The Fayetteville Observer‘s Monica Vendituoli was recently offered one of 10 Emerging Journalist Fellowships from the Journalism and Women Symposium, an organization dedicated to supporting women in journalism.
The fellowships are offered to newer journalists and include attendance at the organization’s three-day Conference and Mentoring Project in Arkansas in October, where fellows focus on strengthening core skills, building personal brands and careers, developing strategies for success in the evolving media industry and empowering female journalists.
Vendituoli, who has been a crime and public safety reporter at the Observer since December 2015, has proven herself to be a talented journalist. She recently produced a series covering the growing local trends of opioid abuse and human trafficking that lead to her being a co-moderator of a community forum involving local law enforcement, district attorneys and victim advocates, and most recently has reported on a loophole in North Carolina sexual consent laws that gained national attention.
She was awarded a 2017 Walter Spearman Award for Outstanding Writing from the North Carolina Press Association.
The newspaper received eight first-place awards, which is the most of any other newspaper in the 45,000-125,000 circulation class.
“What a strong showing for our newsroom — reflecting not only the depth of talent on staff, but the team spirit and commitment to community that makes the new staff special,” said Barry Lewis, executive editor. “I’m especially proud that for the second consecutive year we won the top award for Public Service. That really is our mission as a community newspaper.”
Public service: First place, reporters Leonard Sparks, James Nani and regional editor Paul Brooks, “Water Woes.” Third place, reporter Chris McKenna, “Albany Corruption.”
Headline writing: First place, assistant metro editor Doug Mohart, “Money Does Grow on Trees.” Second place, metro editor Michael Levensohn, “Golden Tickets.”
Column: Third place, executive editor Barry Lewis.
Feature writing: Third place, reporter Amanda Loviza-Vickery, “Teen Firefighters.”
Business writing: First place, reporter James Walsh, “Medical Marijuana.” Third place, reporters Hema Easley and James Walsh, “Construction Boom.”
Sports column: First place, sports editor Kevin Gleason.
Digital presence: First place, Times Herald-Record staff.
Multimedia storytelling: First place, Times Herald-Record staff, “Sam’s Point Wildfire.”
Illustration or graphic: First place, Times Herald-Record staff, “A Butcher’s Guide to Legislative Pork.”
Feature photo: First place, photographer Kelly Marsh, “Funeral for Slain Firefighter.”
Photo story: Third place, photographer, Allyse Pulliam, “Newburgh Raids.”
Judges for the Digital Presence category noted:
Record on Line offers a clean layout and clearly lets its audience know which are the top stories of the moment. The site is easy to navigate; ads are embedded in an intuitive way. The content — photography, videos, articles — and social media presence give a true sense of community. And a sense of place. Well done.
For its outstanding work documenting significant racial inequities across Florida in sentencing, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune is the winner in a strong category of entries. “Bias on the Bench” analyzed sentencing patterns of trial judges, revealing that blacks frequently received far longer sentences than whites convicted of similar crimes. Sarasota dug into data, documenting discrepancies across the state and looking at some individual judges whose sentencing was fraught with racial injustice.
Illinois lawmakers’ inability to agree on a state budget has become a national example of political inertia. The State Journal-Register led a collaborative statewide effort to show the impact of the budget stalemate. Newspapers across Illinois decried the legislative inaction through stories, editorials and columns, prompting tens of thousands citizens to respond. The State Journal-Register’s leadership was particularly impressive and unique since editorials drove their call for action. This was a strong example of leadership, determination and ingenuity.
By waging a 2 ½-year battle with the city of Peoria to obtain a police officer’s report about her colleagues’ and supervisors’ misuse of on-the-clock time, the Journal Star proved it had the moxie — and was willing to commit to resources — to fight hard for records that properly belong to the public. The Journal Star litigated the case to the appellate level, winning at every turn, and produced an investigative report — “Police Report Unmasked” — that revealed how officers went home or did other personal activities while they were on the taxpayer-funded clock. The police chief and many other department leaders ultimately left the city or were reassigned.
The City of Disparity project shows what can be accomplished by a small local staff with deep commitment to community engagement. An impressive turnaround for the paper’s image and meaning to the local community. The most meaningful part is the engagement is ongoing with agencies, city officials and the community. The project’s success rests in the community learning troubling facts about itself. This project was sure to spark conversation.
The Sarasota, Florida, Herald-Tribune earned an honorable mention for the Al Neuharth Award for Investigative Reporting for newspapers with a circulation up to 74,999 for “Bias on the Bench.”
At the heart of this entry was impressive analysis of tens of millions of records. That analysis and the study and reporting that surrounded it were presented in a sophisticated package that was as effective on digital platforms as it was in print. It’s no wonder it went viral, and no wonder state lawmakers were quick to act.
Corina Curry of the Rockford, Illinois, Register Star earned an honorable mention for the News Reporting Award for newspapers with a circulation up to 39,999 for “Sub Nation.”
Education reporter Corina Curry identified a potentially problematic trend and decided to find out the impact, not only on the region she covers but in other communities across the country. The breadth of her reporting on this important issue, which included filing dozens of records requests in myriad states, was impressive, especially coming from a smaller media outlet. That broader context was essential to giving Curry’s readers a full understanding of the increasing use of substitute teachers. The database is an added bonus. The graphics were attractive and informative.
The Bulletin of Norwich, Connecticut, was recently recognized with a number of awards by the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists’ at the organization’s annual awards dinner.
