Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kentucky's best small paper reads like a big one

The best small newspaper in Kentucky last year was again the Todd County Standard of Elkton, according to the results of the 2009 Excellence in Kentucky Newspapers Contest of the Kentucky Press Association. The winner of the medium-circulation class for weeklies was The Springfield Sun, and the best large weekly was The Oldham Era of LaGrange. The top multi-weekly was the Sentinel-News of Shelbyville, and the best small daily was Hopkinsville's Kentucky New Era. It and the Standard, published in an adjoining county, are independently owned; the other three are part of Landmark Community Newspapers, based in Shelbyville.

None of these were surprises. The Standard, edited and published by Ryan Craig, right, has a circulation of about 2,500 but has stories, editorials, pages and sections that look like those in a daily with circulation 10 times as large, or more. And it won the categories that we watch most closely: enterprise/analysis story (third place too), investigative story and editorial page, and second and third in ongoing/extended coverage. (Craig is shown speaking at the 2009 Society of Professional Journalists convention.) The Trimble Banner, a Landmark paper in the tiny town of Bedford, won second place in the small-weekly class, and the Adair County Community Voice, a relatively new paper started by Sharon Burton, was third.

Runner-up to the Sun, edited by Jeff Moreland, was another Landmark paper, the Spencer Magnet. Third in the medium-circulation weekly class was the McCreary County Voice, a locally owned paper competing against a more established, chain-owned weekly. In the large-weekly class, the runner-up was the Jessamine Journal of Nicholasville, a Schurz Communications paper, followed by The Lebanon Enterprise, a Landmark stalwart.

Landmark's Kentucky Standard, of Bardstown, was runner-up in the class for non-dailies published more than once a week. It was followed by The Sentinel-Echo of London, which for two years in a row has been judged the best weekly of Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. These papers regularly wrestle for the title of Kentucky's best weekly.

In the small-daily class, the New Era was followed by The Richmond Register, a CNHI paper, and The Messenger of Madisonville, published by Paxton Media LLC of Paducah. The winner among medium-circulation dailies was the Bowling Green Daily News, the state's only other independently owned daily. It was followed by The Gleaner of Henderson, a Scripps-Howard paper, and The Advocate-Messenger of Danville, Schurz's Kentucky flagship. Paxton's hometown paper, The Paducah Sun, placed second in the large-circulation class, which was won by the much larger Lexington Herald-Leader, a metropolitan paper and the state's second largest. The biggest paper, The Courier-Journal, is a KPA member but doesn't enter the contest.

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