What happened to The Town Talk this year? No awards


 In the following list, you will notice that The Town Talk, Central Louisiana’s largest daily newspaper is not named? I wonder if it has something to do with the many layoffs, budget cuts and furloughs that the publication has endured over the last year.

The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), The Courier (Houma), Jennings Daily News, TheNews (Bogalusa), the Tri-Parish Times & BusinessNews (Houma), The Plaquemines Gazette (Belle Chasse), and The Bunkie Record earned Newspaper of the Year honors in theirdivisions at the 129th Annual Louisiana Press Association Convention in Baton Rouge. 

As I read a bit further, I discovered that couldn’t be the answer since The Monroe News Star, which is also owned by Gannett, won one of the Louisiana Press Association’s top awards. I’m not sure what happened, but The Town Talk appears to not have won one single award. To be fair to my former employer and colleagues, the newsroom may not have even entered the competition this year. It does take time and people to prepare the clips to send down to Baton Rouge for judging. I know that I used to hate the task.

The designation for the Newspaper of the Year is based on the number of points earned in the Better Newspaper Editorial Competition and the Better Newspaper Advertising Competition for 2008 with awards being given in individual contests for first, second, third places and honorable mention. The editorial contests range from news story writing to graphic design while the advertising entries were judged based on design, creativity and effectiveness. The Kansas Press Association judged both competitions this winter.

Seventy-nine newspapers, publications, and college/university student newspapers submitted 3,812 entries.

Earning sweepstakes awards in the editorial competition were The Times-Picayune (New Orleans), The Courier (Houma), Jennings Daily News, The Daily News (Bogalusa), the Tri- Parish Times & BusinessNews (Houma), The Plaquemines Gazette (Belle Chasse) and The Bunkie Record.


Earning sweepstakes awards in the advertising competition were The Advocate (Baton Rouge), The Courier (Houma), The Ruston Daily Leader, The Daily News (Bogalusa), the St. Charles Herald-Guide (Boutte), the Rayne Acadian-Tribune and The Bunkie Record.

 When the daughter of a Monroe City School Board member appeared to receive special treatment upon applying for teaching positions, The News-Star (Monroe) demanded open records to shed light on the events. Met with denials and delays, the newspaper filed suit and ran a string of stories raising questions about the actions of the school superintendent, the daughter’s fitness for the jobs and the veracity of statements by public officials. The News-Star fought tenaciously for the public’s right to know about an important issue, and the effort clearly had an impact.

Reporter Barbara Leader and the newspaper’s management, led by Managing Editor Ken Stickney, deserve credit for spotting a significant problem in local government and following up with the coverage and resources to pursue it over several months. For this, The News-Star is the deserving winner of this year’s Freedom of Information award.

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