Kyle Troutman: The Times to celebrate

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Some days in life are better than others, and professionally, it will likely be a long time before any day can top last Friday.

I was driving on I-49, headed back home after going to Ozark, Ark., to pick up some decorations for a surprise virtual bridal shower my family and I were throwing for my fiancé. My mind was focused on that endeavor until an email came across my phone that made me do a double-take.

The message was from the Missouri Press Association and it asked where I would like The Monett Times’ Gold Cup to be sent?

The day before, MPA held a Zoom call where the annual Better Newspaper Contest awards were announced. Somehow, I was not paying enough attention to the Gold Cup revelations, as I did not realize that The Times was named the best small daily newspaper in Missouri.

Flash forward to the email, and anyone else in my car could see the confusion — yet excitement — on my face.

The Monett Times is 121 years old, and this is our first Gold Cup — and I missed the announcement.

Granted, the awards were done virtually this year instead of at the annual convention. I could not imagine my shock if I had been able to accept the cup in person.

Every spring, I sit down and look over our last calendar year’s worth of reporting and try to pick the best of the best of our work. This year, I submitted 30 total entries, 14 of which placed.

The highlights were most obviously the first-place honors. Senior Contributor Murray Bishoff won first place in investigative reporting, a true journalist’s category, for his coverage of the dioxin pollution in Verona. Stories like this can get very complicated very quickly, but the judges commented on Bishoff’s reporting, “The writer did an excellent job of covering the history of environmental contamination in the community, as well as breaking developments.”

Sports Editor Jared Lankford also won first place for his sports columns, three of which were entered and judged as a package against daily papers in divisions 1-2. Lankford makes a point every year to give a good go at winning the best sports columnist title. It’s an award he cherishes, and he should, because it names him better at that craft than all other sports columnists in the state except for those writing at large metropolitan dailies.

Lankford also added a first-place award for his Barry County Brawl coverage, one of the most fun and exciting sporting events of the year in the bi-county area.

Reporter Melonie Roberts earned first place in the best business story category for her coverage on the closing of The Bayou, a popular local eatery. The judges told her, “I felt like I knew the restaurant that was closing after reading the lede.” Roberts has a knack for artful composition of stories and alluring alliteration in her headlines, and the story for which she won is one where you can see her skills at work.

Personally, I do not enter any of my articles for The Times. My goal as the editor is to get my staff as many awards as possible and keep myself out of the limelight.

I cannot brag enough on the efforts of our newsroom over the last year — this Gold Cup is theirs.

Journalism can be a tough and unrewarding job. We spend countless hours sitting through meetings slower than pond water. We crunch numbers more than an abacus. We leave more messages than a bill collector.

We strive every day to seek out news that you want to read, that you need to read and that you enjoy reading.

To have that work rewarded in the form of a shiny, front office-display worthy trophy is a highlight of all of our careers — and I won’t miss it next time.

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of The Monett Times since 2014. In 2017, he was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers. He may be reached at 417-235-3135 or editor@monett-times.com.

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