Every year the Commonwealth Journal the staff benchmarks some of its best work against other newspapers in the state and wins a number of awards. The same is true this year, since the JC won seven first-place awards in the Kentucky Press Association’s (KPA) 2021 “Excellence in Kentucky Newspapers” competition.
The awards, announced Friday night at KPA’s 2022 Winter Convention, held in Louisville.
In all, the Commonwealth Journal walked away with 15 awards in their broadcast category, which pitted the JC against a number of other strong Kentucky publications. It was good enough for the JC for placing second in Overall Excellence in Daily Class 1, recognizing the best overall performance in the class. The Frankfort State Journal was the first and the Elizabethtown News Enterprise was the third.
Stories considered for the competition were published between early October 2020 and late September 2021.
the JC the staff swept the “Best General Reporting” category, which recognizes achievement in reporting for which some planning was available, such as meetings or events. JC Editor Jeff Neal submitted a story about U.S. Representative Hal Rogers becoming Kentucky’s longest-serving congressman for consideration, and walked away with the top prize in that category. The judges said of Neal’s portrayal of the congressman, “Nice, tight writing and an engaging opening made this story a winner.” The story opened with a funny anecdote about Rogers from University of Kentucky President Dr. Eli Capilouto.
Second and third place honors in the “Best General News Reporting” category went to JC writer Christopher Harris, who submitted stories about the closure of the Video Palace video rental store and the “Whiskey & War Stories” event held in October 2020 with the owners of Horse Soldier Bourbon.
“Easy-going style and compelling personal details set this story above the rest,” the Video Palace story judges said, while on the other the judges wrote: “Writer used careful observation and detail to show the emotion of the moment.”
Harris has also won a number of “Best Title” awards over the years and came second in that category again this year.
the Commonwealth Journal submitted a number of editorial articles for the opinion page reviewed by the newspaper’s editorial board, on topics ranging from the University of Somerset to Hal Rogers’ resistance to challenging a problematic bill in the state legislature. the JC The staff won first place for “Best Editorial Writer”, with the following comment: “Compelling editorial. On several important topics, yet authoritative voice of the newspaper. Well done.”
JC Editor Carla Slavey won third place in the ‘Best Continuing Coverage’ category, a category recognizing the journalist’s efforts to cover a story over multiple individual stories, for her coverage of the Eubank community’s efforts to set up a fire. traffic at the intersection of US 27 and Ky. 70 after two tragic crashes in 2021 alone claimed the lives of a local teenager.
“Clear reporting, writing reflects the dialogue that led to a solution,” Judge wrote.
the Commonwealth Journal the staff have an eye for photography as well as the written word, and the judges recognized that talent this year with a number of photography-related accolades. First and second place were taken by the JC in the category “Best General News Photo”. First place went to Olyvia Neal, a student journalist from Morehead State University who worked with the JC last summer. Neal snapped a photo of a rock artist jamming his guitar at last year’s Master Musicians Festival, and the judges loved the result, saying, “A++ grade for capturing this festival rocker moving music. Looking at this image, you can almost hear the music playing and feel the vibrations of the guitar. Great layout with the other photo. You certainly have an eye for excellence. Well done, Olyvia Neal!”
Second place went to JC Writer Janie Slaven for her image of the US Navy Honor Guard carrying the casket containing the remains of Seaman 2nd Class Floyd Dee Helton, who died in the 1941 Pearl Harbor attacks, in preparation for burial at Sloans Valley Cemetery in the summer. Judge said: “This image of a motorcade is top notch in composition, lighting, perspective and made me want to know more about it. Great job framing this news shot for it to be an award-winning image.”
Slaven also won second place in the “Best Picture Essay” category for his photos of people having fun at the annual “Mud, Mayhem and Fun” challenge. “Great action and face shots,” Judge wrote.
A first place winner was also JC Sportswriter Steve Cornelius for “Best Feature”. The judge said: “Some potentially great photos to choose from…but surprisingly many were played on a small side. This one got the play it deserved.”
the JC The athletic department always does well in the KPA competition and again won several awards this year. Cornelius won first place for “Best Sports Story” on an article about local student-athlete Kendall Burgess, with the judge noting: “Great story about the star of the track. It took some effort, and a graphics must come into consideration with the best sports story.”
JC Designer and photographer Caleb Lowndes won both first and second place for ‘Best Sports Picture’ – the judges called his action shots ‘awesome’ and ‘awesome’ – and also 1st place for ‘Best Sports Picture Essay”. The judge said: “Great photos presented in spectacular fashion. Cornelius was third in this category.