The Sedalia Democrat news staff took home seven awards, including one first place finish, from the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest for work published in 2014.
The awards were announced during an awards luncheon Saturday at the annual MPA conference in Columbia.
“I am elated and honored that my staff garnered so many awards at the MPA awards,” said Editor Tim Epperson. “While our primary goal is to serve our readership, it’s wonderful to be recognized and receive these awards from our fellow journalists in the state of Missouri. We will continue to provide the best local news coverage for our readership and continue to strive for excellence.”
City reporter Nicole Cooke received first place in Best Story About Education for her May 2014 story, “Common Core to continue in Sedalia 200.” The article focused on the implementation of Common Core, which featured comments from both district officials and local parents who are opposed to the new standards.
“Solid approach to a controversial topic in education,” judges wrote of Cooke’s article. “As a reader, I appreciated the varying perspectives presented.”
Cooke also received third place in Best Investigative Reporting for “Director charged with stealing,” which revealed in October 2014 that former Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation Executive Director Kyle Siegel had been using foundation funds for personal use.
“Great job of keeping readers informed on people hired to oversee spending,” judges wrote. “Researched, thorough and sourced.”
The sports department took home two honors from MPA. Sports reporter Jason Strickland received third place in Best Sports Photo for his photo of Lincoln’s running back Branigan Roark as he dives for an eight-yard receiving touchdown during the Aug. 29, 2014, game against Sacred Heart. Judges said the photo had “nice actions.”
Sports editor Eric Ingles received an honorable mention in Best Sports Feature Story for “Riding into the sunset,” a January 2014 feature on how harsh economic realities forced the Mid-Missouri Outlaws off the field for the 2014 indoor football season.
“It’s a unique, local story that pulls the curtain back on a subject that few outside the professional sports business get to see,” judges wrote. “Great pulled quotes from multiple parties involved with the team. Mr. Ingles gets the details across in a pleasant article.”
Columnist Bob Satnan received two awards from MPA. He placed second in Best Columnist-Serious for a selection of columns published in 2014, and received an honorable mention in Best Feature Story for his profile of former Democrat photographer Sydney Brink, who was inducted into the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame in October 2014.
“Bob is serious about his writing and his columns are seriously good. His three submissions flow well and whether one agrees with him or not, no one can argue that his points are clear and well thought out,” judges wrote of Satnan’s columns. “Bob also avoids the $2 word trap, which is basically using big words to show your superior intellect and massive vocabulary. I’ve always felt if your message goes over your reader’s head, you do not have superior ammunition, you just can’t shoot straight. These columns are right on the mark and deserve a spot in the top three.”
Cooke shared a third place honor with former city reporter Emily Jarrett in Best Coverage of Government for their joint coverage of the City of Sedalia’s downtown inspection ordinance, from discussions in Sedalia City Council and Citizens for a Clean Sedalia Committee meetings to implementation last summer.
“The reporter’s efforts to go with inspectors as they examined downtown buildings helped a simple ordinance story come to life,” judges wrote.
Cooke was also recognized during the awards luncheon as the 2015 Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist of the Year. She received the honor for her work published in 2014.