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Press staff earns recognition for work

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By The Staff

Adding seven more journalism awards to the ones already garnered this year, staffers at the LaFollette Press were among those honored on Friday at the Tennessee Press Association’s annual conference.

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The Press brought home a first place award in editorial writing as well as in the sports writing category.

The prestigious Edward J. Meeman Award was given to Press Editor Susan Sharp and Press Reporter Jennifer Caldwell for a package of editorials they submitted. The Meeman Award honors newspapers for their contributions in editorial writing and public service journalism.

“School officials should choose carefully when selecting a director” was the piece Caldwell entered in the package. Sharp submitted an editorial that advised meth users to stay home because the public didn’t want second hand exposure and another entitled “Being an adult involves maturity.”

“This is what newspapers should be doing,” judges wrote. “Folks at the LaFollette Press have it figured out; focus on topics of interest to ordinary people and don’t hold back.”

Veteran Sports Editor Dwane Wilder brought home top honors in the sports writing division.

Judges reviewing that division noted Wilder’s body of work was “some of the best writing” he had “seen anywhere.” The stories were “full of great images, great quotes and interesting slants.”

Caldwell also captured a second place finish in the feature photos group for her work with a camera.

It was Caldwell’s shot of her daughter, Macy, playing in the snow that was later entitled “Snowflakes and Sniffles” that brought home the prize.

“Nice moment- gets across the feeling of cold and the joy snow brings to a child,” judges said of the picture. They also noted the picture had the ability to draw the viewer in making them feel the chill in the air.

Also being recognized for her photography was Press Reporter Natasha LaFayette.

Her image of a young boy getting a haircut by a girl’s basketball team earned LaFayette a fourth place finish in the feature photo category.

“The grit of the teeth by the girl and the eyes of the boy trying to sneak a peek make this photo work,” said the judges.

In the grouping for best single editorials, Sharp earned a fourth place finish. “The court doesn’t view Siler as a victim” was noted to be a piece with “obvious local appeal.” “(The) writer did an excellent job of presenting her argument in contrast to the lawyer’s claims,” judges also said.

Rounding out the investigative reporting category Caldwell and LaFayette garnered a fifth place finish. The duo’s writing about Land Resource Company’s failed attempts to build a lakeside resort in Campbell County and its fallout were noted as “excellent” pieces of journalism with “good follow up.”

Completing their achievements for 2009, the Press staff was also acknowledged for its summer publication Norris Life.

Caldwell, LaFayette, Sharp, Wilder and reporter Charlotte Underwood placed fifth in the special sections category of the contest for the magazine that highlights Norris Lake.

“The cover of this magazine makes me want to visit Norris Lake,” the judges said. “This publication includes lots of useful information with crisp writing.”

“We have had a very successful year regarding awards for our publications,” Sharp said. “Our staff is committed to providing incomparable coverage of Campbell County and this recognition from our peers solidifies we are doing that.”

Eighty-four papers from across Tennessee took part in the competition that breaks down the categories according to the size of the newspaper.