Daily Citizen-News' Miller wins Editorial Writer of the Year award in 2020 Best of CNHI contest

The Daily Citizen, Dalton, Ga.
·4 min read

Mar. 29—Daily Citizen-News City Editor Victor Miller won the Editorial Writer of the Year award in the 2020 Best of CNHI editorial contest.

CNHI is the parent company of the Daily Citizen-News.

Miller took home top honors in Division II, which includes 36 newspapers throughout CNHI. Miller's editorial submissions were:

—"A public official not knowing about QAnon is either a dereliction of duty or a lie," which took local, state and national elected officials to task for claiming ignorance about the widely debunked conspiracy theory.

—"The 14th Congressional District must do better," which urged the public along with Democratic Party and Republican Party leaders to put forth more and varied candidates for office.

—"Combating homelessness should be a priority for Whitfield County," which criticized the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners for not spending $80,000 to help local residents avoid eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic while commissioners spent wildly on SUVs for several county departments.

Across the company, data-driven investigative reporting on failed oversight of local jails, scrutiny of sexual assault cases in a university city and insightful interviews with Black residents in white, rural communities highlighted exemplary journalism in the contest.

The Traverse City, Michigan, Record-Eagle received the Newspaper of the Year honor in the largest paper category (Division I) for superior news and opinion content across print and digital platforms. Outstanding design and photography also gleaned special praise. Judges cited a prime example of the paper's distinguished journalism the collection of in-custody death records over a 10-year period to build a database revealing slipshod oversight of Michigan jails. The project, titled "Death Sentence," featured a series of stories, infographics, photos and videos, providing the first-ever comprehensive public accounting of how and why inmates die by suicide and other avoidable causes while locked up in local jails.

Responding to the nationwide outrage over the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man in police custody, The Daily Item in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, captured the Division I Public Service Award for exploring the issue of "Black Lives Here" in the paper's mostly white rural communities. Insightful stories and video interviews with 10 Black residents of the Susquehanna Valley turned up a variety of concerns. They included interaction with police, shopping in local stores, religious worship and even simple things like finding a beautician or barber who could style a Black person's hair.

The Stillwater News Press won the Division II Public Service Award for a seven-part series of stories showing scant prosecution of sexual assault cases in Payne County, home of Oklahoma State University. Public records showed authorities prosecuted fewer than 5% of 194 reported cases in the county between 2017 and 2019. The statewide prosecution average topped 17%.

In Division II, the Effingham, Illinois, Daily News received the Newspaper of the Year award. Judges lauded the paper for its strong local coverage, relevant editorial page, clean design and frequently updated website. Coverage of a devastating June tornado in the region came in for special praise.

Division III honors for Newspaper of the Year went to the Tahlequah Daily Press for the second consecutive year. Judges cited the paper and website for their solid reporting of Indigenous American issues, including a weekly page of tribal news and extensive coverage of the consequences of the U.S. Supreme Court's July ruling that a large chunk of Eastern Oklahoma remain an American Indian reservation under an 1866 treaty between five Indigenous tribes and the U.S. government. The decision created confusion over criminal convictions, including those for murder, of tribal members in state courts as well as other matters.

Individual and digital category winners:

Reporter of the Year

—Division I: Paul Leighton, Salem News, Massachusetts

—Division II: Rick Pfeiffer, Niagara Gazette, New York

—Division III: Nita Johnson, Sentinel Echo, London, Kentucky

Best Breaking News

—Division I: Traverse City Record-Eagle, Michigan

—Division II: Norman Transcript, Oklahoma

—Division III: Gainesville Daily Register, Texas

Photographer of the Year

—Division I: Rick Barbero, Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

—Division II: Joseph Weiser, Goshen News, Indiana

—Division III: Les Dixon, Times-Tribune, Corbin, Kentucky

Sports Writer of the Year

—Division I: Mike Mastovich, Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pennsylvania

—Division II: Clay Horning, Norman Transcript, Oklahoma

—Division III: Dave Willis, Andover Townsman, Massachusetts

Editorial Writer of the Year

—Division I: Jeffrey Gerritt, Sharon Herald, Pennsylvania

—Division II: Victor Miller, Daily Citizen-News, Dalton

—Division III: Kim Poindexter, Tahlequah Daily Press, Oklahoma

Columnist of the Year

—Division I: Jim Zachary, Valdosta Daily Times, Georgia

—Division II: Natalie Davis Linder, Union-Recorder, Milledgeville, Georgia

—Division III: Bryce Ethridge, Moultrie Observer, Georgia

Designer of the Year

—Division I: Jerry Willis, Joplin Globe, Missouri

—Division II: Joseph Brown, Huntsville Item, Texas

—Division III: Mike Rogers, Washington Times Herald, Indiana

Digital-Best Video of the Year

—Division I: Jenny Harnish, Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

—Division II: Charles Mills, Effingham Daily News, Illinois

—Division III: Jennifer Perkins, Times-Tribune, Corbin, Kentucky

Digital-Best Innovation of the Year

—All Divisions: Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Indiana