Last week I spent three days at the 152nd Annual Missouri Press Association (MPA) Convention in St. Louis.
I came away with a lot of new ideas and a better understanding of the direction newsrooms are going this next year. It's an exciting time and I look forward to sharing more of what I learned with our readers in the months to come.
During conference breaks, I spent a lot of time making new friends and catching up with others working in the industry whom I've known for years and only get a chance to see once or twice a year. We also had an opportunity to hear election news, meet with candidates and sit in on two major forums, the U.S. Senate and Missouri auditor.
The final event held Saturday afternoon was the Missouri Press Foundation Better Newspaper Contest award ceremony for work published during the 2017 calendar year.
I was honored to represent the West Plains Daily Quill in accepting nine awards, including three first place.
Tuesday, I was recognized by West Plains Rotary President Bronwen Madden during our regular lunch meeting and she asked me to say a few words about the awards.
I told my fellow Rotarians how proud I am of our staff's dedication and how well they work together each day, hand-in-hand with the local government, school, businesses and citizens of the area we all know and love.
I'm probably most proud of our first place awards for breaking news and photo package coverage of the flood in April of 2017, because of the diligence and teamwork it took to let the members of our community know what was happening in our city, and how the community was pulling together to recover in its aftermath. The award was only for what was published, but our reporters were not only writing news stories and taking pictures, but were also diligently giving regular updates to our Quill online edition and Facebook page.
As I work each morning with the newsroom looking at the day ahead, I hear stories of the community and events going on in the area.
I see it in our reporters' faces and I hear it in their voices: they do not do this work for the awards, they do it because they love their city and the people in it. They do it because they want to, it's not just an assignment. It brings a lump to my throat to talk about, because I see it every day.
I am so happy the contest judges gave our newsroom a nod for the work, because I can give them a pat on the back and say "good job" all day long, but hearing it from our readers and peers has more meaning and impact. As my kind friend Jack Bates said, it gives validation to what we strive to do, and that is to be the best community newspaper possible.
We're a small team, but a strong team and I thank you for the opportunity to partner with our community and present local news and information to make this a better place for all of us.