The recent presentations were made during the State Press Contests Awards Luncheon in Nashville attended by newspaper publishers and editors from across Tennessee in five divisions based on average weekly circulation.
Included in Group IV, the Banner led its division in top awards with first-place honors in Best Special Issue or Section, Best Sports Photograph, Local Features and Best Personal Column. In the same division, The Jackson Sun garnered the General Excellence Award based on total points accumulated for awards.
The Greeneville Sun and The Leaf-Chronicle (Clarksville) took home three first-place awards each in Group IV; the Johnson City Press, Herald Citizen (Cookeville) and The Daily Herald collected two; and the Jackson Sun, Elizabethton Star and Bristol Herald-Courier took one first-place award each.
Judges for this year’s Tennessee competition were members of the Texas Press Association.
Awards received by the Banner, the categories, entries and staff members honored included:
- Best Special Issue or Section (first place), for “Road to Recovery: The First 30 Days,” a collection of stories and photographs compiled by newsroom staff and designed by Gwen Swiger, associate editor, with special section editing by Ed Coons. Contributing staff writers, editors and photographers included managing editor David Davis, Donna Kaylor, Greg Kaylor, associate editor Rick Norton, Reece Rutland, Joyanna Weber, associate editor Lucie R. Willsie and William Wright, Lifestyles editor. Of the newspaper supplement, which raised $8,000 for the disaster recovery effort in Cleveland and Bradley County, the Texas judge wrote, “Strong impact ... great coverage of devastation and relief efforts.”
- Best Sports Photograph (first place), for “Where’d He Go?”, captured by sports writer Joe Cannon during the 2011 football contest between Bradley Central High School and Cleveland High School that was televised by ESPN. Judges wrote, “Capturing this type of action at night is so difficult. Great job! The only way to have improved it is if the player was looking at you and smiling.” In a related development, Cannon received a third-place award in the recent 2011 Writing Contest hosted by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association. Cannon’s honor came in the Best News Writer category in Division II.
- Local Features (first place), for three articles written by Willsie (“A World Away” and “Billiards Club Opens”) and Weber (“A Christmas Wedding”). The judge wrote, “Great composition, use of color and variety ... totally compelling.” This is the second consecutive year for Willsie to receive a first-place award in a features category. Last year she won top honors in “Best Single Feature.”
- Best Personal Column (first place), for “Walking With Dad in a Veterans Day Dream,” written by Norton in his weekly “Inkspots” column. The judge wrote, “Your column brought tears to my eyes. Nice work!”
- Public Service (second place), for news, photography and editorial coverage of the April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak in Bradley County and its aftermath over the next several months. Contributing editors, staff writers, proofreaders and photographers included Larry Bowers, Davis, (Donna) Kaylor, (Greg) Kaylor, Norton, Weber, Willsie and Coons. The judge scored Banner coverage “Excellent” in three categories, and “Good” in two.
- Community Lifestyles (third place), for the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the Banner’s LifeStyles section, including stories and photographs by Wright and staff writer Bettie Marlowe. The judge wrote, “Enjoyed page one photos and layouts!”
- Editorials (fourth place), for four opinion pieces by Norton including three editorials (“Our Memories of Randy,” “Living A Man’s Dream” and “Our Defining Moment”) and one column, “When All People Share Another Man’s Dream”). The judge wrote, “The editorial about the city employee brought me to tears.”
- Best Education Reporting (fifth place), for a collection of 10 news articles and features by staff writer Weber who covers the Bradley County Schools system. The stories included news developments from a variety of county schools, as well as individual stories on teachers, students, testing and even a “Hidden Cleveland” profile on “The Huff and Puff Freedom Trail” at Oak Grove Elementary School.
- Sports Writing (fifth place), for a collection of 10 stories, features and personal columns by sports writer Cannon and Sports Editor Richard Roberts. A few of the themes included in the coverage were changes by the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, Cleveland High School and Bradley Central High School sporting events, updates on former local athletes who now compete in baseball’s minor leagues and a profile on former BCHS football coach and Cleveland City Councilman, the late Bill “Chief” Robertson. The judge wrote, “Great subject matter!”
“This is a record number of TPA awards brought home to Cleveland this year by members of our newspaper staff,” said Stephen Crass, Cleveland Daily Banner publisher. “I am elated that their hard work is recognized so positively by their journalism colleagues in Texas who volunteered their time to serve as judges for the 2012 competition in Tennessee.”
He added, “I offer my sincere congratulations to each of our Cleveland Daily Banner award winners, and to our entire staff, for the efforts they are putting forth to keep our Cleveland and Bradley County readers informed by telling the stories that make our community what it is today. Our priority remains local news and that’s how we intend to keep it. The first word in our newspaper’s name is ‘Cleveland’ so that’s our audience first and foremost.”
This year’s UT/TPA contest, which featured news coverage from 2011, included 1,401 entries from 73 of the state press association’s 122 member newspapers. UT and TPA have co-sponsored the annual contest since 1940.