Seven Community Newspapers Honored with McClatchy President's Awards
Seven newspapers have been honored with McClatchy President's Awards in the community newspaper division, an annual competition designed to recognize the best journalism at McClatchys non-daily papers. The awards honor work published in 2010.
The Keller Citizen, a suburban weekly published near Fort Worth, Texas, won first in the news category for a series of stories revealing that the president of a local youth sports association owned and operated several strip clubs having problems with the law.
Despite the association's attempts to sweep the issue aside, the newspaper kept the spotlight on and made sure parents were heard in their opposition. The coverage and public outcry led the association president to resign.
"This series is a powerful result of following a tip, persistence when an organization's leaders try to operate without transparency, and a community newspaper living up to its watchdog role," the judges said.
The Keller Citizen was one of three community newspapers published by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to win awards.
Vida en el Valle, a bilingual weekly published in California's Central Valley, won the special projects award for a 20-page, broadsheet special section celebrating Mexicos bicentennial, the 200th anniversary Mexico's declaration of independence from Spain.
The paper told the history of Mexico through its people, populating the special section with reader-friendly top 10 lists of politicians, entrepreneurs, authors, athletes and other key figures.
"The reporting legwork, the design and the sheer volume of interesting detail is truly impressive," the judges said. "This is a section undoubtedly that will be saved for rereading for years to come." Vida en el Valle also was the top overall award winner with three prizes. The paper won first in the sports category and finished second in the news category.
Community newspapers published by The Kansas City Star collectively won three awards. The Star-Herald in Belton, Mo., won first place for photography, and Lee's Summit Journal won two second-place prizes for sports and photography.
The Chapel Hill News in North Carolina won first for features. Staffers at various McClatchy daily newspapers judged the news, sports, features and photo categories. McClatchy's two vice presidents of operations, Bob Weil and Frank Whittaker, judged the special projects category.
Each first-place winner receives $1,000, and the winning publication receives a crystal trophy; second-place winners receive $500.
The award winners and judges comments follow:
News -- Judged by The Wichita Eagle (Kansas)
First Place: The Keller Citizen (Texas)
Youth Association Leader Tied to Strip Clubs
Adrian McCandless and Darren Barbee
Adrian McCandless' series of stories shows that strong watchdog reporting can come from any size newsroom. Working on a tip, she found that the head of a youth recreational sports association operated several strip clubs that had various problems with the law. The sports association's board of directors tried to sweep the issue aside -- even engineering a vote of confidence at a meeting with no notice to parents who opposed the mans continued leadership of the group. But the newspaper refused to let the organization operate in the shadows, and made sure parents were heard in their opposition to the man leading a children's sports association. Finally, he resigned. This series is a powerful result of following a tip, persistence when an organizations leaders try to operate without transparency, and a community newspaper living up to its watchdog role.
Second Place: Vida en el Valle (California)
Insurance Insecurity / Health Barriers Imminent
One of the biggest national stories of 2011 is the budget crisis facing state governments, and this two-part series makes real -- at the most basic community level -- the cost and pain to people losing fundamental services. The stories put human faces on those who stand to lose basic health care services under the waves of budget cuts rolling through state programs. The series combines strong elements of storytelling with the stark numbers in news reporting and helpful elements of explanatory journalism.
Sports -- Judged by The Modesto Bee (California)
First Place: Vida en el Valle (California)
"World, Here We Come!"
Daniel Càsarez, Cynthia Moreno and Juan Esparza Loera
When it comes to sports, Vida en el Valle knows what its audience likes and wants: fútbol. And it gave it to them in a special bilingual section on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa that was solid gold. The section offered a great blend of local, McClatchy and news service stories, stats and schedules -- all well-written and neatly wrapped in a colorful, eye-catching package. In reading through the section, there was only one conclusion: ¡Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool!
Second Place: Lee's Summit Journal (Missouri)
This was a delightful look at the world of a 7-year-old skateboard phenom. From its interesting and quirky lead (the "lawnmower rule" in which he couldnt take to the ramp in the early morning until hearing a lawnmower in the neighborhood) to explaining how Big E got his name (his mom put a giant letter on his back so she could easily spot him in the sea of skaters) to its 360 board-flip conclusion (the one trick he hasn't mastered yet), this piece captured the world of competitive skateboarding that can be every bit as intense and demanding as a mainstream sport. And, this story wasnt just about an amazing young athlete boy, but about an entire family living little Big E's dream while keeping things in proper perspective.
