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C-I does it again!
Gets 2010 General Excellence nod from S.C. Press Association
C-I crew 1.JPG
The C-I and its staff were recognized Saturday by the S.C. Press Association as the first-place winner in the general excellence category for two- to three-times weekly publications in the state. The C-I's Martin L. Cahn, Keri Todd Boyce and Claire Byun were also honored. - photo by Mark Griggs

For the second time in four years, the Chronicle-Independent has been named the best two-to-three times weekly newspaper in the state of South Carolina. The C-I earned first place in the General Excellence category at a luncheon during the S.C. Press Association’s annual meeting held Saturday in Columbia.

“In plain terms, the General Excellence award means that the Chronicle-Independent has 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,” said Mike Mischner, Camden Media Co. publisher.

To qualify, the C-I had to enter the entire contents of two editions of the paper, one from June 6, 2010, or immediately prior to that; and one from the month of August. The C-I submitted newspapers from June 4, 2010, and Aug. 25, 2010.

Front page stories from the June 4, 2010, edition, a Friday, included three election-related stories, including a first-person narrative by State Sen. Vincent Sheheen reflecting on the road to the June primary. Also on that day’s front page were Kershaw County School District related stories and information on the Camden-Kershaw County NAACP’s annual Freedom Fund banquet.

A fun feature photo entitled “Jeepers Creepers” graced the front page of the Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010, edition of the C-I, showing how Wateree Elementary School students were “worming” up to the new school year. There were also stories on Boogertown’s continued resistance to a plan to extend Jordan Street, another school district story and a look at one county councilman’s crusade to cap sewer charges.

But the General Excellence award isn’t just about a newspaper’s front pages. It takes the entire edition into account, from front to back -- Viewpoint opinion pages, sports coverage, Localife, What’s Up calendar of events, Rec Notes, feature photographs and even obituaries. It’s also not just about the content, but how that content is presented.

“The great thing about the General Excellence category is that everyone on the staff contributes something to the win,” said Associate Editor Martin L. Cahn. “In these cases, you have stories written by staff reporters Ashley Lewis Ford and Trevor Baratko as well as myself. You have the great work Keri Todd Boyce puts in as our Localife editor while also editing the West Wateree Chronicle. Editor Martha Bruce does a great job of overseeing all that, deciding what goes where and how it will look. Add our fantastic production staff -- Barbara Stevens, Barbara Jones and Kim Teal -- to the mix and it’s no wonder you can pick up any edition of the C-I and see great work.”

The press association judges General Excellence on a 100-point scale, divided among seven criteria: content/coverage, quality of writing/editing, design/layout, use of photographs/graphic, editorial page quality, sports coverage and lifestyle coverage.

Ford and Sports Editor Tom Didato were singled out in some of the judges’ comments provided to the C-I.

“Ashley puts together good stories. Easy to read, and to the point,” one judge said of Ford. “Great job!”

“VERY in-depth coverage!” a judge said of Didato’s sports work. “Coverage the community can be proud of!”

Other comments referred to the C-I having a good mix of local and national topics on its opinion pages, the use of “up close” photographs and that the paper’s layout makes items easy to find.

At Saturday’s banquet, former TV anchor David Stanton read the following judge’s comment as the C-I accepted the award:

“Well rounded paper. Good writing and presented wonderfully!”

The C-I picked up other awards Saturday.

Boyce earned a first place berth for Inside Page Design for a two-page spread on bird watching she designed just after the beginning of the contest period in the C-I’s Nov. 13, 2009, edition.

Of Boyce’s winning page design, judges said, “Well organized and greatly informative through use of photos, map, graphic alternative storytelling. Very well done.”

Boyce also won third place in the Lifestyle Feature Writing category for “Dancing Her Way to the Top,” the story of Patterson School of Dance alum Douglas Herlong’s journey to Florida’s Harid Conservatory of Dance and beyond. That article appeared on the C-I’s Sept. 6, 2010, Localife page.

Cahn won second place in the Spot News Reporting category for his coverage of the January 2010 Clearwater Cove fire that took the lives of marina owners Libby and Tommy Philips.

Camden Media Co.’s West Wateree Chronicle earned one award Saturday. Intern Claire Byun won a first place award in News Feature Writing for “A problem with pigs.”

“The story had a great lead in that it captured the reader’s attention and kept it. It explained the problem and the reasoning,” judges said of Byun’s article. “Great job!”

The Fort Jackson Leader, a military paper published by Camden Media Co., earned three awards at Saturday’s presentation.

Susanne Kappler won second place for Photo Page Design for “CIIP tailors to new soldiers;” Crystal Brown won second place for News Headline Writing; and Chris Rasumussen won third place for his Photo Series or Photo Story entry “Vehicle recovery.”

Camden Media Co. publishes the Chronicle-Independent, West Wateree Chronicle, Lee County Observer (Bishopville), Blythewood Country Chronicle, Fort Jackson Leader, Shaw (AFB) News, Lake Wateree News and The Connection with a total distribution in excess of 61,000 in the Midlands of South Carolina.

Camden Media Co. also owns and operates Kershaw County’s local news websites, and