The Times-Tribune staff has a lot to celebrate after taking top honors in the Kentucky Press Association's 2020 Excellence in Kentucky Newspapers competition. The Times-Tribune took first place in its division for General Excellence while Editor Erin Cox was named 2020 Journalist of the Year.
Typically, the Kentucky Press Association hosts a banquet to honor winners from across the state, but this year’s awards were presented in a virtual format that was released on Friday.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our team and the work we do,” Cox said.
Mark Walker, General Manager for the Times-Tribune and Sentinel-Echo, echoed the same sentiments, as every staff writer, including Cox, received recognition in this year’s awards.
“Corbin, London and the entire Tri-County area should be very proud and honored to have such highly regarded community newspapers,” said Walker. “The icing on the cake was Erin Cox being recognized as Kentucky Journalist of the Year! She does an outstanding job as editor for both of these newspapers and has elevated the content each and every year she has been on the job. 2020 was obviously a very challenging year due to the pandemic and I feel we did a great job keeping the Tri-County area up to date on everything that was going on.”
This was the first year the Journalist of the Year award had been given out, with Cox being named the first-ever Kentucky Press Association Journalist of the Year in the Daily Division for the year 2020.
The award was given to three journalists, one in the daily division, one in the weekly division and one for the student division. The winners were awarded based off of the awards they won in the individual categories, with each first place award garnering 5 points, second place earning 3 points and third place earning 1 point.
“I’m so honored to have won this award,” Cox said. “I put a lot of time, effort and care into the work I do and the work we put out as a newspaper as a whole, so it’s nice to be recognized for that. Personally, 2020 was a life changing year, I bought a house, I got engaged and married, I became a stepparent and that was all on top of a pandemic that altered our newspaper and the work I do every day. To walk away as 2020 Journalist of the Year on top of all that, I now feel more justified in telling my husband, ‘I just need to do this for work real quick’ and the many times I have told him I’m going to be off at 5, when in reality I am hardly ever really off at 5. I’m thankful for him, the rest of my family and my work family at the newspaper who understand the quality of work I expect of myself and of our newspaper.”
On top of winning first place in General Excellence for the Daily Class 1 Division, the Times-Tribune staff won several individual awards, as well, for a total of 18 individual awards.
In addition to her Journalist of the Year award, Cox also took third place for Best Editorial Writer while Nighttime Editor Brad Hall was named Best Columnist and staff writer Les Dixon was named Best Sports Columnist.
Cox won first place for Best Breaking News Story for coverage of the historical flooding that saw the Cumberland River rise to some of the highest points in recorded history and cost millions of dollars worth of damage to the area.
Cox and then staff writer, now columnist/contributor Angela Turner received third place in the same category for the reporting on the Woodbine man who was found after three days of searching in his vehicle submerged by flood waters. Cox won another first place award for flooding coverage, taking first place in Best Use of Social Media or Multimedia.
Dixon took first place for Best Sports Feature with a feature on Kentucky’s heartbreaking loss to Duke that young sports fans were introduced to as the game re-aired while there were no sporting events amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Dixon also took first place in Best Sports Picture Essay, as well as second place in Best Sports Picture.
Staff writer Jarrod Mills won first place for Best Business/Agribusiness Story with a story about the research done on Colonel Sanders to prepare for the renovation of the Sanders Cafe. Mills also won first place with Best Breaking News Picture for flooding coverage while Cox took second place in the same category.
Dixon, Cox and staff writer Emily Adams-Bentley took first place in the Best Video category for their annual TRISPY awards that was held virtually for the first time due to the pandemic. In that same category, Cox took second place for a video on the annual Jeep Jamboree.
Hall received first place for Best Graphic with a graphic on heart health for American Heart Month, as well as first place for Best Headline Writer. Hall won first place for Best Front Page, along with Best Sports Page/Section that was awarded to Hall, and sports staff of Dixon and Adams-Bentley.
Hall also received a Certificate of Merit for the category of Best Graphic. Certificates of Merit were awarded in categories in which there was only one entrant.
"I feel like the work of journalists isn’t always given the appreciation it deserves, so to get recognized for that work is gratifying,” Cox said. “I always say that we are our community’s biggest cheerleaders. We are at or follow up with every community event that we can possibly cover, we try to let everyone know about upcoming events and we try to hold our elected officials accountable in our watchdog role. From little league baseball games to the Vice President visiting our small town, we cover it all and we bring it to the public so that they know what is going on in their community.
“The awards we won show the range of talent and work we have on our team. We have the best page designer in Brad, we have the best sports writer in Les and our news team with Jarrod who is ready to cover any story at any time and now Emily is truly the best team around.”
The 2020 KPA News Excellence in Kentucky Newspapers was judged by members of the North Carolina Press Association, Louisiana Press Association, and the South Carolina Press Association.