Awards for the Tennessee Press Association’s 2021 newspaper contests were announced during a hybrid event streamed live from Franklin, Tennessee last Friday (Aug. 27).

The New Tri-State Defender netted two first-place prizes and placed in the top five of four other categories during the Tennessee Press Association’s 2021 newspaper contests cosponsored by the University of Tennessee System, which has been a part of the annual event since 1940.

The awards were announced during a hybrid event live streamed from Franklin, Tennessee last Friday (Aug. 27). Associate Publisher/Executive Editor Karanja A. Ajanaku represented The New Tri-State Defender (TSD) at the awards luncheon.

“The bottom line is that the TSD is in business to serve its community of readers,” said Ajanaku. “As the head of the editorial operation, I greatly appreciate the efforts and the overall quality of work of all of TSD’s contributors. Of course, none of this is possible without the ongoing support of the board of directors of Best Media Properties, the TSD’s parent company.”

News organizations are grouped by size, with the TSD competing in Group 2.

This year’s annual contest featured special recognition of coverage related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

The TSD placed first for Coronavirus News Coverage with an entry entitled “‘From nothing is normal’ to vaccine.” With top entrants all very close, the judges noted this: “In general, those who stood out in this category were the ones who covered both the basic news of the day but also found creative enterprise & individual stories to convey the pandemic’s impact. … This entry was full of well-written, informative and fresh takes on the pandemic. The reporters utilized a variety of sources from a diversity of backgrounds.”

First place in Group II Editorials also went to the TSD, with the entry entitled “An acute need for multiple expressions of deep-seated love.” The editorials included a focus on the pandemic and social unrest. The judges’ observation: “On point, and not afraid to be in the reader’s face regarding issues of the day.”

Second place for the Best Single Editorial was awarded to the TSD for “Time to accelerate toward change!” The judges noted that, “This editorial hit all the right notes at a moment when there were demonstrations in the street. It is neither hysterical or critical but issues a rallying cry to change the orbit (in terms of) police-community relations and the conversations about them.”

TSD freelance photographer Gary S. Whitlow was awarded third place for Best News Photograph with an entry under the title “When time runs out!” Judges: “A local moment of protest joining the groundswell of support internationally for political action to confront the chasm of inequality in our nation in a well-composed action photo.”

Plaques were given for first-place finishes, with certificates for second and third. 

In addition, the TSD placed fourth in Coronavirus Features Coverage, doing so on the strength of a periodic series – Living through COVID-19 – by Deputy Editor Jerome Wright. 

Fifth place for Make-Up and Appearance went to the TSD, with design duties handled by Brian Ramoly.

Members of the New Jersey Press Association judged the State Press Contests this year.

The awards luncheon also featured the installation of TPA’s new president, Rick Thomason, Kingsport Times-News.