Top community editors and contributors to journalism were recently recognized in Columbia, Mo., at the annual International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, an organization that includes membership in the United States, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
The membership also includes an editor who has won a Pulitzer Prize, and others who have won numerous state and national awards.
This year the ISWNE’s Golden Dozen award recognized 12 editorial writers — including Steve Ranson of the Lahontan Valley News — whose opinion pieces reflect a topic pertinent to the community in which they live. A Golden Quill award is also presented to the top editorial writer of the year.
Furthermore, the organization hands out the Eugene Cervi award to the editor who has made a significant impact in his or her career as both a journalist and editor of a community newspaper.
Editorials from 2014 were selected for judging. In a different twist this year, the editorial class at the University of Missouri Reynolds Journalism Institute narrowed the editorials to the top 25, and a faculty judge then selected the top 12.
The University of Missouri established the nation’s first college journalism school in 1908.
Ranson, who is a board member for ISWNE and first vice president for the Nevada Press Association, wrote his editorial on “Perception is Truth” — a review of how the school district handled the coaching reassignment of former wrestling coach Mitch Overlie.
The editorial of Feb. 22, 2014, began as such: “There is no truth. There is only perception.” — Gustave Flaubert, French novelist.
“The Churchill County School District continues to struggle with its communication process, especially when reacting to crises management.
“Case in point: CCSD administration botched the handling of a coaching assignment involving Mitch Overlie and the spin that followed
“The district always savors the opportunity to isolate themselves rather than being proactive. As one person who follows the school district said, ‘The district always circles the wagons and shoots inward.’”
According to the judge’s remarks, the editorial was a piece on the power of perception. “The smooth flow of the argument makes it very easy to read. There was also no question of what was the call to action. Ranson listed his recommendation in six punchy bullet points.”
A University of Missouri journalism student who was part of the critiquing exercise wrote that Ranson “wastes no space in his argument, uses facts and quotes effectively, and writes poignantly but in an easy digestible way.”
The editorial also won a sweepstake award in September at the Nevada Press Association conference. Judges considered the editorial as the top piece in the state over those submitted by Las Vegas and Reno newspapers.
Ranson also won Golden Dozen awards in 2009 and 2013 and more than 20 state and national editorial awards since 2008.
The top editorial went to Roger Harnack, editor and publisher of the Omak-Okanogan Chronicle in Omak, Wash.
Said the judge,” With insincere apologies to my metropolitan colleagues, I think anyone can sit in a 14th floor office and write an editorial on the national debt.
“The wonder and the power of weekly newspaper editors is that they write from the ground floor of life. There is no room for esoteric allusions nor grandiose proclamations when you know your opinion will likely be challenged by someone at the grocery store, ballpark or church.”
The Eugene Cervi award was established in 1976 to recognize a Colorado editor who prided himself on being a government watchdog.
“When he died in 1970, the New York Times described Cervi as “one of the most outspoken voices in American journalism.”
Mike Buffington, co-owner and publisher of the MainStreet Newspapers in Georgia, also serves as editor of the group’s flagship newspaper, The Jackson Herald in Jefferson.