Hundreds of publishers attended the three-day summer conference and awards ceremony for the Alliance of Area Business Publishers, which is headquartered in Norwalk, Conn. The alliance represents 70 regional and local business publications in the United States, Canada, Australia and Puerto Rico. The awards were judged by faculty members of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
Melinda Waldrop, editor of the Columbia Regional Business Report, received a gold award for bylined commentary for an essay on the shootings deaths of five newspaper staffers at The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., on June 28, 2018.
Ross Norton, editor of GSA Business Report, took a silver award for best body of work by a single journalist for a selection of stories he wrote throughout 2018.
Judges noted Waldrop’s “heartfelt column” that balanced commentary with a deep sense of connection to the individuals at The Capital Gazette in Waldrop’s opinion piece.
“The emotion in her work is intense but never takes over her clear and expressive writing,” judges said in awarding Waldrop the top honor. “Her work reveals insights into tight-knit communities of journalists and highlights the new challenges and dangers of the current news landscapes that require grappling with such tragedy.”
Group Publisher Grady Johnson said Waldrop’s column demonstrated something that tends to get lost in recent commentary about the media: that journalists ask tough questions in pursuit of the truth.
“Certainly, the framers of the Constitution weren’t afraid of this pursuit when they made freedom of the press part of that historic document,” Johnson said. “That someone would have their life taken for seeking the truth in America in 2019 is tragic and worthy of commentary. Melinda’s column effectively captured that honorable pursuit well, and it’s gratifying to see that her heartfelt reaction received national recognition.”
Judges said Norton’s ability to turn everyday news stories into something special threaded throughout the examples of his writing.
“Ross Norton knows how to turn a daily assignment — like a company profile — into a well-turned piece,” the judges said. “He also brings his gift for wordsmithing to longer features, such as on the textile industry or the boom in restaurants in Spartanburg.”
Johnson said that Norton joined GSA Business Report for his ability to tell a story and provide the necessary context for the business community.
“South Carolina’s Upstate provides a special economic gateway for those coming to do business here, and its entrepreneurial spirit requires reporting and writing that goes beyond the superficial facts,” Johnson said. “Ross doesn’t shy away from telling a story that needs to be told in a way that’s informative and engaging.”