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The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette won the general excellence award among larger newspapers, and two of its reporters won the top freedom-of-information award in the annual Arkansas Associated Press Managing Editors contest.

Reporters Ginny Monk and Eric Besson received the Service to FOI Award for reporting on the haphazard responses of coroners in the state to requests for public documents, including one coroner who was subpoenaed by a county prosecutor to produce the records that Monk requested.

"The mishmash of reporting standards and practices was well worth bringing to light. Great way to hold coroners accountable," contest judges wrote.

The general excellence and freedom-of-information honors were among 16 first-place awards and 35 total awards collected by the Democrat-Gazette.

Bill Bowden received first place for a spot news story about a Missouri tour boat that sank and 17 people drowned.

Clara Turnage captured the top award in the news feature category for a story about a mother who questioned her decision to call police when her mentally ill son acted up, only to learn that he died minutes after police held him down and handcuffed him.

First place for editorial writing went to editorial page editor David Barham and publisher Walter Hussman Jr. for "Progress! Progress!" an opinion piece on a decision by the state education commissioner that made teacher dismissals easier.

Reporters Emily Walkenhorst and Besson won first place in beat reporting for a package of stories about air quality issues in Crossett attributed to a Georgia-Pacific paper mill. The Environmental Protection Agency and Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality later fined the company and ordered it to take remedial measures.

Emma Pettit, who has since left the newspaper, took the first-place honor for writing about health-related topics. She won for an article about difficulties some women have finding breast milk for their infants.

The nontraditional news item category recognizes storytelling in different formats. In this case, graphic artist Nikki Dawes, assistant managing editor for graphics Kirk Montgomery and sportswriter Tom Murphy received the first-place award for "Texas A&M's 6-Year Reign."

Dawes also took first place for a portfolio of her graphics that included an illustration of spinal cord injuries and a chart about football economics.

Columnist John Brummett won first place in the hard news column category for a piece about Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

Sportswriter Jeremy Muck took first place for best sports story for his writing about a melee at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock that interrupted the annual Salt Bowl between Saline County schools and cleared the arena.

Tim Cooper won the best sports feature category with a story about a small-town basketball coach and inductee into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Photographer Mitchell Pe Masilun took the top prize in the photographer's portfolio category.

"Each photo is a work of art, well composed and should be intriguing to the paper's readers," judges wrote.

Masilun, reporter Jeannie Roberts and senior online editor Gavin Lesnick won in the digital storytelling category for "That Moment of Chaos: 20 Years Since the Westside Middle School Shooting."

"Wow. What a powerful look at an event that no doubt changed this community. From the video to killers' depositions, this was very well done," the judges wrote.

The newspaper's staff was awarded first place in the news coverage category for the 2018 election reporting.

The paper's online staff won the top award in the digital (formerly website) category.

Below are the winners in Division II and Division I, listed in order of first-, second- and third-place:

DIVISION II

GENERAL EXCELLENCE

Arkansas Democrat Gazette; Texarkana Gazette; The Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs.

SERVICE TO FOI

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Ginny Monk and Eric Besson, "Coroners."

SPOT NEWS STORY

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Bill Bowden, "Deaths at 17 in Sinking; A Rush to Rescue in Vain"; The Sentinel-Record, Steven Mross, Richard Rasmussen and David Showers, "High Water Leads to Rescue, School, Road Closures"; Texarkana Gazette, Jennifer Middleton, "TC President Russell Resigns."

SPOT NEWS PHOTO

The Sentinel-Record, Richard Rasmussen, "Swept Away"; The Sentinel-Record, Richard Rasmussen,"Fire Destroys Building"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Mitchell Pe Masilun, "Injury Accident on I-30."

NEWS FEATURE

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Clara Turnage, "Mother's Call for Help Ends with Son's Death"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Ginny Monk, "Girl's Mutation a Rarity in World"; Texarkana Gazette, Aaron Brand, "A Piece of Railroad History and a New Dream for Downtown."

EDITORIAL WRITING

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, David Barham and Walter Hussman, "Progress! Progress!"; Texarkana Gazette, Russell McDermott, "King and Council"; The Sentinel-Record, Mark Gregory, "City's Lack of Transparency Leaves Citizens in the Dark."

HEADLINE

Texarkana Gazette, Les Minor, "REDI Set to Go"; Texarkana Gazette, Stevon Gamble, "Rock Enroll"; Texarkana Gazette, Stevon Gamble, "Oh, the Hue-Manity."

NEWS COVERAGE

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "Elections 2018"; The Sentinel-Record, Mark Gregory, David Showers and Steven Mross, "Heavy Rains Flood Roads, Cause Lakes to Rise"; Texarkana Gazette, Greg Bischof, Jennifer Middleton and Karl Richter, "Arkansas, Texas Governors' Visit."

BEAT REPORTING

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Emily Walkenhorst and Eric Besson; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Hunter Field, "Medical Marijuana"; Texarkana Gazette, Lynn LaRowe, "Sexual Assault and Survivors."

