabot Benchmark scores.

Smith and Dockter combined for a third-place award in investigative reporting for “How can you learn there?”, their look at the poor conditions of Jacksonville High School.

Kron and McCoy teamed up for a third-place award in the coverage of local tourism.

In the small-dailies division, where 10 papers competed, the Daily Citizen in Searcy took general excellence.

Among the eight papers in the medium-dailies division, the Pine Bluff Commercial came out on top.

In the large-dailies division, where 10 papers competed, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette won top honors, but won fewer overall awards than The Leader.

The Times of Pea Ridge took general excellence in the smaller weeklies division where seven papers competed for the title.

In the medium-weeklies division, where 15 papers competed, the Nashville Leader was the top honoree.