News-Herald staffers win awards

Published 12:25 am Saturday, March 28, 2009

Staff members at the Suffolk News-Herald won several awards during the Virginia Press Association’s recent News, Editorial & Photo Contest.

The awards were presented Saturday at the press association’s annual news meeting.

Graphic designer Troy Cooper won a second-place award in the informational graphics category for a graphic he created to track dropouts from Suffolk’s public schools.

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“Interesting way of illustrating a tough topic,” a judge wrote. “Good information and use of visuals to tell the story.”

A team effort after a tornado devastated parts of the city in April earned staff members a third-place award for breaking news writing. Judges commended staff members for “good sourcing” and “letting individuals tell their own stories.”

Named on that third-place entry were current staff writers Tracy Agnew and Lauren Wicks, along with former staff writer Allison T. Williams and former managing editor Ashley McKnight-Taylor.

Agnew also won a third-place award on her own for her health, science and environmental writing. Her stories about bees, the death of thousands of fish at Sleepy Lake and a new technique in knee surgery earned her praise for being “factual, but easy to understand.”

Editor Res Spears, who joined the News-Herald in October, won two awards for his work at his former paper, The Tidewater News in Franklin.

Spears won a first-place award for coverage of the National Day of Prayer in the combination picture and story category and a third place in the public safety writing category for stories about train derailments in Boykins, a perjury trial and a former state trooper convicted of sex crimes with a minor.

The News-Herald competes in a category with nine other Virginia daily newspapers with circulation less than 15,000. The Tidewater News competes against 50 other non-daily papers with circulation between 6,000 and 12,999.