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The Sentinel-News won seven awards – including two first places – among semiweeklies in the annual judging of newspapers owned by Landmark Community Newspapers Incorporated, which is based in Shelbyville.
Staff Writer Todd Martin led the way, winning two first-place awards and a third-place citation, winning for Best News or Feature Story Series and, along with Editor Steve Doyle in Best Ongoing/Extended Coverage. Staff writer Lisa King took third in that same category. Martin also took third in Best Page Design – A1.
Doyle took second in column writing, and the staff as a whole took second place in Best Effort To Improve Online Readership (which included all circulation groups) and third for Best Special Section for its annual This Is Shelby County directory.
Judges were from the staff of the Roanoke Times, a daily newspaper formerly owned by LCNI, and they reviewed content published in 2012.
Martin’s news series award was for several stories he reported about the ongoing problem with the faulty athletic field at Collins High School.
“Martin’s stories all try to answer several crucial questions: What went wrong with a new, expensive sports field that turned out to be a mess, how can it be fixed, and whether taxpayers will have to pay for the repairs?” the judges wrote. “The writer kept readers in mind at all times and tried to explain the problems and potential solutions in a way that was easy to understand.”
He and Doyle teamed on the newspaper’s exhaustive coverage of the outlet mall being developed in Simpsonville and were honored for their news stories and the newspaper’s editorials:
“The Sentinel-News devoted more than 30 articles and editorials to explaining the proposals by developers to build two outlet malls near I-64,” the judges wrote. “The coverage continued for more than six months, and readers were well informed all along the way about the status of the projects and what the development would mean to the area.”
About Doyle’s portfolio entry of columns, the judges said: “Doyle’s columns all deal with loss – the death of a beloved pet, memories of the life and career of Andy Griffith, and the closing of a favorite local business. His columns celebrate life with the deaths and find special meaning and comfort in the love, friendship and inspiration gained along the way. “
King’s winning entry dealt with the ongoing battle of 7-month-old Addison Miles to survive a rare, cancer, which, judges wrote, “…received good coverage initially, and the follow-up articles conveyed the joy of a family and community as the girl went through the procedure and later celebrated Christmas at home with her family.”
Martin’s winning design entries, a sampling of front pages, were “well- structured and easy for the reader to follow.”
Judges liked that This is Shelby County “uses statistics, graphics and analysis to inform readers about the changing nature of the community. The reporting goes well beyond what is typical for these types of publications.”
And the newspaper’s efforts to boost www.SentinelNews.com were singled out from more than 60 newspapers for doing “a lot of small things to increase its online audience – pushing breaking news alerts, posting stories quickly, frequently promoting the site’s content through Facebook and Twitter postings, including a lot of faces in slide shows (55 slideshows in 2012). All of these efforts build audience engagement, increase reader interest and develop a more loyal following.“