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The Independent wins 23 journalism awards in annual Missouri Press contest


The Independent wins 23 journalism awards in annual Missouri Press contest

Sep 23, 2023 | 2:20 pm ET
By Staff Reports
The Independent wins 23 journalism awards in annual Missouri Press contest
(Getty Images)

The Missouri Independent won 23 awards Saturday — including eight first place honors — in the annual Missouri Press Association Better Newspaper Contest. 

The Independent also took home the Gold Cup for class 2 dailies — the first time an online-only publication has been awarded the event’s top honor.

In addition to the individual awards, environmental reporter Allison Kite was also presented the 2023 William E. James Outstanding Young Journalist Award, which recognizes reporters who have demonstrated excellence in the field of journalism and maintained the quality, ethics and standards of The Journalist’s Creed, written by Walter Williams, founding dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

The awards were presented at the association’s annual convention in St. Louis.

A series of profiles of the major U.S. Senate candidates written by The Independent’s entire staff was awarded first place honors for “best coverage of government.” 

Deputy Editor Rudi Keller’s coverage of turmoil at a rural hospital in northern Missouri won first place for both “best news story” and “best health story” and third place for “best investigative story.”

Keller also shared “best video” honors with multimedia reporter Rebecca Rivas. 

Clara Bates won first place in “best story about religion” for her coverage of lawsuits against Christian boarding schools accused of abuse. Editor Jason Hancock won first place in the “best serious columnist” category, with longtime contributor Janice Ellis taking second place. 

A collaboration between The Independent and NPR’s Midwest Newsroom garnered several awards, including first place for “best story about rural life or agriculture” for Kite’s reporting on the struggle to locate and replace lead pipes. Samantha Horton won “best story about the outdoors” for an article on lead contamination in venison and shared second place in the “best business story” category with Niara Savage for their coverage of lead contamination in antiques

Keller, Rivas and Tessa Weinberg won second place in “best coverage of rural life or agriculture” for a series of stories documenting the crisis in rural health care across the state

Annelise Hanshaw won second place for “best education story” for her reporting on the push to ban transgender students from participating in school sports.

Rivas also took home third place in “best story about rural life or agriculture” with an article about how the COVID surge forced a rural hospital to build a makeshift ICU to keep a patient alive. She also won third place in “best story about the outdoors” for her coverage of the state’s efforts to repopulate the endangered hellbenders

Weinberg’s coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, and its impact on abortion access in Missouri, won second place honors for both “best breaking news story” and “best video.” 

She and Bates also won third place for “best coverage of government” for stories on the staffing crisis in the state’s child welfare agency, with Bates’s reporting on massive wait times for Medicaid applicants winning third place for “best health story.”

Keller’s coverage of a state senator’s decision to violate chamber dress codes by wearing overalls won third place for “best breaking news.” He also won second place for “multimedia reporting” for a story and video on the state auctioning off pieces of the state Capitol

The Independent was also awarded third place for “best online newspaper or website” and “best headline writing.”