Awards from the 2021 News Contest were presented March 11 in Columbia.
Here’s more about our Awards Celebration Banquet, presented by AT&T!
Judges’ Comments for First Place Winners
- View slides containing winners’ name, newspaper and graphic representation. Contains judges’ comments for First Place winners, as well as Best of the Best. Download or view the PDF in SCPA’s DropBox or view in Issuu below (note that it is split in two parts).
Awards Celebration Program
President’s Award for Excellence
- Under 3,500 Division — Pageland Progressive Journal
- 3,500-6,500 Division – Myrtle Beach Herald
- Over 6,500 Division – Greenville Journal
- Under 8,500 Division — The Sumter Item
- 8,500-25,000 Division — The Island Packet
- Over 25,000 Division —The Post and Courier
Daily Journalist of the Year
John Monk, The State
“Perhaps what’s most impressive about John Monk is not his blockbuster past year of journalism but that this past year is representative of, well, year after year of Monk’s work. He never lets off the gas pedal, working harder and digging deeper than reporters many years his junior. And that’s how he ends up with a 48th career year – nearly 40 of those years in South Carolina –that’s every bit as impressive as his 10th or 20th or any other. …There is no better time, no year more representative of John Monk’s unmatched skill and passion, than now to give this reporter the honor he deserves.”
– Nomination from The State’s editors
John Monk is a legend among S.C. journalists, with his eye-popping scoops and sources like no other. He goes toe-to-toe with public officials and lawyers and is known far and wide for reporting gripping narratives and for taking calls from sources who, in many cases, won’t speak to any other reporter.
He plays his cards close to his chest, respecting his sources and digging until the story is in the editor’s hands — and when he reveals his hand at last, he’s reported a story that South Carolina’s readers often won’t find anywhere else, at least, until other reporters scramble once more to catch up with him. Standout work from the past year include in-depth reports on the ever-unfolding Alex Murdaugh saga, coverage of South Carolinians arrested in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and courtroom narratives on the trial and sentencing of Nathaniel Rowland who kidnapped and murdered a UofSC student in 2019.
As noted in his nomination, having his byline on a story about you is rarely a good thing. Yet, he is respected by those he covers, as well as his peers in this industry. We applaud Monk for his tenacity and dogged reporting.
Weekly Journalist of the Year
Brian Garner, The News & Reporter
“As an editor, if you find a person that is a good writer and reporter, you are lucky. If you find one who pours as much attention and passion into covering a parade as unearthing government corruption, you are blessed. If you find one who does all those things while dedicating themselves to their profession and community, then you’re me, because that means you have Brian Garner on your team.” – Nomination from News & Reporter Editor Travis Jenkins
Brian Garner covers it all – public safety, government, education, business and breaking news, plus community features. His portfolio showcases his dedication to fair, thorough reporting and just how much he cares about his community. Garner’s reporting is essential and keeps Chester and surrounding areas connected. Readers are lucky to have you.
Photojournalist of the Year
Andrew J. Whitaker, The Post and Courier
Wow. This was an incredibly tough competition. But the overall timing, composition, and precision here is as close to perfect as one gets. Just beautiful and very touching.
Daily Assertive Journalism Award
Chiara Eisner, The State
Chiara Eisner’s editor describes her as bold and fearless, and notes she has a steadfast commitment to facing down bullies. This is displayed in the complex body of work submitted by The State for this award. The topics that Eisner has written about and the way that she has doggedly pursued information fits the Assertive Journalism category well. Her “Secrets of the Death Chamber” series was hard-hitting, stand-out journalism. She refused to let the Department of Corrections make empty promises in her story and displayed emotional bravery when telling the difficult, nuanced stories of former executioners. Eisner also exposed a $13 billion company for being dishonest with the public related to the exploitation of horseshoe crabs.
Weekly Assertive Journalism Award
Barbara Ball, The Voice of Blythewood
In the small town of Blythewood, Barbara Ball has spent more than a year standing up for her work and her newspaper, despite financial repercussions. In this entry, Ball highlights the great lengths the mayor has gone to intimidate her related to her newspaper’s in-depth reporting on the hiring of a local marketing firm to help promote the town. While The Voice has faced public, false allegations, Ball has stood up for the integrity of her reporting, offering readers insight and evidence on complex developments. Kudos for using the FOI to shine light in dark places. With some members of local government trying to sully The Voice in the community’s eye, it’s nice to see readers stepping up to support The Voice with subscriptions and donations. Ball is unshakeable and we honor her for her persistence.
Daily Montgomery/Shurr FOI Award
The Post and Courier
This entry showcases The Post and Courier’s commitment to standing up for the public’s right to know and holding public officials accountable. Extensive knowledge and use of the FOIA demonstrated through dozens of examples, including one massive undertaking by The Post and Courier. “Uncovered” was a groundbreaking effort, where the newspaper and partners did a great job getting into the weeds and exposing questionable government conduct in every corner of the state. They filed more than 50 FOI requests and spent thousands of dollars to secure documents that shed light on corruption and misconduct. The newspaper should also be commended for its initiative when filing legal action against the sheriff’s department and SLED for refusing to release the records related to a double-homicide involving the Murdaugh family. The Citizen’s FOIA toolkit offers a thorough breakdown of the law, with easy-to-understand language and tips.
Weekly Montgomery/Shurr FOI Award
Travis Jenkins, The News & Reporter
The News & Reporter makes open government its mission and acts on that commitment in every issue. Travis Jenkins and staff stayed busy over the past year fighting for openness and reporting on issues of concern. As part of the “Uncovered” partnership, Jenkins covered a suspended council member who kept treating himself to taxpayer funds. He also used the FOIA to keep the public informed on various city matters – from firing/hiring practices to financial issues and development. He obtained a SLED report on police finances that resulted in the suspension of the chief and two officers. On his editorial page, Jenkins urged public officials to follow the letter and spirit of the law, urging a return to in-person council and school board meetings and detailing various hurdles in obtaining public information. Week after week, Jenkins used his pages to fight for open government and educate his readers on the FOIA.
Jim Davenport Award for Excellence in Government Reporting
Seanna Adcox, The Post and Courier
The late Jim Davenport was a tenacious reporter 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.
Out of a pool of several compelling entries that blew judges away, Seanna Adcox of The Post and Courier takes this top honor bearing Davenport’s name for the depth, range and balance of reporting paired with her embodiment of Davenport’s style of nonpartisan, unbiased and ethical journalism.
Adcox has covered state government and politics in South Carolina for more than 16 years, the first six working alongside her mentor, Jim Davenport.
As noted in her nomination, Adcox sees her role as educating the public with facts, so they can form their own opinions. That reputation is why sources often come to her first and why many officials talk to her.
Judges said Adcox covered a wide variety of topics deftly including the legislature, state agencies and local bodies. She reported fairly and honestly on issues that affected a lot of people including delays on death certificates, redistricting, earmarks, education, the Heritage Act, pay raises and several COVID-19 matters including masking and federal aid.
This entry is full of good journalism that holds people in power accountable in a way that would make Davenport proud.
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 $25. Prices include shipping. To order, please contact Kassidy.
Video will be available soon if you missed the event and would like to watch. We will mail your awards during the week of March 13-19.