Better Newspaper Contest 2019 Results
The Advocate (Baton Rouge), the Daily Comet (Thibodaux), The Livingston Parish News (Denham Springs), and The St. Charles Herald-Guide (Boutte) earned Newspaper of the Year honors in their respective divisions in the Louisiana Press Association Better Newspaper Competition for 2019, in which LPA members competed with one another for bragging rights and distinction in a variety of categories, for work produced during 2018.
The designation for the Newspaper of the Year is based on the number of points earned in the Better Newspaper Competition for 2019, with awards being given in individual contests for first, second, and third places. The editorial contests range from news story writing to graphic design while the advertising entries were judged based on design, creativity, and effectiveness. The Nebraska Press Association judged the competition this year. Thirty-seven publications, and college, and university student newspapers submitted 1,034 entries.
In the Freedom of Information Competition The American Press (Lake Charles) was the winner, writing about discovering that a new plant would receive $2.8 billion in public subsidies over 10 years, apparently the biggest subsidy ever approved by a state or local government. The property taxes being forgiven in one year were larger than all of the property taxes that Calcasieu Parish collects in one year. Further, the paper discovered that, even before the vote on the subsidy, the company had purchased the land for the plant, suggesting that a huge incentive was not necessary. Incredibly, the subsidy received no public attention until reporter Marlisa Harding wondered why that was and dove into the complex issue of industrial tax incentives. She and the newspaper repeatedly pointed out—in the headline of the initial story, for example—that a back-door decision of this sort violates the state’s open-meetings laws. In fact, within 48 hours, more than 1,000 citizens had signed a petition challenging the way the decision had been made. One of many other reactions: The parish has capped exemptions at a lower amount. This series of stories clearly had an impact on a matter of continuing public importance and helped to educate the readers on the role of open meetings laws in ensuring transparency in government.
The complete list of winners can be found by clicking here.