News staff wins 11 awards in LCNI contest

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By The Staff

The Lancaster News staffers garnered 11 awards from the annual writing and design contest held by its parent company, Landmark Community Newspapers Inc.

Employees won a variety of awards, from sports writing, news reporting and page design. The contest was judged by The Roanoke Times in Roanoke, Va.

Here’s a rundown of the awards and what the judges said about the entries:

 - Best general page design, first place, Jamey Shepherd – Solid pages with consistent style outside of the page centerpieces which make the pages inviting and clear to read.  It is obvious that the details are well maintained and your centerpiece treatment is creative and handled with flair.

  -Best special section, first place, “Football ‘08” – The index on the cover invites me right in to read about my favorite team, and the schedule up front is a clip-and-save.  The section boasts a nice, clean design and is well organized with some strong headlines and lots of faces. I like the variety of stories – boosters, the teacher who does the field maintenance, cheerleaders – reminds the reader that a successful football season takes the whole community.

   -Excellence in sports writing, third place, Robert Howey – Good choice of stories, particularly the dating teens on rival football teams.  The father-and-son angle for the Dixie Youth playoffs was a good one.  I liked the fact that he submitted a game story on an important game; it’s always challenging to have the story live up to the game.

u Excellence in sports column writing, second place, Robert Howey – Clearly, Robert knows Lancaster County sports.  With a blend of personal anecdotes and pavement-pounding reporting, he provides his readers in-depth looks at coaches and players at the local high school and a different perspective on Davidson’s marquee win in the NCAA tournament.  Nicely done.

u Excellence in column writing, second place, Barbara Rutledge – Courts are one important part of the history and culture in any community, and the reader gets that sense in this writer’s account of an arson that claimed an historic courthouse. We learn how tears fell as flames leapt, and we hear the roar of fire trucks, feel the spray of water from fire hoses and see the crashing of slate as the building’s roof collapses. She masterfully writes about an ugly political campaign in the context of Halloween, wrapping up the column with a question: “Kind of scary, isn’t it?” And when, on Father’s Day, she writes about her own dad’s death, you can feel touches of her own emptiness and confusion during a sad but universal experience. The column is emotional without being emotion-laden, and that is the mark of mature writing.

u Best news or feature story series, second place, Gregory A. Summers, “The Long Haul” – In this two-part series, Summers does a nice job of setting up the background and the characters in part one, before getting to the heart of his story in part two.

u Best on going/extended coverage, second place, Jenny Arnold, “Courthouse Fire” – Jenny’s exploration of the fires that threatened the local court system displayed an admirable willingness to reach outside the police reports and usual sources. As the crisis spread from the fires themselves into questions about tax rates and budgets, coverage followed naturally. When a suspect was finally caught, it was great to immediately have reaction from one of the robbery victims alongside the story of the arrest.  

u Excellence in news photography, third place, Aaron Morrison – This photographer goes to a lot of news and it shows. Nice variety of images.

u Best photo page layout, second place, Greg Summers, Aaron Morrison, Brandon Hunter – Bronco image was a real eye-popper and made me want to jump into the page. Good headline treatment added to the fun and seemed to reflect the mood of the lead image.  Nice pages with an eye for detail and seemingly just the right number of images.  

u Best front page design, second place, Jamey Shepherd – The pages showed strong organizational skills.  “Feud leads to murder, suicide” has a nice feel. The strong image paired with several breakouts helped carry the story.

u Best front page design, third place, Gregory A. Summers – Nice news pages.  The designer was able to balance news with feature content.

Publisher Susan Rowell said she was proud of the winners.

“Recognition by our company to be among the best is both rewarding and humbling,” Rowell said. “Even though our staff just won numerous awards at the state level there is nothing quite like being recognized by one’s peers.”

Editor Barbara Rutledge echoed Rowell’s sentiments.

“We have a dedicated and caring newsroom crew,” Rutledge said. “They work hard to bring the news of  Lancaster County to our readers. To receive accolades for that work is truly humbling.”