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.