Opinion

Kyle Troutman: Proud to be us

Saturday, October 2, 2021

A week ago, I sat in anticipation as my journalism colleagues throughout the state accepted their Better Newspaper Contest awards, itching to hear the winners of this yearís Gold Cups and if The Monett Times would win another one.

Last year, we won our first in a strange year. Due to COVID, our annual convention went virtual and awards were announced on a live stream. We win awards every year at Monett, but weíve never quite gotten over the hump to a Gold Cup, which is awarded to the best newspaper in the state in each category, ours being small dailies.

Winning the honor last year was so unexpected I didnít even realize it until days later, when the Missouri Press Association emailed asking where to send it. I had always put more emphasis on my staff receiving individual awards, rather than the paper being able to win the biggest award.

This year, I changed my tactic and went for those individual awards, but threw in some other entries in hopes of gaining enough awards and points to repeat our Gold Cup success.

It worked.

As elusive as Gold Cups have been for The Times in years past, we now have two. I couldnít be more honored and more proud of our staff for the work we were able to accomplish, especially over a year where so much was out of the ordinary.

The feather in our caps this year was winning first place in General Excellence. Gold Cups are awarded from an accumulation of points earned in all 47 award categories this year, and General Excellence is regarded as the most coveted of those.

We submit three entire newspapers, one from April, one from October and one of choice (only one weekend edition), and each are judged as one body of work for everything from breadth of news coverage to layout to photos to headlines to public notices.

In short, winning first place in this category means that day by day, our paper reads the best, looks the best and is composed the best out of any other small daily newspaper in Missouri. Also, winning first place in General Excellence and a Gold Cup is an achievement. We were one of only two papers to do so in the six total categories.

Individually, no one at the paper shone more brightly this year than News Editor Melonie Roberts. She brought home three firsts, three seconds, three thirds and an honorable mention. Without this exceptional showing from our now longest-tenured member of The Monett Times news team, we would not be celebrating with a trophy.

Our newest news team member also got in on the awards, despite only having worked for us for one month during the 2020 calendar year. News Reporter Mike Gervais came away with one first-place award, and Iím extra excited to see him get a full year of eligible work for next yearís competition.

I earned three awards myself, the finest of which was first place in the best serious columnist category. Having taken over this space when Murray Bishoff retired midway through 2020, my surprise and delight for that award far exceeded my expectations.

We also won a number of design awards, which would not be possible without Graphic Designer Brad Stout. His creativity and vision is something we appreciate greatly and could not do without.

In this industry, we rarely talk about ourselves in the paper ó we deliver news, not become it.

But, there are occasions where a little pat on the back is appropriate. We spend long hours at small government meetings and give up portions of our weekends frequently to bring you the information you need to know about your communities and to capture what is happening around you.

Itís enjoyable to work in an industry that takes time every year to celebrate its own and uses the competitive spirit to push one another to be better.

Now that we have two Gold Cups, Iím ready to put our work up against the rest of the state again next year and aim for a third. I hope we can continue to put out an award-winning product that we ó and you ó can be proud of.

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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