Wednesday, July 04, 2012

TOP STORY >> Newspaper wins top state honors

For the fifth year in a row, The Leader has been named the best large weekly in the state by the Arkansas Press Association.

The paper received more than 20 honors, including 11 first-place awards for its coverage, reporting, writing, photography and design.

The awards were announced at a luncheon Saturday in Little Rock concluding the press association’s annual convention.

The 11 first-place wins, including best news story, were the most any newspaper in any category received from the APA.

Staff photographer David Scolli led the charge with three first-place wins.

He took first in the single news photograph category with his “Memorial Day: Remember the Fallen” photo. He also took honorable mention with his “Snow Day” photo.

He took first in the single feature photograph category with his Fourth of July photo of kids burying a playmate in sand. Judges said they loved the angle and composition. They called it a “nice photo.”

Scolli’s third blue-ribbon win came in the picture page/photo essay category with his photo-page essay of “Scenes from 5A Championship.” He also took third with his state decathlon page.

Publisher Garrick Feldman grabbed a first- and third-place award in the contest.

Feldman took first in news and political column writing with “State won’t rescue cities.”

The judges, from the Kentucky Press Association, said it was an “excellent column explaining an important topic, and it was well written.” Feldman also took third in editorial writing with his “Bribe plotters should resign.”

Staff writer Joan McCoy took top honors in the news story category with her article “Lottery winner in $2M drug bust.” She also won second place for investigative reporting.

Staff writer Rick Kron took first place in headline writing for “Gunfire ordinance loaded with blanks.” He also received an honorable mention in the investigative reporting category for his series on the North Belt hitting a dead end.

Sports writer Jason King took first in sports news writing with his article “Bears set for prime time.” The judges said King “took a chance on a creative lead and it worked.”

King also took third place in sports column writing with “Like Mike, we savor big dance” about The Leader’s graphic artist Mike Kwangkeow’s love of the NCAA basketball tournament.

Sports editor Ray Benton and creative editor Christy Hendricks took top honors for best sports page. Judges rated it as the “best balanced layout” they had seen. The page had a variety of stories, good leads and the judges liked the “in- short synopsis of each story.”

Benton won honorable mention for sports feature writing with his article “Exemplifying the spirit” about a talented American Legion pitcher who has a deformed arm.

Staff writer and photographer Jeffrey Smith took top honors for his coverage of business and agriculture with his story “Farm-raised catfish may be thing of the past” about rising costs threatening the industry.

Smith, along with McCoy, Hendricks and Sarah Campbell garnered a top award for their coverage of tourism that focused on events at the Reed’s Bridge Civil War battlefield site in Jacksonville.

Reporter Stephen Steed took first and second in the freelance-writing category with his articles “Woman awarded $2.5M in verdict” and “State fair move seems doomed.”

Judges, writing about Steed’s first-place article, said the “story captured the underlying outrage of a company taking advantage of a cancer patient’s hope for a cure.”

Feldman, Kron, Smith and John Hofheimer took second for their education coverage of the struggles of the Pulaski County Special School District and Little Rock Air Force Base’s dissatisfaction with the district.

The Leader also took second in the best special issue category with its flood coverage and placed third for best front page. Judges called the flood coverage “effective, comprehensive and helpful to the community.”