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Newspapers, journalists presented awards for excellence

Thursday, July 9, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Editor
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JACKSON—Newspapers in Tupelo, Vicksburg, Meridian, Amory, Columbia, and Charleston have been cited for excellence in their audience classes in awards presented by the Mississippi Press Association.

The Daily Journal of Tupelo, The Vicksburg Post, The Meridian Star, the Monroe Journal in Amory, The Columbian-Progress in Columbia, and The Sun-Sentinel in Charleston won top honors for General Excellence in the annual Better Newspaper Contest Editorial Division.

Wyatt Emmerich, editor and publisher of The Northside Sun in Jackson, was honored with the J. Oliver Emmerich Award for Editorial Excellence — his second win of this special award named in memory of his grandfather.

The Emmerich Award was established in 1976 to honor the late Enterprise-Journal publisher, considered the dean of Mississippi opinion writing. It recognizes what judges consider the best example of best opinion writing in the state each year.  

"(His) editorials...are based on detailed facts, which are laid out for readers. The writer makes clear and persuasive arguments to support an opinion and/or explain the nuances of an issue," judges said of Wyatt Emmerich's work.

Winner of the Bill Minor Prize for Investigative Journalism for Daily Newspapers was the newsroom staff of The Meridian Star.

"Outstanding effort by this paper to bring to light the circumstances surrounding the death of a child," judges wrote. "(The) editorial calling for policy changes that can help prevent this from happening again, together with news stories about (the victim) is a newspaper doing their best for their community and all of the defenseless children who need to be noticed."

Mark Thornton of the Laurel Leader-Call won the Bill Minor Prize for Weeklies for reporting on turmoil in the Jones County Sheriff's Office.

"Delivering indictments and other court papers is a routine function of a sheriff's office that often doesn't receive or need much attention from the public," judges wrote. "But in this case at least 25 felony suspects got their cases dismissed because the serving of their papers wasn't timely – often years late.

"The Leader-Call covered these cases one at a time but kept a running tally of the mounting evidence of neglect of duty and its consequences in trials not held, restitution not paid, and sentences not imposed."

Sarah Fowler of the Clarion Ledger won the Bill Minor Price for General News Reporting among daily newspapers. Fowler's coverage of a man abused by a priest more than 75 times while he was a child was singled out.

"This somber account of a boy's sexual abuse...shows how it started, how it proceeded, and the effects on him of the abuse and of the lack of accountability," judges said. "The writer lets him (now a man) tell his story by giving the damning facts and describing his feelings. The focus of the story is clear from the first sentence, and the story is told with clarity and sensitivity from there to the (conclusion)."

Anthony Warren of The Northside Sun won the Bill Minor Prize for General News for Weeklies for his story on local supervisors calling for more transparency of state 911 spending.

"The Northside Sun's coverage exposed a shocking lack of candor and accountability" in details of income and expenses for the Mississippi Commercial Mobile Radio Emergency Telephone Services Board.

Thomas Wells of the Daily Journal in Tupelo was awarded the 2019 MPA Photo of the Year Prize for coverage of a Tupelo-Horn Lake gridiron matchup (above). It was Wells' second consecutive win in the category.

Jason Patterson and Jamie Patterson were awarded the Daniel Phillips Freedom of Information Award for their reporting on a "questionable hire" within a local school district.

"Good job of calling out the mistrust and secrecy created in the way the superintendent was hired," judges wrote.

The Gazebo Gazette in Pass Christian and The Meridian Star were presented the Community Service Award for weekly and daily newspapers, respectively.

"We are very proud of all the winners and for the excellent work they did on behalf of their communities in 2019," said MPA President Kevin Cooper, senior vice president of Boone Newspapers, Inc. "The excellence in reporting, photojournalism, new media, and service categories proves that newspapers even in these challenging times continue to be the leading source of information for towns and cities across Mississippi."

The 2019 Better Newspaper Contest was judged this spring by volunteers from the Alabama Press Association. Thirty-one newspapers submitted a total of 1,768 entries.

Now in its 154th year, MPA is trade association representing Mississippi newspaper media.


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