Natchez Democrat wins top awards in Mississippi Press Association contest

Published 12:14 am Tuesday, June 25, 2019

BILOXI — The Natchez Democrat won 41 awards, including 15 first-place awards, in the Mississippi Press Association’s Better Newspapers editorial division contest held over the weekend in Biloxi.

Among the first-place awards won by the Democrat staff was the General Excellence Award for the overall best newspaper in the state’s second largest circulation division.

Other General Excellence winners included The Clarion Ledger in the largest circulation division and The Meridian Star in the smallest Daily circulation division.

The Natchez Democrat staff also won the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award over all the newspapers in Mississippi for the staff’s coverage and investigation into a violation of the state Open Meetings Act by officials of the City of Natchez, who met behind closed doors to discuss a waste collection contract last year.

“I’m extremely proud of The Natchez Democrat staff,” said Scott Hawkins, editor of The Natchez Democrat. “They are a hard-working, talented staff, and I am proud to work along side them every day. It is nice to see their work honored by their peers.”

Members of the Kansas Press Association judged the better newspaper contest for work produced by Mississippi newspapers in 2018.

Other first-place awards won by Democrat staff:

  • General News Story, Scott Hawkins, Ben Hillyer and Sabrina Robertson for coverage of a Community prayer service in December after 14 murders in Natchez and Adams County
  • Breaking News Story: Scott Hawkins, Ben Hillyer and Sabrina Robertson for coverage of two confirmed tornadoes in November last year
  • Business News Story: Sabrina Robertson for coverage of Vidalia Denim
  • General News Photo: Clara Turnage for a picture of the Natchez-Adams School District  teacher of the year being named during an award ceremony
  • Spot News Photo: Nicole Hester for a picture of firefighters fighting a fire in Concordia Parish
  • Feature Photo: Hillyer for a picture of the champion crepe myrtle tree at Bontura on Broadway Street; Hillyer swept the category, also taking second and third place
  • Photo Series: Hillyer for a series of pictures of a child learning to ride a bicycle; Hillyer also swept this category, taking second and third place among the top two circulation divisions in the state
  • News Package: Robertson for a story about Natchez tax revenues remaining steady despite loss of businesses; the Democrat staff swept this category, taking second and third place as well against newspapers in the top two circulation divisions
  • Personality Portrait: Hester for a portrait of a female firefighter; Democrat staffers Hillyer and Hester also took second and third place in this category
  • Best Front Page: staff
  • Best Editorial Page: staff
  • Best Sports Page: staff
  • Best Special Section: staff for a special section about the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race; the Democrat staff also earned second place in this category for the Democrat’s 2018 Profile edition

The Natchez Democrat staff also won numerous other second and third place awards, including second-place for best website out of all newspapers in the state.