TSWA WRITING CONTEST AWARDS

2016

Division I
Gary Lundy Writer of the Year
1. John Adams, Knoxville News-Sentinel – It’s hard in this business to write with precision and restraint, yet have a style of your own that readers either love or hate. The winner of this category fits those descriptions. Beautiful, economical prose that always draws readers in and takes them for a smooth, quick ride that is always memorable. The winner is versatile enough to open a vein and bleed about the death of Pat Summitt, yet put verbal blowtorch to Tennessee’s cliché-ridden Butch Jones.
2. Mark Wiedmer, Chattanooga Times-Free Press
3. Adam Sparks, The Tennessean

Best Daily Section
1. The Tennessean – Quite simply, the winner had three daily sections that covered every conceivable angle of the primary event of the day – national signing day, the Tennessee-Virginia Tech battle at Bristol and a Titans game. It’s not just an overload of staff written stories, but more “extras” than you can imagine.
2. Knoxville News-Sentinel
3. Chattanooga Times-Free Press

Best Special Section
1. Knoxville News-Sentinel – The hometown paper of the University of Tennessee delivered as expected, celebrating the passing and the life of Pat Summitt – 32 stunning pages filled with remembrances, career highlights and pictures galore. Wow! Wow! Wow!
2. Chattanooga Times-Free Press, 2016 high school football preview
3. The Tennessean

Best Columnist
1. John Adams, Knoxville News-Sentinel – The winner is not just a true columnist with an opinion, but he delivers them like a pitcher mixing his pitches. There’s unabashed sarcasm of Butch Jones, outright indignation of Tennessee failing to fire a baseball coach and a heartfelt remembrance of Pat Summitt. Every other columnist in this category wrote like they enjoyed their own voice. The winner wrote like he doesn’t give a damn, which is the way you’re supposed to write columns.
2. Joe Rexrode, The Tennessean
3. Mark Wiedmer, Chattanooga Times-Free Press

Best Feature Writer
1. John Adams, Knoxville News-Sentinel – The winner was the only writer out of the 15 who entered this category that didn’t have a single feature about some sort of human tragedy. The winner had three unique angles – a longtime grudge of former UT trainer against Peyton Manning, the towns of Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia preparing for the big game and Pat Summitt’s roommate on her death. The winner understands if you want to write a never-ending 10,000-word feature that drones on and on, then go work for a magazine.
2. Adam Sparks, The Tennessean
3. Stephen Hargis, Chattanooga Times-Free Press

Best Event Writer
1. Adam Sparks, The Tennessean – It’s rare when a writer wins this category with three stories on the same subject, the tragic drowning of Vanderbilt pitcher Donny Everett. But from the first story on the initial shock of his coaches and teammates, to trying to play an NCAA tourney game to Everett’s funeral, there’s thorough reporting mixed with the perfect touch of scene-setting.
2. Mike Strange, Knoxville News-Sentinel
3. Mark Wiedmer, Chattanooga Times-Free Press

Best Prep Writer
1. Chris Thomas, Knoxville News-Sentinel – The winner personifies versatility – a well-reported rape case involving the wife of an assistant coach and a student as well as emotional features about overcoming personal tragedy.
2. Stephen Hargis, Chattanooga Times-Free Press
3. Tom Kreager, The Tennessean

Best Investigative/Series
1. Adam Sparks, The Tennessean – A  fascinating breakdown of former Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin’s recruiting classes.
2. Stephen Hargis, Chattanooga Times-Free Press
3. Jimmy Hyams, WMNL Sports Radio

Best Individual Layout
1. Jamie Poole, Chattanooga Times-Free Press – The difference between dominant art and art that dominates is dominant art fills up space and art that dominates enhances it by being creative. The winner of this category wasn’t afraid to have just three stories on a sports front because the winner also had art that dominates. The overhead shot of the Kentucky Derby winner crossing the finish line blending in below of a ground level picture of the field running towards the camera was brilliant.
2. Dylan Chessar, Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
3. None awarded.

Best Outdoor Writer
1. Mike Organ, The Tennessean – The  winner can spin a tale of two guys and a girl trying to land a 90-pound catfish but also reflect the seriousness of illegal deer killing.
2. David Cobb, Chattanooga Times-Free Press.
3. None awarded.

