The Springfield New-Leader staff took home a first place award in General Excellence in the 2021 Missouri Press Association Best Newspaper competition, along with 38 other awards, including seven first places.
First place award
All News-Leader staff received first place in General Excellence. The award evaluates the newspaper as a whole based on three issues submitted.
Columnist Steve Pokin won two awards: one for the best serious columnist for his column “Pokin Around” and the other for the best military history for his column. “Pokin Around: a life of value and service, but be careful, he says, when using the H word.”
Sports reporter Wyatt Wheeler also won two first-place awards: one for best sports columnist and one for his six-part series on the Southwest Missouri State playoffs that landed them in the 2003 College World Series in the best sports film.
Outdoor reporter Wes Johnson won two first place awards. His story on the morel hunting season won Best Outdoors Story, and his Obituary of Ralph Manley, a WWII veteran, won the award for best news or obituary.
Harrison Keegan, Pokin, Johnson, Amos Bridges and Stephen Herzog all received the top prize for best title.
Second place award
News-Leader staff won a second prize in the Best Local Commercial Coverage category for their commercial coverage of the Springfield area, and an award for the best home page.
Keegan won second place in the Best Breaking News Story category for his article “One of the 4 Springfield policemen killed by an active gunman,” said the chief.
Wheeler also won second place in the Best Reporting or Sports News Show category for its coverage of Missouri State Introduces Bobby Petrino as Next Head Football Coach.
Article by local government reporter Katie Kull “Black entrepreneurs in Springfield share secrets of success, hopes for the future” got second place for best business story.
Sara Karnes and investigative journalist Gregory J. Holman won second prize in the Best News or Reporting Series category for their series on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pokin also won a second prize in the Best Story About Religion category for her story on Concord Baptist in Walnut Grove thriving during the pandemic.
Obituary of political journalist Austin Huguelet on former State Representative BJ Marsh, who died of COVID-19, received a second place in the Best News or Obituary category.
Social causes journalist Jackie Rehwald won second place for best feature film in its history, “Homeless in Branson: As the numbers increase, the city and developers are working to create affordable housing.”
Photographer Andrew Jansen’s photo taken at the home opening of the MSU baseball team after player hits a home run in the first inning won second place for the best sports report.
Third place award
Huguelet also won two third prizes: one in the category Best government coverage for its history on Missouri children who were cut off from Medicaid, and the other in Best Health Story for his story on the same subject.
Pokin won two third prizes: one in best military history for his column on 100-year veteran Jim Mauldin and the other in Best Investigative Reporting for his column “The mother says the son, the victim, was investigated as a criminal; the lab confirms the accelerator.”
Obituary of educational journalist Claudette Riley on beloved music teacher Connie Bilyeu won third place in the Best News or Feature Obituaries category.
Holman won two third place awards: one in best newsreel or feature film for her series after Amish brothers who have been accused of assaulting a relative, and the other in Best News Story for his article “‘Wave’ of upcoming evictions amid pandemic: How a Springfield woman tries to stay home.”
Keegan’s story, âFormer Springfield Priest Charged with Child Sexual Abuse; case sent to prosecutors ” won third place in the Best Story About Religion category.
Jansen also won two third place awards; one in the best photo package for his photo series following the final article printed on the News-Leader press and the other in best sports photography for his photo capturing a interception during a football game between Forsyth and Buffalo High School.
The News-Leader also took third place in the Best Election Coverage category for its pre-election coverage in 2020.
The News-Leader also received honorable mentions in the following categories:
Better coverage of rural life or agriculture: Johnson and Jan Peterson.
Best Military History: Johnson for his History “1860s American Civil War rifle donated to Wilson Creek National Battlefield.“
Best Outdoors Story: Johnson For Her Story “After love at first sight, a wave of love and hope for the ‘big tree’ of Missouri.”
Best Newsreel or Feature Film Series: Holman for his series on Jim Bakker’s COVID-19 claims.
Best Story About Religion: Karnes For Her Story ‘Let justice roll:’ Religious leaders oppose racism, drive down Glenstone. ‘
Best story on history: Pokin for his column “Pokin Around: Maybe you knew that, but I didn’t – the day Bonnie & Clyde kidnapped an SGF cop.”
Best Education Story: Riley for Her Story on delays in salary increases for teachers in Springfield.
Best feature film: Pokin for his column “Pokin Around: He trained like crazy, lived his dream and died on top of the world. “
Best information graphic: Huguelet for his election cards in the 2020 elections.
Best Photo Illustration: Jansen for his photo of local nurses and respiratory specialists who worked in a COVID-19 unit at a Springfield hospital.