NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Sports Writers Association released the winners of the annual writing contest this week. All of the first, second and third-place winners will be recognized during the Hall of Fame dinner and banquet on Thursday, July 11, in Baird Chapel at Cumberland University. Thanks to Ron Higgins for again coordinating the judging for all of the categories in the annual writing contest.
TSWA 2018 WRITING CONTEST RESULTS
Entries were from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018
Note: There were not enough entries in Division II to judge categories for best columnist, best daily section and best special section. Those who entered those categories were moved to Division I.
Gary Lundy Writer of the Year: 1. Adam Sparks, The Tennessean – The depth and balance of the winner’s reporting that Vanderbilt’s administration was undercutting fundraising efforts for a football stadium project was the best story among all the Writer of the Year entries. And then he backed it up with two solid features, including a hilarious, revealing look at the Vanderbilt whistlers. 2. John Adams, Knoxville News-Sentinel. 3. Mark Wiedmer, Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
Best Daily Section: No entries.
Best Special Section: 1. Chattanooga Times-Free Press – This might be the only newspaper in America whose preseason football section is a slick 67-page magazine with insightful writing and graphics that rivals any of the best preseason mags on newsstands. For a local paper, this special section edited by Stephen Hargis is a stunning achievement. 2. Union City Messenger. 3. None awarded.
Best Columnist: 1. John Adams, Knoxville News-Sentinel – Columnists sometimes have a tendency to go overboard when hammering home an opinion, but the winner in this category has a nuanced style that’s fun to read. He knows when to take his jabs and keep moving. 2. Mark Wiedmer, Chattanooga Times-Free Press. 3. Cecil Joyce, Daily News Journal.
Best Feature Writer: 1. Adam Sparks, The Tennessean – The winner’s entry ranged the gamut from solid reporting on a story on why Vandy administrators undercut fundraising efforts for a football story project to a light, breezy touch on his feature on the aggravating Vanderbilt whistlers. The winner’s stories proved you don’t have to drone on-and-on to write effective, readable features. 2. Teresa M. Walker, Associated Press. 3. Mark Wiedmer, Chattanooga Free-Press.
Best Event Writer: 1. Mark Wiedmer, Chattanooga Times-Free Press – The easy winner in this category, the writer showed his scribing chops covering three vastly different events – the SEC football championship game, a USA regional boxing qualifier and the funeral of a popular 16-year-old basketball player. The latter two stories required a lot of legwork from the writer and it showed. 2. Adam Sparks, The Tennessean. 3. Teresa M. Walker, Associated Press.
Best News Writer: 1. Adam Sparks, The Tennessean: Had punchy ledes to get readers into story and his story organization was second-to-none. 2. Teresa M. Walker, Associated Press. 3. None awarded.
Best Prep Writer: 1. Tom Kreager, The Tennessean – Loved the balance of the three stories in the winning entry, especially from the standpoint they were all well-researched, had multiple voices in each and had great, crisp writing. There were no wasted words. 2. Stephen Hargis, Chattanooga Times-Free-Press. 3. None awarded.
Gary Lundy Writer of the Year: 1. Cecil Joyce, Daily News Journal – Had three tremendous story angles, but his feature on the Murfreesboro high school girls basketball player who wears a Muslim hijab and an investigative piece on a renegade prep academy showed writing and reporting depth. The latter story was extremely well-balanced. 2. Luis Torres, Daily News Journal. 3. Kevin Weaks, Union City Messenger.
Best Feature Writer: 1. Cecil Joyce, Daily News Journal – Winner barely edged out second-place finisher. Thought winner had a better variety of story angles, though both had entries involving subjects battling cancer, which seems to be in many writers’ entries. 2. Luis Torres, Daily News Journal. 3. Mark McGee, Shelbyville Times-Gazette.
Best Event Writer: 1. Luis Torres, Daily News Journal – Entries were three MTSU football stories, but it was refreshing to see a writer who could be creative while not ignoring the basics of who, what, when and why. Felt the winner did a good job of making it easy on readers to navigate his stories. 2. Kevin Weaks, Union City Messenger. 3. Cecil Joyce, Daily News Journal.
Best News Writer: 1. Luis Torres, Daily News Journal – Excellent, well-organized stories on MTSU starting beer sales at games, MTSU coach Rick Stockstill exonerated from claims of player abuse and MTSU re-writing coaches’ contracts to include sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence. All these stories answered every question posed by readers. 2. Kevin Weaks, Union City Messenger. 3. None awarded.
Best Prep Writer: 1. Luis Torres, Jackson Sun – Feature on a 17-year-old high school softball player who has twice beaten cancer and has a three-year-old daughter was delicately written and carried his three-story entry. 2. Cecil Joyce, Daily News Journal. 3. Kevin Weaks, Union City Messenger.
Gary Lundy Writer of the Year: 1. Craig Harris, Macon County Times – Winner showed versatility with a beloved 66-year-old girls high school basketball coach who overcame numerous obstacles, a feature on a girls high school basketball program staging a one-stop-shop practice for college recruiters and a well-organized news story on a high school coach resignation. Winner also stood out with crisp, tight writing. 2. Bill Sorrell, Journal West 10. 3. Randy Cavin, Weakley County Press.
Best Special Section: 1. Weakley County Press, 2018 High School Football Preview – Edited by Randy Cavin, no stone was left unturned in this special section, with high school and middle school previews, plus the handy schedule grid on the back cover. The graphics on the high school team previews weren’t overdone. Solid writing. 2. Macon County Times, 2018 High School Football Preview 3. Journal West 10, 2018 High School Football Preview.
Best Feature Writer: 1. Bill Sorrell, Journal West 10 – All his features were thoroughly reported and written, but his feature on a college baseball player who was declared dead when he was 10 after drowning and survived was magnificent. 2. Randy Cavin, Weakley County Press. 3. Bill Traughber, Nashville Retrospect.
Best News/Event Writer: 1. Craig Harris, Macon County Times – This writer clearly understands story flow and brevity. Never overwrote, never understated. Nice balance of facts and quotes. 2. Bill Sorrell, Journal West 10. 3. Ed Grief, Morgan County Today.
Best Feature Writer: 1. Thomas Corhern, Tennessee Tech – Stood out because of his ability to add historical perspective without bogging down stories as well as his smooth story flow and judicious use of quotes. His stuff never seemed forced or overstated. 2. Colby Wilson, Austin Peay 3. Mark McGee, Lipscomb.
Best Event Writer: 1. Thomas Corhern, Tennessee Tech – The winner showed effort and creativity, writing newspaper-quality stories. 2. Phil Stukenborg, University of Memphis. 3. Mike Hutchens, Union City Schools.