By NEMS Daily Journal
SANDESTIN, Fla. – The Daily Journal won top honors for general excellence among Mississippi’s large daily newspapers and staff writer Emily Le Coz is the recipient of the highest award for investigative reporting in the state for 2011.
Le Coz received the Mississippi Press Association’s Bill Minor Award for her series of stories last fall on mismanagement at the North Lee County Water Association. The stories resulted in the resignation of the North Lee board, its president and the association’s manager.
The newspaper as a whole won first place in the general excellence category. The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson placed second and The Sun Herald of Biloxi third.
Le Coz’s award was one of 32, including nine first places, the Daily Journal received at MPA’s annual awards luncheon Saturday at the five-state Southeastern Press Convention in Sandestin, Fla.
Out-of-state judges awarded the Journal staff first place in spot news among the state’s larger newspapers for its coverage of the April 2011 tornadoes in Smithville and the region.
Other firsts included Scott Morris in feature writing for his story on a man who built a wall of stones honoring his Native American great-grandmother; Patsy Brumfield, for general interest columns; Todd Sherman in spot news photos for an image in the aftermath of the Smithville tornado; Parrish Alford and Brad Locke in sports news for their story on tweeting by college athletes; Alford in the game story category for his Ole Miss-Arkansas football story; and the Journal’s Civil War 150th anniversary section in the special sections category.
Second place awards included:
• DJournal.com, website.
• Tupelo tornado 75th anniversary, planned series – Joe Rutherford, Scott Morris, Ginna Parsons.
• Parrish Alford, sports news, for coverage of the firing of Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt.
• Leslie Criss, general interest columns.
• Errol Castens, commentary columns.
• Todd Sherman and Deste Lee, pictorial series, for tornado photos.
• Lloyd Gray, editorials.
• Joe Rutherford, for the Journal’s editorial page.
The Daily Journal’s sports section and Living section won second places in their categories among larger papers, as did the Journal’s overall design.
Third place awards included:
• Chris Kieffer, in-depth/investigative reporting, for his series on the Tupelo schools’ achievement gap.
• Brad Locke, sports columns.
• Chris Kieffer, sports feature, for a story on Smithville’s 2011 football opener.
• Thomas Wells, spot news photo, for a car that crashed into a home.
• Thomas Wells, feature photo, for elementary students visiting an exhibit on China.
• Thomas Wells, Deste Lee, Chris Kieffer and Emily Le Coz, photo-story combination, for a Sunday detailing the day the Smithville tornado hit.
• Todd Sherman, pictorial series, for the life of a circus clown.
• The Daily Journal’s front page.
• Todd Sherman, graphic, for an illustration marking the fifth anniversary of no smoking ordinances in Northeast Mississippi.
• Dennis Seid and Josh Hanna, special sections, for a section on Toyota’s production kickoff.
• Lloyd Gray, commentary columns.