Times tapped as top paper

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 17, 2004

The Demopolis Times has been honored by the state’s newspaper association as one of the best small newspapers in Alabama.

The Alabama Press Association announced winners of the 2004 Better Newspaper Contest today, and The Times claimed a total of 12 industry awards for editorial coverage. Only two other newspapers in The Times’ division won more awards.

The Times placed first among newspapers its size for “Best Local News Coverage” and “Best Layout and Design.”

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In all, The Times won six first place, three second place and three third place awards.

“Just like with any other profession, it’s always satisfying when colleagues in your industry honor you this way,” said Jonathan McElvy, president and publisher of Boone Publications Inc. and The Demopolis Times. “At the same time, I’ve always believed the greatest award any newspaper can receive is from local citizens who appreciate and interact with their hometown newspaper.”

The 12 awards for this year’s contest — based on newspapers from 2003 — far exceed anything The Times has accomplished in recent years. Over a three-year stretch, from 2000-2002, The Times won a total of just four APA editorial awards.

“When I told our staff about the awards, I wanted to make sure they knew this is a team effort,” McElvy said. “Though these honors are for editorial work, every member of our staff plays a key role in allowing us to put out a good news product.

“Through the past year, we’ve worked hard to develop a professional staff that takes pride in the product it publishes. Obviously, that development includes making changes, but I believe we’re close to putting together a group of people who care about this community and the product we offer our readers,” McElvy continued.

Below is a list of awards won by The Times in the 2004 Better Newspaper Contest:

Best Local News Coverage, 1st place — for consistent coverage of community news and events.

Best Layout and Design, 1st place — for the overall appearance and design of the newspaper.

Best News Feature Story, 1st place — for Jonathan McElvy’s story entitled “This is no place to play.” Story highlighted backed-up septic tanks on Bell Street and the city’s plan to fix the problem.

Best Editorial Column, 1st place — for Jonathan McElvy’s column entitled, “What does a can of Coke tell you about America?”

Best Sports News In-Depth Story or Series, 1st place — for the work of Clay McCombs, Patrick Ellis and staff for their coverage of the Trinity-Demopolis High football game.

Best Headline, 1st place — for “Local scouts missing cookie dough.”

Best Editorial, 2nd place — for an editorial by Jonathan McElvy questioning the city of Demopolis for allowing suspended students to be housed in the dangerous Old School.

Best Editorial Page, 2nd place — for general makeup and interaction of an editorial page.

Best Humorous Column, 2nd place — for Jonathan McElvy’s column entitled “Swallowing a worm makes you think.”

Best Public Service, 3rd place — for a series of stories and editorials on the Old School and its repair.

Best Human Interest Column, 3rd place — for Jonathan McElvy’s column entitled, “This friend has always stuck closer than a brother.”

* The Demopolis Times also was part of another 3rd place award. Last year, a group of sister newspapers worked together to publish a series of stories entitled “Alabama Forward.” Times Editor and Publisher Jonathan McElvy wrote the series, which published in The Times. The series highlighted the problems with Alabama’s 1901 Constitution and gave details of Gov. Bob Riley’s tax plan. That series won 3rd place in the Public Service division, and was entered by the Alexander City Outlook, a sister newspaper of The Times.