Salisbury Independent won eight awards -- including first-place honors for Public Service and Investigative Reporting -- in the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association 2020 Editorial Contest.
The contest, governed by MDDC’s Editorial Committee, admitted more than 1,000 entries from 48 member publications in Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia. There are seven divisions in the contest, which align member publications into daily and non-daily print and online-only categories, then further group them by circulation.
The entries were judged by news media professionals at the Virginia Press Association.
This was the fifth time in six years that Salisbury Independent was recognized for Public Service.
Additionally, Salisbury Independent won first-place awards in the categories of General News Story, Feature Story/Non-Profile, General News Photo and Feature Photo Series.
The newspaper won second-place awards in the categories of Continuing Coverage and News Special Sections.
“All of us associated with the Salisbury Independent are truly honored by these awards,” Publisher Darel La Prade said. “I couldn’t be prouder of editor Greg Bassett and his team.
“Every week, they strive to provide Salisbury with an outstanding newspaper – one that the community can call its own – and these awards are tangible proof of the high quality of their work,” La Prade said.
“The fact that Independent seems to own the award for Public Service is evidence, at least to me, that this newspaper matters and that it makes a difference to the city it so faithfully serves,” he said.
The Public Service Award was given for coverage of the water main extension to Salisbury-Wicomico Regional Airport, an issue that had confounded the community for several months and about which a plethora of erroneous information was being exchanged.
In its coverage, Salisbury Independent engaged in purely factual reporting, which helped to ease public concerns and allow the project to proceed.
The newspaper’s coverage of a probe into conduct within the Salisbury Police Department’s Evidence Room -- which triggered a separate investigation of two city police officers and a member of the Wicomico State’s Attorney’s Office -- won first place for Investigative Reporting.
The newspaper obtained detailed letters that outlined the internal probes and used court records to connect law enforcement officials’ actions to the actual cases in question.
Brice Stump won first place in the General New Story category for his telling of the 1918 Spanish Flu on Delmarva. Stump relied on a historian’s discovery of diary entries that made clear the early-20th century pandemic was in many ways similar to the current Coronavirus pandemic.
Said the entry’s judge: “A fascinating story. Well-written and well-researched. Excellent work.”
A member of the MDDC Hall of Fame for his previous work with The Daily Times, Stump also won first place for a feature story about the discovery and ultimate resetting of several of the Mason-Dixon transpeninsular stones along the Maryland-Delaware state line.
Photographer Tony Weeg won a first-place award in the General News Photo category for his early-morning sunrise image of the newly renovated West Main Street in Salisbury.
Observed the reviewing judge: “What can I say? Just a beautiful photo.”
Photographer/writer Carrie Samis won first place in the Feature Photo Series category for her photo package on oyster waterman Stoney Whitelock of Deal Island.
“The use of the light to create such dramatic photos in black and white are absolutely stunning and eye catching,” wrote the reviewing judge. “Great job capturing a somewhat dirty topic in such a beautiful way.”
The newspaper’s annual Progress Edition, “Salisbury Rising,” produced by reporter Liz Holland and editor Bassett, captured a second-place award in the News-Driven Special Section.
Bassett won a second-place honor in Continuing Coverage for his series of stories on the Wicomico County Council’s selection of a replacement for late County Executive Bob Culver.
Salisbury Independent marked seven years of publication last week. It has now published 366 consecutive weekly editions since May 2014.