BUSINESS REPORTING

Texarkana Gazette, Karl Richter, "REDI Set to Go"; The Sentinel-Record, Beth Reed, "Oaklawn Unveils $100 Million-Plus Expansion"; The Sentinel-Record, David Showers, "Aristocrat Residents Sweat out Dispute Between Owner, City."

EDUCATION REPORTING

Texarkana Gazette, Jennifer Middleton,"Game Changer"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Cynthia Howell, "Judge over 35-Year-Old Case Tours 3 Schools."

POLITICAL REPORTING

The Sentinel-Record, David Showers and Steven Mross, "Questions Surround Conduct of Judicial Candidates"; Texarkana Gazette, Karl Richter, "Congressmen for the Region Speak out"; The Sentinel-Record, David Showers, "Ballot Error Shuts Down Early Voting."

HEALTH RELATED TOPICS

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Emma Pettit, "The Search for Mother's Milk"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Kat Stromquist,"Peanut-Allergy Trial Holds Hope for Kids"; Texarkana Gazette, Lori Dunn,"Mother, Daughter Share Both Sides of Addiction, Recovery."

SPECIAL PROJECT-

COMMUNITY SERVICE

Texarkana Gazette, Lori Dunn, Ashley Gardner and Lynn LaRowe,"Opioid Crisis"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Lisa Hammersly, "Widow's Tax"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Ginny Monk, John Moritz and Ryan Tarinelli, "Violent Reality."

NON-TRADITIONAL

NEWS ITEM

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Kirk Montgomery, Nikki Dawes and Tom Murphy, "Texas A&M's 6-Year Reign"; Texarkana Gazette, Les Minor, "In-Depth Look at the Texarkana Industrial Index"; The Sentinel-Record, Richard Rasmussen and Jason Wilson, "Heavy Rains Flood Roads."

COLUMN-HARD NEWS

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, John Brummett, "Elizabeth Endures"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Philip Martin, "The Price We Pay"; Texarkana Gazette, Les Minor, "Job Creation Must be this Region's No. 1 Priority."

COLUMN-LIFESTYLE HUMAN INTEREST

Texarkana Gazette, Christy Busby Worsham, "An Ode to Why Rocking Relaxes and Revives Us"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Celia Storey, "Four Die as Peace Breaks out"; Texarkana Gazette, Les Minor, "How We Flicked off Those Flickering Flies."

SPORTS STORY

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Jeremy Muck, "Salt Bowl Cut Short"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Tom Murphy, "1 More to Settle It"; Texarkana Gazette, Josh Richert, "Heroic Effort not Enough: Lady Mustangs Fall to SGA in Final, 8-3."

SPOT SPORTS PHOTO

The Sentinel-Record, Richard Rasmussen, "Upward Bound"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Mitchell Pe Masilun, "High School Basketball State Championship Stretch"; Texarkana Gazette, Hunt Mercier, "Back in Action."

SPORTS FEATURE

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Tim Cooper, "Small-Town Guy a Big-Time Coach"; The Sentinel-Record, Jay Bell, "Wallace, Longtime 'Voice of Oaklawn,' Dies at 74"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Bob Holt, "Riches not Gafford's Driving Force."

FEATURE SPORTS PHOTO

The Sentinel-Record, Richard Rasmussen, "Unbridled Joy"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Mitchell Pe Masilun, "Boy's 7A State Champions"; The Sentinel-Record, Grace Brown, "Lady Trojans Dethrone Chapel."

SPORTS COLUMN

The Sentinel-Record, Bob Wisener, "Van Berg: Racing's True Stayer"; The Sentinel-Record, Jay Bell, "To Cherish a Fleeting Moment of Triumph"; The Sentinel-Record, Jay Bell, "Adjusted Alignment Typical from AAA."

FEATURE PHOTO

Texarkana Gazette, Hunt Mercier, "One Man's Treasure"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Staton Breidenthal, "Lapping up the Derby"; The Sentinel-Record, Grace Brown, "Into the Wild."

PHOTOGRAPHER'S PORTFOLIO

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Mitchell Pe Masilun; The Sentinel-Record, Richard Rasmussen; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Thomas Metthe.

GRAPHICS

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Nikki Dawes; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Kirk Montgomery.

DIGITAL

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Texarkana Gazette, Kristen Doss and Jason Hopkins; The Sentinel-Record, Mark Gregory, Steven Mross and Brittany Weaver.

PAGE DESIGN

Texarkana Gazette, Stevon Gamble; Texarkana Gazette, Stevon Gamble; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Steve Rogers, Stan Denman and Heather Kersten.

DIGITAL STORYTELLING

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Jeannie Roberts, Mitchell Pe Masilun and Gavin Lesnick, "That Moment of Chaos': 20 Years Since Westside Middle School Shooting"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Rachel Herzog and Gavin Lesnick, "2018 Little Rock Marathon"; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, "Violent Reality: Arkansas Ranks 7th in Gun Deaths, but Weapons Restrictions not on Table."

DIVISION I

GENERAL EXCELLENCE

El Dorado News-Times; Log Cabin Democrat in Conway; The Courier in Russellville.

