FROM STAFF REPORTS
The Aberdeen Examiner came away from the Mississippi Press Association’s 2003 Better Newspaper Contest with the most awards of any newspaper in its circulation division, including second place finishes in the prestigious General Excellence and the Best Design categories.
The Examiner garnered a total of 22 awards at Saturday’s luncheon at the Tri-State Press Convention at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tenn., six more than The Petal News, the General Excellence winner in the Weekly Division B group.
Included among Aberdeen’s awards were five first places, eight seconds, eight thirds and one honorable mention.
The Petal News won 16 awards, seven of which were first place, and The Yazoo Herald, headed by former Examiner publisher Gary Andrews, came in third with 15 awards – four of which were firsts.
Rounding out the Top 10 total award winners were the Itawamba County Times with 12 (two firsts), the Clarke County Tribune with seven (one first), the Stone County Enterprise with five (three firsts), the Magee Courier with five (one first), the Winona Times with five, the George County Times with three and The Democrat with one (one first).
Highlighting the afternoon’s ceremonies was the installation of former Examiner publisher Barry Burleson as MPA president for the coming year.
Examiner sports editor Don Rowe, who won a total of 10 awards overall, captured three of the paper’s five first place awards, including the “Best Sports Page or Section,” the “Best Game Story” for last year’s Aberdeen-Amory football game and the “Best Sports Feature” for a story on University of Minnesota head strength coach Dwayne Chandler.
Judges cited the Examiner sports pages for a “nice layout and editorial makeup.”
Former Examiner managing editor Joe Gurner was honored with a first for “Best Editorials” in the Weekly Division B classification, and Gurner and former Amory Advertiser managing editor Beth Bunch shared a first for the “Best Spot News Story” on the tornadoes that racked Monroe County last May.
“Impressed by the depth of detail and the fact that two reporters reported two sides of the story, increasing the interest of the readers,” said the judges on Gurner’s and Bunch’s “Monroe County after the storm” story.
Gurner’s editorials drew the judges praise for “suggesting a course of action” and said that all of the submitted editorials “expressed a definite opinion.”
Gurner also picked up two second place certificates for “Best General News Photograph” and “Best Feature Photograph” and shared a second place award with staff writer Barbara Harrington in the “Best Special Section or Issue” category for the 28th Annual Pilgrimage edition.
“A well-organized special section….readable,” said the judges on the pilgrimage special section. “What a fun filled photo” they added on Gurner’s Special Olympics fund raiser feature photograph.
Rowe also won a pair of second place awards in the “Best Sports Feature Photograph” and “Best Sports Action Photograph” categories, while Harrington added a second place in the “Best General News Story” category.
“Only not being able to see the ball kept this from winning first,” the judges said of Rowe’s shot of Hamilton’s Kristopher Holman sliding into home plate the the annual NEMCABB All-Star baseball game.
“I wish more towns had people like the Carters….thought you captured who they are in this story,” the judges noted on Harrington’s entry on the Davis and Mary Carter’s donation of a home to the Aberdeen Main Street Association.
Judges comments on the Examiner’s second place finish in the “Best Design” category included: “Headlines are weak – photos are excellent. Pilgrimage edition is very strong. Good sports coverage.”
Four of the eight third place awards went to Rowe for “Best Sports Column, Best Sports Feature, Best Game Story” and “Best Sports Action Photograph.”
Rowe’s column came out third in the “All Weeklies” category behind The Star Herald (Kosciusko) and the New Albany Gazette, both of which are grouped in the Weekly Division A circulation division.
Staff photographer Brenda Owens received a third place certificate for “Best Sports Feature Photograph” and shared a third with Gurner and Harrington in the “Best Planned Series of Stories” category, while Gurner also added a third for “Best Commentary Column” as did Harrington for “Best Feature Story” on the loss of Orleana to the wrecking ball.
“A sad loss, but history preserved in the article was well researched,” said the judges on Harrington’s “The walls fall silent” story.
The only honorable mention certificate went to Rowe in the “Best Feature Photograph” category.
Former Aberdeen residents Ray Van Dusen won a first place plaque for the “Best Spot News Photograph” and a second place certificate for the Itawamba County Times and Burleson was awarded a third in the “Best Sports Feature” category for The South Reporter in Holly Springs
“Most small towns have a ‘Willard Conwill’ barber who quietly influences others. Enjoyed this. Nice feature,” said the judges on Van Dusen’s article entitled “Conwill closes shop.”
“I love this pic (picture). The expression on her face is perfect,” they noted on Van Dusen’s photograph.
Steven Watson, another journalist with ties to Aberdeen, captured one first, two seconds and three honorable mentions for the Madison County Journal.
Watson’s winner came in the “Sports Action Photograph” category, and his runnerup certificates were awarded for the “Best Sports Feature Photograph” and “Best Pictorial Series in One Issue” categories.
The Mississippi Press Association Better Newspaper Contest is conducted each year to promote and recognize excellence among Mississippi’s daily and weekly newspapers through competition among various publications grouped by circulation.
The circulation division in which each newspaper competes is determined by the total average paid circulation figure printed in the membership directory.
The circulation divisions for each category include: Daily Division – above 20,000, 9,000-20,000 and below 9,000; Weekly Division – above 4,000, 2,500-4,000 and below 2,500.
Submitted entries in the contest must have been published in the period between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2003 and were judged by members of the Louisiana Press Association in 33 different categories.
Plaques were awarded to first-place winners, with certificates for second, third and honorable mention winners.
A total of 46 weekly newspapers with a total of 1,749 entries entered this year’s contest, held for the first time in conjunction with the Tennessee and Arkansas Press Associations.
FROM STAFF REPORTS