The Natchez Democrat takes top state award, 14 first placesPublished 12:12am Sunday, July 8, 2012
DESTIN, Fla. — The Natchez Democrat staff won 35 total awards, including 14 first-place awards and first in the overall General Excellence category, at the Mississippi Press Association conference Saturday.
Features Editor Emily Lane was given special recognition for placing first in six writing categories, a feat no other reporter in the state has achieved in the more than 25 years of written records on file at the MPA office.
The Democrat also placed first among all daily newspapers in the state in the community service category for its comprehensive coverage of the Mississippi River flood of 2011.
“The newspaper provided a vital role in preparing the public for an extensive flood and then began rumor control throughout the ordeal,” judges of the contest said, “all of which was a huge benefit to the community and helped keep the public safe.”
In most categories, The Democrat competes against other Mississippi newspapers with a similar circulation size — between 9,000 and 15,000 daily — including The Hattiesburg American, The Vicksburg Post, The Commercial Dispatch (Columbus), The Meridian Star, The (McComb) Enterprise-Journal and others.
In a few categories, including web-exclusive photo, graphic and the freedom of information award, The Democrat competed against all daily newspapers in the state.
First-place awards were:
•General news story — Emily Lane and Julie Cooper, “Age of Anxiety?”
•Spot news story — Lane, “What the beejesus?”
•In-depth/investigative coverage — Lane, “Justice served?”
•Sports news story — Lane, “Special athlete leans on special cheerleader.”
•Feature story — Lane, “What was right?”
•Sports feature photo — Ben Hillyer, “Court jester.”
•Picture-story combination — Lane and Hillyer, “Love letters.”
•Web-exclusive photo — Julie Cooper, “Foggy bottom.”
•Editorial page — Julie Cooper.
•Special section — staff, “Profile: Community of One.”
•Design — staff.
•Community service — staff, “Mississippi River flood.”
•Headlines — Julie Cooper.
•Best website — staff.
Second-place awards were:
•In-depth/investigative coverage — Lane, “Is it adding up?”
•Series of stories — staff, “Season of Wishes.”
•Sports feature story — Michael Kerekes, “Real ropin’.”
•General interest column —Hillyer.
•Sports feature photo —Hillyer, “Pardon me, please.”
•Graphics — Hillyer, “Casino changes proposed.”
•Editorials — staff.
•Sports section — staff.
•Headlines — Hillyer.
•Freedom of Information — Lane, “Justice served?”
Third-place awards were:
•General news story — Taylor Aswell and Hannah Mask, “Does the river keep rising?”
•Spot news story — Lane and Nicole Zema, “Suspect shoots deputy.”
•Series of stories — Lane, “No place to call home.”
•Sports news story —Kerekes, “Coaches find balance.”
•Commentary column — Kevin Cooper.
•Feature story — Lane, “Off to War.”
•Feature photo — Eric Shelton, “Packing up the pumpkins.”
•Pictorial series — Hillyer, “Stand by me.”
•Front page — Hillyer.
•Lifestyles page — Hillyer.
Awards were announced at the five-state Southeastern Press Convention in Florida. Mississippi newspapers submitted 2,255 entries in the Better Newspaper Contest.