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News Story
Updated: 07/16/2014 08:00:05AM

Polk newspapers earn 17 awards in state contest

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S.L. Frisbie

Jim Gouvellis

Larry Jewett

Steve Steiner

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The Polk County community newspapers of the Sun Coast Media Group won 17 awards in the Florida Press Association Better Weekly newspaper contest.

The papers won four first places for community service, column writing, sports writing and obituary writing.

S.L. Frisbie won first place in the Serious Column category. Jim Gouvellis and staff won first place in Community Service, Larry Jewett won first place for Best Sports Column and Steve Steiner won first place for Best Obituary Story.

Altogether, the four Polk County newspapers — The Polk County Democrat, The Lake Wales News, The Fort Meade Leader and The Frostproof News — won a total of 17 awards for weekly newspapers in their circulation category. A second Sun Coast Media Group newspaper, The Venice Gondolier, won 19 awards in its circulation category.

“The staff at our newspapers worked very hard last year to help make their communities a better place to live and to inform their readers. These awards are a reflection of those efforts. I am very proud of all of our employees, not just the news folks, but everyone here who helps produce some of the best papers in the state,” said Publisher Jim Gouvellis.

Here are the awards the newspapers won and an abbreviation of the judge’s comments:

The Polk County Democrat

Serious Column

First Place: S.L. Frisbie

Entry: No rush guys; It’s just the soldiers

Comments: “Good topic, nice approach. Point well taken. Well done.”

Best Obituary

First Place: Steve Steiner

Entry: Friends, family recall gentle giant

Comments: “Sounds like a really good man. Nice storytelling. Good mix of quotes from a variety.”

Sports Column

First Place: Larry Jewett

Entry: Team faces long road ahead

Editorial Award

Second Place: S.L. Frisbie

Entry: Main Street to focus on basics

Comments: “Great local focus on Main Street issues.”

Sports Feature Story

Second Place: Larry Jewett

Entry: Getting medals by the dozen

Comments: Fun story about a couple of athletes who thrive in their senior years.

Best Headline

Second Place: Jeff Roslow

Entry: They rode for Rissy

Comments: Like the play on the Hollywood-style Western movie title. It also captures the essence of the story. Clever and accurate!”

Breaking News Story

Second Place: Jeff Roslow

Entry: Lone life lost in crash

Comments: “Good job of getting the basic facts from the police, talking to the eyewitnesses and sorting through the rumor mill.”

Breaking News Story

Third Place: Cathy Palmer

Entry: 911 operator helps deliver a baby

Comments: “Well done.”

Education Reporting

Third Place: Jeff Roslow

Entry: May make a difference

Comments: “Inspirational story about what a group of (Gause Academy) students can accomplish. Well told.”

The Fort Meade Leader

Outdoor and Recreation writing

Second Place: James Coulter

The Lake Wales News

Community Service

First Place: Jim Gouvellis and staff

“Who are our community leaders?”

Comments: fine community service with their efforts to have readers identify community leaders.

First Amendment Defense (John A. Roosenraad Award)

Second Place: S.L. Frisbie

Entry: A chink in the armor of press freedom

Comments: Unique criticism of a government effort that, while well-meaning, is clearly an infringement on the First Amendment rights of area broadcasters.

Local Government Reporting

Second Place: Bill Rogers

Entry: City commission and chamber grapple with economic development idea

Best Obituary

Second Place: Kathy Leigh Berkowitz

Entry: She lived for her baby

Comments: “It’s not always easy to blend the news with an obit, but this story does a good job.”

Feature Story: Profile

Third Place: Kathy Leigh Berkowitz

Entry: Growing in a quiet place-Life as a hearing impaired child

Comments: “Honest and well-written. Overall, this is good work.”

Sports Spot News Story

Third Place: Brian Ackley

Entry: Law, James, gang up on Highlanders in lopsided loss

Overall Graphic Design

Third Place: Staff

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