Three years ago, our publisher, Denise Rolark Barnes, and I decided to test our mettle by submitting entries from among our writers, photographers and layout and design team in the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Dateline Awards competition. As a member of the prestigious, nationwide organization, I knew the reputation of SPJ and believed that the quality of our work at The Informer made us as competitive as any other local publication.
So we tossed our hat in the ring for the Washington, D.C., Pro Chapter’s Weekly Newspaper Division. To the surprise of some members of the WI family, but not mine, we were honored with finalist and first place awards, most notably in both photography (Anthony Tilghman) and commentary & criticism (D. Kevin McNeir).
The following year we once again submitted entries that garnered awards in the 2021 competition.
However, this year we exceeded all expectations with finalist awards being presented to our staff in the following categories: Beat Reporting (William J. Ford); Feature Photography (Anthony Tilghman); Commentary & Criticism (D. Kevin McNeir); Non-breaking News (Sam P.K. Collins); Sports (D. Kevin McNeir); and Art/Photo Illustration (Zebra Designs).
On Tuesday, June 14, we will find out which of the above-named finalists have been chosen to receive first-place honors in their respective categories at the annual Dateline Awards and Hall of Fame dinner. The program, held in person for the first time in three years, will take place at the National Press Club in Northwest.
Like anyone, it’s always good to be acknowledged for the work you do by your peers, so these awards have special meaning to everyone at The Washington Informer. I have often said that I would put our staff against any others because I believe that we are an efficient team – one that cares about reporting local news which sheds a light on lesser-known and rarely-told stories that deserve to be told.
But there’s more good news to share.
Earlier this year, the MDDC Press Association, which serves Maryland, Delaware and D.C. News organizations, presented awards in this year’s competition in the weekly news division to the following writers and photographers: Anthony Tilghman, Daniel Kucin Jr., Dr. Shantella Sherman, Sam P.K. Collins and William J. Ford.
Won’t He do it? Won’t He will?
Finally, just a few weeks ago, our beat reporter for Prince George’s County, William J. Ford, learned that he had been chosen as a Maynard 200 Fellow for 2022 in the track for investigative storyteller.
I had the honor of being a Maynard Fellow for 2019 and I could not have been more elated that The Informer can now boast that it has two fellows within this highly-competitive organization — one committed to guiding and supporting people of color who work in the journalism industry.
It’s quite affirming when your peers give you praise, allowing you to smell the roses while you’re still in the field doing what you love to do — what you’re driven to do and for which you have a passion that’s sometimes difficult for others to really understand.
That said, we promise to continue to provide our readers with our best and we trust that you, our readers, will continue to support us in our endeavors. We are here to serve you.