Chronicle-Independent Editor Martin L. Cahn earned a first-place award for his story on the return home for Kershaw County’s All-America City delegation during the South Carolina Press Association (SCPA) annual meeting Saturday in Columbia.
Cahn earned first place in the two- to three-times weekly category of News Feature Writing.
“Makes me want to visit Kershaw County! Interesting and informative,” one of the judges said of the article.
The C-I published “A hearty welcome home for All-America City delegates” on June 29, 2018, chronicling how dozens of people lined up along Broad Street to greet a bus carrying most of the delegation as it was led by a police escort and under a flag hoisted by the Camden Fire Department to the Kershaw County Government Building.
The article included quotes by many of the people involved, including a rousing “Kershaw! County!” chant led by 2018 Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands Youth of the Year Jaelen Bussey.
“This was definitely the No. 1 story of the year for Kershaw County,” Cahn said. “I’m glad at least one of the judges thought they might want to visit after reading it. That was the idea.”
Cahn also won two second place awards. Earning second place for Series of Articles in the two- to three-times weekly division was Cahn’s two-part series “Orphaned and homeless,” printed on April 6 and 10, 2018. Using court and other documents, the pair of articles detailed not merely the fact that an orphaned 14-year-boy ended up homeless, but how the S.C. Department of Social Services’ (DSS) handling of his case led him to be on the streets of Elgin for four months. A jury awarded the young man a $150,000 judgment, concluding that the agency’s negligent actions led to his ending up on the streets.
Cahn’s other second place award was for Beat Reporting. Journalists in this category can choose nearly any topic they regularly report on, and Cahn chose three crime-related stories for the judges: “2-year-old girl found safe,” reporting on how a little girl was returned to Kershaw County after her biological parents took her out of state in violation of a DSS safety plan; “Jury finds Pickrell guilty of murdering boyfriend,” a relatively short story taken from the last day of a June 2018 trial of a now 66-year-old woman killing her 33-year-old boyfriend back in 2014; and “Two arrested in Adam Davis murder,” about the arrests of Clinton and Peggy Danielle Beebe in October 2018 for a murder committed in the last days of 2016. The couple is still being held at the Kershaw County Detention Center without bond.
Cahn is also sharing a third-place award with former editor Jim Tatum in the Reporting-in-Depth category for their “Economic Development” package that appeared in March 2018 that included interviews with all county council members, members of the economic development office and documentation showing that Kershaw County had only landed one new industry during the previous 10 years.
Finally, the C-I itself earned third place for General Excellence in the two- to three-times weekly division. Judges examined two issued from 2018 -- March 30 and Sept. 28, both of which happened to be Fridays -- from front to back, looking at the mix of stories, features, sports, opinion, and more.
In addition, Publisher Mike Mischner was elected to a three-year term on the SCPA Executive Committee.