Herald Trio Win 21 VPW Awards

Published 5:05 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2013

LEXINGTON – Three members of The Farmville Herald staff, Ilsa Loeser, Tana Lane Knott, and Marge Swayne, received a total of 21 awards in the 2013 Virginia Press Women Communications Contest. The awards were presented at the Spring Conference on Saturday, April 13, in Lexington.

Tana Lane Knott, staff reporter covering Buckingham County, received six awards in this year's VPW communications contest.

Knott received a first place for Individual Achievement for her coverage about naming the site of the renovated schools on Route 20 after Carter G. Woodson, who was born and raised in Buckingham County.

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The Individual Achievement category focuses on work by a reporter, editor, or news team that reflects unusual creativity, unexcelled professionalism, courage under pressure, and effectiveness in presentation. Rules for the category outlined that the VPW/NFPW member who is the entrant must have done most of the work.

Knott submitted four news articles she wrote while covering the unfolding story: Carter G. Woodson, Name School in His Honor, published on February 15, 2012; Supervisors Support Woodson for School's Name, March 21; School Naming, Public Comment, March 21; and Woodson Education Complex, Honor in Buckingham, April 20.

With her news articles, Knott included an editorial by Ken Woodley, Public Comment Supporting Woodson's Name was Relevant.

The editorial followed Knott's initial coverage of a school board meeting that included controversy about whether speakers during the public comment segment could address the issue of naming the school.

Commenting on the entry, the judge wrote, “Articles showed a lot of research went into them. Well written.”

Knott also received a first place in Specialty Articles, Reviews, for two articles on books written by Joanne Yeck, At a Place Called Buckingham, March 2, 2012; and Jefferson Brothers, October 19, 2012.

The judge offered, “Detailed descriptions of the books, illustrating their stories and their values to the local reader.”

Additionally, Knott received three third place awards for Specialty Articles, Education; Columns, Humorous; Columns, Personal Opinion; and, an Honorable Mention for Columns, Humorous.

Ilsa Loeser, staff reporter covering Cumberland County, received five awards during the luncheon held at the VPW's spring conference.

Her series of three articles regarding the Cobbs Creek Reservoir project slated to be located in northern Cumberland County received first place for enterprise reporting and is going on to the national competition. The enterprise reporting category is meant to showcase an entrant's ability to “expand on and add in-depth information to an issue that already has been reported and had an impact on the publication's coverage area.”

“I am impressed,” a judge commented, “Ilsa has done an admirable job of putting together a crazy puzzle of regulatory, environmental and quality of life issues into an extensive, coherent group of meshing stories. This is a public service, with fair, clear reporting and writing.”

Loeser's article Rabid Fox Bites Cumberland Man received second place as a news story for print-based newspapers. The judge was especially impressed with the narrative style of the news story.

However, Loeser says she's not sure if the success of that article was all her own doing. “I had a lot of great quotes to work with,” she commented, “I'm especially gratefully to Mr. Flippen for sharing his story with me.”

Behind Election Day Lines, which discussed the Election Day process for those working the poles and the long waits that met many local citizens, won second place as a specialty article on government or politics.

Her two columns, Chicken and Pilgrimage, earned Loeser third place in the category of general columns.

Commenting on the columns, a judge remarked, “these have a nice, earthy feel, with plenty of homespun wisdom.”

Marge Swayne, the Herald's social/lifestyles editor, received, ten awards in this year's VPW Contest.

Special articles/social issues received a first place for Governor Bowls for Food and Good Neighbors Start Transplant Fund. The judge commented, “These articles focus on personal stories to show social issues – a great approach with a clear writing style. Swayne received another first place for special articles/advertorials (writing for special sections) for the Herald's Wedding Guide.

Second-place awards included features for Incredible Journey Ends: Veteran and Service Dog Reunited. The judge commented on this story in a highly competitive category: “It's Lassie Come Home and Profiles in Courage all rolled into one and a testament to loyalty, faith and tenacity. Tracking that story was what Ms. Swayne did, weaving a cliffhanger into one of love and devotion. If there's one piece of this story that convinced me it was deserving of an award, it was the use of one of the most remarkable quotes I've heard in a long time from the veteran about her missing dog, 'Tia took my little dark world and poked a hole in it.'”

Other second place awards included columns humorous and columns general for Down the Back Road, including Grand Adventure at the Grand Canyon; and sports photo for “Grand Canyon Cliff Climb.”

Third place was awarded in the category of special articles/food for Tastefully Speaking.

Swayne received honorable mention for special articles/health for Free Clinic Pays Off and Cancer Study Nets Grant For PHD; special articles/reviews for Author Visits World of Enchantment and Local Book Shares Grief of Teen Suicide; and news story for School of Education Named for Former Moton Teacher.

For the first time this year non-daily newspapers were in competition with larger daily newspapers. Categories such as newspaper writing, public relations, advertising, photo-journalism, Internet and magazine writing, and books were judged by experienced journalists and public relations professionals. Entries that received first place advance to the National Federation of Press Women contest.