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Society of Professional Journalists

RoundAbout sweeps
writing award category

McCollum earns first place
for story on volunteer firefighters

 

 

(May 2009)

Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

It’s not often that a newspaper has the opportunity to “blow its own horn,” but when you sweep an entire category of judging in the prestigious Society of Professional Journalists annual writing contest, then the aforementioned “horn blowing” can be easily justified.
Competing in SPJ’s Indiana Professional Chapter statewide writing contest, RoundAbout Madison staff writer Konnie McCollum and I took first, second and third place in the Non-Deadline, Non-Daily Newspaper category. It was only one of nearly 100 competition categories judged in the contest for stories published in 2008. The winners were announced and honored at an April 24 banquet held at the Indianapolis Marriott North hotel.

Societ of Professional Journalists

McCollum earned top honors with her July 2008 cover story on the dwindling number of volunteer firefighters in Madison and statewide. Her article, “Fighting fires from within,” reported statewide statistics on the decline in participation and presented evidence of how the social appeal of volunteerism has waned.

Don Ward Uecker

RoundAbout publisher and owner Donald L. Ward receives his Society of Professional Journalists writing award from SPJ president Scott Uecker at the April 24 awards banquet in Indianapolis.

My December 2008 RoundAbout Madison cover story about the growing number of area competitors in figure and bodybuilding contests took second place. The article, titled, “Muscle Mania,” explored all the sacrifice and dedication required by these fitness competitors.
My September 2008 RoundAbout Madison cover story on River Mill Resort developer Bob Przewlocki earned third place in the category. The story titled, “Preservation Playground,” introduced the Chicago area developer to local readers and explored his plans for turning the former riverfront industrial site known as the Meese building into a hotel and commercial center.
Winning anything in this contest is not easy, especially when your newspaper must compete against publications much larger in size. We entered but won nothing last year. But both McCollum and I are previous winners.
Two years ago, McCollum took both first and second place in the Best Non-Deadline Reporting for Non-Daily Newspapers. She won with her article on the potential rewards of creating a sports commission in Madison (which by the way never happened), and placed second with her article about recovering efforts from the Elks Club fire titled, “Beyond the Blaze.”
I placed second in the Best Print Feature for Non-Daily Newspapers for the series of articles published in March 2006 about the late film legend Irene Dunne. The cover story, “Honoring a Film Legend,” explored Dunne’s life, family and legacy in Madison. That year, the community established a state historic marker in front of the Ohio Theatre in her honor. The dedication ceremony included Dunne’s own grandson, who visited Madison for the first time from his home in California.
In 2004, I won first place in the Best Personality Profile category for an article on Dean and Debbie Ford of Madison titled, “The Dean of Dealmaking.”
The Society of Professional Journalists was founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi fraternity at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. In 1988, the organization officially changed its name to the Society of Professional Journalists. The organization includes broadcast, print and online journalists, journalism educators, and students interested in journalism as a career.

Read the winning stories
in the “Archived Articles” section of this website.

The national organization is headquartered at the Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., in Indianapolis. It boasts about 9,000 members nationwide and has an operating budget of $1.7 million annually.
This year, SPJ will hold its 100th national convention. It is scheduled for Aug. 27-30 in Indianapolis and will feature national and international journalists and numerous workshops.
As far as its mission, the Indy Pro Chapter of SPJ works to promote and protect First Amendment freedoms, offers scholarships, sponsors the annual “Best of Indiana” journalism contest and conducts professional development programs.
SPJ is dedicated to the perpetuation of a free press as the cornerstone of our nation and our liberty. To ensure that the concept of self-government outlined by the U.S. Constitution remains a reality into future centuries, the American people must be well informed in order to make decisions regarding their lives, and their local and national communities.
It is the role of journalists to provide this information in an accurate, comprehensive, timely and understandable manner. It is the mission of SPJ:
• To promote this flow of information.
• To maintain constant vigilance in protection of the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and of the press.
• To stimulate high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism.
• To foster excellence among journalists.
• To inspire successive generations of talented individuals to become dedicated journalists.
• To encourage diversity in journalism.
• To be the pre-eminent, broad-based membership organization for journalists.
• To encourage a climate in which journalism can be practiced freely.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.

 

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