Kansas Reflector staff, from left: Senior reporter Tim Carpenter, opinion editor Clay Wirestone, editor in chief Sherman Smith, reporter Noah Taborda, and reporter Allison Kite. (Thad Allton for Kansas Reflector)
Every day for the past eight months, I’ve delighted in working for the Kansas Reflector. Being part of this nonprofit journalism effort, bringing high-quality news and opinion to the state I love, has been a source of joy — even when the news takes less-than-joyful swerves.
The news this morning was particularly good, however.
The Kansas Press Association released the results of its annual contest. Reflector editor Sherman Smith has been named the state’s journalist of the year, for the second year in a row. The Reflector’s opinion section, overseen by yours truly, won first place in the Division VII editorial pages category. The overall Reflector website placed second.
Freelancers Miranda Davis (story) and Lily O’Shea Becker (photos) won a first place in Best Story/Picture Combination, for Protests at University of Kansas show culture shift on campus sexual violence. Becker won Best Online Video (News) for the video that accompanied that story.
“I’m thrilled that judges for the second year in a row have recognized Sherman Smith’s dedication to informing Kansans about the actions — and inactions — of their state government,” said Mary Cornatzer, national editor for States Newsroom. The Reflector is part of its expanding network of state government-focused sites. “His reporting last year on the state’s foster care system, particularly the death of a young child, is bringing changes to the system. In addition, Sherman leads an extraordinarily talented newsroom that produces a compelling news report day in and day out. I congratulate Sherman and the entire Reflector staff.”
That’s not all, though. My predecessor as opinion editor, C.J. Janovy, won second place for editorial writing. And Reflector senior reporter Tim Carpenter won third place in the agriculture story category for Phillips County jury sticks hog producer with $134,000 judgment in rare trespassing case.
Journalists sometimes joke about awards season. No one I know has gone into the field to win prizes, collect medals or bedeck themselves in honor.
Yet we care deeply about the work that we do and the readers we serve. You could watch in real time at the Reflector, where Sherman helped create a plucky and trusted organization from scratch. That’s a true achievement, and one that continues to make our state better. Contests and awards like those given annually by the press association give us an opportunity to sit back and acknowledge what we’ve done and why.
Congratulations to the entire Reflector team, and thanks for the opportunity to come along for the ride.
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