Its 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 SPJs 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.
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
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
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 Dunnes 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
Dunnes 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
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.
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
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
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
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
To encourage a climate in which journalism can be practiced
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout.
Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.