Division II
Gary Lundy Writer of the Year
1. Mike Hutchens, The Messenger, Union City – The best way to describe why this writer won is he has a knack of writing with a personal touch. When you read him, it’s like you’re sitting next to him along for the ride, whether it’s the 30th year reunion of a high school state championship basketball team or a family’s fight against a debilitating disease or a first-person column on the new Titans GM.
2. Kevin Weaks, The Messenger, Union City
3. None awarded.

Best Special Section
1. The Messenger, Union City – It’s hard to believe a small circulation paper can produce something so superb in every way imaginable as its preseason high school football section. Besides a bundle of well-arranged, thoroughly-researched information, the features are all fun reads, such as tracking the cover boys from the 32 previous preseason high school football sections.
2. The Roane County News, preseason high school football section edited by Goose Lindsay
3. None awarded.

Best Feature Writer
1. Mike Hutchens, The Messenger, Union City – Three solid features, but the one that was absolutely riveting was the 41-year-old-plus golfer still determined to chase his professional dreams despite never-ending health problems and 12 surgeries.
2. Kevin Weaks, The Messenger, Union City
3. Troy Provost-Heron, The Daily Times, Maryville

Best Event Writer
1. Mike Hutchens, The Messenger, Union City – Just “the best.” The best leads, the best organization, the best use of quotes.
2. Kevin Weaks, The Messenger, Union City.
3. None awarded.

Best News Writer
1. Mike Hutchens, The Messenger, Union City – The secret of good news writing is to craft a lead that draws in but doesn’t confuse the reader. The rest of a news story is about organization and flow. The winner of this category mastered all three, topped by this lead about a TSSAA Board of Control meeting that said, “When all was said and done, much more was said than done.”
2. Kevin Weaks, The Messenger, Union City
3. None awarded.

Best Prep Writer
1. Kevin Weaks, The Messenger, Union City – All things being even between the top two places in this category, the tiebreaker was the winner’s feature on how high school football players from three area schools spent their summer in unique and educational ways.
2. Mike Hutchens, The Messenger, Union City
3. Austin Bornheim, The Daily Times, Maryville

Division III
Gary Lundy Writer of the Year
1. Jonathan Herrmann, News Herald – With two good features and a game story this writer probably could have won this category with just his extensive feature on the downfall and rise of Travis Cozart.
2. Jimmy Hyams, WNML Sports Radio
3. Kenneth Coker, Dresden Enterprise

Best Special Section
1. The Weakley County Press – Edited by Randy Cavin, their preseason high school football section simply has extras that are hard to find in similar sections, like middle school previews? Who in the world does MIDDLE SCHOOL previews? The Weakley County Press, that’s who. Also, the schedule grid on the back of the section is a simple idea that needs to be copied more often.
2. The Newport Plain Talk, special section on remembering Pat Summitt, edited by Seth Butler
3. None awarded.

Best Event/News Writer
1. Kenneth Coker, Dresden Enterprise – Not only did the winner show versatility with a game story, a hiring story and the death of Pat Summitt, but each was well-arranged with succinct quotes. The Summitt story was simply outstanding.
2. Jonathan Herrmann, News Herald
3. Bill Sorrell, Journal West 10

Best Feature Writer
1. Jonathan Herrmann, News Herald – If they paid this writer by the word, he could retire immediately with enough money to last him the rest of his life. The positives are that he picked great subjects with unique angles like a fallen one-time high school phenom putting his life back together, a star high school player becoming a college basketball manager and a female equestrian who competes in show jumping. The negative: Use some restraint. You don’t have to use every quote by everybody. Dial it back.
2. Bill Traughber, Nashville Retrospect
3. Seth Butler, Newport Plain Talk

Division IV
Best Feature Writer
1. Mark McGee, Lipscomb University – Amazing angles such as two generations of Lipscomb cheerleaders 67 years apart and the little-known person who inspired one of the school’s most generous donors. Better yet, the winner doesn’t get in the way of the story-telling.
2. Lamar Chance, University of Memphis
3. Colby Wilson, Austin Peay

Best Event Writer
1. Mark McGee, Lipscomb University – This category isn’t a fair fight. You can tell the winner just isn’t a typical university SID or PR person but has a newspaper background. Each of the winner’s stories have engaging leads, good story flow and a balance of quotes.
2. Tony Stinnett, Middle Tennessee State
3. Bill Sorrell, Bethel University

