Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Ken Willis honored with national SPJ writing award

27.04.2018 John Crouch Awards

Original text by Jim Abbott, Daytona Beach News-Journal

Ken Willis, sports columnist and senior staff writer at The Daytona Beach News-Journal, was recently named a winner in the 2017 Sigma Delta Chi Awards for excellence in journalism.

Willis was honored in the category of Feature Writing among daily publications with circulations from 50,001 to 100,000 for “Lightning: A Survivor’s Tale,” an A1 story published in the Aug. 27, 2017 edition of The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

The narrative feature recounted the dramatic story of James Church, a 55-year-old Port Orange resident nearly killed by an early-morning lightning strike on the Ponce Inlet fishing jetty. The story offered Church’s recollection of the incident as well as a window into a difficult recovery from injuries that included the loss of two fingers and perforation of part of the colon and part of the small intestine.

“It’s no secret to News-Journal readers that Ken Willis is an exceptional reporter with a great and distinct voice as a writer,” Editor Pat Rice said. “James Church’s near-death experience with lightning was the perfect match for Ken’s skill with language and his attention to detail. This SPJ national award for ‘Lightning: A Survivor’s Tale’ is well-deserved high praise.”

Willis, meanwhile, offered thanks to Church for sharing his story.

“No matter where you go, everybody has a story to tell. Sometimes, you find somebody with a story that’s much better than most,” Willis said. “And if you find an amazing story with the right person recounting all of the circumstances, that’s when you’ve got something. James Church’s story of survival was amazing, so frankly there wasn’t much to do but get out of the way and let it unfold.”

For a complete list of winner, visit SPJ.

Read the original report here.

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