Columbia Missourian Wins 65 Awards in 2012 Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest

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Awards Include Gold Medal for General Excellence and a Sweep in Four Categories

Columbia, Mo. (Sept. 26, 2012) — A new record: The Columbia Missourian won a total of 65 awards in the 2012 Missouri Press Association‘s Better Newspaper Contest. This is up from the 58 earned in 2011 and 29 in 2010.

Included in this number is the Gold Medal in the Class 2 division (circulation of 5,001 to 15,000). The Gold Medal signifies the newspaper in the division with the highest total award points.

Columbia Missourian Award Winners

Columbia Missourian staff members pose with some of the 65 awards after the ceremony.

The Columbia Missourian is a professional newsroom supervised by faculty editors and staffed by students in the Missouri School of Journalism. The community newspaper covers the greater Columbia area, which has a population of more than 135,000.

The Missourian, which includes Vox magazine, swept four categories, earning all awards in “Best News Story,” “Best Ad Idea or Promotion of an Advertiser,” “Best Information Graphic” and “Best Video.”

The judges, members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, recognized the Missourian’s excellence in 32 categories, including investigative reporting and overall news and feature writing for topics dealing with business, sports, government, agriculture, religion and history. The high quality of the visual elements – photography, information graphics and design – also received awards. A total of 21 entries earned first place; 17, second place; 17, third place; and nine, honorable mention.

Phil Conger and Dean Mills

Phil Conger, BJ ’68, MPA president and publisher of Bethany Republican-Clipper, presents Dean Mills with his award for being inducted into the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame. [More]

The awards were presented during MPA’s 146th Annual Convention last week in Columbia. Other Missouri newspapers in the Class 2 division include The Examiner in Blue Springs, the Lebanon Daily Record, the Hannibal Courier-Post and the Daily Star-Journalin Warrensburg.

“These awards are byproducts,” said Tom Warhover, executive editor of the Missourian. “They come when our students turn outward, every day, to the community we serve.”

“Our dedicated students amaze me all the time,” he continued. “They go beyond what they think they can do, and often what the faculty editors think they can do, to produce some wonderful journalism.”

The award winners and judges’ comments are:

First Place

General Excellence: Columbia Missourian Staff. Judges’ Comments: Clear winner. Clean layouts. Strong writing. Great photography. Well done, all around. A paper to be proud of.

Best Front to Back Newspaper Design: Columbia Missourian Staff. Judges’ Comments: Body copy is clean and easy to read. Photos are used very well throughout. Use of tan color bar is nice on headers, pull quotes – it pops but doesn’t overwhelm. Spacing between stories feels tight at times but doesn’t detract from overall consistency of design.

Best News Story: “No Relief,” Josh Barone and Kellie Kotraba. Judges’ Comments: This story is probably affecting all kinds of people, and we wouldn’t have known about it without this reporter’s initiative. The info graphic shows the extent of the problem, and the sidebar gives it a personal angle. It all ties together well.

Best Feature Story: “Flood,” Anthony Schick. Judges’ Comments: Riveting story.

Best Sports Photograph: “Independence Bowl,” Matthew Busch. Judges’ Comments: I love this photo! The expression screams “I am an extreme sports fan,” which is a side of sports we sometimes forget to see. This photo was taken well, seeing as there are low light conditions. Nice focus, depth of field and composition!

Best Photo Package: “Goodbye,” Sarah Hoffman and Matthew Busch. Judges’ Comments: Really captured the moment. Keepsake for fans. Nice job.

Best Ad Idea or Promotion of an Advertiser: “Alpine Park,” Dan Jacobs. Judges’ Comments: Unique way to explain what you have to offer. Nice display of pictures. Some white space. Pictures could have been bigger.

Best News Content, Columbia Missourian Staff.

Best Sports News Story or Package, Harry Plumer. Judges’ Comments: The class of the class. A well-written, smooth-flowing sports story with good quotes – highlighted by quote boxes, photos, and graphics. It all ties into a complete award-winning story. Great job!

Best Investigative Reporting: “Trailer Park,” Brad Racino. Judges’ Comments: Thorough investigation of a thoroughly disturbing situation. I hope the story helped solve the problem. Graphics, photos helped a lot.

Best Business Story – News or Feature: “Vino Venue,” Robson Abbott. Judges’ Comments: Great picture and headline to go with very interesting story.

Best Coverage of Government Dailies: “Columbia Regency,” Columbia Missourian Staff. Judges’ Comments: Poignant exploration of a troubled mobile home park and the city’s role in monitoring it. Fine ongoing coverage of the issue during a subsequent land sale and rezoning.

Best Story About Rural Life or Agriculture: “Flood,” Anthony Schick. Judges’ Comments: Great depth on the town’s history. Excellent description and sourcing.

