The Democrat took home 10 awards, including two first-place finishes, in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest for work published in 2015.
Editor Tim Epperson and News Editor/City Reporter Nicole Cooke accepted the awards on behalf of the staff Saturday during the 150th annual MPA convention in Branson.
“Once again I could not be more proud of the Democrat staff,” Epperson said. “MPA awards are significant because we are judged alongside our colleagues from across the state of Missouri. I am often amazed by the level of professionalism and dedication of my staff as they work tirelessly to be the best local news source in West Central Missouri and we will continue to do so.”
Cooke took home two awards in the Best Breaking News Story category. She received first place for her coverage of the James Horn manhunt in May 2015.
“The thorough coverage really puts this story above the rest,” judges wrote. “Solid work covering all the bases.”
She received second place for her coverage of the Thanksgiving Day fire that destroyed three homes in Sedalia and how the community rallied to provide a Thanksgiving meal to the first responders and displaced residents.
“Does a great job of hitting both the professional and community response to the fire,” judges wrote. “A really good example of how such a story should be covered.”
Reporter Hope Lecchi received third place in the Best News Photo category for her photo of a Sedalia firefighter battling the Thanksgiving blaze.
Reporter Faith Bemiss also took home a first-place award in the Best Feature Photo category for her photo of a demonstration of a bombing run during the summer 2015 Wings Over Whiteman air show.
Also in the Best Feature Photo category, Bemiss received an honorable mention for “Eye to eye.”
“She even caught the string of the hoodie in focus,” judges wrote. “There are photographers and people that take photographs. This person is a photographer.”
Bemiss also received second place for Best News Story for her localized coverage of the San Bernadino, California, shootings in December 2015. She interviewed former Sedalian Dr. Lynne Boone, who was a psychiatry resident at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center where several victims were taken for treatment.
“Pretty good story about a former Sedalian psychiatry resident who was in San Bernadino during the shooting tragedy,” judges wrote. “The reporting was detailed enough to put the reader right there in the middle of the chaos as it unfolded.”
Lecchi also received second place in the Best Military Story category for “A true brother in arms to all,” a profile of local veteran Jim Gaertner that appeared in the 2015 Veterans Day special section.
“Great article to explore the needs of those with PTSD and a veteran’s struggles reintegrating and retiring,” judges wrote.
The sports department received two awards. Former Sports Reporter Jason Strickland received second place in the Best Sports Photo category for “Tanguay drop.”
“Capturing the movement and the emotion in one picture with crisp and clean definition and a clear picture with no blur. Wonderful,” judges wrote.
Former Sports Editor Eric Ingles received an honorable mention in the Best Sports News Story or Package category for “Sacred Heart enters Final Four as veterans.”
Columnist Bob Satnan received second place in the Best Columnist-Serious category, which included providing three samples that showcased the variety of his column.
“Such power in so few words showcases Bob Satnan’s true writing skills,” judges wrote. “The topics covered vary widely (at least in the contest submissions) but he covers all three with passion, knowledge and caring. The columns caused me to care about the subject and inspire me to do further research. Great job.”