Members of the Brown County Democrat’s news staff earned 22 awards from the Hoosier State Press Association Foundation in its 2021 Better Newspaper Contest.
For the 11th consecutive year, the Brown County Democrat earned the General Excellence award in its circulation division for “overall excellence in all contest categories.”
Editor and reporter Sara Clifford was named the winner of the Nina Mason Pulliam Environmental Journalism Award which recognizes an Indiana journalist for outstanding reporting on environmental issues. Submissions could come from newspapers of any size.
Clifford earned recognition for a package of stories that appeared in the Jan. 29, 2020 issue. The cover story was an analysis of water samples taken from various streams in Brown County to determine what chemicals or contaminants were found. An accompanying story was about the Lake Monroe watershed and the effect of activities from surrounding counties on the health of the lake.
This contest, which normally takes place each fall or winter, was postponed last year due to the pandemic. For the 2021 contest, submissions could come from any work published between May 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2020.
Journalists from 61 newspapers statewide submitted 1,635 entries for this year’s contest. Judging was done by members of the Kansas State Press Association. Awards were announced on the HSPA’s website on July 23.
Winning entries were:
- Best profile feature: Sara Clifford and Suzannah Couch for “Extraordinary impact: Students memorialize two educators,” about the late Carol Walker and Janice Cassiday
- Best general news photo: Couch for a shot from a drive-by birthday party for 98-year-old Doris Embry
- Best community service: Couch, Clifford and Abigail Youmans for a package of stories checking in with volunteer firefighters about the status of their volunteer forces and their funding after the pandemic increased their workload and forced cancellations of fundraising events
- Best news coverage with no deadline pressure: Clifford for “Auctioning Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood,” talking with tenants of Andy Rogers’ downtown Nashville properties before his estate was auctioned
- Best in-depth feature or feature package: Couch for “Kitchen classrooms: COVID and education” and a related story about how teachers adjusted to COVID
- Best general news photo: Clifford for a shot from prep work for the first pop-up food pantry
- Best feature photo: Couch for a “Up high,” a picture of a Brown County High School graduate offering a high-five to BCHS secretary Pam Bond
- Best portrait: Clifford for a shot of two veterans riding on the 2019 Spring Blossom Parade veteran float
- Best multiple picture group: Clifford and Couch for coverage of the 2019 Spring Blossom Parade
- Best multimedia story: Former HSPA Pulliam summer intern Joe Schroeder for a video story on the Solidarity Rally for Racial Justice
- Best editorial page: Staff
- Best feature section or pages: Staff for business sections. Most stories were written by Youmans.
- Best community service: Staff for the ongoing Bright Spots features throughout the pandemic