Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Judges' comments: McClatchy Community President's Awards

Here is the list of award winners and judges’ comments.

News – Judged by The State (Columbia, S.C.)

First Place: Fort Mill Times, Fort Mill, S.C.
“Main Street Marred”
Reporters Mac Banks, Jenny Overman, Jonathan Allen, Michael Harrison

Kudos to staffers at the FMT for pulling together a clear, compelling, high-energy
package on a fire that destroyed a downtown landmark eatery and wiped out a festival.

What better role for a community newspaper than to provide soup-to-nuts
coverage of a news event that touched the lives of so many. The FMT staff addressed the
impact and anticipated readers' questions by providing a deluxe, multimedia report.
Credit to the reporters for their roundup of voices and perspectives. This news package
demonstrated authority and local knowledge by putting forward sidebars that truly are
sidebars – they complement the main story with different and interesting angles.

Special credit to Jonathan Allen for the first-person account of dinner – for the
last time – at Tony's. This is a marvelous example of authentic, local color storytelling.

Second Place: Sierra Star, Oakhurst, Calif.
“Local Attorney, Sons Killed in Oregon Crash”
Editor David Richards

Here's a great example of clear reporting and writing – as well as effective news
packaging – against a breaking news deadline.

The story is not terribly long, but is chock-full of detail and information. The
newswriting is logical and precise, while nicely handling personal sentiments from
relatives and friends.

The presentation is just right, with a photo of the three subjects in their golf attire,
a locator map, and an accident photo. The jump headline advances the information by
providing the funeral date.

There's nothing fancy or overdone here: Just good, solid, understandable news
reporting. It's the foundation of what we do.

Honorable Mention: The Southlake Journal, Southlake, Texas
Two-Part Series: “Cops Question Handling of Cases by DPS” and “Police Question
Department’s Leadership”
Reporters Katy Bynum-Clark, Alice Murray, Jean Weaver, Charles D. Young

Fundamental to responsible newspapering is a heightened sense of curiosity when
those with access to power derive special benefits. Our job is to help level the playing
field by providing information and facts to expose and clarify matters of public concern.

It is laudable, then, that reporters for the Journal followed the scent after
receiving tips of preferential treatment by the Southlake police department. Stories in the
Journal led to disclosures and, ultimately, to a grand jury investigation.

The Journal's reporting brought to light dissension inside the police department
over the investigation of a dust-up between affluent teens and Southlake police. Were it
not for the Journal's work, an apparent climate of preferential treatment may have
continued without review.

The Journal's stories were triggered by tips from unidentified sources. That is
cause for some concern. But events that transpired – including follow-up stories in other
publications reviewed by this judge – affirm the Journal's decision to raise public

There are some areas to shore up: Articles talk about a climate of favoritism and
poor morale. The articles would be strengthened by shoring up these allegations. Giving
more voice to the police chief – in the face of his anonymous accusers – would have
provided more balance.

In the end, the Journal is to be commended for taking on a tough situation and
telling it without fear or favor.

Honorable Mention: The Chapel Hill News, Chapel Hill, N.C.
“Votes Key to Town’s Future”
Staff Writers Jesse James DeConto, Lisa Hoppenjans

This is smart work. The issue is presented with authority and clarity. But what
really sets this work apart is the higher-end thinking about the larger question: Will
Chapel Hill become a city or remain a town? It's all about what a community is to be and
what it has been. This package neatly pulls together what certainly must be a central
quality of life question for readers. Well done.

Features – Judged by The Wichita Eagle

First Place: Sierra Star, Oakhurst, Calif.
“Up in the Air”
Editor David Richards

David Richards’ winning piece on the uncertain future of the Harry H. Baker
Boys and Girls Club recounts the club’s beginnings, then follows its winding path since
1998 and the lives it has touched along the way. Richards’ story is crisply written,
engaging and built on very strong records reporting. The story puts a face on the young
people who need the club and count on its resources to keep them off the streets after
school hours. It then underpins those personal moments with a thorough accounting of
the club’s finances – and future financial needs that threaten its continued existence. This
story is a great example of feature writing that combines the craft of storytelling with
fact-based reporting. Most importantly, this is a “make a difference” story that draws
attention to an important need in the community.

Second Place: Lee’s Summit Journal, Lee’s Summit, Mo.
“Escaping the Killing Fields”
Reporter Brett Dalton

Chouen and Mary Dean’s story of imprisonment and escape from Cambodia and
the Khmer Rouge is impossible to put down. They fled their home, were separated and
eventually reunited – very much by accident – in Thailand. Along the way, each was
imprisoned, and Mary Dean witnessed the deaths of their three children. Now living in
Lee’s Summit, they are witnesses to a painful period in history that most of us know only
through textbooks or news accounts. Brett Dalton does a wonderful job of putting us in
the moment as we relive the couple’s terror and loss during their escape from the Khmer
Rouge and the path that brought them to America’s heartland.

