Gannett Papers Dominate Both Classes in Contest
NATCHITOCHES – The Lafayette Daily Advertiser and Shreveport Times newspapers led a strong showing by Gannett in both circulation classifications of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association annual writing contest, the results of which were announced Sunday afternoon at The Landing restaurant here.
The Advertiser sports department, directed by former sports editor Bob Heist, took home Best Section in Class II for lower circulation papers as well as best Special Section for its 2009 high school preview magazine. And long time Advertiser writer Kevin Foote won Prep Writer of the Year and three other first place writing awards in Class II.
Judges were writers and/or editors from the New York Times, Dallas Morning News, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Chicago Sun-Times, Los Angeles Times, Houston Chronicle, Charlotte (N.C.) Observer and the Kansas City Star.
Of the Advertiser in the Best Section category, judges wrote, “Strong sections, jam-packed with coverage without feeling too overwhelming. Well-edited with good pacing and plenty of breakout information, though visually, the volume could be turned down a few notches. Staff-written copy is impressive as is the judicious use of regional and national wires. Comprehensive coverage of the events that clearly matter most to local readers. Priorities are clear.”
Heist recently left the Advertiser to become sports editor of Gannett’s Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal. Judges said his high school section was "head and shoulders above the others."
The Lake Charles American Press finished second in Best Section with Gannett’s Alexandria Daily Town Talk taking third. The New Orleans Times Picayune won the Class I Best Section as it was "far and away the best section in every way," judges said.
Judges said Foote’s prep coverage was “not fancy, dazzling writing, but the multitude of sources in each story showed the writer put in a lot of legwork.” Judges called Foote’s story on home-schooled students getting to participate in athletics, “wonderfully balanced.”
Foote’s first place individual stories were in the Prep Features, Amateur Sports Spot News and Amateur Sports Features categories. His prep feature was on a wrestler from St. Thomas More battling leukemia. His two amateur stories were on a Delhomme baseball player getting ruled ineligible and on an American Legion team. Foote also had a third place in prep columns for a column on redistricting and a third place in spot news for the story on home-schooled athletes.
Gannett Louisiana’s Glenn Guilbeau competed in Class I because his stories appear in the upper circulation Shreveport Times as well as the other statewide Gannett papers in Lafayette, Monroe, Alexandria and Opelousas. Guilbeau won the Individual Sweepstakes award in Class I by accumulating 11 total points with two first place writing awards, two second places and a third. One first place was in College Columns for a piece that compared Florida quarterback Tim Tebow to the “most interesting man in the world” in the Dos Equis beer commercials.
Another first place for Guilbeau was in Spot News for a story written on signing day in 2009 about LSU coach Les Miles removing a scholarship offer to former Bastrop receiver DeAngelo Benton so he could make sure he signed Rueben Randle – the No. 1 receiver in the nation also out of Bastrop. Randle’s father had said he didn’t want his son going to LSU if Benton also did. Benton ended up at Auburn. Guilbeau also had a second place in Prep Features on Randle’s positive impact on his town that was economically depressed from a paper mill closure in Bastrop. And he had a third place in pro columns for a piece on the new version of the Saints' financial deal with the state still being unfair to the state.
Shreveport Times sports editor Scott Ferrell won Class I Columnist of the Year, beating columnists from the larger Baton Rouge Advocate and Times Picayune.
“Writing was fresh and breezy,” judges said of Ferrell’s work. “Fun to read and informative with a subtle edge.”
Ferrell also won a third place for College Features on NCAA football spending and a third in amateur sports spot news for coverage of the Shreveport city golf tournament.
Roy Lang III of the Shreveport Times placed first in Series in Class I for his work on Mixed Martial Arts and had a third in Spot News for a story on minor league hockey and another third in outdoors writing.
“I learned something I didn’t know,” the judge wrote of Lang's mixed martial arts series. Guilbeau placed second in this category for a series on the national economic disaster of 2008-09 impacting LSU athletics.
Bob Tompkins of the Town Talk placed third in Class II Columnist of the Year category. Tompkins also placed first in Headlines, had a second in Prep Features and a third in Amateur Spot News and in Amateur Features. Advertiser writer Brady Aymond took second place in Pro Columns for a piece on Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Advertiser writer Josh Parrott placed second in College Features for a story on UL-Lafayette's academic issues with athletes and had another second in Spot News for a story on ULL keeping its basketball coaches despite another poor season. Parrott also had a third in the Series category for stories on the hiring by Florida International of Isiah Thomas and its impact on the rest of the Sun Belt Conference.
Jimmy Watson of the Shreveport Times placed second in Prep Columns and in Amateur Sports Spot News. Krysten Oliphant of the Monroe News-Star placed second in Amateur Features for a piece on a local bodybuilder. Raymond Partsch of the Town Talk placed second in Page Makeup, while Aymond of the Advertiser was third. Jason Pugh of the Shreveport Times was third in the Prep Writer of the Year category in Class I.
Former Advertiser writer Dan McDonald of McD Media won the overall Sportswriter of the Year for the most total points as well as the Class II sweepstakes as he won four first place awards, two second and a third and totaled 17 points.
Mike Triplett of the Times Picayune won the Story of the Year for a comprehensive feature on NFL officiating. Billy Turner of the Picayune won Prep Writer of the Year in Class I. Scooter Hobbs, sports editor of the Lake Charles American Press, won Class II Columnist of the Year.