The Ind's LPA Awards

The Louisiana Press Association announced the winners of its 2007 statewide awards competition at a luncheon in Lafayette on April 26, and your hometown, homegrown, independently owned newspaper The Independent Weekly didn’t let Acadiana down. In 21 editorial categories, we took home 14 first place awards, and won second, third or honorable mentions in 18 categories.

Since the LPA awards are always judged by a rotating assortment of out-of-state writers and editors, it’s always a hotly contested affair as newspapers get a chance to have the quality of their work recognized by their peers. More than 4,000 total entries were submitted by daily and weekly papers in the 2007 contest; competitors in our category include The Times of Acadiana, Baton Rouge’s Business Report, New Orleans’ Gambit Weekly and CityBusiness, and Shreveport’s Forum Newsweekly.

Here are The Independent’s first-place awards:

• Best News Coverage, which honors a paper’s overall news content and reflects the contributions of Independent Managing Editor R. Reese Fuller, Senior Editor Leslie Turk, staff writers Nathan Stubbs and Mary Tutwiler, contributing writer Jeremy Alford and Photo Editor Terri Fensel

• Best Continuing Coverage of a Single News Event, for coverage of the District 44 House of Representatives race

• Best Continuing Coverage of a Governmental Issue, for our in-depth coverage of the 2007 governor’s race, including our cover story urging Gov. Kathleen Blanco not to run for re-election, and our series of cover-story profiles of the four major gubernatorial candidates

• Community Service/Service to Readers for our coverage of Lafayette’s homeless population; Independent contributing writer Dege Legg also won first place in the Individual Feature Writing category for “Slipping Between the Cracks,” his week-long journey into a homeless camp located in the woods off  Evangeline Thruway.

• Best Lifestyle Coverage, for the paper’s overall stories on Lafayette culture, arts and entertainment

• Best Web Site, for www.theind.com

• “Snake Oil” cartoonist Greg Peters swept the Editorial Cartoon category, winning first, second and third place

• Independent contributor Philip Gould duplicated Peters’ feat, sweeping the Individual Feature Photo, Black & White category

We took second and third-place honors in the Investigative Reporting category, for Stubbs and Tutwiler’s July 2007 report on Bayou Postillion dredging and Leslie Turk’s story on the Lafayette Parish coroner’s office that led to coroner Charles Boustany Sr.’s sudden retirement. We also garnered second place nods for Best News Story, Best Continuing Coverage of a Governmental Issue, Individual Feature Writing and Individual Color Feature Photo. Third-place finishes included recognition in the Most Effective Use of Graphic Design on a Single Page and Best Photo Package categories, while we snagged honorable mention in the Best Feature Story category.

Our production and design apartment also received plenty of kudos, landing five first-place awards in categories like Best Ad Campaign and Multiple Advertiser page, as well as for color and black-and-white ad designs. And much like The Independent’s edit department, they earned second, third or honorable mention citations in nine out of 12 advertising design categories. Art and Production Director Jason Roy, Associate Art Director Kevin Pontiff and graphic designer Katie McCown are the ones who surround our stories with cool, eye-catching designs, and do the same to help Independent advertisers reach customers old and new.

The Independent’s 2007 LPA awards continue the recognition we’ve received from distinguished peers since the paper’s launch in summer of 2003. As we approach our fifth anniversary in August, The Independent’s racked up more than 250 awards, and not just from the LPA. We’ve also been honored nationally by The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, The Utne Reader, the Missouri School of Journalism and the National Newspaper Association, which bestowed upon us its Freedom of Information Act award last year.

Truth be told, while those awards make us feel good, they pale in comparison to our continued interactions with our readers. Especially in the last year, there’s been a dramatic increase in the numbers of phone calls and e-mails we receive — particularly in the form of news tips about potential government and business corruption stories. And in many of those conversations, you’re contacting us because you know we take the time to not only get the story right, but also to provide the background and context often missing from other local print media outlets. We thank you for that trust and aim to provide you with quality journalism — every single week — that’s enlightening, educational and entertaining.

Independent Weekly Editor Scott Jordan won first place in the 2007 LPA Awards’ Best Feature Story for his profile of Opelousas author and former LSU football player John Ed Bradley.