The Examiner won a total of 12 awards, including a first place award for Jennifer Johnson for her investigative report on the Syam tax-refund scam, at the Press Club of Southeast Texas annual Newsmaker of the Year/Excellence in Media Awards Banquet on Friday, June 7.
The Syam scam affected hundreds of area residents. After an August 2012 investigation by The Examiner revealed Syam’s scheme to the public at large, federal and state agencies began targeting the company in an attempt to keep more vulnerable citizens from being taken advantage of and defrauded.
The annual Press Club contest recognizes the best work in each journalism genre after judging by experts in the media from across the United States. Work published, aired or produced and released between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2012, was eligible for entry. There were hundreds of entries submitted by local journalists, broadcasters and public relations experts competing for honors.
Proceeds from the contest and banquet are used to benefit the Press Club Memorial Scholarship endowment at Lamar University, which is awarded annually to a student in the communications field. The Press Club of Southeast Texas is open to full-time and part-time journalists and public relations professionals in Jefferson, Orange, Hardin, Chambers, Jasper, Newton, Polk, Tyler and Liberty counties.
The Kountze varsity cheerleaders were chosen as newsmakers of the year for 2012 by the Press Club of Southeast Texas for their positive impact on the region.
The award was announced at the annual Excellence in the Media awards banquet Friday evening on the campus of Lamar University. Several cheerleaders and sponsors were present to accept the honor on behalf of their colleagues even though it was the night of Kountze High School graduation.
The cheerleaders were honored for their defense of faith-based run through banners and other signs they displayed at football games despite protest from some that the banners were inappropriate. Their struggle became news across the state and even parts of the nation throughout the year as the cheerleaders and their supporters stood firm in their belief that they had the right to speak freely of their faith in this venue.
The other finalists were Port Arthur native and rapper Bun B, Richard and Amie James of Beaumont for establishing a 10K run over the MLK Bridge in Port Arthur, Beaumont ISD Superintendent Timothy Chargois, and Beaumont ISD Trustee Mike Neil. The Newsmaker of the Year Award has been given annually since 1991.
In addition to the newsmakers honored, professionals in the news media and public relations professions from throughout the nine-county region were recognized for their work during the preceding year in the Excellence in the Media competition.
Among the 12 awards that went the The Examiner staff, James Shannon won two first place trophies, one for “Our Man Jack,” his feature story about the passing of Rep. Jack Brooks, and another for “Collateral Damage,” a news story about a woman’s fight against the efforts of a mortgage company to foreclose on her home. In fact, The Examiner swept the news category among non-daily papers, with Fred Davis claiming the second and third-place spots.
The Examiner also won multiple awards for design and photography, and www.theexaminer.com  was recognized as the best news website.
OPEN CATEGORIES FOR NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES
Investigative Reports (Category 202)
1st Place: Predator’s lair, Jennifer Johnson, The Examiner
Special Reports (203)
2nd Place: Locked out, Jennifer Johnson, The Examiner
Overall Excellence-Special Supplements/Promotional Publications/Tabloids (209)
1st Place: 2012 Southeast Texas High School Football, Chad Cooper, The Examiner
News Story (301)
3rd Place: Senseless act kills father of three, Fred Davis, The Examiner
2nd Place: Street Pickers, Fred Davis, The Examiner
1st Place: Collateral Damage, James Shannon, The Examiner
Feature Story (302)
1st Place: Our Man Jack, James Shannon, The Examiner
Feature Photo (308)
1st Place: Korn, David Block, The Examiner
Sports Photo (309)
1st Place: Vyacheslav Vasilevsky dominated Victor Donnell for three rounds, David Block, The Examiner
Non-daily Sports Page Design/Layout (312)
1st Place: Pair of stakes, Joshua Cobb, The Examiner
Overall Excellence Page Design/Layout (313)
2nd Place: Adam Balla, The Examiner
Web Site News (801)
1st Place: The Examiner Online, The Examiner