SCPA Annual Meeting & Awards

March 14-15, 2024

Columbia

Congrats 2023 Contest winners!

Awards from the 2023 News Contest were presented March 15 in Columbia.
Here’s more about our Annual Meeting & Awards Presentation! 

Winners Presentation with Judges’ Comments

View and download slides containing winners’ name, newspaper and graphic representation. Contains judges’ comments for First Place winners, as well as Best of the Best and secret winners. Download high res PDF in SCPA’s DropBox or view/download lower res version in Issuu below (note that it is split in two parts). 

Annual Meeting Program

Photos 

Photos will be posted on SCPA’s Facebook page and Gwinn Davis Media so you can view, download, tag and share them. Thanks to Gwinn Davis, Xavier Martin and Alicia Caracciolo for doing a great job shooting this important event! 

President’s Award for Excellence

Weekly

      • Under 3,000 Division — The News & Reporter
      • 3,000-6,500 Division – The Daniel Island News
      •  Over 6,500 Division – Charleston City Paper

Daily

      • Under 7,000 Division — Aiken Standard
      • 7,000-20,000 Division — The Island Packet
      • Over 25,500 Division —The Post and Courier

Daily Journalist of the Year

Thad Moore, The Post and Courier

This year’s winner is a versatile journalist with strong writing skills, an analytical mind and a deep understanding of business, finance and legal matters. This combination has proven key to covering some of the biggest and most complicated stories of the day in South Carolina.
He was selected from a pool of top-notch investigative journalists because of the breadth of subjects and depth of reporting.
His stories on missing funds in Hampton County and the Blood Feud in McBee illustrate the dangers that arise when local governments are not subjected to the scrutiny of skilled independent journalists.

Weekly Journalist of the Year

Alexandra Whitbeck,
The People-Sentinel

This year’s honoree exemplifies local, local, local! She covers her community from top to bottom with human interest and coverage of important local issues that matter to her community. Whether covering a 100-year-old’s birthday, talking to loved ones of someone who has died, or writing about local government, this reporter handles each assignment with professionalism, respect and tenacity. She wears many hats. She’s not just a reporter and photographer at her newspaper. She also handles website advertising, social media and videos. Standout work from the past year includes coverage of the school district consolidation, EMS services and volunteer fire departments. Alexandra Whitbeck’s body of work exemplifies the impact a local journalist can have on a community. Thank you for all you do to better inform Barnwell and hold public officials more accountable. 

Daily Photojournalist of the Year

Henry Taylor, The Post and Courier

Your skill with color, contrast and composition is breathtaking. Every single photo in this portfolio is a standout. Your photo story covers a concept that can be difficult to convey visually, but you nailed it. Stunning work!

Daily Jay Bender Award
for Assertive Journalism

Endowed by SCPA Attorney Jay Bender, the first place winner in the daily and weekly divisions will be awarded a $250 cash prize. 

Ema Rose Schumer,
The Post and Courier

Ema Rose Schumer approaches her job with intensity, empathy and an insatiable drive to give a voice to the wronged and to hold authorities responsible for their actions or, as can be the case, their inaction. She is tenacious and assertive, while also being approachable and trusted.
This award reaffirms the importance and impact of local newspaper journalism. She was covering an issue that affects all of society – the way we treat incarcerated people — and she pushed to find answers that resulted in awareness and change.
She stood up to the sheriff’s department that runs the jail, county officials who pay the bills and a national medical provider that reaps millions while deaths and lawsuits mount.
For her exemplary and continued reporting, we recognize Ema Rose Schumer of The Post and Courier.

Weekly

Jay Bender Award for Assertive Journalism

Editorial Board, Charleston City Paper

The Charleston City Paper used its strong editorial voice to oppose a project to redevelop 70 acres of prime downtown land controlled by the S.C. State Ports Authority. Through expansive news coverage and sharp, clever opinion writing, the newspaper kept readers informed about the controversial Union Pier plan and urged responsible development. The newspaper was dogged in staying on top of public officials. And their efforts worked. The Ports Authority hit pause on the project and have committed to a community-driven process to plan for the future of Union Pier.

Daily Montgomery/Shurr FOI Award

This award is named in memory of Reid Montgomery, the late secretary-manager of SCPA, and the late John Shurr, who spent more than two decades as FOI Chair of SCPA and as S.C. Bureau Chief for The Associated Press. Both led the fight for open government in South Carolina. Endowed by The Associated Press, the first place winner in the daily and weekly divisions will be awarded a $300 cash prize.