2015

DIVISION I

Best Daily Section 

  1. The Tennessean
  2. Knoxville News-Sentinel 
  3. Chattanooga Times Free-Press

Best Special Section

  1. Chattanooga Times Free-Press
  2. Knoxville News-Sentinel
  3. The Daily Times, Maryville

Gary Lundy Writer of the Year

  1. John Adams, Knoxville News-Sentinel
  2. Mark Wiedmer, Chattanooga Times Free Press
  3. Mike Strange, Knoxville News-Sentinel

Columnist of the Year

  1. John Adams, Knoxville News-Sentinel
  2. Dave Ammenheuser, The Tennessean
  3. Mark Wiedmer, Chattanooga Times Free-Press

Feature Writer of the Year

  1. Mark Wiedmer, Chattanooga Times Free-Press
  2. Dustin Dopirak, Knoxville News-Sentinel
  3. Dave Ammenheuser, The Tennessean

Best Event Writer

  1. Stephen Hargis, Chattanooga Times Free-Press
  2. Mark Wiedmer, Chattanooga Times Free-Press
  3. Mike Strange, Knoxville News-Sentinel

Prep Writer of the Year

  1. Stephen Hargis, Chattanooga Times Free-Press
  2. Chris Thomas, Knoxville News-Sentinel

Best Investigative/Series Writer of the Year

  1. Jimmy Hyams, WNML Radio
  2. Stephen Hargis, Chattanooga Times Free-Press

 
DIVISION II

Best Daily Section

  1. The Daily News Journal
  2. Cookeville Herald-Citizen
  3. The (Union City) Messenger

Best Special Section

  1. The (Union City) Messenger, Mike Hutchens
  2. Gallatin News-Examiner, Craig Harris
  3. Cookeville Herald-Citizen, Thomas Corhern

Gary Lundy Writer of the Year

  1. Tom Kreager , Daily News Journal
  2. Thomas Corhern, Cookeville Citizen-Herald
  3. Mike Hutchens, The (Union City) Messenger

Best Columnist

  1. Jimmy Hyams, WNML Radio
  2. Thomas Corhern, Cookeville Herald-Citizen
  3. Tom Kreager, Daily News Journal

Best Feature Writer

  1. Kevin Weaks, The (Union City) Messenger
  2. Tom Kreager, Daily News Journal
  3. Mike Hutchens, The (Union City) Messenger

Best Event Writer

  1. Mike Hutchens, The (Union City) Messenger
  2. Tom Kreager, Daily News Journal
  3. Kevin Weaks, The (Union City) Messenger

Best News Writer

  1. Tom Kreager, Daily News Journal
  2. Mike Hutchens, The (Union City) Messenger

Best Prep Writer

  1. Tom Kreager, Daily News Journal
  2. Mike Hutchens, The (Union City) Messenger
  3. Thomas Corhern, Cookeville Herald- Citizen

DIVISION III
Best Special Section

  1. The Weakley County Press, preseason football section, Mike Hutchens
  2. The Newport Plain Talk, Pigskin Edition, Seth Butler
  3. Gallatin News, Sumner County high school football preview guide, Adam Brown

Gary Lundy Writer of the Year

  1. Jimmy Hyams, WNML Radio
  2. Seth Butler, The Newport Plain Talk
  3. Adam Brown, The Gallatin News

Best Feature Writer

  1. Seth Butler, The Newport Plain Talk
  2. Kenneth Coker, Dresden Enterprise
  3. Craig Harris, Gallatin News Examiner

Best Event/News Writer

  1. Craig Harris, Gallatin News Examiner
  2. Mike Hutchens, Weakley County Press
  3. Kenneth Coker, Dresden Enterprise

 
DIVISION IV (College sports information)

Best Feature Writer:

  1. Mark McGee, Lipscomb University
  2. Colby Wilson, LetsGoPeay.com. 
  3. Bill Traughber, VUCommodores.com

Best Event Writer

  1. Bill Sorrell, Bethel University
  2. Colby Wilson, LetsGoPeay.com
  3. Michael Wottreng, Carson-Newman