The Franklin Sun learned earlier this week it won two first place awards for best headline and best sports photo in the Louisiana Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest. The awards were announced digitally in light of the state's restrictions on social gatherings.
Franklin Sun photographer Monica Huff won first place for best sports photo. She also won third place for best news photo. Franklin Sun reporter Joe Curtis won first place and second place awards for best headline. Sam Hanna Jr., publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, won first place for best regular column published in The Sun. Hanna's winning columns included “Thirty pieces of silver” and “Who's above the law?”, the last of which questioned whether Allyson Campbell, a law clerk at Fourth Judicial District Court in Monroe, and several judges at the district court were above the law. Campbell and several judges have been embroiled in controversy stemming from allegations of court document destruction, payroll fraud and more since 2014. The best regular column award was named the Sam Hanna Award in honor of Hanna Jr.'s father, Sam Hanna, who died in 2006. The late Sam Hanna published an award-winning column on Louisiana politics for decades. The Franklin Sun’s sister newspapers, Ouachita Citizen in West Monroe and the Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, also received several honors.
Ouachita Citizen sports editor Jake Martin won first place for best sports story. Martin also won second place for best sports column. Ouachita Citizen news editor Zach Parker and reporter Johnny Gunter were honored with the Gibbs Adam award for best investigative reporting for their extended coverage in 2019 of how certain people benefitted from agreements with Fourth Judicial District Attorney Steve Tew's office. Parker and reporter Taylor Costa also won second place for best investigative reporting for their coverage of the criminal case last year against West Monroe police officer Dennis Wall, who was arrested, tried and ultimately acquitted of a felony charge of disclosing a sex video. Tew, the district attorney, prosecuted Wall but gave an immunity agreement to a West Monroe High School teacher who also widely shared the sex video – before the teacher was interviewed by investigators.
The best investigative reporting award was named the Gibbs Adams Award years ago in honor of the longtime State-Times reporter.
Ouachita Citizen design and layout editor Heather Card won first place for best ad campaign. She also won second place in the same category. In addition, Card won second place for staff generated ad. Ouachita Citizen photographer Tom Morris won third place for best sports photo. The Citizen also won third place for best special section and third place for best front page. Concordia Sentinel sports editor Joey Martin won first place and third place awards for best sports column.
Concordia Sentinel editor Stanley Nelson won third place for best feature story.