The Independent Herald won awards in 11 categories, including five first place awards, in the annual Tennessee Press Association-University of Tennessee press contests, the winners of which were announced at TPA’s Summer Convention in Franklin, Tenn., on Thursday.
Among Class I weekly newspapers in Tennessee, the Independent Herald won the third-most awards overall. Winning more were The Gallatin News and the Manchester Times.
The Independent Herald was judged Tennessee’s best-looking newspaper in its circulation class, with a first place award for Makeup & Appearance. Judges remarked: “This is a community newspaper that looks and navigates like a big city paper.”
Other first place awards were received by the Independent Herald for Personal Column and Personal Humor Column. The newspaper’s 2016 Pigskin Preview, a preseason look at local football teams, won first place in the Special Section category. And an editorial calling on state legislators to act to help save rural hospitals — like Scott County’s — from closing won the University of Tennessee’s Edward J. Meeman Award for Best Editorial.
The Independent Herald also won awards for feature stories and feature photography. The newspaper’s website, ihoneida.com, was judged second-best, as was its editorial writing. Investigative reporting was judged third-best in the state among Class I weeklies.
The 2016 contests marked the fourth consecutive year that the Independent Herald has won at least four first place awards in the TPA-UT press contests.
“Being able to say that we’re an ‘award-winning newspaper’ is something we take pride in, so it’s an honor to see our newspaper once again judged favorably by our peers in the industry,” said Independent Herald editor Ben Garrett. “Without our readers and our advertisers, all the plaques and trophies in the world are meaningless, but we think that these awards reaffirms to the community we serve that we’re working hard to be a consistently strong newspaper.”
The Independent Herald’s first place award for Makeup & Appearance was its second in three years. In 2015, when the Independent Herald received the TPA’s General Excellence Award as the top awards-winning newspaper in its circulation class, Makeup & Appearance was among seven first place awards the newspaper received.
“Any time news professionals in our industry say that our community newspaper looks and feels like a big city newspaper, that’s something we’re obviously going to take pride in,” Garrett said. “We work hard to set ourselves apart through eye-catching photography, strong writing and design that is sharp and creative without being tacky or gaudy. Those big city papers have much larger staffs, with dedicated page designers on board, so to be mentioned in the same breath with them is humbling. Any award is nice to receive, but this one means a little bit more to us.”
With a circulation of 5,000, the Independent Herald has been serving Scott County since 1976, when it was founded by the late Paul Roy, with financial assistance from several other local businessmen. Today, the Independent Herald remains locally owned. Stockholders include Roy’s wife, Deborah Roy, who continues her work at the paper, along with Jack M. Lay and the heirs of the late Bill Duncan.