For its work in 2012, The Star won the News Sweepstakes award. The top newswriting award for newspapers in its division, it recognizes the highest total of points assigned to wins in other categories. The Star picked up a total of 21 awards in APME’s Division 2, which includes newspapers with a circulation of 15,000 to 40,000.
The paper also picked up the APME’s Community Service award for “Our Big Problem,” a series on Alabama’s battle with epidemic levels of obesity and overweight.
Ben Cunningham, managing editor of The Star, said in the nomination to the award committee that “Our Big Problem” was written to draw attention to the issue and to get readers thinking.
“Our goals were to increase knowledge about obesity and related health problems, and to foster discussion in our community about solutions,” he wrote.
Star photographers won seven awards, with photographer Stephen Gross earning first-place honors in the Sports and Personality/Portrait divisions, as well as a first-place finish in Photo Illustration for a picture commemorating the 1961 attack on Freedom Riders in Anniston.
Coverage of layoffs at the Anniston Army Depot by Laura Camper, Patrick McCreless and Tim Lockette won the Deadline Reporting award. Cameron Steele’s in-depth look at former Anniston City Councilman Ben Little won first place in the Non-Deadline category.
The Star took home its third consecutive win for investigative reporting with “Air War,” a project in which six Star reporters obtained hundreds of pages of documents on election-year spending on broadcast TV campaign commercials. All six reporters were master’s degree students interning with The Star through the University of Alabama’s Community Journalism program.
“I know we all hated it at the end because it did take so long to wrap our heads around a single way to tell the story,” graduate liaison and “Air War” contributor Tim Lockette said. “But when we finally saw it published, we felt pretty vindicated.”
Community Service: “Our Big Problem” — Star Staff
Deadline Reporting: First Place, “Depot to lay off 500” — Laura Camper, Tim Lockette, Patrick McCreless
Non-deadline Reporting: Second Place, “One Year Later” — Tim Lockette, Cameron Steele
News Features: First Place, “Uncompromising: Ben Little’s path to Anniston” — Cameron Steele
Second Place, “Southern Flight 242: In 1977, in the tiny town of New Hope, a plane crashed in my yard” — Eddie Burkhalter
Lifestyle Features: Second Place, “Bottom Brass: Marching Southerners’ secret weapon is rare brass instrument” — Tim Lockette
Investigative Reporting: First Place, “Air War” — Sarah Cole, Michelle Darrisaw, Erich Hilkert, Tim Lockette, Ana Rodriguez, Kristen Shaulis, Katie Wood
Sports Deadline Reporting: Third Place, “Woodstock 5K” — Nick Birdsong, Joe Medley, Patrick McCreless, Al Muskewitz, Cameron Steele, Brian Strickland
Sports Non-deadline Reporting: Second Place, “Cream of the crop” — Al Muskewitz
Participatory Sports Story: Third Place, “Army sergeant plans to shadow-run Woodstock” — Joe Medley
Spot News Photo: Third Place, “Police Kill Suspect” — Stephen Gross
Portrait/Personality Photo: First Place, “A Veteran Remembers” — Stephen Gross
Second Place, “Calhoun County Lockup” — Bill Wilson
Photo Illustration: First Place, “Bus Burning Revisited 50 Years Later” — Stephen Gross
Sports Action Photo: Second Place, “I Got It” — Stephen Gross
Sports Feature Photo: First Place, “We Won” — Stephen Gross
Deadline Page Design: Third Place — Page Design Staff
Non-deadline Page Design: Second Place — Page Design Staff
Headlines: Third Place, “Staff Headlines” — Staff
News Graphics & Illustrations: First Place — Staff