National Conference of Editorial Writers Announces Winners of 2011 Opinion Journalism Contest

By: Press Release | NCEW

Lois Kazakoff, deputy editorial page editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, and Bob Davis, editor of the Anniston Star, in Anniston, Ala., have been honored as opinion journalists of the year by the National Conference of Editorial Writers (NCEW).

Founded in 1947, NCEW is a professional organization dedicated to advancing the craft of opinion journalism through education, professional development, exploration of issues of public importance and vigorous advocacy within journalism. NCEW is committed to promoting a healthier civic culture by raising the standards for public debate.

“Bob Davis flat-out — compellingly, entertainingly — and convincingly,” wrote the judges about the Anniston Star editor. “His focus on issues that matter to all Alabamians (even if they don’t know it yet) is clear, determined and precise. He even breathes a diverting life into the issue of Alabama’s execrable 1901 constitution, the gift that keeps on giving to Alabama editorial writers and the problem that refuses to go away. Davis gives a reader faith that someday it will, overwhelmed by logic and justice. He uses all the tools of a great opinion writer to illuminate issues in a way that is both good-humored and insistent. He is a wonderful first winner of NCEW’s Opinion Journalist of the Year award.”

Of Kazakoff, the judges wrote, “What do you want an opinion journalist to do? Write clearly and compellingly? Produce engaging pages and sections? Direct projects that connect readers with each other and with the newspaper? Lois Kazakoff, deputy editorial page editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, does all of those things skillfully and with verve. Perhaps more impressive, she does them with a dedication both to the values of that craft and the proposition that a newspaper can and should make its communities better places to live. Doing all of these things makes Kazakoff an exemplary first winner of NCEW’s Opinion Journalist of the Year award.”

Kazakoff was chosen from newspapers with a circulation of 100,000 and more, and Davis from papers with circulation of 100,000 or less.

The NCEW also presented awards to the nation’s top opinion pages. The winners are The Dallas Morning News (100,000+ circulation) and The Daily Times, in Salisbury, Md. (under 100,000 circulation).

Of the Dallas paper, the judges wrote, “Whether it’s in its thorough coverage of complicated, many-sided issues or in its use of typography and illustration, the editorial and op-ed pages of the Dallas Morning News are outstanding. We found its pausing to once again explain, clearly and crisply, exactly how an editorial operation functions to be the kind of reader service that is too often ignored. Michael Hogue’s illustrations are wonderful. The attractive presentation of political endorsements could — and probably should — be emulated by any newspaper. It is an outstanding section.”

The judges wrote enthusiastically about The Daily Times, “At a time of widespread hand-wringing over the state of journalism, the pages of The Daily Times of Salisbury, Maryland, offer vibrant evidence that journalists are still doing excellent and important work. These pages offer commentary that is timely and well edited, grounded in local concerns and connected to the relevant issues of the state, nation and world. The pages are also designed with a flair that should be the envy of much larger newspapers.”

“Today’s open media environment has produced a cacophony of opinion, much of it non-factual, uninformed, abusive in tone and hidden in anonymity or false identities,” said Froma Harrop, president of The National Conference of Editorial Writers. “These winners are protecting our civic culture by presenting strong arguments written with skill and creativity. They are having an impact on public policy and the quality of our national discourse.”

The opinion writing honors were designed for the staff of a newspaper-based, broadcast, mulit-media or web-only production. No prize was awarded in the online category this year.

Winners will be presented at the annual NCEW conference, which takes place this year in Indianapolis on Sept. 15-17.

For more information on the National Conference of Editorial Writers, go to www.ncew.org.

 

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