Knoxville Mercury Scores 13 Wins at Golden Press Card Awards

In Editor's Notes, The Daily Dumpster Blog by Coury Turczyn1 Comment

In its first time entering the annual Golden Press Card Awards, presented by the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists, the Knoxville Mercury scored 13 wins in a variety of categories.

Please note: We opted to compete in the “large daily newspapers” division rather than the one for non-daily publications. This means our entries for writing, design, and art competed head to head against the largest news organization in East Tennessee, aka the Knoxville News Sentinel.

We’re especially proud of taking first place in our “big three” categories: investigative reporting, feature writing, and design. These are the cornerstones we launched our paper on: in-depth, long-form reporting of complex issues; well-written features that are entertaining to read; and superb, compelling design. We’re the one publication in East Tennessee where you can find all three of those elements, and we hope you find that level of quality worth supporting with donations to our Press Forward 2016 fundraising campaign. Although our content is free, it costs money to produce. So if you’ve ever thought, “I’d pay for this!” then now is the time to do just that.

Here’s what we won:

1st Place: Award of Excellence

Investigative Reporting: “Checks and Balances” by S. Heather Duncan
The first chapter of Heather’s series on the Knoxville Police Department made an unparalled examination into how the department is managed—and found that officers with disciplinary problems rarely face any career repercussions.

Feature Writing: “Hemp Pioneers” by Clay Duda
Did you know our rather conservative state Legislature legalized hemp farming last year? Neither did we—until Clay Duda let us know with this story portraying the first steps in local farmers’ attempts to plant a new cash crop.

Page Design: Knoxville Mercury Covers by Tricia Bateman
It’s not easy to create a beautiful piece cover art each week, especially on our budget, but Tricia surprises us with a fresh take every time—singlehandedly making our stories about 100 percent better in the process.

Second Place: Award of Merit

General Reporting: “Moving Mountains” by Clay Duda
It took a log of digging through bureaucracy, but Clay was able to show how guidelines for hilltop development—agreed-upon over a contentious years-long process—are virtually ignored by Knox County government and used inconsistently within the city

Feature Writing: “The Last Drive-In” by S. Heather Duncan
Heather’s cover story detailing the conflict between a Maryville drive-in theater—the last in the area—and the bright lights of a new Walmart parking lot also revealed the debate over the future of a city that also serves as a gateway to the Smoky Mountains.

Editorial Writing: “Why I Had to Leave the State to Get Married” by April Snellings
Before the Supreme Court made its landmark decision that legalized marriage for everyone, April Snellings showed us what it means for state government to discriminate against you because it doesn’t approve of your lifestyle.

Art Illustration: “Spirit of the Staircase” by Matthew Foltz-Gray
Matthew upholds the nearly lost newspaper tradition of full-page, color comics in a marvelous way every other week with his ongoing story of a bereft young man and his friend, the curious Mumford. (He also has four-panel, black and white strips down on alternating weeks.)

Third Place

Sports Reporting: “The Quiet Fighter” by Brian Canever
Brian’s profile of the local MMA fighter Ovince Saint Preux—who recently battled (and lost, with a broken arm) for the UFC interim championship—provided an common inside look at a relatively new sport.

Personal Columns: “Sacred and Profane” by Donna Johnson
Writing from a lifetime of misadventures, Donna gives us an uncommon view of Knoxville life—and its unique characters—that doesn’t exactly get written about elsewhere.

Feature Photography: “Lost Knoxville” by Harlan Hambright
The ’70s were not kind to downtown Knoxville as people fled to the suburbs and buildings were replaced with parking lots, so there wasn’t much in the way of photographic documentation of that era. That is, until we stumbled across Harlan’s magical photos of places and people that live on as distant memories.

Honorable Mention 

General Reporting: “Crash Protection” by Clay Duda
Clay’s news feature reported an interesting statistical and beaurocratic discrepency: As work finally gets underway to improve the safety of Alcoa Highway, why does similar work on Chapman Highway lag behind—especially when Chapman has far worse fatality and crash rates? (Look for an update in this very issue.)

