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Eight straight: The Erwin Record tops again in statewide awards

It was a record-setting year for The Erwin Record.
For the eighth year in a row, The Record won the General Excellence Award during the Tennessee Press Association’s 2010 newspaper contest. The newspaper also brought home 12 first-place awards and a total of 23 awards. And, for the first time ever, the Record won prestigious Meeman Foundation awards.
The 12 first-place honors were the most won by any Tennessee newspaper of any size in this year’s contest that had 124 newspapers from across Tennessee vying for the annual honors. The Illinois Press Association judged this year’s awards that featured 1,468 entries.
“It was, to say the least, overwhelming to be named the best in the state for the eighth year in a row, and it was nothing short of extraordinary to bring home 12 first-place honors,” said Publisher Mark A. Stevens, who attended the awards ceremony in Nashville July 16 with his wife, Amy. “The thing that strikes me most about the contest is The Erwin Record’s consistency.
“Year after year, we work hard to produce the best newspaper possible, and each year judges consistently recognize us for journalism excellence. We’re proud of that, and we are proud to be have been Unicoi County’s must-read newspaper of choice for 82 years. We are proud to say Tennessee’s best non-daily newspaper is right here in Erwin.”
The General Excellence Award, once called the Sweepstakes Award, is based on total points accumulated for individual awards. The Erwin Record’s total of 85 points put it far ahead of any other non-daily newspaper in the state.
The Record’s first-place honors were earned for local features, best single feature, community lifestyles, sports writing, editorials, best single editorial, best personal humor column, best spot news coverage, best news reporting, headline writing, best special issue and best website.
The Erwin Record also won two Edward J. Meeman Foundation Awards, both of which went to Stevens for his editorial writing. Those awards came with a cash prize of $250 each.
It was the first time in its history The Erwin Record has won a Meeman Award.
In addition to the first-place awards, the Record won third place for best personal column; second place for best personal humor column; third place for best feature photography; second place for public service; fourth place for best news reporting; fourth place for best news photography; and second and third places for investigative reporting.
Other newspapers competing against The Erwin Record in the non-daily competition that won awards include the Mt. Juliet News, the Ashland City Times, the Jonesborough Herald and Tribune, the Mountain City Tomahawk, the Macon County Times, the Millington Star, the Courier News, the Independent Herald, the Humboldt Chronicle, the Westmoreland Observer, the Portland Leader, the Portland Progressive, the Carrol County News-Leader, the Tennessee Star Journal, the Lewis County Herald, the Smithville Review, the Chester County Independent, the Lauderdale County Enterprise, the Lake County Banner, the Hartsville Vidette, Grainger Today, the Standard Banner, the Memphis Business Journal and the Hamilton County Herald.
The annual contest is co-sponsored by the University of Tennessee.
Judges from the Illinois Press Association heaped praise on The Erwin Record.
For its first-place award in best spots news coverage, received for the newspaper’s special April 9 issue about the April 8 fire that destroyed Erwin’s historic municipal building, judges wrote, “Excellent work on this. A very comprehensive look at an important news story. Very nice.”
For the newspaper’s award for local features, judges noted, “The quality of the feature writing sets The Erwin Record apart.”
For Stevens’ column writing, judges wrote, “You have a real flair with words. …Excellent turn of words in every paragraph.”
In the public service category, judges said, “The best example of public service – thorough, persistent, voice of community and newspaper sought and heard.”
“Judges also noted,” Stevens said, “that The Erwin Record has a ‘nice hometown feel.’ I like that the most of anything the judges had to say. I think our hometown feel is what sets our newspaper apart – our complete coverage of Unicoi County.
“Our newspaper is a reflection of our community, and we are proud of our work here, not just this year but throughout more than eight decades of service to Unicoi County.”