Best Story About Education: “Poverty,” Abby Eisenberg and Garrett Evans. Judges’ Comments: The story asks the most basic of education needs, doesn’t pull any punches in answering it, and then shows how the local district is dealing with it.

Best Story About the Outdoors: “Elk,” Brian Nordli. Judges’ Comments: Strong magazine-style writing, makes something as dry as “Herd management,” compelling and balanced report.

Best Story About History: “Discovered, Lost,” Alex Baumhardt. Judges’ Comments: A story which not only tells history, but shows us the importance of historical preservation efforts.

Best Page Design: “March 4, 6a,” Columbia Missourian Staff. Judges’ Comments: Lead photo almost seems like the mask is looking at the reader and headline fits package very well. Good to play the rest of the photos the same size so images speak for themselves instead of readers being drawn to one just because it is bigger at the bottom of the page.

Best Information Graphic: “Ticket,” Rachel Post and LeeAnn Elias. Judges’ Comments: I love the variety of information presented here and the different approaches in each element: fast facts, map, graphs, etc. It all ties together well (the background photo and headline really helps this be cohesive).

Best Video: “Regency,” Matthew Busch. Judges’ Comments: Good coverage, nice imagery, live interviews.

Best Headline Writing, Columbia Missourian Staff. Judges’ Comments: Creative use of words to have fun with stories. Draws the reader in – a sign of a great headline. “Awaiting game” was the best of the bunch.

Best Story About Religion: “Contemporary Creed,” Craig Thomas. Judges’ Comments: You took on an important issue in the religion field and did a huge amount of reporting.

Second Place

Best News Story: “Vacant Homes,” Waqas Naeem. Judges’ Comments: Everyone has seen homes like these, but this reporter stopped and stepped through that battered front door to show what’s happening with these abandoned homes, and why. Info graphic and photos add to the story.

Best Feature Photograph: “Caterpillar,” Nick Michael. Judges’ Comments: This picture made me laugh! I really like the look on the girl’s face.

Best News Photograph: “Reflections – A Man,” Kristen Zeis. Judges’ Comments: An entire news story stated in one photo. Bravo.

Best Sports Photograph: “Speak Memory,” Katie Currid. Judges’ Comments: Amazing photo. I love the composition because you have no other choice but to focus in on her expression. The mud and “dirtiness” of it set a tone that matches her emotion. Great depth of field. Nice job capturing the moment!

Best Photo Package: “Stood Up,” Madison Mack. Judges’ Comments: Great lighting. Really makes you feel his story. Nice!

Best Ad Idea or Promotion of an Advertiser: “Missouri,” Dan Jacobs. Judges’ Comments: Cute way to display fun. Pictures could have been bigger on the bottom.

Best Ad Idea or Promotion of the Newspaper: “History,” Dan Jacobs. Judges’ Comments: Eye-catching with good use of space. How was it utilized? Print?

Best Sports Pages, Columbia Missourian Staff. Judges’ Comments: Wonderful layouts, “Left in Dark” feature well executed. Great treatment of Pujols story. Like the use of the pull quotes throughout. Pages are a little heavy on wire photos and stories.

Best Sports News Story or Package: “Coach Haith,” Ben Frederickson. Judges’ Comments: Another well-written and smooth-flowing story. Captures the reader’s attention from the start and doesn’t let go.

Best Sports Feature Story: “Gentle Giant,” Brendan Meyer. Judges’ Comments: Interesting topic. Writer nicely handles idea that the weight could be a health hazard, without taking away from the sports angle. Nice anecdotes (the “underwear” story caught me off guard!)

Best Sports Columnist, Harry Plumer. Judges’ Comments: Harry Plumer goes into detail – his thoughts and others – regarding the changes being made in the Big 12 Conference and covers the who, what, when, where, why, and hows very well.

Best Investigative Reporting: “Leading To Blacks,” Walker Moskop. Judges’ Comments: Interesting subject, well researched. Again, graphs were very telling.

Best Story About Rural Life or Agriculture: “Mules,” Eric Holmberg. Judges’ Comments: Clever cover and supporting attributes. Who’d think the life of a mule would be this interesting.

Best Story About the Outdoors: “Hell Benders,” Emilie Stigliani. Judges’ Comments: Not a very cute, pretty, or otherwise sympathetic creature but this story inhales you with a good visual lead and makes you think hard about the plight of a creature few know about.

Best Page Design: “Sept. 11-12, 4-5a,” Columbia Missourian Staff. Judges’ Comments: Page is balanced pretty well with the great portrait shots and white space. Text is very easy to follow. Top left is a little too much white space but doesn’t detract from the powerful package.

Best Information Graphic: “Stream Cleaning,” Anthony Schick. Judges’ Comments: This graphic makes it simple to see the steps and the potential consequences when you get a ticket. It really clarifies the differences between a city ticket and university ticket. This does exactly what an info graphic should do: gets a lot of information across visually making the story clear without lots of gray text.

