The Panola Watchman received 13 awards from the North and East Texas Press Association this past weekend as part of the Better Newspaper Contest 2021.

Awards included first place wins in Community Service and Advertising. Meredith Shamburger was named Journalist of the Year in the semi-weekly newspaper category.

“It is our goal to deliver the best local content to our readership and take pride in knowing we make a difference in the lives of our community members,” Publisher Alexander Gould said. “Receiving acknowledgment by our peers for the good work our talented staff is dedicated to producing is greatly appreciated.”

Awards received were:

  • First place advertising for work done by Melissa Douglas
  • First place community service, for Stella Wieser’s reporting on why filling out the Census is important for our community
  • Second place feature photography, for photos taken by Stella Wieser and Elaine P. McPherson
  • Second place news photography, for photos taken by Meredith Shamburger
  • Second place column writing, for two columns written by Meredith Shamburger
  • Third place editorial writing
  • Third place general excellence, which judges stories, photos, ads and design of two complete issues of the Watchman
  • Third place news writing, for two stories written by Meredith Shamburger
  • Third place photographer of the year, for a collection of photos taken by Meredith Shamburger
  • Fourth place sports coverage, for work done by the late J. Scott Russell
  • Honorable mention in sports writing, for work done by the late J. Scott Russell

Meredith Shamburger was awarded Journalist of the Year for a collection of five stories written during 2020, including a story on the late Deputy Chris Dickerson’s funeral; the one-year anniversary of when Lauren Thompson went missing; a story on opposition to a proposed oil and gas landfill in Galloway; a story on COVID-19 cases at Tyson and employees’ concerns; and a feature story about a tree planted by Lewis Hollie as part of a sixth-grade project.

The Watchman tied for second place with The Paris News in sweepstakes, which is determined by the total number of points garnered in the Better Newspaper contest for each newspaper in a division.

A special award was presented by NETPA to retired Panola Watchman Publisher Jerry Pye, who received the Sam Holloway Award. The award is presented each year to a NETPA member and journalist who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in support of the association while also upholding high standards of journalistic integrity and service to the community.

The inaugural convention between NETPA and the West Texas Press Association was held April 8-11 at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Dallas Rockwall. The conference featured a slew of speakers including Columnist John Moore, Reuters Photographer Mike Stone, roundtable discussions on why local journalism matters, and advertising sessions by CNHI Publishers Lange Svelak and Jake Mienk.

Other papers in the M.Roberts Media family also received awards, including nine at the Marshall News Messenger, 13 at the Longview News-Journal, seven at the Kilgore News Herald and 15 at the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

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