The Concordia Sentinel last week won two first place awards for best breaking news story and best sports column in the Louisiana Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest.
Concordia Sentinel editor Stanley Nelson won the first place award for best breaking news story for “Local former civil servants pay for crimes.”
Concordia Sentinel sports editor Joey Martin won the first place award for best sports column.
The Sentinel’s sister newspapers, The Franklin Sun in Winnsboro and The Ouachita Citizen in West Monroe, also received several honors.
Franklin Sun reporter Joe Curtis won a third place award for best feature story for his feature about Dot Brown.
The Franklin Sun received a second place award for best self-promotion of your operation for a Ghost Story Writer’s Contest held.
Sam Hanna Jr. won the third place award for The Sun for best regular column, otherwise known as the Sam Hanna Award. The best regular column award was named after the late publisher’s death in 2006. The late Sam Hanna published an award-winning column on Louisiana politics for decades.
Ouachita Citizen news editor Zach Parker won the first place award for best investigative reporting for a series of news reports about the town of Sterlington raiding trust funds and dedicated bond proceeds to pay for personal expenditures and the town’s routine costs like payroll. An investigation of Sterlington by the state Legislative Auditor related to these matters is still underway.
Parker also won second place for best investigative reporting for a series of news reports about Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Scott Leehy’s brother, Mark Leehy, who has been arrested on a host of drug dealing charges but rarely faces any sentence worse than a few years of probation.
The best investigative reporting award was named the Gibbs Adams Award years ago in honor of the longtime State-Times reporter.
The Ouachita Citizen’s editorial staff won two first place awards for best single editorial: “Get a grip, Mayo” and “Norris did it well.” One editorial challenged Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo’s attempts to downplay violent crime in the city. The other editorial commended West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris, who left public office last June, for his achievements during a four-decade tenure as the city’s mayor.
Ouachita Citizen staff also won a second place award for best overall website, which can be viewed at www.ouachitacitizen.com
The Ouachita Citizen also won a third place award for general excellence.
Parker also won a third place award for best news story for “Mayo: Nothing Farrakhan said was ‘not true,’” a February 2018 news report detailing Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo’s statements in support of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Mayo previously gave a key to the city to Farrakhan, who spoke in Monroe about evil “white folk” trying to undermine blacks and black public officials.
Hanna Jr., publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, won first place for best regular column. Hanna Jr.’s winning columns included “19th Nervous Breakdown” and “Quit fiddling with public records,” both of which called state officials to account for misleading the public or undermining the public’s right to access records.
Ouachita Citizen sports editor Jake Martin won third place in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association for Best Prep Writer in Class II, which includes Alexandria Town Talk, Houma Daily Courier, Lake Charles American Press, Lafayette Daily Advertiser and Monroe News Star.