Best Video: “Staying Home,” Nick Michael. Judges’ Comments: Wish there was more live feed. Humorous.

Third Place

Best Front Page: Columbia Missourian Staff. Judges’ Comments: I enjoyed the layout with one big story across the top and a picture centered. Photos were large and eye-catching. Font was consistent. Very neat and clean. Good spacing. Could use a little more color.

Best News Story: “Aging,” Jessica Pupovac. Judges’ Comments: This lead just pulls you right in, and the good writing carries you through. The story weaves this man’s story through the bigger picture in the prison system.

Best News or Feature Series: “Kahler Trial,” Sangeeta Shastry.

Best Feature Photograph: “Battle,” Sara Johnson. Judges’ Comments: I really like the composition of this photo. I like how the sparks are flying. Great work!

Best News Photograph: “Ramadan,” Christopher Parks. Judges’ Comments: Emotional photo with amazing composition. Can’t figure out story on own.

Best Ad Idea or Promotion of an Advertiser: “Something New,” Dan Jacobs. Judges’ Comments: Too many ads jammed together. Special way to give variety.

Community Service Award: “Transit Budget Talks,” Columbia Missourian. Judges’ Comments: A great job of citizen outreach and a reminder the local newspaper is still the best source for community news.

Best Sports Feature: “Serious Competition,” Ben Frederickson. Judges’ Comments: Good approach to a “sport” few think about. I like how you alternate between the current “game story” and the background on shuffleboard. Only reason this didn’t place higher is because the subject is less engaging.

Best Special Section, Columbia Missourian Staff. Judges’ Comments: Great use of color. Advertised well. Highlighted the year in review well. Could have more in this section.

Best Coverage of Government: “Ward Reapportionment,” Columbia Missourian Staff. Judges’ Comments: Saturation coverage of a typically underreported topic – reapportionment. Detailed and straightforward.

Best Story About Rural Life or Agriculture: “Hogs,” Lydia Mulvany. Judges’ Comments: Nice lead with lots of description and serious depth to the article.

Best Story About Education: “Achievement Gap,” Sarah Horn. Judges’ Comments: Stories show a school district’s needs and how reader-citizens can play a role.

Best Story About the Outdoors: “Bats,” Hannah Wiese. Judges’ Comments: A lot has been written about white-nose syndrome. Closure of caves is an interesting point. I’d have focused on it more, given the ridiculous number of caves in Missouri.

Best Coverage of Community/People/Lifestyles, Columbia Missourian Staff.

Best Page Design: “April 5, 4-5a,” Columbia Missourian Staff. Judges’ Comments: Again, very powerful layout and art. Having a mix of all caps and lowercase type in headline is a bit distracting as is having octagon in red, but having “at the” in a lighter font was good. Not sure why lead paragraph is in a sans-serif font. Overall, the page is visually striking.

Best Information Graphic: “Boiler,” Nicole Thompson. Judges’ Comments: Lots of info here; I found the dots a little confusing or at least it took a while to digest.

Best Video: “Boonville,” Christopher Parks. Judges’ Comments: Nice sound.

Honorable Mention

Best News Story: “Soldier’s Return,” Anthony Schick. Judges’ Comments: Great info graphic accompanies this story, which follows a local man’s experience returning home after military deployment. It’s good to see a personal approach to issues that are striking nationwide.

Best News Story: “New Kelsi,” Kellie Kotraba. Judges’ Comments: A good look at one woman’s recovery from a traumatic injury. Well-written, compelling. I wish there had been more thorough photos of her progress, a sidebar about such injuries and recovery.

Best Feature Story: “Death On Hold,” Josh Barone.

Best Photo Package: “Speak Memory,” Katie Currid. Judges’ Comments: Great shots!

Best Sports Feature Story: “Dirty Games,” Harry Plumer. Judges’ Comments: Fun read! I’d never heard of this and the reporter presented the subject in an appropriately light, entertaining way.

Best Investigative Reporting: “No Relief,” Josh Barone and Kellie Kotraba. Judges’ Comments: Tells a story I knew nothing about. Good research.

Best Business Story – News or Feature: “Loans,” Walker Moskop. Judges’ Comments: Great concept with individual stories. Also, great inside page design.

Best Story About the Outdoors: “Cicadas,” Melissa Klauda. Judges’ Comments: Eating cicadas? Gross. Compelling and interesting. And then you offer recipes, tips, and more. Such as “consider removing the wings, clever lead, great factual stuff. Useful story for someone wanting to try something new.

Best Story About History: “Civil War,” Sarah Tucker. Judges’ Comments: I would like the 1860 Boone County atmosphere. Nice local focus on the biggest story in state history.

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