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C-I wins SCPA general excellence title second year in a row

Award recognizes S.C.'s top newspaper in 2- to 3-times weekly category

Posted: March 18, 2012 8:42 p.m.
Updated: March 19, 2012 5:00 a.m.

It’s back-to-back wins for the Chronicle-Independent, named the best two-to-three times weekly newspaper in the state of South Carolina for the second year in a row and for the third time in five years. The C-I earned first place in the General Excellence category at a luncheon Saturday during the S.C. Press Association’s (SCPA) annual meeting in Folly Beach.

“In plain terms, the General Excellence award means that the Chronicle-Independent has once again been judged to be the best newspaper published two-to-three times weekly in the entire state of South Carolina. This award is a tribute to the talent, professionalism and dedication of our entire staff,” Camden Media Co. Publisher Mike Mischner said.

To qualify, the C-I had to enter the entire contents of two editions of the paper, one from Sept. 14, 2011, or immediately prior to that; and one from the month of February. The C-I submitted newspapers from Feb. 23, 2011, and Sept. 14, 2011. Both happened to be Wednesday editions of the newspaper.

Front page stories for Feb. 23, 2011, included articles on Camden City Council’s strategic planning session, a shooting incident on Chesnut Street in Camden, a busy week for county firefighters, Elgin Town Council’s approval of salary hikes and the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce’s decision to join a Midstate coalition.

Another Camden City Council story topped the front page of the C-I’s Sept. 14, 2011, edition. Other stories looked at a literacy program, a tombstone mystery and KershawHealth’s Springdale 5K at Sunset.

General Excellence judges, however, aren’t just looking at a newspaper’s front page. According to the contest’s rules, “criteria include every aspect of journalism, including content, writing, design, editing, headlines, use of photographs, editorial page quality, sports and lifestyle coverage.” A 100-point system is used, weighted toward content and news coverage for up to 25 points, followed by the quality of writing and editing, design and layout and use of photographs and graphics.

“The entire staff contributed toward our General Excellence win,” Associate Editor Martin L. Cahn said. “That includes our staff reporters Miciah Bennett and Michael Ulmer -- plus former staff reporter Ashley Lewis Ford -- Sports Editor Tom Didato, Localife Editor Keri Todd Boyce and, of course, Editor Martha Bruce. But it also includes our production staff, Barbara Stevens, Barbara Jones and Kim Teal.”

At Saturday’s banquet, the C-I accepted the award as well as received feedback from the contest judges.

The judges said the C-I provided “solid, local coverage,” as well as “kept newspaper to news of the community and highlighted local places and faces.”

The C-I picked up other awards from the SCPA Saturday.

For the second year in a row, Cahn earned a second place berth in the Sport News Reporting category, this time for coverage of a March 2011 plane crash in Elgin that took the life of a pilot from the Buffalo, N.Y., area. Bruce and Boyce each earned third place awards, Bruce for Feature Headline Writing and Boyce for Lifestyle Feature Writing. Bruce’s winning headlines -- “Say ‘hay,’” “Paws for the cause” and “Tree to the city” -- appeared, respectively, in the March 9, April 6 and Aug. 8, 2011 editions of the C-I. Boyce’s winning story, “Kershaw County Ministerial Association encourages church leaders to join,” appeared on the Localife page of the C-I’s Sept. 2, 2011, edition.

As editor of Camden Media Co.’s West Wateree Chronicle, Boyce received a first place award in the Profile Feature Writing category for a centerpiece story on protecting South Carolina’s poultry.

“Great descriptive lead in that grabbed my attention and made me want to read it,” judges wrote. “When I finished I felt I knew the ‘Biosecurity Queen’ personally.”

Camden Media Co.’s Lee County Observer in Bishopville received two awards Saturday. Editor Gee Atkinson earned third place in the Short Story category for “The world’s Longest yard sale,” and second place in the Beat Reporting category for “Councilman upset over police matter.”

The Fort Jackson Leader, a military newspaper published by Camden Media Co., earned seven awards Saturday.

Susanne Kappler won five of the awards, including second place for Feature Headline Writing for the headlines “Grumpy Old Troll,” “Acai Berry” and “Potty Training.” Kappler also won second place for an unpublished photograph of a training exercise at Fort Jackson’s Medical Simulation Training Facility. Kappler won second and third place awards in the General News Photo category for photographs called “The boundless playground” and “34th Infantry Regiment, points in the direction of down range.” Kappler also won third place for Photo Series or Photo Story for “Soldiers with Company B, 187th Ordnance Battalion.”

Crystal Brown won third place for News Headline Writing for the headlines “LKG 4 WRK?,” “Bing” and “Action Jackson.” Brown also won second place in Column Writing for a column titled “Adopted pet became treasured friend.”

In addition to the Chronicle-Independent, West Wateree Chronicle, Lee County Observer and Fort Jackson Leader, Camden Media Co. publishes the Blythewood Country Chronicle, Shaw (AFB) News, Lake Wateree News and The Connection, for total distribution in excess of 61,000 in the Midlands of South Carolina. Additionally, Camden Media Co. publishes the Camden Horse, Camden’s local horse magazine, with a distribution of 7,500 in Kershaw County.

Camden Media Co. also owns and operates Kershaw County’s local news websites, www.chronicle-independent.com and www.westwatereechronicle.com.

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