Four and counting
Once a year or so, I like to devote this space to doing a little boasting. And itís that time of year again.
Last Friday, the Carroll County News editorial team won the general excellence award as the top medium-circulation weekly newspaper in the state of Arkansas for the fourth time in the past five years.
Thatís an incredible run of success and it hasnít happened by accident. A lot of folks have contributed a lot of hard work over the years to bring home those awards and Iím so grateful just to be a part of it.
I believe in journalism that is aggressive, objective and accurate, in ascending order of importance. Thatís the kind of journalism we practice here, and sometimes that makes us unpopular. We can live with that. Our hope is that even if some folks arenít always happy that we pursue the news so aggressively, our readers will recognize that we are doing everything within our ability to keep you informed about whatís happening in our community.
One of the things that impresses me every year when the Arkansas Press Association awards are presented is the fact that everyone who contributes to our newspaperís editorial content does award-winning work. That held true this year, as well, as a total of seven current or former staff members or freelancers won at least one award. We are truly a team. Thatís the way we work and itís one of the primary reasons weíve been so successful.
I need to brag on some folks on our editorial team, but first I need to talk about our boss. Bob Moore has been the publisher here in Berryville for more than 20 years and his newspaper career has spanned more than four decades. I like to think I know a thing or two about newspapers, but I donít know nearly as much as Bob has forgotten. Bob hired me over the telephone more than seven years ago, and these have been the best seven years of my 32-year career. Bob was honored with the APAís Distinguished Service Award last week, and it was my pleasure to watch that virtual presentation along with him on the computer screen in my office. Congratulations, Bob, and thank you for everything youíve done for me.
Now, about that award-winning editorial team!
The first person I hired here, less than a month after I arrived in Berryville, was a recent college graduate named Samantha Jones. From our first conversation, I was impressed with Samís attitude and energy and that hasnít changed in seven years. Sam is one of the hardest-working people Iíve ever known, and one of the most organized. She is constantly trying to learn new skills and take on more work and responsibility. Any assignment that Sam takes on, I know sheíll handle it like a pro. Sheís been winning awards ever since she got here, and Iím so grateful that sheís a part of our team.
The most recent addition to our team is Robert Cox, but heís not new to me. Iíve known Robert for more than 20 years as a friend and co-worker. We worked together for several years in the sports department of the statewide newspaper. Robert later became editor of a weekly newspaper in Missouri and when we had an opening last fall, I knew he would be a perfect fit. I finally wore him down enough to get him here, and he made an immediate impact. Rob started work here in mid-December and wrote one story in 2020. It was an award-winner. Iíll probably hear this repeated back to me a few hundred times, but itís true: Iím a little jealous of Robís versatility. Heís a great reporter, an outstanding page designer, a solid photographer and he can make my computer work when I canít. Also, he brings me an Egg McMuffin every now and then.
Photographer David Bell is ďsemi-retired,Ē but if you know David, you know he doesnít sit still for long. When heís not busy with his motorcycle magazine or charity work or his numerous other activities, he still finds time to take a few photos for the newspaper. In fact, he found time to win first AND second place in the feature photo category and first place for photo page. Heís also an all-around nice guy and one of my favorite people in the world.
If youíve been to a high school sporting event in Carroll County anytime in the past 20 years, youíve probably seen Charlie Chappell with his camera and his trademark hat. Charlie is one of the finest sports photographers Iíve ever worked with and one of the most easygoing. Our newspaper wouldnít be as good without him and his award-winning photos.
Of course, our staff has seen some changes over the years but Iím always grateful for everyone who works with us and wish them the best as they move on. I would be remiss if I didnít mention former designer Brad Stout, who won first place for front page design, and former reporter Haley Schichtl, who teamed up with Sam for a second-place award for coverage of education.
Iíll close this column the same way I did last yearís, with one little change:
OK, thatís enough shameless self-congratulating. Itís time to get back to work. Because whatís better than four General Excellence awards? Five!