Photo – Judged by the Idaho Statesman

First Place: Lee’s Summit Journal, Lee’s Summit, Mo.
“A Big Wet Kiss”
Photo Editor Jeff Kirchhoff

The image was a great moment, with wonderful texture and a nice tight crop. It
really grabs your attention and draws you into the page quickly.

Jeff Kirchhoff’s other entry “Stars in His Eyes” with the collection of the
community portraits were really well done as well. Great display and nice use of space.
Many had compelling composition – good application of the rule of thirds. There were
several really wonderful moments. The package portrayed a nice sense of community.

Second Place: The Cary News, Cary, N.C.
“Caught Up in the Magic”
Director of Photography and Multimedia Grant Halverson

Nice seeing! You don’t even have to read anything to know what is going on. A
refreshing way to document a Harry Potter party without the predictable photo of
someone dressed like Harry Potter.

It transcends Harry Potter and captures the pure joy and anticipation of the book.

Honorable Mention: The Clovis Independent, Clovis, Calif.
“Cartwheel Cowboy”
Photographer Dean Slagel

Nice image. Pushed the shutter at precisely the right time! Photo could have
benefited from a tighter, slightly more creative crop to really enhance the repetition and
pattern of legs and hoofs in chaos. As it is now the white fence in the background is

Dean Slagel’s other image of the football player loosing his helmet was also
really good seeing. Slagel is obviously a talented sports photographer and should be
proud of both images.

Honorable Mention: Vida en el Valle, Fresno, Calif.
“Mexican Independence Day”
Photographer Hector Navejas

A couple of really nice moments – great space allowed for display. A combination
of more variety in lens focal length and a tighter edit would have made this package
stronger. Photo of woman waving the flag weakened the package as you can’t see the flag
and her expression is a little off. But overall some nice photos that captured the
excitement and emotion of the event.

Honorable Mention: The Cass County Democrat Missourian, Harrisonville, Mo.
“Home Sweet Home”
Adam Droegemueller

A couple of really nice moments that captured the joy of a community welcoming
home their Marines. A couple of the photos suffered from weak and cluttered

Sports – Judged by the Lexington Herald-Leader

First Place: The Cary News, Cary, N.C.
“One on One”
Sports Editor Tim Candon and Director of Photography and Multimedia Grant Halverson

It is an original way to spotlight local high school athletes and showcase their
skills in both print and video.

I picked The Cary News piece because it was an original way to showcase the
talents of local high school athletes in both print and video. The sports editor, a la George
Plimpton, tried to play the sports of the athletes he covers with amusing results. It was an
engaging way to get more local high school athletes into the paper and online, talking
about what makes them good at the game they play.
Special Projects – Judged by Howard Weaver, The McClatchy Company

First Place: The Cary News, Cary, N.C.
“Cary Band Day”
Director of Photography and Multimedia Grant Halverson
and Reporter Valerie Marino

The Cary Band Day presentation produced by The Cary News is an outstanding
example of journalism that combines wide community reach with vigorous, multifaceted
coverage. As a result, readers leave this special presentation with a powerful sense of
what a central event this marching band competition is for the community of Cary.

Some 28 different bands (and supporters) from North Carolina and Virginia
converged on Cary for this annual event, and The Cary News had something for them all.
Multimedia presentations complemented traditional newspaper coverage to provide the
sights and sounds of the festivities in a lasting format.

Second Place: The Cass County Democrat Missourian, Harrisonville, Mo. and The
Star-Herald, Belton, Mo.
“The Cass County Sports Awards”
Newsrooms Staffs

Newspapers in many communities sponsor prep sports awards and host events –
but few do so with the depth and range of The Cass County Democrat Missourian and
The Star-Herald in this joint effort. Their special section recognizes a huge range of
student athletes from eight different schools in the region in a variety of sports from
tennis to football. Also honored are top scholar athletes and the coach of the year. This
event must truly be a centerpiece of sports life in Cass County.


About McClatchy:
The McClatchy Company is the third-largest newspaper company in the United
States, with 31 daily newspapers, approximately 50 non-dailies and direct marketing and
direct mail operations. McClatchy also operates leading local websites in each of its
markets which complement its newspapers and extend its audience reach in each market.
Together with its newspapers and direct marketing products, these operations make
McClatchy the leading local media company in each of its premium high growth markets.
McClatchy-owned newspapers include The Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee, the Fort
Worth Star-Telegram, The Kansas City Star, The Charlotte Observer, and The (Raleigh)
News & Observer.

McClatchy also has a portfolio of premium digital assets. Its leading local
websites offer users information, comprehensive news, advertising, e-commerce and
other services. The company owns and operates McClatchy Interactive, an interactive
operation that provides websites with content, publishing tools and software
development. McClatchy operates Real Cities (, the largest
national advertising network of local news websites and owns 14.4% of CareerBuilder,
the nation's largest online job site. McClatchy also owns 25.6% of Classified Ventures, a
newspaper industry partnership that offers classified websites such as the nation's number
two online auto website,, and the number one rental site,
McClatchy is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MNI.

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