Last weekend when the National Newspaper Publishers Association ("the Black Press of America") held its annual convention in Minneapolis, The Skanner walked away with an armful of coveted national awards.
"We dominated," said publisher Bernie Foster, gleeful that his small paper had triumphed over publications such as the St. Louis American, the Richmond Free Press, the Los Angeles Sentinel, and the Philadelphia Tribune. "They kept calling our name to go up there. I could barely hold all the awards."
The Skanner took two first place wins and two third places in the A. Phillip Randolph Messenger Awards. The Skanner won two of the five Messenger Awards, and scored two runner-up honors.
A. Phillip Randolph was known to his pro-segregation opponents as "the most dangerous Black in America." A civil rights leader, he helped found the March on Washington Movement, and also published and edited a monthly magazine, The Messenger. The Messenger awards, now sponsored by the Miller/Coors company, recognize excellence in reporting and writing. And in case you're wondering, no, the winners do not get a year's supply of free beer.
Each Messenger Award is worth $5,000, with the runner-up prizes $500 each. Judging was conducted by individuals from outside the newspaper industry -- university journalism professors from around the country.
Editor Lisa Loving and reporter Brian Stimson, took first place in the Cultural Diversity category for "A Tale of Two Urban Schools." The two-part series compares Portland's Jefferson High School with Rainier Beach High School in Seattle. The schools have similar demographics, but achieve very different results. (Part two here.) Loving and Stimson shared the monetary award.
Contributing writer and former editor Helen Silvis took first place in the Aid/Disaster Relief category, with Prepare/Survive a Disaster, examining the reality facing Northwest residents in the event of a major disaster such as an earthquake. The win was her third Messenger award for The Skanner – an unprecedented achievement.
Runner-Up Messenger awards also went to Loving for her feature story, "Healing Cultural Fears of The Wild ," and to Stimson for "Finally -- Affordable Green Homes." Loving's story explored Jourdan Keith's efforts to confront African Americans' damaged relationship with the outdoors, through the Urban Wilderness Project. Stimson's story announced the arrival of the Helensview development on N.E. Killingsworth. The pair shared runner-up honors in the Environment category. Held in Minneapolis this year, the event brings together publishers, politicians, journalists and community leaders to discuss key issues for African Americans, and to celebrate the best stories, photographs, layout and design in Black newspapers around the nation.
The NNPA merit awards cover 19 categories. The Skanner snagged first place awards for overall layout and design, and for its entertainment pages. Stimson won a third place for best feature story, "Innocent but Not Yet Free," about exonerated Chicago native Alton Logan's quest for freedom after being incarcerated in Joliet Prison for 26 years. The paper also took third place awards for best use of photographs, (a two-page election spread) and for best circulation promotion. The John B. Russworm Trophy, which goes to the paper which takes most points in the merit awards, went to the Chicago Defender.
The Skanner staff extends a big Thank You to our readers and the Northwest community for providing us with excellent stories to report and for all your support.