Features -- Judged by the Sun Herald (Mississippi)
First Place: The Chapel Hill News (North Carolina)
"Where Abilities Come in Many Guises"
Mark Schultz and Harry Lynch
This in-depth story displayed first class reporting and writing and was the clear winner. This entry tells an uplifting story about a job training program for a group of young people with developmental disabilities who are changing attitudes toward themselves through their work. The narrative takes the reader on a journey that has not yet reached its destination, but along the way the honest work that those in the program are accomplishing has changed attitudes not only of the employers, but of the young workers themselves. Readers often complain that journalism is too much given to bad, even hopeless, news. This story is full of hope and possibility. It is a winner.
Second Place: Arlington Citizen-Journal (Texas)
"Digging Up the Past"
This story is set up with a great lead that takes the reader to a vast pit in northeast Arlington where a fossilized fish spine has blown off a table and "back into the earth where it was hidden for 95 million years." Robert Cadwallader used a little fisherman humor to make us smile as he describes the lost fish bone as "the one that got away." The feature does a good job of educating readers to the North Texas that existed long ago when dinosaurs, sharks, crocodiles and other species from the Cretaceous period held dominion in this land. The writer knows his stuff and does a good job of drawing his audience into the dig site with the team of volunteer diggers who are uncovering the past in their backyard.
Honorable Mention: The Peninsula Gateway (Washington)
"What Is the Key to Everlasting Love?"
This Valentine Day feature tells the story of love through the long years of marriage enjoyed by three couples in the papers readership zone. Susan Schell understands the universal appeal to love and shares the key to a happy marriage through their experience. It is a story of insight and sharing that is well told.
Photography -- Judged by the Centre Daily Times (Pennsylvania)
First Place: The Star-Herald (Missouri)
"Drama on Route Y"
Captures the stunning, rising floodwaters on the state road near Cleveland. Jake Messmer is trapped on the roof of his car and would be rescued by firefighters. Allen Edmonds' shot -- "Drama on Route Y" -- tells the story of this incredible night for local residents, showing how high the waters were rising and the danger of the moment. This photo from The Star-Herald in Belton, Mo., is tops from among strong community newspaper photos.
Second Place: Lee's Summit Journal (Missouri)
Tower of Power
Captures an incredible moment of action in a girls soccer game, and Stephen Bubalo's photo is the best of the sports photos entered by community papers. At any level this photo would shine, showing the intensity of competition. A great shot and second in this category.
Honorable Mention: The Durham News (North Carolina)
"A Day in the Life of Durham"
Harry Lynch, Shane Snider, Jesse James DeConto, Katelyn Ferral, Mark Dubowski
The Bull City's secrets are revealed in a strong photo shoot and presentation for The Durham News. This idea of capturing the everyday moments of a city in a 24-hour period could play in any town, and the photographers handled it well, offering many strong images. The page of reader photos was a good addition. Nice work and certainly deserving of an honorable mention.
Special Projects Judged by Bob Weil and Frank Whittaker
First Place: Vida en el Valle (California)
Making Mexico's bicentennial relevant to the large Latino population in California's Central Valley was no easy task, but the team at Vida en el Valle was easily up to the challenge. This 20-page, broadsheet special section in both Spanish and English chose as a central theme to tell 200 years of history through people. Consulting a variety of sources, top 10 lists were developed in categories such as politicians, entrepreneurs, revolutionaries, athletes, authors and so on. The reporting legwork, the design and the sheer volume of interesting detail is truly impressive. This is a section undoubtedly that will be saved for rereading for years to come.
Second Place: Mansfield News-Mirror (Texas)
Mansfield School District Centennial
Amanda Rogers and Brian Hernalsteen
Over several months, 100 years of history unfolded a decade at a time. The Mansfield News-Mirror published a timeline in monthly installments that highlighted each decade in the school districts history. The local dates and milestones were mixed with news and trivia from around the area, the country and the world. Thousands of local names made the grade, and were betting that this series was a key topic over water coolers and at coffee houses throughout the region.
The judges noted that the special project submissions this year were the best since this contest began. Accordingly, they also awarded three honorable mentions:
Lee's Summit Journal in Missouri received recognition for the annual "Guide to Lees Summit," a compelling and comprehensive description of various city services and organizations.
The Chapel Hill News in North Carolina was singled out for its special report "24 Hours on Franklin Street," describing the changes on this key thoroughfare, the heart of a university town.
The Herald in Puyallup, Wash., was cited for a multipart series reliving the highlights from 110 years of the Western Washington Fair.
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