A sharp-edged cartoonist, a tenacious legal reporter and an engaging designer are among The State newspaper’s journalists recognized as the best in the state in the past year.
The State journalists took home 52 awards for outstanding reporting, web work, photography, videography and design in the S.C. Press Association’s annual newspaper contest.
Robert Ariail, The State’s well-known and highly honored cartoonist, was surprised with a Lifetime Achievement award at the press association’s awards banquet Saturday night. His work has shone sharp commentary on some of the most important political and societal issues in South Carolina and the nation, from education to elections and from natural disasters to disastrous roadways.
Ariail is a three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist with a long list of awards to his name, capped by the press association’s latest honor.
John Monk, a 21-year veteran reporter at The State, was honored with the 2016 Jay Bender assertive journalism award.
In the past year, Monk was responsible for breaking a major story on S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson’s attempts to clamp down on an independent prosecutor’s investigation of public corruption in the General Assembly.
Monk was “uncowed” by a public attack by Wilson and was an inspiration to fellow journalists pursuing the story, The State’s executive editor and vice president, Mark E. Lett, wrote in a nomination of Monk for the award.
“Monk’s coverage was assertive watchdog journalism at its highest and best, boldly bringing light to a matter of high public interest despite difficulties and pressure to back down,” Lett wrote.
The State’s entire reporting staff also was recognized for delivering the best election and political coverage in South Carolina.
“It is fitting that so many of our newsroom professionals were honored for the depth and breadth of their journalism,” Lett said.
“Their work sets a high standard for quality, creativity, relevance and effective, engaging storytelling. Especially gratifying is the sweep of their award-winning work, including election coverage, editorial cartooning, design and visual journalism, tireless reporting, community service and sports coverage in print and digital space.”
In all, The State collected 19 first-place awards for its 2016 journalism.
Of those, the most went to veteran designer and assistant sports editor Meredith Sheffer. Sheffer won first place in the categories of mixed-media illustration, page-one design, sports page design and sports page design portfolio.
Photographer Gerry Melendez, last year’s S.C. Photographer of the Year, also picked up three first-place awards: sports action photo, sports feature photo and humorous photo.
Sheffer’s total of nine press association awards this year was matched by fellow designer Elissa Macarin.
The State’s first-place awards, presented Saturday night, are:
▪ Robert Ariail – cartoon
▪ Dwayne McLemore & staff – affiliated or niche website, GoGamecocks.com
▪ Staff – election/political coverage
▪ Staff – news section or special edition, Community of Heroes
▪ Staff – entertainment section, Go Columbia
▪ Staff – sports magazine, Go Gamecocks
▪ Jamie Self – education beat reporting
▪ Erin Shaw – short story
▪ Sally McInerney – column writing
▪ Meredith Sheffer – mixed-media illustration
▪ Meredith Sheffer – single page-one design
▪ Meredith Sheffer – sports page design portfolio
▪ Meredith Sheffer – single sports page design
▪ Elissa Macarin – inside page design
▪ Gerry Melendez – sports action photo
▪ Gerry Melendez – sports feature photo
▪ Sean Rayford – photo series or photo story
▪ Gerry Melendez – humorous photo
▪ Tim Dominick – sports video