The Joplin Globe ran what could have been a positive story on the Joplin R-8 School District ACT scores this morning...on page 6A. Of course, the Globe had to mention in the opening paragraph that the district's scores had "dipped slightly" from last year.
Thank God reporter Jeff Wells didn't write that they had "plateaued."
If the Globe had taken the time and effort to research scores statewide and nationwide, I am sure it would have discovered that Joplin's scores compared favorably. As usual, that effort wasn't taken. A mention of favorable scores was made late in the article, but apparently, that was not important enough for the Globe to find out more or to play it near the lead of the article where it belonged.
The results of the Missouri Press Association's annual Better Newspaper Contest were released Saturday, Sept. 11, and no area newspaper broke into the top 10 for the first time in recent memory.
The winner of the Gold Cup, the award presented to the top daily newspaper in Missouri, was the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, displacing the Kansas City Star, which had won for the last several years. The Star finished second, followed by the Springfield News-Leader.
The Joplin Globe finished 11th, behind the Columbia Missourian, St. Joseph News-Press, Sedalia Democrat, Lebanon Record, the Hannibal paper, the Independence Examiner, and the Branson News.
The Neosho Daily News finished 14th and The Carthage Press 15th.
The Globe has broken into the top 10 several times recently, while The Press was a top 10 fixture during the 1990s, including finishing in third place behind the Star and the Post-Dispatch in 1999, my last year at the helm, and in fifth place four other times.
Unless I have missed it somewhere, and that is quite possible, the Globe has yet to publicize its winners. It has never placed these announcements prominently in the past, even when it has done well.
That is quite a disservice to the reporters who have led to those accomplishments, especially veterans like Andy Ostmeyer, Susan Redden, and Wally Kennedy, whose reporting skills remain a bright spot in an increasingly hard-to-read newspaper.
Following are the awards won by the Globe:
1. First place in general excellence among medium-sized newspapers. The judges said the Globe had a "strong emphasis on local news, prominently played"
2. First place, best news story- A Wally Kennedy article entitled "Legacy Looms."
3. Honorable mention, best editorial, larger newspapers, school funding.
4. Second place, best feature photo- T. Rob Brown
5. Third place, best news content, larger newspapers. The judges said, "Nice concise coverage, lots of it."
6. Honorable mention, best sports story, Craig Hull, something called "Dailey captures."
7. Second place, best coverage of government, Susan Redden about a sheriff who wasted tax dollars.
8. Honorable mention, best coverage of government, coverage of problems in Missouri's child welfare system.
9. Honorable mention, best education story, Andy Ostmeyer, cost of college in Missouri and across the nation.
Awards won by the Neosho Daily News included:
1. Second place, best news story, Michelle Pippin, about Red's Tire Dump in Monark Springs.
2. Second place, best feature story, Michelle Pippin, "Box Full of Memories," about an area soldier who died in Iraq.
3. Third place, general excellence- The judges wrote, "Wide range of news and features- your strong point. Some glaring grammar errors."
4. Third place, best editorial, MoDOT priorities in wrong place by Buzz Ball.
5. Third place, best photo package, Senior Hill, by Buzz Ball, layout by John Ford.
6. Honorable mention, best rural life/agriculture story, a feature on walnut harvesting written by Kay Hively.
7. Best Special Section- About soldiers serving overseas.
Winners from The Carthage Press included:
1. Second place, general excellence. Judges said, "Paper has strong local flavor.
2. Second place, best news content. Judges said, "Good coverage of local events. Well displayed and well written."
3. First place, best sports news story, Michael Sudhalter, "Pin heard 'round Carthage."
4. Honorable mention, best young people's coverage, articles by Sudhalter on teen lawbreakers and the consequences of their actions.
5. Honorable mention, best investigative reporting, same group of stories by Sudhalter.
6. Honorable mention, best sports page.
As I looked over these awards, I couldn't help think about that last year at The Press, when we finished third in the state. Unfortunately, I was no longer with The Press when the news was released, but I took pride in knowing that I had worked with what I still believe was the best staff that has been put together in southwest Missouri, Jo Ellis, formerly of the Globe, Ron Graber, the current Press managing editor, John Hacker, the Globe's top reporter and probably the most underappreciated reporter in the area, Rick Rogers, who also won a couple of awards this year for his work with the weekly Webb City Sentinel, and young standouts Cait Purinton and Stacy Rector.
I looked over Rick's story that ran in the Nov. 8, 1999, Press about those awards. I couldn't find the jump from page one but it seemed like we were tackling some meaty topics at that time.
The Press won five first place awards that year, including:
-Best Investigative Reporting- a week-long series on drunk driving, Jo Ellis, John Hacker, Rick Rogers, Ron Graber, Cait Purinton and me
_Best Community Service- same series
- Best Feature Story- Stacy Rector's article on a teen mother's difficulties
-Best Sports Coverage
We had second place awards for a sports feature by Rick Rogers and for my feature story on the Phipps family of Lamar and how it was dealing with the aftermath of the drunk driving incident that killed their eight-year-old daughter in 1995.
Ron Graber, Brooke Pyle, and I took third in best news story for our coverage of Carthage native Janet Kavandi's space shuttle trip with Brooke and I covering it from Carthage and Ron covering it from Cape Canaveral.
We also had a second place finish in best coverage of young people, thanks to the hard work put in by Stacy Rector on Teen Tuesday, the weekly page she wrote and edited specifically for teens.
It's a shame that there aren't many stories like the ones mentioned above that our area newspapers could work on. It sure seems like things were more interesting five years ago.
Probably just my imagination.
I'll probably write a little more about newspaper awards tonight, just to give me a chance to reminisce about some of the great work done by Cait Purinton, Stacy Rector, Brooke Pyle, Kari Wegener, Peggy Brinkhoff, Amy Lamb, Holly Sundy, Randee Kaiser, Mindy Atnip, Cherie Thomas, and other talented young writers who worked with me over the years.
The Globe reports this morning that the $250 tax deduction teachers have received for the past two years to help defray the costs of paying for classroom supplies out of their own pockets has been allowed to expire.
It is amazing that the deduction, which especially helped elementary teachers, who often spend three times that much or more, was allowed to expire by the President and Congress, while we keep hearing that they want the tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires to be increased. At least now all of us who are so inclined can pick up assault weapons, another law that was quietly allowed to expire.
How in the world can these elected officials justify their priorities?