SERVICE TO FOI

Log Cabin Democrat, Marisa Hicks, "FCDC Inmate Dies Following Attack."

SPOT NEWS STORY

Log Cabin Democrat, Jeanette Stewart, "Ferris Wheel Malfunctions"; El Dorado News-Times, Haley Smith, "Lightning Strike Causes Fire at SouthArk."

SPOT NEWS PHOTO

El Dorado News-Times, Terrance Armstard, "Helping Hands"; El Dorado News-Times, Terrance Armstard, "Burned Down"; El Dorado News-Times, Terrance Armstard, "Over There."

NEWS FEATURE

Log Cabin Democrat, Marisa Hicks, "Local Hero Added to Conway's Fallen Firefighters Memorial"; El Dorado News-Times, Michael Shine, "Local Teen Recognized by Medical Professionals for Heroic Efforts"; El Dorado News-Times, Michael Shine, "King of Racing, Local Teen Works to Compete in Big Leagues."

HEADLINE

Log Cabin Democrat, Eden Corley, "No Pain, No Rain, No Maine."

BEAT REPORTING

Log Cabin Democrat, Marisa Hicks; El Dorado News-Times, Tia Lyons,"Razing Problems - Abandoned, Condemned Houses in El Dorado."

BUSINESS REPORTING

El Dorado News-Times, Caitlan Butler, "El Dorado Golf and Country Club Looks to Move into the 21st Century."

EDUCATION REPORTING

El Dorado News-Times, Caitlan Butler, "Trying to Prepare for the Worst"; Log Cabin Democrat, Hilary Andrews, "Districts Talk Paddling"; El Dorado News-Times, Caitlan Butler, "'Focus' Elementary Schools See Differing Results in State Scoring Index."

POLITICAL REPORTING

El Dorado News-Times, Caitlan Butler, "Cotton Talks Trade, Tough Tactics"; Log Cabin Democrat, Jeanette Stewart, "Candidate is Arrested."

HEALTH RELATED TOPICS

Log Cabin Democrat, Hilary Andrews, "Baptist Health Makes Plan to Combat SIDS"; El Dorado News-Times, Caitlan Butler, "Crossett Woman Finds New Life with CBD Oil"; Log Cabin Democrat, Hilary Andrews, "Cardiologist's Heart to Heart."

SPECIAL PROJECT-

COMMUNITY SERVICE

El Dorado News-Times, "Violence Intervention Plan in Union County"; El Dorado News-Times, "Union County Nursing Homes and Medicare Ratings"; Log Cabin Democrat, Jeanette Stewart, "Homelessness in Conway."

NON-TRADITIONAL

NEWS ITEM

Log Cabin Democrat, Hilary Andrews, "Community Leaders Talk New Year's Resolutions."

COLUMN-HARD NEWS

Log Cabin Democrat, "Hearing Hicks: Death Row Not as Pleasant as Scotty Gardner Thought It Would Be."

COLUMN-LIFESTYLE HUMAN INTEREST

The Courier, Travis Simpson, "Lessons My Husky Taught Me"; The Courier, Travis Simpson, "They Said Dance Like No One is Watching, so I Did."

SPORTS STORY

El Dorado News-Times, Kev Moye, "Dragons Claim Championship"; Log Cabin Democrat, Andy Robertson, "Season Ends for Sugar Bears in Front of Raucous Crowd"; Log Cabin Democrat, Andy Robertson, "Despite Midseason Coaching Change, CCS Shows Dominance."

SPOT SPORTS PHOTO

El Dorado News-Times, Terrance Armstard, "Going for the Goal"; El Dorado News-Times, Terrance Armstard, "Come to Me"; El Dorado News-Times, Terrance Armstard, "Holding on Tight."

SPORTS FEATURE

Log Cabin Democrat, Andy Robertson, "Conway's Grimes Fights Back from Devastating Injury"; Log Cabin Democrat, Andy Robertson, "Bear's Freshman Hales Stays Humble After Electric First Start"; El Dorado News-Times, Tony Burns, "Local Gymnast Back on Beam."

FEATURE SPORTS PHOTO

El Dorado News-Times, Terrance Armstard, "Soccer Boys"; El Dorado News-Times, Terrance Armstard, "Disc Golfer."

SPORTS COLUMN

The Courier, Eli Cranor, "Old Bull"; The Courier, Travis Simpson, "The Magic and Metaphor of Fishing."

FEATURE PHOTO

El Dorado News-Times, Terrance Armstard, "Jumping High"; El Dorado News-Times, Terrance Armstard, "Putting on a Show"; El Dorado News-Times, Terrance Armstard, "One Last Run."

PHOTOGRAPHER'S PORTFOLIO

El Dorado News-Times, Terrance Armstard; Log Cabin Democrat, Jeanette Stewart.

PAGE DESIGN

El Dorado News-Times, Kelsey Womack and Haley Smith.

Metro on 03/31/2019

Print Headline: Democrat-Gazette wins general excellence honor

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