Watchdog Journalism, Tornado Coverage Highlight Annual CNHI Editorial Contest
Posted: 4/9/2013  |  By: Press Release | CNHI
Uncovering malfeasance in local government, including preferential police handling of a retired state trooper’s mysterious car accident, earned The Eagle-Tribune of North Andover, Mass., top honors in the Best of CNHI journalism competition for 2012.
 
Judges named The Eagle-Tribune “Newspaper of the Year” in the contest’s largest circulation category and also awarded it first place for public service for its watchdog reporting on issues that otherwise would not have come to readers’ attention.

The News & Tribune of Jeffersonville, Ind., won “Newspaper of the Year” honors for the third straight year for small CNHI dailies for its comprehensive coverage of a devastating tornado that struck southern Indiana March 2, 2012.

The Sentinel-Echo of London, Ky., was named “Newspaper of the Year’ for non-dailies. Judges cited the paper’s response to a tornado that swept through the community as well as its thorough coverage of a controversial ballot proposal to allow the sale of alcohol.

CNHI (Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.), an Alabama-based media company, is a leading publisher of community newspapers, websites and niche publications in the United States. They serve more than 130 communities in 23 states. The annual Best of CNHI recognizes the individual and collective works of the company’s journalists.

The judges, a panel of six veteran editors, said The Eagle-Tribune stood out among the group’s larger dailies “for coverage of political corruption, aggressive reporting of breaking news in print and online, and dogged pursuit of police attempts to cover up for one of their own” – a former state trooper who struck and snapped a utility pole, drove from the scene with his air bags deployed and smelled of alcohol when he was spotted later by officers sitting in his Cadillac Escalade. He was not arrested at the scene nor charged in the case until the paper disclosed the preferential treatment, which eventually led to disciplinary action against four police officers.

The News & Tribune of Jeffersonville was honored for its “breadth of coverage, strong photography and initiative” in everyday news and sports coverage, but especially in the aftermath of the tornado that destroyed homes, businesses and schools in Henryville, Ind., hometown of the late Col. Harland Sanders, founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken chain.

Judges praised The Sentinel-Echo for “exhaustive, fair reporting” on the contentious liquor sales referendum in its southeastern Kentucky community. In addition to weekly reports on the issue, the paper produced a special section before the election examining the economic and social effects of “going wet” in Danville, a community 60 miles away. The Sentinel-Echo’s coverage was also awarded first place for public service in the non-dailies category.

The Glasgow, Ky., Daily Times won the public service award for small dailies for its legal pursuit of an investigator’s report into mismanagement and inmate harassment at the local jailhouse. The county board refused to make the report public until forced to do so by the paper’s legal challenge.
 
“Website of the Year” honors for CNHI’s largest dailies went to the Joplin, Mo., Globe. The Clinton, Iowa, Herald won first-place in the small dailies category, and the Pella, Iowa, Chronicle for non-dailies. All three websites were cited for their coverage of breaking news and production of online story packages.

In the magazine division, WV South, published by the Beckley, W.Va., Register-Herald, won top honors among the largest newspapers. Cape Ann, published by the Gloucester, Mass., Daily Times, took first-place for smaller dailies and non-dailies, which were combined for the magazine competition.
 
Individual honors were awarded to the following journalists:

Reporter of the Year: Andra Stefanoni, Joplin, Mo., Globe (large dailies); Heather Tomlinson, Somerset, Ky., Commonwealth Journal (small dailies); Dustin Luca, Andover, Mass., Townsman (non-dailies).

Sports Writer of the Year: Shane Frederick, Mankato, Minn., Free Press (large dailies); Nick Cammuso, Fairmont, W. Va., Times West Virginian (small dailies); Denis House, London, Ky., Sentinel-Echo (non-dailies).

Editorial Writer of the Year: Scott Underwood, Anderson, Ind., Herald Bulletin (large dailies); Shea Van Hoy, Jeffersonville, Ind., News and Tribune (small dailies); Neil Fater, Andover, Mass., Townsman (non-dailies).

Columnist of the Year: Nick Hildebrand, Sharon, Pa., Herald (large dailies); Todd Lancaster, Washington, Ind., Times Herald (small dailies); Willie Sawyers, London, Ky., Sentinel-Echo (non-dailies).

Photographer of the Year: Jan-Michael Stump, Traverse City, Mich., Record-Eagle (large dailies); Christopher Fryer, Jeffersonville, Ind., News and Tribune (small dailies); Denis House, London, Ky., Sentinel-Echo (non-dailies).

Designer of the Year: Brenda Pinnell, Beckley, W. Va., Register-Herald (large dailies); Andrea Holbrook, Gloucester, Mass., Daily Times (small dailies); Fran Landry, Derry, N.H., News (non-dailies).

CNHI, based in Montgomery, Ala., is a leading publisher of local news and information in the country. The group serves communities in 23 states with newspapers, websites and specialty publications.