2020 Weekly Newspaper &
Associate/Individual Member Awards
Sports Writing Awards: 21:11
Design, Editing & Section Awards: 23:00
Photography Awards: 30:04
Digital Awards: 37:30
Top Honors: 40:45
Full comments for First Place winners are now available. Download the PDF presentation with graphic representations of your wins, as well as Judges’ Comments for First Place winners. First Place comments are also be available in text format in this searchable Google Sheet.
Journalist of the Year
The News & Reporter
Any journalist who has ever worked at a weekly newspaper knows that the job does not end at 5 o’clock on Friday. Travis Jenkins, editor of The Chester News & Reporter personifies the dedication, persistence and courage required to qualify for this award. From covering Chester’s beloved sports teams to facing down public officials who, through ignorance or arrogance, deny the public the opportuning to see how life-affecting decisions are made, Jenkins is unflagging. Not only does he make sure the public’s right to know is protected, but he also plays it on the front page and backs up his paper’s news coverage with editorials that explain to readers why FOI matters. Last year, his effectiveness was most evident in his reporting on a sensational fatal shooting of a shoplifting suspect in a Walmart parking lot. Long after rival news media had relegated this story to inside pages – if not, dropped it altogether — Jenkins’ persistence netted The News & Reporter exclusive access to key video and audio recordings that enhanced readers’ understanding of what happened that tragic day. Similar incidents in other communities have led to acrimonious, sometimes violent confrontations with authorities. It is no stretch to think that Jenkins’ comprehensive and even-handed reporting helped Chester avoid such incidents.
Photojournalist of the Year
The Post and Courier Columbia/Free Times
From top to bottom, this photographer showed the best use of composition, lighting, emotion, photo quality and creativity in all their images making them the Photojournalist of the Year. The story of each of these photos is clear and impactful. They creatively used the entire frame of the composition to tell the stories, the subject matter of each image is clear and the foreground & background play vital roles in the story telling of each photo.
Assertive Journalism Award
Travis Jenkins, The News & Reporter
It takes courage for a small-market news organization to take on the local police department the way The Chester News and Reporter did. In November of 2019, an incident took place in Chester County that would become part of a worldwide narrative in the months to come when a young African American male was shot by police in the Walmart parking lot. The paper relentlessly pursued the video and audio recordings from the police shooting until its community was informed about exactly what had happened. After being rebuffed by the City of Chester, the Chester Police Department, SLED and the state Attorney Generals’ office for months, Jenkins continued to push news and opinion coverage on the subject. He successfully obtained every piece of video and audio related to the shooting, which The News and Reporter shared with the public.
Christian Boschult, Katie Powell and Charles D. Perry,
Myrtle Beach Herald
Throughout a difficult year, Myrtle Beach Herald reporters challenged local leaders about their decisions related to COVID-19 and aggressively pursued stories that were in the public’s interest. They pushed back when Horry County Council held secret meetings – especially troubling during a pandemic when openness was critical. County leaders reversed their position. As COVID-19 cases surged across the Grand Strand, reporters fought for information on reopening Horry County Schools, and reported on how the district could protect students and teachers. The newspaper staff also pressed state health officials to release more information about where COVID-19 patients lived.
Montgomery/Shurr FOI Award
Staff, Myrtle Beach Herald
The Myrtle Beach Herald displayed proper outrage when local governments in its community violated open meetings laws and took the public’s business behind closed doors. On its news and editorial pages, the paper reminded readers and public officials about the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and forced local governments to open their meetings. In an editorial the paper noted that “If the public is to have any faith in elected officials, citizens must be able to see how leaders reach the decisions that impact their lives. There can be no trust without transparency.” The newspaper stood up for the public’s right to know and did a hell of a job explaining that a crisis like COVID-19 should not be an excuse for doing the public’s business in secret.
Travis Jenkins, The News & Reporter
For months, The News and Reporter filed FOIA requests to every agency in possession of body and dashcam videos related to a police shooting in the Walmart parking lot. Travis Jenkins was denied — but kept requesting — and Chester Police eventually gave the newspaper the body camera footage. He was also the first to obtain police dashboard camera footage and recordings of every radio communication and 911 call that took place during and immediately following the shooting. Jenkins provided this information to the public to present as clear a picture as possible of what happened that day. Jenkins also worked for months to obtain a financial audit of the sheriff’s department, which showed a possible pattern of financial corruption for which the former sheriff was eventually indicted. In other examples, The News and Reporter worked to remind local bodies of the importance of adhering to the Freedom of Information Act.
President’s Awards for Excellence
SCPA’s President’s Awards for Excellence are presented by circulation division to the newspaper with the overall best performance in the contest. Winners are presented a trophy that will be theirs to display until the 2022 SCPA Annual Meeting & Awards.