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Winners of the Editorial Contest announced

Congratulations to the winners of the annual MDDC Editorial Contest!  These winners represent the best work of member publications in Maryland, Delaware and DC – and competition was stiff, with nearly 2,100 entries this year.  Publications are divided into seven categories, based on circulation, and entries are judged, in most cases, by a sister press association.  This year, judges from the West Virginia Press Association evaluated our entries.  For some specific awards, such as Website of General Excellence, Rookie of the Year, and our James S. Keat FOI Award, we convened a distinguished panel of local judges to review the work.

The contest, governed by the Association’s Editorial Committee, admitted nearly 2,100 entries from 59 member publications among 51 categories.  There are seven divisions in the contest, which group member publications into daily and non-daily print and online-only categories, then further group them by circulation.  One Best in Show award is given in each category across all divisions.  Additionally, one James S. Keat Freedom of Information Award is given across all divisions to the publication best demonstrating use of public information act requests in its reporting.  The capstone award, one per division, is News Organization of the Year.

The Association recognized a new journalist with the Rookie of the Year award.  This award honors a new journalist with less than 18 months' experience in the field.  Nine nominations were received from nine member publications.  for her versatility and focus on telling compelling stories.  Waseem covers Howard County, Maryland, for the Baltimore Sun Media Group’s community newspaper division. The award was judged by a distinguished panel: Tom Linthicum, President of TDL Group and veteran journalist, and John League, retired publisher of The Herald-Mail in Hagerstown. 

The Baltimore Sun won the James S. Keat Freedom of Information Award for its work using public records to reveal patterns of crime and police action.  The award is named for Jim Keat, a retired editor and foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, who was a long-time advocate for public information access. Keat is also a member of the MDDC Newspaper Hall of Fame.  The award was judged by a distinguished panel:  Tom Marquardt, retired editor and publisher of The Capital in Annapolis, Frank Quine, retired assistant dean of the University of Maryland Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, and Miranda Spivak, Eugene S. Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism, DePauw University and independent journalist for Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. The judges said they were impressed by the Sun’s reporting which both covered important topics and delved deeply into public problems.  The quality of the reporting, graphics and illustration and packaging of the content raised The Sun’s work above all of the other entrants. They felt the Sun’s “effort was extraordinary” with a particular focus on crime and police.  “Every story was fabulous.”

In addition to the Sun, the judges chose to extend a special honorable mention award to the Sentinel Newspapers, for their work in evaluating the water quality of Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties.  A dedicated staff of six people sent numerous FOIA requests, vising several Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission facilities and interviewed dozens of scientists, key personnel and consumers.  During the course of this six-month long investigation, the staff combed through an estimated 300 pages of documents.  The judges recognized this as a “big effort” for the “small and scrappy publication.”

The News Organization of the Year awards represent the best publication in each division.  These awards are chosen based on the points accumulated for first and second prizes in each category.  In the daily divisions, The Baltimore Sun won the award in Division A (print dailies over 75,000); The Frederick News-Post was named News Organization of the Year for Division B (print dailies from 20,000 to 75,000); and the Carroll County Times won in Division C (print dailies under 20,000).  For non-daily publications, The Aegis won the award in Division D (print non-dailies over 20,000); Cape Gazette was named News Organization of the Year for Division E (print non-dailies from 10,000 to 20,000); The Montgomery Sentinel won in Division F (print non-dailies under 10,000); and Capital News Service won in Division O (online-only). This is the first year for Division O.

For a full listing of winners and their award-winning work, please see click here.   

Also at the event, Montgomery Blair High School senior Alexandra Marquez was named the 2017 Michael S. Powell High School Journalist of the Year.  Marquez is currently the editor-in-chief of Montgomery Blair High School’s newspaper, Silver Chips.  A panel of MDDC editors and reporters, including Angie Price of the Bay Times, Dan Divilio of the Kent County News, Ben Penserga of The Daily Times and Brian Karem of the Sentinel reviewed applications for this prestigious $1,500 cash award.  The judges felt Alexandra’s “commitment to journalism and an ability to engage and motivate her peers” propelled her among the nominees.  They were impressed by Alexandra’s writing, saying that she “shows a real knack for news reporting.” She writes about diverse topics and handles each of them well.  One of the editors on the judging panel remarked that Alexandra “…could show up on our newsroom someday.”

The judges were very impressed with the caliber of writing in the contest. One judge commented “All the entries renew our faith in the transformative power of journalism. They were all well-written and well-researched. Picking winners was a challenge.” We will post all of the winning entries on our website immediately after the event.   

The Press Association celebrated all of the winners at the Editorial Awards Luncheon, May 12, 2017 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Annapolis, MD. 

What the judges said: “This was an incredibly tough category to judge. All the entries showed reporters' enterprising skills and were easy to read, thanks to a wealth of personal interviews and thorough background information.”

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