The News Journal brought home 23 Excellence in Kentucky Newspaper Awards, including General Excellence in the large weekly newspaper division for the third consecutive year, during the Kentucky Press Association’s 150th Annual Convention, which was held Thursday and Friday in Louisville.
The News Journal received seven first place awards in addition to the General Excellence Award, eight second place awards, six third place awards and one honorable mention.
“Being selected as the best large weekly newspaper in Kentucky, for the third straight year, is very gratifying, and is a testament to the hard work the staff of the newspaper puts in every week to bring our community a top quality publication,” said News Journal Publisher Trent Knuckles.
“I can’t give enough praise to the employees of the News Journal because they are the heart and soul of this newspaper. Also, I’d like to thank the ownership of this publication, Mr. Terry E. Forcht and Publisher Emeritus Don Estep, for their continued support of top-quality journalism for the people of Williamsburg, Corbin and Whitley County.”
The News Journal swept the best business/agribusiness story category winning the first, second and third place awards.
Reporter Dean Manning received the first place award for a story on the closing of Maggie J’s in downtown Corbin after 76 years in business.
“This was just a fun story to read, with a great subject who had some good stories about her career. I liked the quotes from others. This was a category with too many single source stories, and this story rose to the top three because it relied on more sources. Great job!” a judge wrote.
News Editor Mark White won second place for a story on the Kentucky Consular Center celebrating its 17th anniversary in Williamsburg.
Knuckles won third place for his story on the opening of the Smart Wood facility in Corbin.
The News Journal brought home the top two awards in the best investigative story or series category.
White won the first place award for his story about whether nepotism was at play at a local water district where the manager had recently hired two relatives, who were no longer employed after he was informed about the county’s nepotism policy prohibiting the hiring of his relatives.
The situation cost one water district commissioner, who is related by marriage to the manager, his spot on the water district’s board of commissioners. Other relatives of the manager remained employed by the water district.
“Good writing with lots of facts. Kudos on digging into this ‘relative’ problem,” a judge wrote.
Knuckles brought home the second place award for his story on a man with local ties, who is serving a long sentence in Ohio for a series of burglaries and assault. The man claimed responsibility for the beating death of infamous serial killer Donald Harvey.
Harvey was nicknamed the “Angel of Death” after he admitted to killing at least 37 hospital patients in the 1970s and 80s in Ohio and Kentucky.
“Story based on letter received from an inmate. Good writing with lots of background information,” a judge wrote.
Sports Editor Trevor Sherman home both the first and third place awards for best sports story.
The first place story, which sported the headline, “Team of Destiny,” focused on the Corbin High School Basketball Team’s overtime win in the 13th Region final over South Laurel, and its advancement to the boy’s Sweet 16 state tournament in Rupp Arena.
Sherman’s third place story, which sported the headline, “Dream Realized,” focused on the Williamsburg Lady Jackets win in the finals of the 13th Regional All “A” championship.
Sherman also won a first place award for best use of social media for his series of #DoYouRemember tweets about past events in Whitley County history, such as the 1992 Miss Whitley County Fair pageant and a 1997 feature on Helen’s Bookstore. The tweets also include pictures of the newspaper pages about those events.
Sherman, Knuckles and Ashley Norvell shared the first place award for best sports picture essay with a series of pictures from the Corbin High School Football Team’s semifinal win over Louisville Central to return to the state championship game for the first time in 15 years.
Manning won the first place award for best breaking news coverage for his story about a fatal vehicle accident involving a Kentucky State Police Division of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer.
White won the first place award for best column.
The News Journal brought home multiple awards in the best general news story category with White capturing the second place award a story about a meeting with over 100 people to talk about church security measures.
Manning took home the third place award for his coverage of the Timothy Sutton federal murder-for-hire trial where Sutton allegedly tried to hire a hitman to kill four people, including then Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Trimble and Whitley County Attorney Bob Hammons.
“This story made lively use of courtroom testimony and particularly taped calls that give the reader a front row seat to this crime,” a contest judge wrote.
Manning also won second place in the best headline category for “Just lion in the snow…” which was the header for a picture of two concrete lions partially covered in snow.
White won second place for best feature picture for a photo of a boy at Camp Unite.
He won a third place award in the best breaking news picture category for his photo of a man, who was captured shortly after bolting from the Whitley County Judicial Center.
In addition, Sherman took home a second place award for best sports page/section, and a third place award for best sports special section.
Knuckles took home second place awards for best editorial page and best front page.
News Journal Society Editor Teresa Brooks received an honorable mention award for best lifestyle page or section, and a third place award for best feature story about a local man, Lance Wooton, who ranks second in the nation, and fourth in the world for most impressive beard.
“A strong community newspaper is a vital part of any community,” Knuckles noted. “Without one, it’s a proven fact that citizens pay for it in less efficient government, less social engagement, and a deficit of reliable information about the things that matter to them most. Our goal, every week, is for the News Journal to serve and inform our readers to the best of our ability. I think the judges of the Kentucky Press Association’s contest clearly sensed that in our work.”