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Better Newspaper Competition

Excited about awards earned by The Panolian at the Mississippi Press Association’s annual convention over the weekend were newspaper employees (from left) Tripp Pepper, Colton McMillan, Sheila Perry, Russell White (in back), Maranda Fortner, Winnie Ferguson, Rick Mills and Marie Smith. Not shown is Ashley Crutcher. The Panolian photo by Rita Howell

Panolian staff members on Monday celebrated their awards from the weekend’s Mississippi Press Association annual convention, attended by publisher John Howell Sr. Shown are (from left) Rupert Howell, Sherry Hopkins, John Howell, Billy Davis (back), Myra Bean, Terri Howard, Margaret Buntin, Emily Williams, Rita Howell (front), Carol Knight, Debbie Parker, Jason Mattox, Morgan Parducci, Madison Kilgore and James Martin. Photo by Wally Pang

Panolian wins coveted General Excellence Award, 14 others

The Panolian was recognized as the top newspaper in its division in the Mississippi Press Association’s Better Newspaper Competition.

Publisher John Howell Sr. accepted the General Excellence Award presented at the MPA’s annual convention in Biloxi on Saturday.

In all the Panolian received 15 awards for news stories, photos, editorials and columns that were published during 2008.

The newspaper won first place for its editorial pages and lifestyle section.

Columnist Sherry Hopkins won a first place plaque for best general interest column and news editor Rita Howell received a first place award for best feature photograph, a picture of Tom McCullar’s peach orchard in full bloom.

The Panolian staff received a second place award, in a combined competition with all newspapers in the state, for its efforts to support freedom of information.

“Freedom of information” is newspaper jargon for public access to government records, for example, in order to provide readers with facts they are entitled to. 

The Panolian, in seeking information about the financial condition of Tri-Lakes Medical Center last year, hired an attorney and filed a motion in U. S. Bankruptcy Court seeking release of an audit report.

“We’ve chased a first place in general excellence for years and we’re elated,” the publisher said.

“Recognition for work entered into the ‘freedom of information’ category is important also. It validates what we are trying to do for our readers,” Howell added.

A second place award went to The Panolian in the “Best Design” category for the newspaper’s layout of headlines, photos and art, and the quality of its reproduction.

Another second place award went to John Howell for his editorial writing. The judges cited his commendation of the sanitation workers who discovered and helped Drew Bouchillon after he was involved in a tractor accident last summer.

Rupert Howell was recognized with a third place award for best commentary column, and Rita Howell received a third place award for a feature story about Larry Tutor, a double amputee who serves as a volunteer fireman.

John Howell and Billy Davis shared a third place award for best in-depth/investigative coverage for a series of stories about city government in Crenshaw.

Four other awards went to Billy Davis, including second place for spot news photograph, and second place for best in-depth/investigative coverage for a series of stories on the proposed, yet un-opened Rolando plant in Crenshaw.

Davis also received a third place award for a general news story about the governor’s pardon of convicted killer Bobby Hayes Clark.

He received a third place certificate for best general news photo.

The Mississippi Press Association is made up of 116 member newspapers from across the state.

The 2008 entries were judged by the Arizona Press Association.