BILOXI — The Dispatch won the General Excellence category for medium-sized dailies at the annual Mississippi Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.
It was one of 26 total awards, including 10 for first place, the newspaper received in a ceremony Saturday afternoon for work completed in 2020.
The General Excellence category considers the entire newspaper product, including editorial content and design.
“I’m extremely proud of our newsroom for the General Excellence Award,” publisher Peter Imes said. “Last year we had a wide range of major unprecedented stories, and our newsroom rose to the challenge. I also need to point out our advertising department won first place in General Excellence earlier this year. That we would win both of the top awards in the state speaks to our entire staff’s commitment to publishing the best paper possible for the Golden Triangle.”
The Dispatch also placed second among all Mississippi newspapers for the Community Service Award and third among large and medium dailies for Best Special Section.
Reporter Slim Smith took home eight total awards, including four top honors. He won the Commentary Column category for all dailies, as well as placing first in the circulation division for Business Story and Feature Story. He also shared a first place with former Dispatch reporter Stella Yu for General News Story.
Further, Smith placed second among all dailies for General Interest Column, third among large and medium dailies for Editorial Writing and third in both Feature Story and In-Depth/Investigative Coverage among medium dailies.
Yu placed first for In-Depth/Investigative Reporting, with former sports reporter Ben Portnoy placing second, completing The Dispatch’s sweep of the category.
Theo DeRosa placed first for Planned Series, as well as third for Business Story and Lede.
Former reporter Tess Vrbin and former photographer Claire Hassler shared first place for Best News Package, while former publisher Birney Imes III and Hassler placed first and second, respectively, for Personality Portrait. Hassler also placed third for Pictorial Series.
Matt Garner placed first among all dailies for Design.
Other staff members winning awards included managing editor Zack Plair, second place for General News; former photographer Jennifer Mosbrucker, second place for Pictorial Series; former sports editor Garrick Hodge, third place for Sports Game Story; and the late Jan Swoope, third place among all dailies for Lifestyles Section.
Before the invocation of Saturday’s awards ceremony, MPA members observed a moment of silence for Swoope, the longtime Dispatch lifestyles editor who passed away June 30.