Newspaper wins 20 awards, places 2nd in General Excellence
From staff reports
For the third year in a row, The Island News had its best year ever in the South Carolina Press Association’s (SCPA) yearly newspaper awards.
Led by eight awards – including two first-place nods – for editor Mike McCombs, the newspaper won a total of 20 awards, besting its previous high of 14, set last year. And for the second time in three years, The Island News placed second in the General Excellence category.
“I believe any community’s local newspaper can become the unofficial record of that community, especially in a town the size of Beaufort,” The Island News Publisher Jeff Evans said. “Our goal is pretty simple: keep it local, make sure it’s true, and do it with flair. I think we do a pretty good job of those things and I couldn’t be more pleased that our peers around the state agree.”
The SCPA, held a luncheon in Columbia on Friday in place of its yearly meeting and awards ceremony, the third year in a row the event has been affected by COVID-19.
Competing in the Weekly, 6,500-and-over circulation category, The Island News was second in General Excellence, a staff award, to the Lancaster News and finished ahead of third-place The Post & Courier Columbia / Free Times. The newspaper won five first-place awards this year.
“I am again proud that the majority of our awards this year were for our reporting and writing. And I’m especially proud of the small group of hard-working and talented people that we have,” Editor-In-Chief Mike McCombs said. “We are blessed.”
McCombs won first-place awards for News Feature Writing (Closing the door on Deals) and Spot Sports Story (Hicks leads Whale Branch to improbable win)
The judge called the news feature a “perfect tribute,” while saying the sports story “stood out among all entries. It caught my attention from the very beginning.”
McCombs also won a second-place award for Government Beat Reporting and added five third-place awards — Sports News Reporting (All weekly), Breaking News Reporting, Beat Reporting (Military), Education Beat Reporting and Spot Sports Story (Beaufort’s Stanley wins Jr. National Championship after long layoff).
Reporter Mindy Lucas won a first-place award in the Obituary category for The long beautiful life of Lucinda Simmons.
“My first inclination was to call this a column or a first-person feature or an essay,” the judge said. “… It took time and effort to put together this comprehensive, engaging profile of a life well lived. I’m sure it was read start to finish by most of your readers — especially those who were stuck in traffic — and it will be treasured by the family for generations to come.”
Lucas took home a second-place award for Arts & Entertainment Writing (Ancestor of the Land spotlights life and times of black farmers). She also won three third-place awards — Reporting In Depth (Benefit of the Doubt – Who gets more tickets in the Lowcountry, minorities or whites? And who gets a pass?), Investigative Reporting (Indecent Conduct – Former firefighter’s checkered past went unchecked for years before joining fire district) and Growth & Development Beat Reporting. The Investigative Reporting award was among all weekly newspapers.
Veteran Bob Sofaly won first and second place for Sports Action Photo. His first-place photo, a shot of Hilton Head High School high jumper Jourdin Nelson-Davis, was named Best of the Best by the judges.
“This is a phenomenal photo,” the judge said. “Having a clear view of his eyes almost makes you feel as if you’re in the moment with him as he contorts his body to clear the bar.”
Hope Falls won first and third place for Page One Design for her front pages for March 4, 2021, and Feb. 11, 2021, respectively.
About her winning page, the judge said an “eye-catching centerpiece with use of layered information put this over the top in a competitive category.”
Cherimie Crane Weatherford and Wes Kerr each won their first SCPA awards. Weatherford won second place for Column Writing, while Kerr won second place for Sports Column Writing. Kerr’s award was among all weeklies.
Lowcountry Weekly honored
The Lowcountry Weekly, a sister publication to The Island News and also published by Jeff and Margaret Evans, brought home three awards in the Weekly Over 6,500 category.
Editor Margaret Evans won first-place awards for Profile Feature Writing (A Beautiful Friendship) and Column Writing.
“I’m absolutely thrilled. Lowcountry Weekly is a quirky hybrid publication that doesn’t fit well in any SCPA division and has only been competing for a few years, as an Associate member,” Lowcountry Weekly Editor and The Island News co-Publisher Margaret Evans said. “This year, we became full members and now we’re competing with the big guys – including Charleston City Paper, Post & Courier/Columbia Free Times, Greenville Journal and, of course, The Island News – so to be acknowledged among these first-rate journalists is just a tremendous honor.”
About Margaret Evans columns, the judge said, “In a category full of strong contenders, this columnist stood out because she just has a way with words. She can make a strong point without being off-putting and also express relatable sentiments in an entertaining, thoughtful way.”
The judge said her feature was “beautifully written with lots of information. A truly enjoyable tale of friendship.”
Lowcountry Weekly also won third place in Feature Section for the 2021 Beaufort International Film Festival guide.
The complete list of winners is available at https://scpress.org/news-contest/.