The story began this way:
Here’s a list of the Missourian’s winners. The Missouri Press Association has the full list of all winners for weekly and daily newspapers.
Best News Photo - "Williams reacts after verdict" – Laura Herring
Best Photo Package – "Inauguration Day 2009" – Kyle Spradley and Sam O'Keefe
Best Ad Idea/Promotion of an Advertiser – Staff
Best News Content - Staff
Best Sports Pages – Staff
Best Feature Story — "Navigating the Home Front" — Jordan Hickey
Best Sports Feature Story – "Arena of Dreams" – Andrew Astleford
Best Investigative Reporting – "Transportation Development Districts" – Chad Day, Jacob Barker and Staff
Best Business Story — "Transportation Development Districts" – Chad Day, Jacob Barker and Staff
Best Rural Life/Agriculture Story – "Falling Prices Still Milking Dairies' Profits" – Furqaan Sadiq
General Excellence - Staff
Best Sports Photo - "Riding the Wave" – Joshua Bickel
Best Special Section – "Collegetown" - Staff
Best Business Story - "Business Behind Bars" – Joel Walsh
Best Story about History – "Sturgeon Files" – Andrew Van Dam
Best Front-to-Back Design - Staff
Best News Story - "After 33 years, an arrest" - Andrew Denney, Matt Pearce, Tram Whitehurst
Best Feature Story - "Meet the Derby Dames" - Kelsey Allen
Best News Photo - "Pallbearers" (Former Gov. Hearnes) - Zach Siebert
Community Service – "Transportation Development Districts" - Chad Day, Jacob Barker and Staff
Best Sports News Story – "The Newest Eagle" – Robert Mays III
Best Investigative Reporting – "Pollution at Lake of the Ozarks" – Rebecca Berg and Max Reiss
Best Business Story – "Bagging the Competition" – Greg Mitchell
Best Coverage of Government — Staff
Best Rural Life/Agriculture Story – "Battling to Save the Bees" – Seth Putnam
Best Information Graphic – "When the Lights Go Down in the City" – Linda Waterborg and Andrew Van Dam
Best Column - Serious - Erin O'Neill
“The dreamers arrive before 4:30 a.m. at Vetta Sports facility, carrying coffee cups and Gatorade bottles, duffel bags and desire.”
The sentence sings.
It trills between the abstract (dreamers and desire) and the concrete (cups, bottles, bags).
I felt as if I were there, at practice, about to find out if this minor football league can take me to the next level. To the league best known by three letters: NFL.
The sentence compels me to read on. It demands that my eyes take in the next paragraph, even while knowing I don’t particularly want to know about the RiverCity Rage and its former Missouri players.
There is more love and hard work put into that sentence than some marriages I know.
The rest of the story is pretty darn good, too.
You don’t have to take my word. The judges of the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest awarded Andrew Astleford first place in the best sports feature story category for his writing.
There was another first place for best sports feature story, "A bond thicker than blood," by Columbia Daily Tribune reporter Rus Baer. The contest in some sections is divided in two or three divisions based on newspaper circulation.
There are two pretty fine newspapers in town.
The Tribune won first place in its division for general excellence. It won firsts for news photo and education story. It won two fistfuls of other awards.
The Missourian made a grand showing as well: 29 awards, including 10 first-place prizes and a second-place in general excellence.
Furqaan Sadiq described the worst decline in dairy prices in 25 years through the lives of the Echelmeier family; Laura Herring captured that single moment when Damon Williams hears his guilty verdict and watches his mother leaving the courtroom; and Chad Day and Jacob Barker waded through reams of documents to show what happens — if anything — with the sales tax you pay in a Transportation Development District.
Collectively, these award winners present a picture of the people of mid-Missouri: Our dreams and desires, our problems and possibilities.
Whether that picture is true isn’t something that judges can decide. The awards measure the value other journalists put on these pieces. You, dear reader, hold the most important scale.
P.S.: Actually, the Missourian won 30 awards. In compiling the list of winners for this letter, it was discovered that one of the winning entries fell outside the contest’s time period. The press association was notified immediately.