Courier & Press takes six first-place awards in Hoosier Press Association contest

Picture of the Year

The Courier & Press took home six first-place awards, including five earned by its visual journalists, during the 46th annual Hoosier State Press Association Newsroom Seminar and Better Newspaper Contest last December.

Jason Clark, photographer for the Evansville Courier & Press, earned the Picture of the Year award for his image of an Evansville firefighter carrying a 3-year-old girl from a burning apartment on Covert Avenue on Sept. 6, 2011.

The winning photograph shows Evansville firefighter John Cline carrying Akeleigh Frazier, 3, out of a burning apartment at 869 Covert Ave. on Sept. 6, 2011. The girl's 4-year-old sister Aaliyah and her mother, 24-year-old Kristyn Frazier, were also pulled out of the fire and were given CPR before being transported to St. Mary's Medical Center. Kristyn Frazier later died from injuries suffered in the fire.

The image earned first place in spot news photograph, with judges calling it "an incredible moment. The look on the firefighter's face says it all. By far the most powerful image in this category."

The Courier & Press' other first-place awards in photography went to Erin McCracken (both best feature photo and best multiple picture group), Molly Bartels (best sports feature photo), and Denny Simmons (best picture story with audio or video).

The newspaper's sixth first-place award came for best editorial page by Chuck Leach, marking the second consecutive year that Leach has earned the distinction.

"For years we've been confident that we have the most talented photojournalists of any newspaper our size, and these results confirm that," said Tim Ethridge, editor. "And the work of Chuck Leach on our editorial page, the passion he shows for his craft, shines through day after day."

The Courier & Press competes against the largest newspapers in the state, including the Indianapolis Star and the Indianapolis Business Journal. In all, 86 newspapers competed in six categories, with more than 2,600 entries judged by members of the Minnesota Newspaper Association. The contest was for the period from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012.

Ethridge received a second-place award for best sports event coverage for a story on the Indianapolis Colts, while Randy Beard, who replaced Ethridge as sports editor in May, took third place for his stories on the Kentucky Derby.

Other third-place awards went to Bartels for spot news photo; Mark Wilson, staff writer, for best story without deadline pressure; copy desk staff for best headline writing; staff for best special section; and staff for best online site.

The Courier & Press also was a finalist for the Ray Moscowitz Award, given to news organizations that foster the advancement of the First Amendment. The C&P was recognized for its efforts via the Freedom of Information Act to obtain affidavits for search warrants executed by Evansville police.

The South Bend Tribune was presented the Moscowitz Award for its investigative series on the Department of Child Service's failures triggered by the death of an abused child.

Story of the Year went to the Indianapolis Star for its continued coverage of the deadly state fair stage collapse in August 2011.

The Star, for the second time in three years, received the Blue Ribbon Award as the state's best daily newspaper. The Courier & Press won the award last year. The Corydon Democrat, owned by the family of former Gov. Frank O'Bannon, won the Blue Ribbon for nondaily newspapers for the 15th time in its history.