Enterprise editorial judged best in the nation

The Ferndale Enterprise was notified Friday that it has won two national awards for editorial writing. One editorial stressed the importance of freedom of the press, the other concerned bullying in the local school district.

The National Newspaper Association (NNA), based in Columbia, Mo., has recognized Enterprise editor and publisher Caroline Titus, author of both editorials, with a first place award for a May 17, 2012, editorial titled “Assurance.” The editorial dealt with the Humboldt County Fair Association board’s threats to Titus’s husband’s job — long-time general manager of the fair — if he didn’t assure board members that they would be “made to look good” in The Enterprise and if he kept asking the association to adhere to the state’s open meeting laws. Titus’s contract was not renewed after 22 years by an 11-8 vote in January. (Read the editorial here.)

“Excellently paced, well written and exposes a conflict between cronyism and freedom of the press,” stated the judges’ comments. “Newspapers can and should shine the light of public scrutiny where it needs to be shone.”

A Dec. 21 editorial titled “Whose child is this?” placed third in the same category — Best Editorial, Non-daily Division, circulation less than 3,000.

The editorial was about the Ferndale school board allowing students and adults to bully a child during a board meeting to hear complaints against various members of the Ferndale High junior varsity coaching staff and the district superintendent. (Read the editorial here.)

“Compelling calling out of a school and a community for failure to follow their own policies,” stated the judges’ comments. “Well-written and appropriately outraged at how a bullying incident was handled.”

Winners in the NNA’s Better Newspaper Contest, which attracted 1,777 entries from 140 newspapers in 41 states, will be recognized at an award reception on Saturday, Sept. 14, during NNA’s 127th annual convention and trade show at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix, Ariz.

NNA Contests and Awards Committee Chair Jeff Faren, president and publisher of Kendall County Record Newspapers Inc., in Yorkville, Ill., announced and congratulated the contest winners in an award notification e-mail.

“The winners reflect the high quality of publications represented by the association,” Farren said.

Judging was performed primarily by active community newspaper editors and publishers and included retired university journalism professors and retired or former newspaper men and women.

The awards bring the total to 35 of state and national honors for The Enterprise under the editorship of Caroline Titus.

“I am extremely proud of these latest awards and the fact that one of California’s smallest newspapers can now lay claim to three members of its staff having national honors,” said Titus. “The importance of a free press is critical to democracy and despite the personal cost, we are just as committed today as always to continuing our efforts.”

In 2010 and 2012, political cartoonist Jack Mays won first place for his work. In 2011, Enterprise columnist Wendy Lestina also won a first place award.

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