Sports Reporting: “Class Rivals” by Matthew Everett
Football is serious business in Tennessee, especially locally—beyond the Vols, there’s the rivalry between Fulton and Maryville high schools, whose programs could not be more different. Matthew showed us what was at stake for both teams.

Personal Columns: “The Scruffy Citizen” by Jack Neely
Knoxville history contains a seemingly limitless number of surprises—especially when you have a writer of Jack’s caliber who’s devoted himself to uncovering them.

Featured photo: from left, editor Coury Turczyn, contributing writer Brian Canever, comic-strip artist Matthew Foltz-Gray.

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Here’s the complete list of all Golden Press Card Awards winners:

1-A. DEADLINE/BREAKING NEWS REPORTING, newspapers

Award of Merit

Right 2 Marry,” Megan Boehnke, Richard Locker, Cortney Roark and Gerald Witt, Knoxville News Sentinel

Award of Excellence

Train Derailment,” Staff, The Daily Times

 

1-C. DEADLINE/BREAKING NEWS REPORTING, television

Honorable Mention

Blount County Train Derailment,” Staff, WATE-TV

Third Place

Terror in Chattanooga,” Staff, WRCB-TV

Award of Merit

Remembering Zaevion,” Michael Crowe and Brian Holt, WBIR-TV

Award of Excellence

Train Fire and Evacuation,” Alison Duff, Martha Jennings and Staff, WBIR-TV

 

2-A. GENERAL REPORTING, large daily newspapers

Honorable Mention

Crash Protection,” Clay Duda, Knoxville Mercury

Third Place

Bus Crash,” Megan Boehnke, Hayes Hickman, Don Jacobs and Lydia X. McCoy, Knoxville News Sentinel

Award of Merit

Moving Mountains,” Clay Duda, Knoxville Mercury

Award of Excellence

Cuts to Care,” Kristi L. Nelson, Knoxville News Sentinel

 

2-B. GENERAL REPORTING, smaller daily newspapers

Award of Merit

Dupont Closing Vonore Refinery,” Melissa Erickson, The Daily Times

Award of Excellence

The Long Goodbye,” Steve Wildsmith, The Daily Times

 

3-B. GENERAL REPORTING, television

Third Place

Car Restoration Delayed,” Don Dare, WATE-TV

Award of Merit

Court Hearing Concerns,” Stephanie Beecken and Shawn Davis, WATE-TV

Award of Excellence

Plaintiffs React to SCOTUS Hearing,” Becca Habegger, WBIR-TV

 

 

4. CONTINUING COVERAGE, ONLINE

Third place

Hope After Tragedy,” Tracey Trumbull, WRCB-TV

Award of Merit

CSX Train Derailment,” Staff, WATE-TV

Award of Excellence

Cirrus Aircraft,” Shelley Kimel, Ed Marcum, Amy Nolan and G. Chambers Williams III

 

5-A. FEATURE WRITING, larger daily papers

Third place

Joy in the Journey, Kristi L. Nelson, Knoxville News Sentinel

Award of Merit

The Last Drive-In, S. Heather Duncan, Knoxville Mercury

Award of Excellence

Hemp Pioneers, Clay Duda, Knoxville Mercury

 

5-B. FEATURE WRITING, smaller daily newspapers

Third Place

Vet’s T-Shirt Goes Viral,” Lesli Bales-Sherrod, The Daily Times

Award of Merit

A Leader Among Men,” Melanie Tucker, The Daily Times

Award of Excellence

The Running of the Wolves,” Steve Wildsmith, The Daily Times

 

5-C. FEATURE WRITING, nondaily newspapers

Award of Excellence

Vanishing Bees Pose Big Threat to Economy,” Amanda Womac, The Ledger

 

6-B. FEATURE REPORTING, television

Third Place

Austin Roden,” Paul Shahen and Lee Broome, WRCB-TV

Award of Merit

Nicky’s Pizza Pays It Forward,” Stephanie Beecken and Eric Altenhof, WATE-TV

Award of Excellence

The Power of Organ Donation,” LaTrice Currie and Tim McCurry, WRBC-TV

 

