A passionate, persuasive veteran and a creative, assertive newcomer are the winners of The State newspaper’s highest honors among its journalists.
Associate editor and columnist Cindi Ross Scoppe is the winner of the Ambrose E. Gonzales award, named for the newspaper’s founder and awarded for excellence in reporting and writing. Matt Walsh, The State’s photo and video editor and an online producer, was awarded the Ambrose G. Hampton honor, named for a former publisher and given for excellence in desk work, photography, graphics, design, digital and newsroom support.
“The Hampton and Gonzales awards are intended to remind us of the values and standards that guide our work,” said Sara Johnson Borton, president and publisher of The State Media Co. “Cindi and Matt demonstrate those values every day. As a columnist and editorial writer, Cindi is the most authoritative source of commentary on state public policy. As editor for our photo and video activities, Matt is at the heart of our industry’s commitment to visual storytelling.”
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The Hampton and Gonzales award honorees are nominated each year by their newsroom peers and selected by a neutral judge – this year Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of The Detroit News.
Scoppe, a two-time Gonzales award winner, joined The State in 1986 after beginning her newspaper career at The News & Observer in Raleigh and The Fayettville Observer. She reported on crime and general assignments for her first two years before covering the state Legislature and, briefly, federal courts over the next decade.
Scoppe joined The State’s editorial board in 1998. As associate editor, she selects and edits content on the paper’s Opinion pages. In addition to editing, Scoppe pens first-person columns and staff editorials, frequently advocating for legislative action such as, in the past year, the momentous removal of the Confederate battle flag from the State House grounds.
“I love seeing interesting or important things that other people don’t see – in legislation, in procedural maneuvering at the State House, in audits and policy studies, in lawsuits and court opinions – and then explaining those things to our readers,” Scoppe said. “As an editorial writer, I have two primary goals: to help our readers understand their government and come to well-informed opinions about that government, and to help make South Carolina a better state.”
Walsh is approaching his two-year anniversary at The State after previously working at The Item in Sumter and The Index-Journal of Greenwood.
His role as video editor has advanced the newspaper and its journalists into a new era of digital storytelling. Under his guidance, The State has become a leader among The McClatchy Company’s ambitious video initiatives.
“My favorite part about the job is seeing one of our photographers or reporters make a video that nails the story. I love being teamed up with a reporter, another photographer or an editor to visually tell a story that impacts the community,” Walsh said. “I don’t deserve the Hampton Award. My success is tied to the journalists, visual journalists and editors here who have taken on video as a new medium through which to deliver the news to our community. I am so proud of the way they have embraced the medium.”
Scoppe and Walsh will be honored at a reception Wednesday, along with this year’s inductee into The State-Columbia Record Hall of Fame, Doug Nye. Nye was a sports editor for the Columbia Record and a TV/entertainment editor for The State until his retirement in 2004. He died in June 2011.
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.