Awards are nice but not our mission

Published 3:28pm Saturday, May 18, 2013

Quite often, I get a comment or two about how much transition we have in our newsroom, especially after someone on our staff moves on to their next opportunity.

Recently, we saw one of our staff writers, Robert Hudson, leave the Times-Journal after nearly two years. The opportunity he had in Alexander City was a good one for him. We all hated to see him leave, but like I said, it was a good opportunity for him.

In the next few weeks, we will have a new person join our staff and the trend of hiring young journalists, hungry to start their career and grow will continue.

But while we nearly exclusively hire those journalists right out of college, it does not mean we hire those without talent, potential and drive.

For nearly a year, the Times-Journal has seen a newsroom staff made up of talented, driven journalists. And now, each of them can be called award-winning journalists.

Little over a week ago, the Alabama Press Association released a majority of the winners in its annual Better Newspaper Contest.

Among those listed were Hudson, Ashley Johnson, Sarah Cook and Katie Wood; each a current member — or recent member — of this newsroom. And, there are still a long list of awards to be unveiled at the Press Association’s summer convention in late June. I would expect the pile of eight awards already won by the newsroom will grow.

Sarah Cook won an award for a photo essay she produced from images taken at last year’s Central Alabama Fair. Katie Wood’s individual award came from a Life&Style section she designed and Ashley Johnson won an award for a news feature she did on constables in Dallas County and if they still provide a valuable service.

The staff as a group won an award for their coverage of a series of heavy storms in late August, and the Times-Journal’s former magazine, Spanish Moss, was honored among the best magazines in the state.

In recent years, the Times-Journal has been named one of the best community daily newspapers in the state during these contests and it is a goal of ours to produce a quality product each and every day. Sometimes we succeed; sometimes we fall a bit short.

While the awards are nice and will be much appreciated, it is not the reason this newsroom — or the Times-Journal as a whole — operates.

As a community newspaper, our job is to serve the community and it is a job we take very seriously.

So while we might have some changeover from time to time, know that it is my job to find those journalists who understand the job at hand; to serve Selma and Dallas County each and every day.

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