MARYVILLE, Mo. — The Maryville Forum received numerous awards in the Missouri Press Association 2022 Better Newspaper Contest, including first place for General Excellence.
The Forum competed in the division of weekly newspapers with circulation under 2,000 and won 32 awards for written stories, editorials, photography and design produced during 2021.
The General Excellence award recognizes the newspaper that consistently provides the best product to its readers, judging several editions in their entirety on the breadth of news coverage, quality of writing, advertising design and layout, general layout, use of photos and artwork, editorial quality, front and sports pages, headline language and treatment of public notices.
“Receiving first place in the general excellence category further proves our team’s commitment to providing quality news and information to our readers,” said Skye Pournazari, managing editor. “From our work as a government watchdog to our feature stories and weekly event coverage, our staff strives to offer consistent service and new features to keep our subscribers informed and entertained. We tell the stories important to our community members, and in my opinion, there is no higher calling for a journalist.”
The awards were announced during the Missouri Press Association’s 156th annual convention held in-person at the Lodge of the Four Seasons in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.
“Traci and I are extremely proud of all the hard work by the entire Maryville Forum staff that so often goes unnoticed each and every day by you, the readers,” said Ken Garner, who owns The Forum with his wife, Traci. “We are humbled by the awards that the newspaper received from the Missouri Press Association, but to be honest I expected nothing less from the dedicated and talented group of employees we have. Winning awards is always rewarding; however, it is not the reason we do the job or submit our works for judging. It is to provide us with a measuring stick against other great newspapers in the state and in that regard, it shows that we are amongst the best there is, regardless of size.”
FIRST PLACE AWARDS
The Forum received eight first-place awards, including General Excellence.
Ken Garner – best news or feature obituary, for his look back at the life and career of former Nodaway County Sheriff Ben Espey following his death.
Geoffrey Woehlk – best columnist serious, for several columns written regarding school consolidation, calling for local political candidates to be specific in outlining their agendas and advocating for student voices to be added to local school boards. “Woehlk is consistently clear-headed and empathetic,” wrote a judge. “He doesn’t write to show off how smart he is. He writes when he sees a wrong that should be righted. He doesn’t try to score easy political points. In fact, his politics aren’t necessarily out there on his sleeve. He just does his job well, column in, column out.”
Geoffrey Woehlk – best investigative reporting, for his continuing in-depth coverage of the senior center’s funding difficulties. “This set of stories was the clear winner,” noted a contest judge. “This deep dive into the issues that led to the withdrawal of federal funding for a county senior center was well written, well researched and very readable. It was hard not to come away with the sense that the center’s financial administration was, at best, incompetent, and at worst, criminal.”
Jon Dykstra – best sports news story or package regarding the Bearcat basketball team winning back-to-back national championships.
Jon Dykstra – best sports feature photograph, for his “Reflection,” showing the reflection of a football sideline in sunglasses worn by Matt Webb. “Shallow depth of field isolates the subject cleanly from the background,” wrote a judge. “Fortuitous light makes this image sing with a magical quality.”
The Forum Staff – Tilghman Cloud Memorial Editorial Award, foran editorial about the Maryville R-II School District postponing “Legally Blonde The Musical,” last year. “Above and beyond,” wrote a contest judge. “Simply the best written editorial - well worthy of more awards. The defense of free thought and expression was rock solid and moving. The subtle use of humor and adherence to logic highlighted this well-written editorial.”
The Forum Staff – best coverage of government for several pieces surrounding the Maryville R-II school district’s postponement of “Legally Blonde The Musical” last year.
SECOND PLACE AWARDS
The Forum received four second-place awards including best online newspaper or website, located at maryvilleforum.com.
Skye Pournazari – best story about history, for her coverage of the Strong & Strong law office closing. “The lively quotes and the numerous personal histories woven with the firm’s history made this article a solid entry but what put it over the top was the candid sense of place,” a judge wrote. “I feel like I would recognize this firm’s neighborhood just from this article. Well done!”
Skye Pournazari – best feature photograph, for a shot taken during the 2021 Pickering Horse Show.
The Forum – best coverage of government, for coverage of changes to the Maryville Tourism Committee. “The coverage was clear and thorough, explaining throughout that no one had raised a specific problem with the current system,” according to a judge. “The editorial was well reasoned.”
THIRD PLACE AWARDS
The Forum staff received 14 third-place awards including best overall design.
The Forum – best editorial pages. “Nice variety of voices on the opinion pages,” noted a judge.
Geoffrey Woehlk – best story about rural life or agriculture, for coverage of Northwest Missouri State University’s opening of its Agricultural Learning Center.
Geoffrey Woehlk – best news story, for an update on the senior center. “Thorough explanation of what appears to be an on-going problem,” noted a judge. “Excellent writing.”
Geoffrey Woehlk – best military story, for his coverage of the American Legion Post 100’s 2021 Memorial Day ceremony. “Good focus, very good writing/reporting, and appealing graphics,” a judge wrote.
Geoffrey Woehlk – best news or feature series, for his coverage of the city of Maryville mask mandate. “Very thorough reporting,” wrote a contest judge. “Good use of ‘fact checks.’ Balanced presentation of both sides of a controversial topic.”
Skye Pournazari and Geoffrey Woehlk – best breaking news story, for coverage of a rare serial derecho.
Skye Pournazari – best investigative reporting, for several pieces regarding the postponement of “Legally Blonde The Musical.” “Fascinating story about censorship and its effect on young people,” wrote a contest judge.
Skye Pournazari – best story about religion, for a look at the First Baptist Church’s history celebrating its 151st anniversary. “The bits from the historical documents and the archive photos really gave readers something meaty to consider in what could otherwise have been an ordinary anniversary celebration announcement,” wrote a judge.
Skye Pournazari – best story about education, regarding last year’s postponement of the Maryville High School musical “Legally Blonde The Musical.” “Terrific job in retelling those who want to censor a play in many markets would be considered benign, but in this community parents force its postponement,” noted a judge.
Skye Pournazari – best information graphic, for a chart showing local COVID-19 data.
Jon Dykstra – best sports feature photograph, for a photograph of Tyler Geiman celebrating after hitting a game-winning shot. “I feel like I am running and smiling when I look at this photo,” noted a contest judge.
Jon Dykstra – best sports news story or package, for a piece celebrating the Platte Valley girls basketball team’s perfect season in 2021.
Jon Dykstra – best sports columnist, for several sports columns he wrote in 2021.
HONORABLE MENTION AWARDS
The Forum received six honorable mention awards in this year’s contest.
Trinity Cobb – best news or feature series, for her business update series featuring local businesses as they reopened and continued through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jon Dykstra – best sports news story or package for his story about Maryville High School basketball player Serena Sundell’s 43 points leading the Hounds over Jefferson City.
Jon Dykstra – best news or feature special section, for his 2021 fall sports preview.
Jon Dykstra and Skye Pournazari – best page design, for a sports front page design surrounding Braden Wright. “I like how the front page design color choices mirror the brand colors within the photo uniforms, etc,” wrote a judge. “Also great use of advertising space at the bottom of the page.”
Geoffrey Woehlk – best story about education, for his piece about a local superintendent pressing a legislator for answers. “Public versus private education is a controversial issue in many areas,” noted a judge. “This writer captured the issues and wrote a story that deserves recognition.”
Skye Pournazari – best information graphic, for a chart showing Census data.