Gerber: Awards are good; readers are better

Gerber: Awards are good; readers are better

August 25th, 2013 by Alison Gerber in Opinion Columns

Alison Gerber

Alison Gerber

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

Every day, the journalists who work in the Times Free Press newsroom crank out stories and photos.

We hope readers will read to the end of each story. We hope that, if they see a compelling photo, they'll go to and view the entire photo gallery. We hope they'll share an interesting story on social media.

In short, we hope readers think that what we do is valuable, that they appreciate the effort and find the information useful. If they do, that's the best recognition the newspaper could receive.

Still, it's nice when our work is recognized by others in our industry. (Journalists are human, too, believe it or not, and we enjoy applause just like anyone else.) This year, in contests judged by other journalists, some of our work received both national and regional awards.

Such prizes usually are judged by journalists who have no connection to the Times Free Press, and sometimes have no connection to Tennessee at all, so it's good to know that others in the industry from across the country believe that we're doing good work.

For readers, these awards signal that the Times Free Press produces work that is among the best in the country, region or state.

Among the awards:

Joan Garrett McClane's "Tempest in my Soul," the story of a minister whose son died of AIDS, received national recognition when she received the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi award for feature reporting.

Three Times Free Press reporters were honored in the 63rd Annual Green Eyeshade Awards, an 11-state contest sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists.

McClane won first place in the Feature Writing category, while reporter Judy Walton won first place in Courts & Law Reporting for her "Justice in Question" series about Tennessee's 10th Judicial District and Attorney General Steve Bebb. Walton's series also took third place in the Investigative Reporting category.

Reporter Casey Phillips received a second place in the Technology Reporting category for "Going, Going ...," a look at five reasons why personal computers may be on the way out.

The Tennessee Sports Writers Association honored

Stephen Hargis as the top prep sports writer in the state. The daily Times Free Press Sports section also received a first place award and took home first honors for design from the association.

The paper picked up several first-place awards in the University of Tennessee/Tennessee Press Association contest, including local Features for reporters McClane and Yolanda Putman and columnist David Cook; best sports writing; best humor column for Cook; best business coverage; and best headline writing for weekend editor Dan Woods.

And Walton received the association's Edward J. Meeman Foundation and Public Service first-place award for her "Justice" series about the 10th Judicial District.

In the most prestigious journalism prize in the world, Times Free Press editorial cartoonist Clay Bennett this year was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in editorial cartooning. Bennett won the Pulitzer Prize for cartooning in 2002, and has been a finalist a record seven times. He also received a citation of excellence in the National Headliner Awards for editorial cartoons.

These are just some of the awards the newspaper received in the 2013 awards season, which recognized work done in 2012. In all, Times Free Press journalists received more than 75 awards. Like I said, it's nice to be recognized by others in the business, and we hope readers' see these prizes as proof that the Times Free Press produces exceptional work on a regular basis.

Still, the best recognition is that tens of thousands of people pick up the paper every day and read it.

Alison Gerber is editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Reach her at