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Newspapers, journalists honored for editorial excellence

Saturday, June 16, 2018   (0 Comments)
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NEW ORLEANS — Newspapers in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Oxford, and Charleston were singled out for excellence in their audience classes in awards handed out at the annual convention of the Mississippi Press Association here Saturday, June 16.

The Clarion-Ledger, Hattiesburg American, The Oxford Eagle, The Lamar Times, Hattiesburg Post and The Sun-Sentinel won top honors for General Excellence in the annual Better Newspaper Contest Editorial Division.

Paul Hampton, political editor of the Sun Herald in Biloxi, received the J. Oliver Emmerich Award for Editorial Excellence, the highest prize presented annually by the Association. Hampton is a first-time winner of the award, named for the late Enterprise-Journal publisher J.O. Emmerich, considered the dean of Mississippi opinion writing. Hampton has been in print journalism since 1977 as a pressman, ad salesman, photographer, beat writer, crime reporter, copy editor, designer, news editor, presentation editor and wire editor. Most recently, he's been the politics editor and editorial writer at the Biloxi publication for almost five years.

Hampton’s winning entry was for a body of work that included an editorial about an infamous Facebook Live video depicting the sexual assault off a young woman. It is the Sun Herald's first win of the Editorial Excellence award since former editorial editor Marie Harris was presented the prize in 2000. Hampton also won the Division A First Place award for Commentary Column writing.

"(A) conversational writing style and good topics made this entry the winner," wrote contest judges.

Shannon Wall, the Sun Herald's publisher, says Hampton "is among the finest journalists she's ever seen."

Winner of the Bill Minor Prize for Investigative Journalism for Daily Newspapers was Anna Wolfe of the Clarion Ledger. Wolfe’s project examined the disparity faced by citizens living in the Mississippi Delta surrounded by food crops and who face poverty and lack of means to provide good food for themselves and their family.
""This entry focuses on an important topic, spells out the problem very well in the first part and finishes with a focus on solutions," wrote judges of Wolfe's entry. "Not enough series go that far.

"Exceptional reporting. Clear, concise writing. This is the best of the best."

Michael Simmons of the Madison County Journal in Ridgeland earned the investigative prize for weekly newspapers for articles surrounding the murder of Kingston Frazier, a 6-year-old child who was abducted when his mother's car was stolen from a Jackson-area grocery store.

Susan Montgomery of The Greenwood Commonwealth won the Bill Minor Prize for General News Reporting for a story on how the immigration crackdown affected a man in Leflore County who faced deportation.

"Good reporting and writing putting a national issue in perspective with a local face to it ... (makes this) an important story well reported," judges said.

Jason Patterson of The Yazoo Herald took the prize for general news weekly newspapers for a story on a local cemetery where remains go forgotten due to lack of upkeep.

"(It's an) excellent story. The writing is compelling and makes it 'personal.'  It also got results," wrote judges.

The investigative and general news prizes come with generous cash awards. Established in 2003, the Bill Minor Prizes are funded through an endowment to the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson in honor of the late Minor’s long career as a reporter and columnist.

Ben Hillyer, news editor and photographer for The Natchez Democrat, won Photo of the Year for his breaking news picture of a fireman rushing into a local blaze.

Bill Graham and Whitney Downard of The Meridian Star won First Place for the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award. The pair examined how the crackdown on immigration affected people and businesses in Lauderdale County.

“We are so proud of all winners and the great work they did this past year,” said MPA President Paul Keane, publisher of The Wayne County News. “Excellence in journalism is on display here and underscores how important our newspapers are to the communities we serve.”

The 2017 Better Newspaper Contest was judged by volunteers from the South Carolina Press Association. Fifty-one newspapers submitted a total of 2,307 entries into this year’s editorial contest. Awards for advertising excellence will be handed out in February during MPA’s Mid-Winter Conference.

Founded in 1866 and now in its 152nd year, MPA is trade association representing Mississippi newspaper media.


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