7-A. INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING, large daily newspapers

Award of Merit

Policing the Police,” Jamie Satterfield, Knoxville News Sentinel

Award of Excellence

Checks and Balances,” S. Heather Duncan, Knoxville Mercury

 

8-B. INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING, television

Third Place

Fines, Fees and a Flawed System,” Mike Donila, John North and Kendall Morris, WBIR-TV

Award of Merit

UT Sexual Assaults,” Kristin Farley and Linda Nguyen, WATE-TV

Award of Excellence

Untested Rape Kits,” Dan Kennedy and Beth Burger, WRCB-TV

 

9-A. SERIES/PACKAGE/PROJECT WRITING, large daily newspapers

Award of Merit

No Winners, Only Losers,” MJ Slaby and Dustin Dopirak, Knoxville News Sentinel

Award of Excellence

Passport from Persecution,” Kristi L. Nelson, Knoxville News Sentinel

 

9-B. SERIES/PACKAGE/PROJECT WRITING, smaller daily newspapers

Award of Excellence

Walmart Zoning and Development Issues,” Lesli Bales-Sherrod, The Daily Times

 

10-C. DOCUMENTARY/PUBLIC AFFAIRS PROGRAMMING

Award of Merit

Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee 2016,” Buck Kahler, Nick Geidner and Clint Elmore, KnoxZine

Award of Excellence

Habitat for Humanity,” Kristin Farley, WATE-TV

 

11-A. SPORTS REPORTING, newspapers

Honorable Mention

Class Rivals,” Matthew Everett, Knoxville Mercury

Third Place

The Quiet Fighter,” Brian Canever, Knoxville Mercury

Award of Merit

The Greytest Gapsy,” Sports staff, The Daily Times

Award of Excellence

Joshua Dobbs Learns to Balance Academics, Athletics,” Dustin Dopirak, Knoxville News Sentinel

 

11-B. SPORTS REPORTING, television

Honorable Mention

Butchisms,” Jillian Mahen, WATE-TV

Third Place

Remembering Vol Legend Doug Atkins,” Patrick Murray, WBIR-TV

Award of Merit

2015 Vols Film Study,” Patrick Murray, WBIR-TV

Award of Excellence

Boy Told He Might Not Walk, Runs Instead,” Nick Carboni, WBIR-TV

 

11-D. SPORTS REPORTING, online

Award of Excellence

Limbo: The Strange Case of Von Pearson,” William Wright, Blank Newspaper

 

12. Editorial Writing

Award of Merit

Why I Had to Leave the State to Get Married, April Snellings, Knoxville Mercury

Award of Excellence

News Sentinel Editorials, Scott Barker, Knoxville News Sentinel

13-A. PERSONAL COLUMNS, large daily newspapers

Honorable Mention

The Scruffy Citizen,” Jack Neely, Knoxville Mercury

Third Place

Sacred and Profane,” Donna Johnson, Knoxville Mercury

Award of Merit

Personal columns, Sam Venable, Knoxville News Sentinel

Award of Excellence

Moms: Loss and Silver Lining,” Mary Constantine, Knoxville News Sentinel

 

13-B. PERSONAL COLUMNS, small daily newspapers

Award of Merit

Steve Wildsmith, The Daily Times

Award of Excellence

Where I Come From,” Linda Albert, The Daily Times

 

15-B. BEST NEWS ANCHOR, television

Honorable Mention

Ken Weathers, WATE

Third Place

Matt Hinkin, WATE

Award of Merit

Stephanie Beecken, WATE

Award of Excellence

Tearsa Smith, WATE

 

16-B. BEST NEWSCAST, television

Honorable Mention

WATE 6 on Your Side News at 6,” Staff, WATE-TV

Third Place

Channel 3 Eyewitness News at 6,” Staff, WRCB-TV

Award of Merit

Train Fire and Evacuation,” Martha Jennings, Lisa Leko and staff, WBIR

Award of Excellence

WATE6 on Your Side News at 11,” Staff, WATE-TV

 