Top honors went to reporter Ryan Blessing, who earned the prestigious Stephen A. Collins Public Service Award, which is awarded for a story or stories having a significant impact on the public interest. His Derbygate reporting on a group of public officials who attended the Kentucky Derby broke in October 2016, and Blessing has kept up with the story with additional coverage since.
Other awards included:
Honorable mention: “With high-tech firms investing in state, skilled workers are in big demand;” Francesca Kefalas
Third place: “‘I’ve had a good journey’;” Ryan Blessing
First place: “Hinchey, Bilda went on $340,000 trip;” Ryan Blessing
First place: “Senior exercise class gains devout following;” Lauren Flaum
Third place: “Taxes are taking a big bite in smaller towns;” Ryan Blessing
Second place: “‘Fake news’ swindles the gullible, hurts real thing;” Brendan Cox
Third place: “Norwich trainer fights to get back in the ring;” Brett Poirier
Second place: “Coaches emerge from NFA;” Owen Poole
Third place: “Fitch walks off with title in another 1-run thriller;” John Shishmanian
The evidence that GateHouse Media newsrooms #DoJournalismWithImpact was on full display at our 2016 Best of GateHouse contest, and we could not be more proud to announce our Newspapers of the Year and Editors of the Year.
Challenges in the industry have only emboldened these leaders and their newsrooms to deliver enterprising work that reveals systemic injustice and demands change. The expanding horizon of digital storytelling has provided new avenues of creativity and interaction with readers — and our top editors and newsrooms are leading the way.
A huge thank you goes out to our judges from Ball State University’s College of Communication, Coordinator of Unified Media Juli Metzger and Ball State Daily News adviser John Strauss, for making incredibly difficult decisions amid our largest-ever number of phenomenal submissions.
Also of note, Mark Baldwin, executive editor of the Rockford Register Star, has been awarded the first GateHouse Media #DoJournalismWithImpact Leadership Award.
“Mark is a national advocate and expert for news literacy, and his engagement efforts in the Rockford community have been courageous and thoughtful,” said Bill Church, senior vice president of news. “He exemplifies an editor who understands the importance of high-touch journalism.”
Please join us in congratulating these talented individuals and tenacious newsrooms.
EDITORS OF THE YEAR DIVISION A WINNER: Dennis Anderson, Journal Star, Peoria, Illinois, for demonstrating high-level community engagement by nurturing relationships with his readers and doing important journalism, including uncovering how local law enforcement were doing personal business on the taxpayer’s clock. RUNNER-UP: Mike Smith, Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, South Carolina
DIVISION B WINNER: Angie Muhs, State Journal-Register, Springfield, Illinois, for leading a wide range of reader engagement programs and directing bold coverage, concentrated on state and government accountability, including a front page editorial calling for resolution to the state budget impasse. RUNNER-UP: Lynne Sullivan, Herald News, Fall River, Massachusetts
DIVISION C WINNER: Eric Dundon, Courier-Post, Hannibal, Missouri, for demonstrating sophisticated reader engagement using social media, events and public service journalism. This may be a small newsroom but it shows focus and grit, executing on impactful journalism and using analytics to increase its reach across platforms. RUNNER-UP: Jason Hunsicker, Daily Express, Kirksville, Missouri
NEWSPAPERS OF THE YEAR DIVISION A WINNER: Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, Florida
This newspaper sets the gold standard for community journalism. It has powerful design, smart reader engagement and killer enterprise. Their investigatory journalism goes beyond the ordinary. In fact, there is nothing ordinary about the Herald-Tribune. RUNNER-UP: Register Star, Rockford, Illinois
DIVISION B WINNER: Herald News, Fall River, Massachusetts
In a very competitive field of smaller newspapers, the Herald News stands out with its big ambitions, local community leadership, excellent print presentation and creative digital storytelling. The newspaper made an impressive demonstration of not only setting a news agenda, but fostering solutions-based community engagement. RUNNER-UP: Gainesville Sun, Gainesville, Florida
DIVISION C WINNER: Courier-Post, Hannibal, Missouri
This newspaper developed new ways to engage readers including a monthly health and wellness insert celebrating New Year’s resolutions and thoughtful reporting in several multi-day series throughout the year. This scrappy newspaper also dived into social media, and made smart use of Google Analytics to decide how and when to play stories, demonstrating an understanding for the technology, which in concert with strong journalism grows digital traffic.
DIVISION D WINNER: Wareham Courier, Wareham, Massachusetts
This newspaper has a strong local, local presence. Photos are included with nearly every story and headlines are engaging. This paper also interacts with readers in print and online. The digital presence is equally strong, with videos and photos. The Facebook page is an intimate snapshot of life in Wareham.
Dan Gearino of The Columbus Dispatch in Columbus, Ohio, won first place in the business news coverage by an individual or team category.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s “Bias on the Bench” investigative report, by writers Emily Le Coz, Elizabeth Johnson and Josh Salman, won second place in the public service performed by publishing material in a daily newspaper category.
The State Journal-Register of Springfield, Illinois, recently won a total of five awards from the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors.
Photographer Ted Schurter won first place in the feature photography category for an image of the May 6 wedding ceremony of Brandon Thomas and Destini Schafer at Memorial Medical Center and Executive Editor Angie Muhs earned a first-place award for editorial writing.
Editorial page editor Kate Schott earned a second-place award in editorial writing and photography editor Rich Saal took home a second-place digital storytelling award for his “Counter Culture” project.
The newspaper earned second place in the best website category.
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