The Examiner reporters and support staff won a combined 31 awards on June 3 at the Southeast Texas Press Club’s annual awards banquet, taking home eight top prizes, winning two reporting categories and earning a host of accolades to fill the newspaper’s already well-stocked trophy box. .
This year’s event, with a sold-out crowd of 200, was a far cry from the virtual events held in 2020 and 2021. Fewer than four members were in the venue last year during the peak of COVID-19. This year, the Press Club held the 2022 awards ceremony at its usual venue, the ballroom of the MCM Eleganté Hotel.
The Press Club draws most of its membership from Jefferson, Orange, and Hardin counties. Press Club members are professionals in media, public relations, academia, public affairs, corporate communications and public information.
Each year, the Press Club sends its competition entries to be judged by another press organization in another part of the country. This year, the newspaper category was judged by the San Francisco Press Club, an organization made up of award-winning journalists and editors.
The Press Club collectively honored hundreds of winners, with 225 awards announced throughout Friday evening. Local journalists, public relations professionals and academics submitted 566 entries for this year’s competition, which featured 77 individual categories.
The reviewer ranked first in eight categories, including news stories, investigative reports, special reports, story portfolio, news page design/layout, design/layout non-news pages, as well as overall excellence in newspapers and magazines. Staff also swept two categories, winning first, second, third and fourth in investigative reports and first, second and third in special reports.
Jennifer Johnson, whose office was already adorned with numerous individual awards – local and national – honoring her investigative prowess, led the way with seven individual honors. She won first and fourth place in the News Story division; first, second, third and fourth in the investigation reports division; and another honor in the Environment division.
“Major coverage of suspected fraud provides a public service by warning the public of a possible threat of ongoing fraud,” the judge wrote in reference to Johnson’s history of investigating a construction company under criminal surveillance for customer scam. “Quality work, as these entries show, shows why the local press is essential to serving the public. Glory.”
“It’s a well-presented newspaper, full of news and hot topics,” one judge wrote of The Examiner.
Sharon Brooks, who has already established herself as an award-winning local and national reporter and editor, won five individual awards, including the first in the newspaper division for the Southeast Texas Business Journal. Brooks also won awards in the Magazine News Story division for two Port Magazine articles; a first prize in the Business Story division; and an award in the Object Coverage division.
Freelance contributor Doc Watson has won an award for his guest column “Heat and Humanity”, published monthly in the Business Journal.
“This is a modern, fresh newspaper with great graphics and a wide variety of content. Great job!” critics wrote on the Southeast Texas Business Journal.
Chad Cooper is also no stranger to local — as well as national — success as a sports and entertainment editor. He won five individual awards on Friday night to add to his accolades. The judges honored him for his reporting portfolio and the SETX High School Football Guide. It has also won honors in the Photo Essay or Picture Page division; the Headline division; and the Sports Photo Contest.
“Good starters. I enjoyed judging the talented members of the club!” a judge wrote about Cooper’s entries.
Writer B. Scott McLendon also won five individual awards at the banquet, placing first in the Reporting Portfolio division; first in special reports for his coverage of overcrowded COVID units at local hospitals last year; he also won second and third in the division. Additionally, it won an additional award in the News Photo division.
“It was a first-class portrayal of the dedication, love, compassion and plight of our nurses in these modern times of COVID,” a judge wrote of McLendon’s coverage of COVID- 19 flooding local hospitals. “In-depth reporting, solid writing.”
Graphic designer Brittany Chaney has won three individual awards for her layout and design efforts over the past year. She won first place in the Non-News Page Design/Layout category, as well as first and fourth place in the Magazine Layout division for her work on Charm and the SETX High School Football Guide.
“Outstanding design concept. Beautiful use of color and character layout to create interest and grab attention,” one judge wrote of Chaney’s first place finish in the off-design/layout division. “Overall, great page!”
Kevin Clay, who also works at the newspaper as a graphic designer, won two awards for The Examiner. It won first place in the News Page Design/Layout category and an award in the Non-News Page Design/Layout category.
“Beautiful layout and design concept,” one judge wrote of Clay’s design on a Ford Park story. “Good use of assets to create interest.”
The Examiner’s editor, Don Dodd, praised the wonderful work of the Examiner staff, saying: “While I appreciate the hard work of our staff on a daily basis and enjoy being Recognized by our peers, the most important thing to all of us is high-quality, responsible reporting on issues affecting Southeast Texans.