The Laker/Lutz News received 10 awards during the 2017 Florida Media Conference on Aug. 11 at The Ritz-Carlton Naples.
The newspaper garnered three first-place, six second-place and one third-place prize in the Florida Press Association’s Better Weekly Newspaper Contest.
The contest drew 1,154 entries from 56 newspapers. Winners were selected by judges in Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New York. Work receiving recognition was completed in 2016.
Fred Bellet, a regular contributor to the newspaper, received first place for a Photo Series in One Issue for “Cueing up for a good time,” a full page section front photo essay on a pool tournament at the Lutz Senior Center.
The judge noted that every photo showed expressions of emotion.
“Good photos deserve big play, and the deep page-width shot of the 91-year-old eventual tourney winner bending over to line up his shot qualified for that play. Laughs to grimaces to concentration displayed in the six photos told the story.”
Richard Riley, another regular contributor to the newspaper, received top honors for his Feature Photo entry, “Sister Helen Lange turns 103.”
“Moment captured. Emotion. Action. The picture is worth at least 10,000 words,” the judge wrote.
A column by Tom Jackson, a former contributor to the newspaper, received top honors in the Serious Column category.
The judge extolled the quality of Jackson’s entry, “Appreciating Joe Hancock’s Legacy.”
“Community columnist Tom Jackson is a master craftsman of the language and the ability to create impactful images,” the judge wrote. “His tribute to a local man killed when his bicycle was struck by a car begins at the burial ceremony at a cemetery, works backwards to show what kind of man the victim was, and concludes with this idea of a tribute to him: ‘And, near the spot of the crash, a suitable plaque, affixed to a German Focus (bicycle). So, we remember, always, and drive, or cycle, accordingly.’”
Staff writer Kevin Weiss received second place in the Sports Feature Story category for his entry, “Player returns to soccer, after 17 broken bones.” The story chronicled the impressive battle of Carrollwood Day School soccer player Spencer Peek’s to get back on the field after undergoing four surgeries and extensive rehabilitation following a serious car accident.
The judge summed up the entry this way: “Great story of overcoming the odds.”
B.C. Manion, the newspaper’s editor, received five second-place awards.
She was honored in the Community History category for her entry, “Telling Wesley Chapel’s Story.”
The judge wrote: “The black and white pulled me in. The words kept me reading. Good use of photos.”
She also was honored in the Faith and Family Reporting category for her entry, “Finding Hope in the Heart of Darkness,” for a story about Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Ilibagiza detailed her ordeal and the power of faith during two talks at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Lutz.
The judge remarked: “The details of this subject’s gripping story made for a compelling read.”
Manion’s other winning entries were for Education Reporting, “Guiding Pasco Schools is a Big Job;” Local Government Reporting, “Tampa Bay Express Aims to Address Region’s Congestion;” and Feature Story Profile, “Sister Helen’s Secrets to a Good Life: Work Hard, Love People.”
Staff writer Kathy Steele received third-place in the Business Reporting category for her entry, “Residential Building Momentum in Pasco.”
The judge described the entry this way: “Detailed story about a housing boom in Pasco County, with the additional touch of featuring one family who moved from Michigan for sunshine and a small-town feel. And one set of their parents will soon make the move as well. There were 116 homes being built in the subdivision in 2016. Bigger picture reporting showed 1,900 permits to contractors by mid-2016, matching all of 2015. Story contrasts current boom with 2005’s 7,252 permits and 2011’s 884. Story also notes that starter homes are in short supply, so apartments are taking over the market. Good information for those considering if and where to relocate and for those living there to assess the boom and what it might mean to them.”
The Laker and Lutz News are free community weekly newspapers delivered every Wednesday to homes and businesses in the suburban north Tampa communities of Lutz, Odessa, Land O’ Lakes, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, Dade City and San Antonio.
The newspapers are independently owned by Publisher Diane Kortus, a resident of Land O’ Lakes. The Laker has been published in Pasco County since 1981. The Lutz News has been published in Hillsborough County since 1964.
Published August 16, 2017