The editorial and advertising departments at The Sampson Independent took home four awards in the annual North Carolina Press Association’s News, Editorial, Photojournalism and Best Advertising contest recognizing excellence in print and online journalism and advertising.
The four N.C. Press awards bring the Independent’s total to 12 in the past three years, six each for the editorial and advertising departments. It is the second straight year the Clinton-based newspaper has been recognized with three advertising awards for excellence in advertising design. The SI returned to submitting advertising material last year following a decade-long hiatus.
“The four N.C. Press Awards we received this year in both advertising and news are a testament to this paper’s commitment to quality service for everyone in this community, whether a reader, an advertiser, a web browser or just a citizen,” SI Publisher/Editor Sherry Matthews stated. “I am proud of our staff’s hard work. Statewide awards like those from the N.C. Press are difficult to win and when you earn one it is a true honor.”
The Advertising Awards Luncheon took place Thursday at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel. An Editorial Awards Banquet followed Thursday evening.
On the advertising end, Classified director Brenda McCullen took first place honors in the Best Community Service Signature Page or Best Shared Page category for the Independent’s Memorial Day spread.
McCullen, an employee with the Independent since September 1995, has won three awards in the past, including for pages on Girl Scout Cookie Sales, the Clinton Lions Club Fish Fry Fundraiser and Fire Prevention.
“I really do enjoy my sponsorship pages, especially the ones that have special meaning to the sponsors, such as Thank a Farmer, Black History, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Breast Cancer Awareness — just to name a few,” McCullen said. “I love getting the information together for a page, whether it has personal ties or generic, and just seeing the entire page come together.”
McCullen usually compiles two signature pages each month, including one in today’s edition honoring the Lady Dark Horses’ championship run (see page B6).
Clay Boney was recognized with a first place award in the category of Best Small Ad, completed for Hinton Buildings. The entire advertising staff received second place in the Best Niche Publication category for the Independent’s Home Grown magazine.
“I am extremely proud of the advertising staff for their hard work and dedication providing quality customer service to their clients,” said the Independent’s media director Shannon Best. “For the second straight year, we have been honored with advertising awards from the NCPA for both print and digital ads. We would like to be the ‘one-stop shop’ in continuing to help build the businesses of Sampson County by servicing their advertising needs in every capacity.”
Matthews praised Best’s leadership and lauded the creativity used by a hard-working staff.
“Our advertising awards are to the credit of creative individuals who work tirelessly not just to sell an ad to a customer but to truly serve their needs, helping them to find just the right message to bring people in the door and have the make a purchase,” she said. “Shannon Best and her team of advertising consultants are among the best in the business and I am honored to have them work for us.”
On the editorial side, Chris Berendt received a second place honor in the category of Education Reporting for stories entitled “A tribute to Sallie” and “Hardison honored,” detailing the efforts of former College Street School students to honor their late grade-school custodian and mother figure Sallie Hardison, who worked at the school from 1949-78.
With the help of Hardison’s youngest and only living child Queenie, former students Renee Butler Edge and Ronnie Alderman commissioned a portrait and plaque to be hung in the College Street School lobby. In the process, they unearthed a portrait of College Street principal Gussie Parker. It had been wrapped and placed in a closet when the school’s walls were painted years ago and never returned to its place.
Originally presented by the College Street School PTA on May 5, 1964, Parker’s portrait now hangs restored next to Hardison’s.
The Hardison portrait was officially unveiled at the school in March 2016, the culmination of a two-year effort by former College Street students, who organized the event with the assistance of Clinton City Schools administration and the CCS Board of Education. Berendt’s coverage detailed that two-year effort, as well as the unveiling event attended by Queenie and dozens of College Street School alumni.
“From an editorial perspective, there are few better writers than my managing editor, Chris Berendt,” Matthews said. “He truly cares about our product and works long hours to ensure readers are getting the fairest, timeliest and most in-depth coverage possible. He gives his all to every story he writes. Without question he deserves this and all the awards before.”