Columnists win top honors | Local News

VALDOSTA – Jim Zachary, editor of the Valdosta Daily Times, and Bryce Ethridge, reporter, won top honors in the 2020 Best of CNHI Editorial Contest.

Zachary and Ethridge were named Columnist of the Year.

Zachary, who is editor of the Valdosta Daily Times, CNHI’s director of newsroom training and development and President Emeritus of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, was named Division I columnist of the year.

Ethridge is the government reporter for the Valdosta Daily Times. He became a Division III columnist of the year for columns he wrote while working for The Moultrie Observer, a sister paper of the Valdosta Daily Times.

Moultrie Scene, a publication by The Moultrie Observer, won Division III first prize for magazines. It was honored for its diversity and celebrated color communities in its reader market. The jury praised the magazine for focusing on local people and places with seductive features and nifty covers, as well as content design.

Nationwide data-driven investigative reporting on the failed surveillance of local prisons, the review of cases of sexual assault in a university town, and insightful interviews with black residents in white rural communities demonstrated exemplary journalism in the Best of CNHI editorial competition 2020.

The Traverse City, Michigan, Record-Eagle received the Newspaper of the Year award in the largest paper category (Division I) for outstanding news and opinion content on print and digital platforms.

Outstanding design and photography also received special praise. The judges cited a prime example of the newspaper’s respected journalism: collecting death certificates in custody over a 10-year period to build a database that reveals shoddy oversight of Michigan prisons. The project, entitled “Death Sentence”, contained a series of stories, infographics, photos and videos that for the first time provided comprehensive public coverage of how and why inmates die from suicide and other preventable causes while incarcerated in local prisons.

In response to national outrage over the death of George Floyd, a black man in police custody, on May 25, The Daily Item in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, received the Division I Public Service Award for focusing primarily on the subject Black Lives Here involved white rural communities. Insightful stories and video interviews with 10 black residents of the Susquehanna Valley revealed a variety of concerns.

This included interacting with the police, shopping in local stores, religious worship, and even simple things like finding a beautician or hairdresser who could style a black person’s hair.

The Stillwater News Press won the Division II Public Service Award for a seven-part series of stories depicting the sparse tracking of sexual assault cases in Payne County, home of Oklahoma State University. Public records indicate that between 2017 and 2019, authorities prosecuted less than 5% of the 194 reported cases in the county. The national average of law enforcement was over 17%.

In Division II, the Effingham, Illinois Daily News received the Newspaper of the Year award. The jury praised the paper for its strong local coverage, relevant editorial page, clear design and frequently updated website. The coverage of a devastating June tornado in the region received special praise.

Division III’s Newspaper of the Year award went to the Tahlequah Daily Press for the second year in a row. The judges cited the paper and website for its solid coverage of Indigenous American issues, including a weekly tribal news page and extensive coverage of the aftermath of the US Supreme Court ruling in July that placed much of eastern Oklahoma under one Reservation of an Indian reservation from 1866, treaty remains between five indigenous tribes and the US government. The decision created confusion over criminal convictions, including those of murder, of tribal members in state courts, and other matters.

The Plattsburgh Press Republican in northwest New York state received the award for the “Most Improved Newspaper” of 2020 from last year among more than 90 CNHI newspapers in 22 states. The award is given for general advances in news coverage, corporate reporting, editorial writing, design and digital presence.

Allegany Magazine, produced by Cumberland, Maryland, Times-News, was named Magazine of the Year in Division I for its locally relevant content, design and diverse voices. The August edition, dedicated to the community’s response to the pandemic, impressed the judges as an example of how they managed to bring the topic home with audience interaction. The accompanying pictures hit a convincing chord. The jury found the September LGBTQ magazine cover a bold choice and the inside content on sexual identity well done.

Southern Indiana Business, a product of the News and Tribune in Jeffersonville, Indiana, again received the Division II top award in the magazine competition. It has been cited for responsive design, photos that help tell the story, company reports, clear writing, and general readability about local businesses and related topics.

Individual and digital category winners:

Reporter of the year

Division I: Paul Leighton, Salem, MA News

Division II: Rick Pfeiffer, Niagara, NY Gazette

Department III: Nita Johnson, Sentinel Echo, London, KY

Best breaking news

Division I: Traverse City, MI Record-Eagle

Section II: Norman Transcript

Division III: Gainesville, TX Daily Register

Photographer of the year

Division I: Rick Barbero, Register-Herald, Beckley, WV

Division II: Joseph Weiser, Goshen, IN News

Division III: Les Dixon, Times-Tribune, Corbin, KY

Sports Journalist of the Year

Division I: Mike Mastovich, Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Division II: Clay Horning, Norman, OK Transcript

Division III: Dave Willis, Andover, MA Townsman

Editor of the year

Division I: Jeffrey Gerritt, Sharon, PA Herald

Division II: Victor Miller, Daily Citizen-News, Dalton, GA

Department III: Kim Poindexter, Tahlequah, OK Daily Press

Columnist of the Year

Division I: Jim Zachary, Valdosta, GA Daily Times

Division II: Natalie Davis Linder, Union Recorder, Milledgeville, GA

Division III: Bryce Ethridge, Moultrie, GA Observer

Designer of the year

Division I: Heather Bremer, Herald Bulletin, Anderson, IN

Division II: Joseph Brown, Huntsville, TX Article

Division III: Mike Rogers, Washington, IN Times Herald

Digital best video of the year

Division I: Jenny Harnish, Register-Herald, Beckley, WV

Division II: Charles Mills, Effingham, IL Daily News

Division III: Jennifer Perkins, Times-Tribune, Corbin, KY

Digital best innovation of the year

All divisions: Herald Bulletin, Anderson, IN

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