The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Z_CNHI News Service

April 1, 2014

CNHI papers honored for spot news, enterprise journalism

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Detailed coverage of a devastating tornado that struck Moore, Okla., May 20, 2013, distinguished The Norman Transcript as one of CNHI’s best newspapers. A judging panel of editors and journalists honored The Transcript as Newspaper of the Year among the company's small dailies in the annual Best of CNHI editorial competition.

The Herald Bulletin of Anderson, Ind., was named Newspaper of the Year for CNHI's large dailies. Judges cited the paper’s strong enterprise, including an in-depth report on a contentious annexation plan and an interview with a longtime death row inmate. It also praised the paper’s clean, easy-to-navigate design.

The Andover, Mass., Townsman won Newspaper of the Year among CNHI non-dailies, earning plaudits for thorough coverage of the community’s small and large news, including the gruesome murder of a beloved 24-year-old teacher who lived in town and taught math at a nearby high school. One of her students was charged with assaulting and killing her.

Judges commended the Norman Transcript's compelling stories, evocative photos and layered print and digital coverage of the spring tornado and its aftermath. Two-dozen people died, and scores of homes and businesses were destroyed. The judges said: “The Transcript delivered right down to the smaller details, like tracking down an author who'd written about a massive tornado in the same community 10 years earlier. Even the garden columnist touched on the post-storm effects.”

The Transcript’s digital coverage of the storm – and rich online journalism year-round – earned it the honor of Website of the Year for smaller dailies.

The Mankato, Minn., Free Press captured the Website of the Year award for large dailies. Judges described mankatofreepress.com offering a broad choice of digital content, including effective use of video, staff blogs and strong social media presence.

The news staff of the Knoxville, Iowa, Journal Express won Website of the Year among the company's non-daily newspapers.

Judges honored the Claremore, Okla., Daily Progress and reporter Salesha Wilken with a Public Service award for their aggressive pursuit of questions surrounding the conduct of the district attorney and county commissioners. In addition, Wilken earned the Reporter of the Year award among journalists at the company's smaller dailies for her "thorough, tenacious reporting."

The Valdosta, Ga., Daily Times earned a Public Service award for dogged coverage of a public health crisis that occurred when a flood inundated the local wastewater treatment plant, sending millions of gallons of waste into a nearby river. The Suwannee Democrat of Live Oak, Fla., won the award among the company's non-daily newspapers for coverage of a medical waste incinerator planned for the community.

In the magazine category, judges named Merrimack Valley Business, produced by The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass., and Newburyport Magazine, produced by the Daily News of Newburyport, Mass., as Magazines of the Year. Both were cited for their sharp design, as well as strong local photos and stories.

Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. (CNHI) is an Alabama-based media company and leading publisher of local newspapers, websites and niche publications serving more than 130 communities in 23 states. The Best of CNHI contest recognizes individual and collective works of the company's journalists.

Individual honors were awarded to the following journalists:

Reporter of the Year: Robb Murray, Mankato Free Press, Mankato, Minn. (large dailies); Salesha Wilken, Claremore, Okla., Daily Progress (small dailies); Bill Kirk, Andover, Mass., Townsman (non-dailies)

Sports Writer of the Year: Aaron Snyder, Ashland, Ky., Independent, Ashland, Ky. (large dailies); Mike DeFabo, Times West Virginian, Fairmont, W.Va. (small dailies); Denis House, The Sentinel-Echo, London, Ky. (non-dailies)

Editorial Writer of the Year: Kathy Vos, The Free Press, Mankato, Minn. (large dailies); Shea Van Hoy, News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind. (small dailies); Lisa Shearer, The Edmond, Okla., Sun (non-dailies)

Photographer of the Year: Roger Nomer, Joplin, Mo., Globe, (large dailies); Jim Vaiknoras, Daily News, Newburyport, Mass. (small dailies); Mary Schwalm, Derry, N.H., News (non-dailies)

Columnist of the Year: Mark Bennett, Terre Haute, Ind., Tribune-Star (large dailies); Eric DuVall, Tonawanda News, North Tonawanda, N.Y. (small dailies); Tammie Toler, Princeton, W.Va., Times (non-dailies)

Designer of the Year: Joe Myers, North Andover, Mass., Design Hub (large dailies); Natalie Davis, The Union-Recorder, Millegeville, Ga. (small dailies); Fran Landry, Derry, N.H., News (non-dailies)

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