MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Enterprising, investigative journalism, persuasive local editorials, robust sports coverage and exposing corruption in the court system were lauded in the 2022 Best of CNHI journalism awards.
The North Andover Eagle-Tribune received the nod for Newspaper of the Year honors in Division I, the largest CNHI newspapers, over an impressive field of finalists. The newspaper was recognized for strong enterprise reporting, its hefty daily local news report, a terrific daily local and Boston sports report and its daily editorials on state and local issues.
CNHI Vice President, National Editor Dennis Lyons, said he was impressed by the breadth and depth of the daily local report and said the Eagle Tribune exhibited “the best local and regional sports section” in the competition.
The Public Service award for Division I went to the Traverse City Record-Eagle for its compelling example of investigative journalism focused on the systemic failure of Michigan’s probate courts to oversee guardians and conservators appointed to protect vulnerable seniors from injustice. The nine-month project exposed case after case of financial exploitation. The probate courts enabled the thievery by carelessly appointing unqualified guardians, many who had money problems of their own and saw the opportunity to take advantage of their wards. Editorials supported the news coverage by pushing for reform. The series took probate court authorities and the legislature to task for decades of neglect.
The McAlester News-Capital earned First Place in the Division II Newspaper of the Year competition. The newspaper was recognized for its sweeping local coverage with a strong sense of community featuring enterprise reporting on a variety of topics. Impressive content on elections, community events, columns, editorials and sports. A clever, reader-participation pet calendar that raised money for an animal shelter was also recognized. The story of the August 2022 execution of a death-row inmate who had turned his life around in prison highlighted the quality of the newspaper’s journalism — in photos and stories, including an exclusive, provocative interview with the inmate’s spiritual advisor.
The Division II Public Service Award went to the Valdosta Daily Times for the newspaper’s coverage and editorials exposing a lack of transparency in the state prison system, a high number of prison deaths and state and federal investigations into Georgia’s prison system. The series documented what one source described as a humanitarian crisis behind bars.
The Tahlequah (Oklahoma) Daily Press won the Division III Newspaper of the Year competition for its strong local coverage of the community, including tribal coverage of the Cherokee Tribe headquartered in Tahlequah. Judges were impressed with striking local editorials in each edition, a weekly point and counterpoint feature on the editorial page, robust school and public education coverage and the overall hometown feel of the newspaper.
Public Service for Division III went to the Richmond Register for its dogged pursuit of answers when a fire destroyed a local apartment complex and the newspaper learned from firefighters that faulty fire hydrants may have delayed response times. The newspaper pursued public records requests and did not take no for an answer when officials stalled. Officials made the records available and the hydrants were repaired.
The Duncan Banner received a special honorable mention in Division III Public Service for its coverage of a coach and school board member who made controversial comments on social media regarding gender identity. Following its coverage of the public outcry, newspaper editorials called on district leaders to do better when it comes to taking care of students and their well-being. The coach was dismissed and the board member was compelled to respond to parental concerns. Good example of a newspaper holding public officials accountable.
Division I Magazine of the Year honors went to Johnstown Magazine. a product of the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat for its stunning photography, well-written and edited feature writing and true sense of community. Judges said it is difficult to imagine a magazine doing a better job of capturing the feel of its community, reflecting a sense of its residents and putting it all on display in a beautiful presentation.
The Division II Magazine of the Year is Stillwater Magazine, a product of the Stillwater News-Press. The magazine was rebranded, redesigned and relaunched during 2022 with a great new look and a commitment to readers with expanded features, an increased number of contributors and dynamic photography. Stillwater Magazine is also very aware of just how much coverage of Oklahoma State football culture means to the readership, knowledge that make this product a standout.
The Division III Magazine of the Year winner is Cullman Magazine, a product of the Cullman Times in Cullman, Alabama. Of particular note was the annual holiday edition with engaging, festive Christmas features about holiday events and yule-themed photography — all done in months in advance of the holidays, reflecting the magazine’s well-planned presentation.
CNHI’s 2022 Rising Star Award, given to the newspaper that made the greatest strides during the contest year, went to the Transylvania Times in Brevard, N.C., for its quantity and quality of local reporting, digital growth, improved design. The Times features noteworthy community engagement, covering the news readers both want and need to be informed about their community.
Reporter of the Year
Division I: Jill Harmacinski, North Andover Eagle Tribune
Division II: Asia Ashley, The Valdosta Daily Times
Division III: Benjamin Bullard, The Cullman Times
Sports Reporter of the Year
Division I: Todd Golden, Terre Haute Tribune-Star
Division II: Austin Hough, Goshen News
Division III: Kevin Green, Claremore Progress
Editorial Writer of the Year
Division I: Andy Ostmeyer, Joplin Globe
Division II: Jim Zachary, Valdosta Daily Times
Division III: Kim Poindexter, Tahlequah Press
Columnist of the Year
Division I: Bill Bowman, Sunbury Daily Items
Division II: Samantha Perry, Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Division III: Anna Beall, Gainesville Register
Photographer of the Year
Division I: Rick Barbero, Beckley Register-Herald
Division II: Kyle Ocker, Ottumwa Courier
Division III: Will Willems, Lebanon
Designer of the Year
Division I: Eric Pehowic, Sunbury Daily Item
Division II: Jim Reily, Gloucester Times,
Division III: Kevin Hall, Moultrie Observer
Best Breaking News
Division I: Teresa McMinn, Cumberland Times-News
Division II: Sally Sexton and Glenn Evans, Weatherford Democrat
Digital Storytelling of the Year
Division I: Janee Avery and Tanner Mondok, Sharon Herald
Division II :Josh Flynn, Logansport Pharos-Tribune
Video of the Year
Division I: Jenny Harnish, Beckley Register-Herald
Sports Columnist of the Year
Divison I: Todd Golden, Terre Haute Tribune-Star
Division II: Pete Sirianni, New Castle News
Division III: Becky Taylor, Tifton Gazette
Contest chairman Jim Zachary said, “CNHI is so proud of all the newspapers that participated in the Best of CNHI journalism awards competition this year. Winner selections were difficult because there was so much great work in each division and in each category. It is exciting to see so many great acts of journalism being committed in the communities served by CNHI newspapers across the country.”
CNHI, based in Montgomery, Alabama, is a leading provider of local news and information, offering a wide array of print and digital products in numerous communities in 22 states.