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Sentinel-News wins 9 awards in LCNI contest

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5 first-place citations are most in divisioin

By The Staff

The Sentinel-News has won nine awards – including five first-place awards, more than any newspaper in its class – in the annual judging among Landmark Community Newspapers.

Staff Writer Todd Martin and Editor Steve Doyle each won two first-place citations, and Staff Writer Lisa King took another in the judging among semiweekly and triweekly newspapers for content published in 2011. LCNI owns 63 newspapers nationally.

Martin won in the Excellence in News Writing and Best General Page Design categories, and Doyle was honored for Best Editorial and Best Front Page Design. King won for Best News or Feature Story Series.

King also took second-place honors for Best Ongoing/Extended Coverage and for Excellence in News Photography, and sports writer Josh Cook  had a second in Excellence in Sports Writing. Doyle took third in Excellence in News Writing.

“I am proud of our news team,” Sentinel-News Publisher Kerry Johnson said. “They continue to provide top-quality reporting and newsgathering, as well as strong editorials and page design. Landmark has a lot of fine newspapers, and to be among their best is an honor.”

Martin’s news writing award is for stories about the 2010 census, young farmers and the problems with Collins’ turf field. About the latter, a judge wrote, “It had good detail, and I liked the persistence of the reporter in going after an engineering report.”

On Martin’s portfolio of designs of pages other than the front page, a judge wrote his work was “engaging.” They particularly noted pages about holiday recipes and a portrait of hiker Judy Young for their impact, creativity and their capability to interact with a reader.

Doyle’s winning editorial entry was comprised of three separate opinions, with two of them on the issue of shock probation. Judges said those two editorials were “especially impressive. It’s good to see a paper seize this issue with clenched teeth and run with it. Expanding the discussion to other questionable cases adds depth to the topic and hammers home the arguments with cold facts. Finally, the writer does not merely wring his hands. He offers a list of thoughtful, specific recommendations on how the fatal holes in the law should be patched. This is the kind of compelling, enterprising work that keeps newspapers strong and relevant and makes a difference in our communities.”

On Doyle’s winning entry of a portfolio of front pages, judges liked that they “had lots of impact.”

But they saved their best work for the reporting by King on her 3-part series “A Killer Goes Free,” saying that it delivers compelling story telling and data analysis to shine a light on a sentencing practice, and to hold public officials accountable for its use. The packages were well conceived and written with crispness. It was the best in this category among all three classes – daily, tri/semi-weekly, weekly – in the entire contest.”