Examiner wins six awards in national contest

The Examiner is the winner of six awards in the 2011 National Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest, including a first-place award for Best Local News Coverage among all of the organization’s non-daily member newspapers.

According to the NNA, winners reflect the high quality of publications represented by the association.

Don Dodd, publisher and CEO of The Examiner, said this recognition from peers is a welcome affirmation of the hard work put in every day both by the individual reporters and also the staff of professionals at The Examiner.

“It can’t do anything but make you feel good,” Dodd said. “But the real reward is in our continued growth as a newspaper. When people call to thank us for having a positive impact on their lives or bringing things to the forefront that might otherwise remain hidden, that’s what makes us feel like we’re doing a good job.”

The Examiner’s six awards all came in the non-daily newspaper division. The first-place award for Best Local News Coverage came in the non-daily division among newspapers with circulation of 10,000 or more. The Examiner currently has a circulation of 25,000.

“This is a huge honor for the entire editorial staff of The Examiner,” said Jerry Jordan, managing editor. “Our commitment has always been to bring our readers the best local news coverage that we possibly could, and this award from the National Newspaper Association proves we have done that. To be ranked the best in the nation for our local news coverage considering all of the excellent newspapers we were up against speaks volumes about the dedication of this staff.”

For the second year in a row, James Shannon won first place in the Best Environmental Story category (circulation 6,000 or more) for his environmental coverage in The Examiner. This latest award is for a series of articles about the environmental protest that preceded, the response to, and the legal implication of the Eagle Etome oil spill in Port Arthur. The same series also won first place in environmental category at the 2011 Press Club of Southeast Texas Excellence in the Media award presentation in June. Previously, in 2009 and 2010, Shannon — currently the editor of The Business Journals, publications of The Examiner Corporation — won consecutive first-place National Newspaper Association awards in the Health category.

“This entry stood out from all the other entries because it got the reader involved quickly and held reader interest through the issue and provided great detail,” the judges wrote about Shannon’s latest award-winning environmental series.

New to the contest this year was the photography of Examiner contributor David Block. His photo essay Carnival of Madness about an August 2010 concert won a third-place award among non-daily newspapers with circulation of 12,000 or more. Examiner sports editor and music correspondent Chad Cooper said Block’s excellent concert and sports photography has really energized the pages of The Examiner over the last year and that readers should expect more in the coming months as football season heats up.

Beyond the excellent use of photos in Block’s essay, judges also noted the work of designer Amber Vasquez. “Good cropping. You obviously thought about this essay and how you wanted it to look,” the judges wrote.

Examiner staff captured three more national third-place awards. Jennifer Johnson was third in the Best Business Feature Story category (circulation 12,000 or more), recognized for her coverage of Black History Month 2010. Judges called her writing concise and well done. “Success story,” they added.

In the Best Breaking News Story category (circulation 12,000 or more), Examiner managing editor Jerry Jordan won third place for his coverage of a federal raid at the Beaumont Independent School District. The final Examiner third-place award was for Best Editorial, given for an editorial by Jordan titled “The great unnamed shame,” published Sept. 30, 2010.

There were 2,042 entries in the Better Newspaper Contest and 397 entries in the Better Newspaper Advertising Contest for a total of 2,439 entries. A total of 631 awards were won by 143 member newspapers in 40 states.

Judging was performed primarily by active community newspaper editors and publishers and included retired university journalism professors and retired or former newspaper men and women.

The awards will be presented at the Toast to the Winners Awards Reception on Saturday, Sept. 24, during NNA’s 125th annual Convention & Trade Show, held this year in Albuquerque, N.M. First-place winning entries will be on display during the convention and first-place General Excellence winning entries will be displayed following the award ceremony.

Founded in 1885 as the National Editorial Association and currently headquartered in Columbia, Mo., the NNA is the largest newspaper association in the U.S., and the NNA actively partners with the world’s first school of journalism, the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, founded in 1908.

The National Newspaper Association is the voice of America’s community newspapers and, according to the NNA, the nation’s community papers inform, educate and entertain nearly 150 million readers every week.

— Joshua Cobb