• Daily Leader staff report
Staff from the High Plains Daily Leader brought home the 2010 Sweepstakes Award for their work that was published in 2009. The paper won the award Saturday evening at the Kansas Press Association’s Awards of Excellence competition in Topeka.
This award is given to the best overall newspapers in Kansas in six different categories. There are three divisions in the non-daily newspapers and three in the daily division. The categories are divided by circulation of each paper in each division.
The Daily Leader is in the Daily, Division I category, (daily circulation of 5,000 or less) and it competed against such papers as the Ottawa Herald (finished second overall with 12 first places), the Junction City Union, the Iola Register, the Arkansas City Traveler, the Colby Free Press, the Fort Scott Tribune, the El Dorado Times and six other papers across the state.
Entries for all the judged categories are mailed to the Kansas Press Association in early February, and each year, another state association judges the entries. This year’s competition was judged by newspaper owners, publishers, editors, journalists and photographers from the Nebraska Press Association.
In the individual awards, reporter Jessica Crawford led the hometown team with two first-place plaques and four second places. She took top honors for her religion story on “Locals provide a helping hand in Haiti,” and she won first for her agriculture story, ‘Harvesting High Plains gold.” The ag award automatically made Crawford eligible for the state’s Golden Wheat Award, which pays $1,000 to the top ag story of the year in all papers in all daily divisions. She was one of only three journalists in Kansas eligible. Unfortunately, A Garden City reporter won that award.
Crawford placed second four times: “World Wants More,” in the feature category; “Accusations, Explanations” in the Investigative story category; in the Local Business section, her “Ranch of a Different Color” took second and her story “College’s Challis takes intermission” won second in the Education category.
Rhett Wettstein earned three first-place plagues in composing for the advertisements he built. He won the the categories of House Ad, Community Events and Ad Series or Campaign.
Composing department manager Trevor Feldhausen took home two firsts in categories in ads; the Professional Service Ad and the Hardware Ad. He also garnered a second in Furniture Ads and two thirds in Automotive Ads and Grocery Ads.
Classifieds manager Betty DuBois won first place in Classified Display Ad and a second place in the same category.
Composer Natasha Booth placed first in the Entertainment Ads category.
Reporter Robert Pierce took a third place in the Agriculture category for his story “Ag leaders learn to better inform.”
Publisher Earl Watt took home a first for his “Loss of their own” Sports Feature category, and he won a third place in Sports Column Writing. He also placed third for his News Story, “Meteorite lands in Liberal.”
As a complete newspaper, the Daily Leader won best in state in Sports Pages, Front Pages, Newspaper Web Site, Feature Package, Editorial Pages and Special Section, which was 2009’s Progress Issue in March. (See side bar for Judges Comments).
The paper also took second in Community Service project, Best Use of Photos and Photo Package. It also captured a third place in the Feature Package category and in the section for News and Writing.
The paper ended up with 16 first-place plaques, nine second-place certificates and seven thirds to win the 2010 Sweepstakes Award.
“It is really a team effort,” said managing editor Larry Phillips. “Everyone is involved in putting a paper together – and this is a feather in our cap, but it reflects our great communities. I hope Liberal and the surrounding towns are just as proud of this as we are. It’s their photos and stories the judges see and read.
“We’re blessed to live in decent little towns in the heart of middle America – with great people, who have wonderful values, as neighbors and friends,” he added.