Column: To readers like you, thank you 

Published 11:10 am Monday, July 10, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Last week, The Clanton Advertiser earned 16 awards in the 2023 Alabama Press Association Media Awards contest. While I was a freelance writer in Alabama for a while in college, but I had not competed in the APA contest before. In my first year, I was lucky enough to capture three first place awards and three second place awards, and I could not have done it without the support and help from the Chilton County community.

Being a sports writer by trade, it was a pleasant surprise to see the newspaper win best local education coverage. In 2022, I tried my best to spread out the coverage of local student’s accomplishments and make sure their story was told. From state art contests won to nationally recognized FFA programs, the stories of local students achieving great feats was fun to write about.

Second place for best lifestyle/family pages was another surprise. I am glad the content the newspaper is generating on those pages is compelling, and now award winning, and it would not be possible without the readers.

Third place for best special section and it being the “Progress 2022: Centers of Community” was special too. Months of work went into that magazine and it told the behind the scenes stories of various things in each Chilton County community. One thing I really like about this county is the smaller communities inside of it, and how each one is unique in their own way. However, each has their own stories to tell and magazines like the 2022 Progress give me a chance to tell some from each community.

The first-place award for best layout and design was my second favorite award we earned. The visual appeal of a newspaper is the most important because if it does not grab your eyes in the stands, it will not in your hands. I think having the specific pages with proper headings and having accurate stories over that genre on those pages helped us earn that award as well. Also, the main story on the front page having a strong visual appeal with the bright and vibrant picture is also a main attraction to our newspaper.

Now for the sports awards, and these meant more to me than anyone knows. Wayne Martin was a long-time sports writer in Alabama and I had the privilege of telling his story when he was honored as one of the 50 legends of the Alabama Sports Writers Association last summer. The story came out well, and Martin even reached out and appreciated the article. I did not think it was award winning, but second place in the best sports news in-depth coverage was mind-blowing and an extreme honor.

And finally, the award I will probably hang my hat on for a while, my “Alabama roars again in Talladega” column winning best local sports column. I was shaken to the bone when I read my name on this line, more so because there was only a first-place award in the category. Everyone knows my love for NASCAR and to be able to share it in an informative way, but also giving my take on it in the state of Alabama, was awesome. The fact it was voted the best column of the year for our division in the entire state is surreal.

I appreciate every single reader, student, local business leader and owner, local government official and state officer I have had the fortune to get to work with and to know over the last 16 months. These awards are extremely humbling, and truly not possible without the help of everyone else in the community. I hope we can strive to continue to bring compelling news stories to the residents of Chilton County this year, next year and for years to come.