We celebrated journalism — and The Roanoke Times’ journalists who produce it — Thursday when we had handed out our annual in-house Landmark Awards (named after our parent company). As I’ve written in past years on this blog, it’s one of my favorite days of the year. First place winners earn $1,000 and second place winners get $250. These awards are based on a body of work from 2012, not just a single story or photo. In the writing categories, for instance, reporters had to submit 10 stories from last year. I’m also thankful for the judges — editors and professors from around the country noted with each category — who gave their time to pick our winners. Their comments are included here along with the list of winners. Click here to read about Ellen Moseley, the winner of our Rugaber Prize, which was also presented Thursday.
Judge — Pam Luecke, professor and head of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at Washington and Lee University
First place: Laurence Hammack | His reporting is deep and impressive, and the entry included several instances of dogged pursuit of material through the use of Freedom of Information requests. Several of his pieces were advances of court cases but he consistently identified and developed thoroughly a fascinating angle. He also displays a knack for telling a story in a way that holds the reader’s interest and doesn’t get bogged down by his considerable interviews and documents.
Second place: Chase Purdy | His ledes crackle. His entry included several court-based stories, and he too marshaled the facts of the cases into highly readable narratives.
Features reporting and writing
Judges Tom Popson and Denise Joyce. Popson and Joyce both retired after long careers working as editors in the Chicago Tribune features department.
First place: Dan Casey | He comes across as a champion of the little guy; he spins a good yarn while providing “who knew?” information. What caught our attention with Dan, a columnist, was his willingness to pick up the phone rather than just commenting on the story at hand.
Second place: Ralph Berrier |Love letters hidden in a shotgun, a donkey with a prosthetic leg, a profusion of valedictorians, a collector of old phonographs — an eclectic assortment of topics indeed, and all handled adeptly by Ralph.
Sports reporting and writing
Judge: Kevin Winters Morriss, assistant sports editor for the Salt Lake Tribune.
First place: Mark Taylor | I liked his style and the rhythm he established in his columns and stories. He does a good job of painting a picture of what’s happening and makes the reader feel like he or she is part of the story. His outdoors columns invite the reader to share in the adventure instead of preaching about the outdoors. Some of his observations that he injects into stories help feed that feeling of being a part of the story.
Second place: Andy Bitter | I really enjoyed his storytelling on the Worsham story. It kept my attention by sharing a lot of minor details that make the story strong. It’s obvious a lot of time went into telling the story. I also liked that he showed he’s able to go beyond game coverage with the Exum story. It’s a neat little read.
Judge: Bill Leonard, copy desk chief at The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind.
First place: Sheri Poore | This copy editor is fresh and engaging and has the ability to craft clever and captivating headlines without them sounding forced or contrived; going beyond the writer’s own words at times; and skillfully demonstrating depth and variety in work.
Second place: Alec Rooney | His work had a “memorable, poetic flow. Thoughtful, almost gripping.”
Judges — Nick King, Neil Blake and Sean Proctor, staff photographers at the Midland Daily News in Michigan.
First place: Kyle Green | The strength of the composition and variety in the singles made this portfolio stand out. The photos showed that this photographer can gain access to sensitive situations and that they position themselves at the right place at the right time. From spot news to everyday feature assignments they pay attention to light and color. It’s this attention to detail and composition that elevated this portfolio to the top.
Second place: Rebecca Barnett | The lens choices and moments were strong in many of the photos. We really enjoyed the photo of the girls in the hammock at FloydFest. The moment, soft light and color palette all work together in this photo.
Daily news page design
Judge — Julie Elman, assistant professor in visual communications at Ohio University.
First place: Mark Shaver | What struck me about this set of pages were the surprises — I see lots of nice “twists” with the layouts and headlines on all these pages. In other words, this designer is not afraid to take some risks. On many of the pages, the overall layouts broke out of the mold, and yet still worked.
Second place: Diane Deffenbaugh | This particular set of pages showed variety in the designer’s approach. Even though what I’m seeing here is an A1 across the board, I’m getting a different vibe from each page. And yet, the pages still feel consistent and unified — every day’s front still feels like The Roanoke Times. These pages are solid examples of “content driving design.”
Advance page design
Judge — Julie Elman, assistant professor in visual communications at Ohio University
First place: Gretchen Tipps | Each page has a unique feel to it, but I never once thought, “Oh, what newspaper is this?” It’s all The Roanoke Times. There are enough design elements in place that help me see a visual consistency from page to page — then again, there’s also a sense of busting out on each page, to try something new and shake things up a bit.”
Second place: Terri Macklin | Clean + Simple. That’s what comes to mind when looking at these pages. This designer seems to get to the heart of main story on each page, and then creates a page that conveys the appropriate attitude.
Judge — Angie Muhs, executive editor / interactive for the Portland Press Herald in Portland, Maine.
First place: Stephanie Ogilvie | I felt that the breadth of her work in each case demonstrated a commitment to and focus on an online audience. She clearly is very aware of the emerging tools, but is viewing them from the prism of how they can enhance the journalism, not just as “cool stuff.” Her efforts to train the rest of your staff and to spread this mindset and knowledge are commendable. You’re lucky to have such a staff evangelist on hand.
Graphics and Illustrations (Competition among all Landmark metro papers)
Judge — Tim Goheen Art Director / Managing Editor for McClatchy-Tribune Graphics.
First place: Grant Jedlinsky |This was a very tough category to judge as all entrants’ submitted excellent work, however, the entries put forward by this artist stood out.