Anchored by three first-place honors, the Cleveland Daily Banner earned 10 journalism awards in nine categories during the 2017 University of Tennessee/Tennessee Press Association Newspaper Contest awards banquet held recently in Franklin.
Twelve Banner staff writers and editors received plaques and certificates for their achievements.
Their work, judged by members of the South Carolina Press Association, came during the 2016 calendar year.
Categories earning first-place finishes included Community Lifestyles, Best Single Feature and Best Personal Column. The Cleveland newspaper, which is included in Group 4 of the five-division journalism contest, also brought home a second-place honor in Best Single Editorial and a third-place finish in Best Personal Column.
The local publication also received fourth-place awards in Local Features, Best Education Reporting and Editorials. Also, the Banner pulled fifth-place awards in Best Sports Writing and Best Business Coverage.
“This was an extremely impressive performance by our newsroom staff for their professional reporting and journalism for the 2016 calendar year,” said Ralph Baldwin, Cleveland Daily Banner publisher. “The annual UT/TPA awards seek to honor Tennessee newspapers whose staffs have gone above and beyond in their quest to provide quality journalism in a responsible manner.”
In a reciprocal agreement with the Tennessee Press Association, SCPA-member newspapers judged a total of 1,317 entries from 72 of TPA’s 120 member newspapers. UT and TPA have co-sponsored the annual Tennessee newspaper contest since 1940.
Categories in which the Banner earned awards, their rank, the subject matter and the writers whose work was submitted include:
• Best Single Feature: First place for a story titled “A homer for Carli,” written by education writer Saralyn Norkus.
• Community Lifestyles: First place for features titled “Natalya Istomin: Bringing hope” and “Keevin Tyus: Athletes scoring big,” presented by William Wright and Bettie Marlowe. This is the second consecutive year that Wright and Marlowe have earned the first-place honor in Community Lifestyles.
• Best Personal Column: First place for an opinion piece that explored racial unrest titled “Wake up America, and learn,” written by Rick Norton, associate editor. This is the third consecutive year Norton has won first-place honors in the Best Single Column category.
• Best Single Editorial: Second place for an opinion piece titled “Tyler’s racist protest,” written by Rick Norton. The editorial scrutinized a congressional candidate’s political rally targeting the Cleveland newspaper because of its Opinion page views and news coverage of his campaign.
• Best Personal Column: Third place for an opinion piece titled “Responsible journalism takes a hit,” written by staff writer Brian Graves who addressed the wrongs of newspaper sensationalism.
• Local Features: Fourth place in a team effort for features titled “Thank-You, Tennova,” “Lady Raiders embrace Mormon’s conviction,” “Goodbye newspaperman,” “Bradley County’s ‘Inscribed Chatata Wall,’” and “Cleveland USA.” Contributing staff writers included Allen Mincey, Larry Bowers, Patrick MacCoon and William Wright.
• Best Education Reporting: Fourth place in a team effort for a string of education-related pieces that involved Cleveland City Schools, Bradley County Schools, Lee University and Cleveland State Community College. Contributing staff writers were Christy Armstrong, Saralyn Norkus and Joyanna Love, the latter of whom has relocated to Montgomery, Ala. where she remains employed in the newspaper industry.
• Editorials: Fourth place for a grouping of three opinion pieces titled “Racist billboards an abuse of freedom,” “Tyler’s racist protest” and “Olayinka Opaso.” Each editorial was written by Rick Norton.
• Best Sports Writing: Fifth place for a grouping of 10 sports pieces by four sports writers that included news stories, features and personal columns. Contributing writers included Richard Roberts, sports editor; Joe Cannon, assistant sports editor; and sports writers Patrick MacCoon and Saralyn Norkus.
• Best Business Coverage: Fifth place for a collection of 10 business-related news stories and editorials that included pieces on Spring Branch Industrial Park, hotel industry growth, tourism, Hardwick Clothes, Cleveland Utilities, unemployment, the property tax partial payment program and small business updates, among others. Contributing writers were Christy Armstrong, Joyanna Love and Rick Norton.
Baldwin praised the work of the Banner’s news team, while also pointing to the positive contributions of all departments within the newspaper: Advertising, Circulation, Composition, Pressroom and Administrative Staff.
“At the Cleveland Daily Banner, we strive for a total team effort,” Baldwin said. “When one department excels, we believe it is made possible by the direct and indirect contributions of all departments and every employee.”
He added, “I’m happy for our entire operation. Group 4, which is comprised of newspapers about our size, is a very competitive division in Tennessee.”
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