17. Headline Writing

Award of Merit

Mike Sisko, The Daily Times

Award of Excellence

Marcus Fitzsimmons, The Daily Times

 

18-A. PAGE DESIGN, newspapers

Third Place

Moonshine,” Jennifer Dedman, Knoxville News Sentinel

Award of Merit

Rey Pineda pages, Knoxville News Sentinel

Award of Excellence

Knoxville Mercury covers, Tricia Bateman, Knoxville Mercury

 

19. Informational Graphic

Award of Excellence

Who has the Ball?”, Marcus Fitzsimmons, The Daily Times

 

20. Art Illustration

Third Place

Ready for Takeoff,” Don Wood, Knoxville News Sentinel

Award of Merit

Spirit of the Staircase,” Matthew Foltz-Gray, Knoxville Mercury

Award of Excellence

Leaf-Peeper’s Guide,” Don Wood, Knoxville News Sentinel

 

21-A. DEADLINE PHOTOGRAPHY, large daily newspapers

Award of Excellence

Capitol Protest,” Amy Smotherman-Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel

 

21-B. DEADLINE PHOTOGRAPHY, smaller daily newspapers

Award of Merit

Felon Up A Creek,” Joy Kimbrough, The Daily Times

Award of Excellence

Man Found Not Guilty,” Daryl Sullivan, The Daily Times

 

22-A. FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY, large daily newspapers

Third Place

Lost Knoxville,” Harlan Hambright

Award of Merit

Joy in the Journey,” Michael Patrick, Knoxville News Sentinel

Award of Excellence

Lunch Box,” Amy Smotherman-Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel

 

22-B. FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY, smaller daily newspapers

Third Place

Plan Bee,” Mark A. Large, The Daily Times

Award of Merit

Water Balloon Explodes,” Tom Sherlin, The Daily Times

Award of Excellence

Pie in the Face,” Daryl Sullivan, The Daily Times

 

22-E. FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY, online

Award of Excellence

Where We Live: John Messner’s Crime and Street Photography,” John Messner, KnoxZine

 

23. Editorial Cartoon

Award of Excellence

Charlie Daniel, Knoxville News Sentinel

 

25-A. OVERALL INTERNET SITE

Third Place

Wate.com, Staff, WATE-TV

Award of Merit

www.wbir.com, Andrew Weil, Tonja Burk, Mark Bergin, John North, Mike Donila and Samantha Kubota, WBIR-TV

Award of Excellence

www.knoxnews.com, Staff, Knoxville News Sentinel

 

26. Online Use of Photo

Award of Excellence

Where We Live,” John Messner and Debra Dylan, KnoxZine

 

27. Online Use of Video

Third Place

Secrets of the Nolichucky River,” Buck Kahler, KnoxZine

Award of Merit

Lunch Box,” Amy Smotherman-Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel

Award of Excellence

Blue Ribbon Baby,” Amy Smotherman-Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel

 

28. Best Blog

Award of Excellence

Screams from the Porch,” Mike Donila

 

29. Horace V. Wells Jr. Community Service Award

E-911 Radio Systems,” Don Jacobs and Gerald Witt, Knoxville News Sentinel

 

30. Only in East Tennessee

Third Place

Dog Smotherer,” Brandon Rook, WATE-TV

Award of Merit

Gatlinburg Pastor,” Cameron Taylor, WATE-TV

Award of Excellence

Gunfight Over Rooster Kills Man,” Bob Fowler, Knoxville News Sentinel

 

2016 GOLDEN PRESS CARD:

Amy Smotherman-Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel, “Lunch Box”

Coury Turczyn

Editor Coury Turczyn guided Knoxville's alt weekly, Metro Pulse, through two eras, first as managing editor (and later executive editor) from 1992 to 2000, then as editor-in-chief from 2007 to 2014. He's also worked as a Web editor at CNET, the erstwhile G4 cable network, and HGTV.

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