The Carthage Courier brought home a record 18 total awards — including receiving the coveted top prize for 1st Place for General Excellence among Division I newspapers from across the state — in last Friday’s 2023 Tennessee State Press Contest Awards held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Franklin.
The awards, sponsored by the University of Tennessee (UT) and Tennessee Press Association (TPA), marked the Courier’s first-ever win for the contest’s highest honor — coming on the heels of a 2nd Place finish for General Excellence in 2022.
Publisher Scott Winfree represented the Courier and accepted the General Excellence Award and five First Place awards from Randy Boyd, president of the University of Tennessee, who made this year’s presentations at the ceremony.
“We at the Courier are filled with gratitude for this level of recognition that has come our way and it is a special feeling to have our staff’s efforts acknowledged by our peers,” stated Winfree now in his 38th year at Smith County’s longtime weekly publication.
“This honor doesn’t come our way without our readership, subscribers, advertisers and the ownership of the Hershel Lake family,” noted Winfree. “We thank each of you for allowing us continued representation for our Smith County community. We share this recognition with you. This is as much your award as it is ours.”
Newspapers compete from among five divisions (based on combined weekly circulations) with points awarded for each contest entry. General Excellence honors were based on the newspaper’s total points in their division. This year’s entries were judged by members of the Virginia Press Association.
In addition to the Courier’s top selection for Division I, other General Excellence winners included The Standard Banner (Division II), The Knoxville Ledger (Division III), the Kingsport Times News (Division IV) and the Tennessean (Division V).
“News organizations have an increasingly difficult responsibility to tell the stories that impact our lives – the good, and sometimes the not-so-good,” said Boyd, president of the UT System. “We are fortunate in Tennessee to have outstanding reporters, photographers and designers who work with great enthusiasm and a genuine commitment to public accountability, and I truly appreciate the high standards you hold for yourselves in reporting in a fair and ethical manner.”
“I have immense pride in our small but dedicated staff that strives for excellence,” said Winfree about Courier employees Eddie West (39 years), Shea Haile (6 years) and Austin Clay (4 years). “They are outstanding professionals and possess the necessary dedication and attention to detail it requires to publish a successful newspaper.”
“Eddie continues to do what Eddie has always done — and that is produce quality award-winning effort in covering the main news from our Smith County community,” continued Winfree. “Shea has been nothing short of exceptional in continuing to shoulder the coverage of our sports community and produce award-winning work while Austin is outstanding in his responsibilities in overseeing our entire advertising department as well as our website and final weekly page productions.”
The contributions from Feature writer Ken Beck and Outdoor Feature writer Larry Woody were, once again, prominently recognized as well among this year’s 18-award haul at the contest.
“What an honor to have these two longtime newspaper icons contributing to our publication,” added Winfree. “They have decades of award-winning talent and are outstanding individuals.”
In addition to the General Excellence Award, the Courier’s other 17 awards included 5 First Place, 4 Second Place, 3 Third Place, 3 Fourth Place and 2 Fifth Place.
Following are the Courier’s 18 awards received:
WINNER — General Excellence (Division I)
STAFF Highest Overall Quality For Newspapers
WITH Combined Weekly Circ. of 2,999 or less
FIRST PLACE — Best Breaking News Coverage
EDDIE WEST I-40 Accident Claims Two Lives
FIRST PLACE — Best News Reporting
EDDIE WEST Guilty Plea Entered
FIRST PLACE — Best Personal Column
LARRY WOODY Parting Shot: Dads Ashes Fired At Turkey
FIRST PLACE -— Local Features
KEN BECK (WRITER) STAGECOACH ROBBERY / POWELL TIRE
SHEA HAILE (DESIGN) LOVING LUCY / REMEMBERING LANCASTER
FIRST PLACE — Headline Writing
LARRY WOODY Parting Shot: Dads Ashes Fired At Turkey
SECOND PLACE -— Make-Up & Appearance
STAFF Page Design / Layout & Photography
SECOND PLACE -— Best Breaking News Coverage
EDDIE WEST Man Fires At Officers – Injuring One
SECOND PLACE -— Best Personal Humor Column
LARRY WOODY Cousin Norma: Still Hauling In Bass At 81
SECOND PLACE -— Investigative Reporting
EDDIE WEST Theft, Bribery Charges
THIRD PLACE — Best Sports Coverage
SHEA HAILE ELEM. BASKETBALL TOURNEY / NEXT STOP M’BORO
SCHS VS. GHS FOOTBALL
THIRD PLACE — Best Sports Writing
SHEA HAILE 4 FOR 4 FOR SOPHIE LINDER
PLUMLEE RISING STAR / COACH CLEMONS RESIGNS
THIRD PLACE — Best Digital Presentation
AUSTIN CLAY / SHEA HAILE Website / Twitter
FOURTH PLACE — Best Business Coverage
EDDIE WEST / KEN BECK POWELL TIRE / GYM INSTRUCTOR GUILTY PLEA
FOURTH PLACE — Best Feature Photograph
EDDIE WEST Saturated (Heron Finds Prey / Heavy Rain)
FOURTH PLACE — Public Service
STAFF Smith County Fair Program / coverage
FIFTH PLACE — Best Education Reporting
EDDIE WEST Smith County Schools
FIFTH PLACE — Investigative Reporting
EDDIE WEST Cordell Hull Lake Fish Pass Test