Cindi Scoppe, columnist and editorial writer for The Post and Courier
in Charleston, S.C., is the winner of this year's Carmage Walls Commentary Prize for opinion journalism in newspapers of less than 50,000 circulation.
Scoppe dived into the messy culture war over election access and integrity, "working to keep lawmakers and the public focused on actual problems that need to be solved," says America's Newspapers
, which presents the award. "Her deep institutional knowledge and straight-forward style provided critical insight and context to the debate, and helped create the middle ground that allowed South Carolina lawmakers from both parties to come together and unanimously pass legislation to expand voting options, eliminate actual problems with our election system and reject the sorts of extreme changes that legislators have been passing in both red and blue states." Click here to read her editorials
Second place went to Dave Stafford, opinion-page editor of The Republic
in Columbus, Ind., whose warnings of "authoritarian censorship" in schools and libraries helped prompt "an unprecedented coalition of local education and civic leaders . . . opposing bills that had the support of local lawmakers," America's Newspapers says
. "As a result of the paper's editorial leadership and the pressure Hoosiers put on lawmakers, these bills were withdrawn from the General Assembly. Judges commented that his editorials were among the shortest overall, but also the sharpest — very powerful."
Honorable mentions went to David Bloom, managing editor of The Baytown Sun
in Texas, for editorials promoting dialogue about open government; Jeff Gerritt, editor of the Sharon Herald
in Pennsylvania, for editorials opposing the death penalty; and Eric Hartley, opinion editor of The Desert Sun
in Palm Springs, Calif., for deeply reported editorials about a long-promised college campus. The winner for work in newspapers over 50,000 circulation was Bridget Grumet, metro columnist for the Austin American-Statesman
; second place went to Brian Colliogan of The Virginian-Pilot
in Norfolk; Lee Wolverton of the Charleston Gazette-Mail
in West Virginia got an honorable mention.
The prize is named for the late Benjamin Carmage Walls of Southern Newspapers
, who owned primarily community papers and advocated strong, courageous and positive editorial leadership.