The Post and Courier

Effective and timely use of the FOIA on a variety of issues. Wide range of coverage on important matters. A standout in this entry was the high-rise building investigation… a hell of a story that benefited the public. The Post and Courier showcased extensive and aggressive use of the FOIA in 2023, bringing crucial information to light for readers. Congratulations to The Post and Courier!

Weekly Montgomery/Shurr FOI Award

The Gaffney Ledger

The Gaffney Ledger stood out for the range of open records requests including several months of coverage related to getting a report from the city police department after complaints of racial and sexual harassment were made by a Black female officer. The newspaper also submitted a FOIA request for copies of each councilmember’s credit card statements, which showed questionable charges by a councilmember. The newspaper’s coverage resulted in council changing its credit card policy. The Ledger also used the FOIA to obtain salary information for all public employees as the newspaper’s leaders feel it is important for taxpayers to know what THEIR employees are being paid. For its wide-ranging use of the Freedom of Information Act over a number of issues important to the community, we salute Cody and Abbie Sossamon and staff of The Gaffney Ledger!

 Jim Davenport Award for Excellence in Government Reporting

This award is named in memory of the late Jim Davenport, a tenacious reporter, who was known for his fair and aggressive coverage of state government and political matters. During his 13 years with The Associated Press, Davenport cultivated sources because those he covered respected his ethics, his compassion, his tireless work ethic and his desire to hold those in power accountable for their actions. Endowed by the AP’s Meg Kinnard because of Davenport’s profound influence on her career, the first place winner in this contest will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize. The gift, given as an endowment to the S.C. Press Association Foundation, will enable the award to be presented for years to come.

Travis Jenkins, The News & Reporter

Effective government reporting requires that one be fair, but fierce. You have to do a lot of legwork, but also a lot of homework. You have to sit still through meetings, but never sit still and accept pat answers and what is presented by elected officials… because the public deserves to know what is being done in their name and with their money.
This reporter expertly covered the closure of the City of Chester’s aquatic center – a building that had insurance lapses, rodent infestation, leaks and other problems. He stayed on top of a turbulent situation that saw a police chief fired, a city administrator fired and allegations of one elected official threatening the other, as well as coverage of a years-old police involved shooting. For embodiment of the traits that make a great government reporter, we are pleased to present Travis Jenkins of The News and Reporter with the 2023 Jim Davenport Award for Excellence in Government Reporting.

Ken Baldwin Award for Excellence in Business Journalism

This award is named in memory of University of South Carolina School of Journalism alumnus and former business editor Kenneth W. Baldwin, Jr., who was passionate about business and financial journalism, and worked early in his career at the Index-Journal and The Columbia Record. Sponsored by the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and made possible by the Baldwin Business and Financial Journalism Endowment Fund, the Baldwin Award winners will each receive a cash prize of $500.

Jordan Lawrence, Lexington County Chronicle

Judges said Jordan Lawrence provided important perspective on local issues with meaty coverage and good depth of reporting.

Ken Baldwin Award for Excellence in Business Journalism

Chris Trainor, The State

Judges joked that the winner was wise to lead the portfolio with a story about barbeque… but in seriousness, they said the entrant showed that business reporting is more than just numbers. Chris Trainor understands that the real story behind a business is the people who make it happen. 

2024 S.C. Journalism Hall of Fame Inductee

Judith Mundy Burns

Judith Mundy Burns
(1947-2019)
Index-Journal

Read more about Judi Burns.

Carolina Panorama publisher to lead state press association

Read more

Duplicate Awards

Duplicate awards are available for purchase. Duplicate engraved First Place plaques are $35. Duplicate Second and Third Place certificates are $2 each. If you’d like to frame your Second or Third Place award, wooden plaque bases are available for pick up at the Annual Meeting for $15. After the event, plaque bases are $25 each (includes shipping). Please email or call SCPA to order duplicate awards. 

Winners Badge

Thanks Annual Meeting Sponsors!

We could not have a successful, affordable meeting without the help of these generous sponsors. Please take a moment to get to know the representatives of these special organizations! 

PRESENTING SPONSOR

South Carolina Newspaper Network

DIAMOND SPONSOR

AdCellerant 

PLATINUM SPONSORS

Dominion Energy

University of South Carolina College of Information and Communications

GOLD SPONSORS

Carl F. Muller Attorney at Law, P.A.

Creative Circle Media Solutions

Meriwether Law

OnPremise Networks

PopMount

South Carolina Daily Gazette

Walton Press

SILVER SPONSORS

Associated Press

Software Consulting Services, LLC

Winthrop University

Wyche Law Firm

TRAINING SPONSOR

South Carolina Press Association Foundation Smoak Fund

If you have any questions, contact Jen Madden or call SCPA at (803) 750-9561.