Tribune-Herald reporters and photographers were honored at the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors convention during the weekend for coverage of the April 17, 2013, explosion of West Fertilizer Co. and its aftermath.
The Tribune-Herald won several awards announced Saturday and Sunday at the TAPME annual convention on South Padre Island. The awards recognize the best journalism in Texas.
Reporters Tommy Witherspoon, Regina Dennis, J.B. Smith, Carl Hoover and Mike Copeland, along with former reporter Lowell M. Brown, were honored with a Headliner Excellence in Journalism Award for Star Breaking News Report.
The six reporters covered the devastation in West on April 18, 2013, as the sun rose on the plant wreckage and residents got the first view of what happened to the small town.
Witherspoon, chief photographer Rod Aydelotte and former reporters Kirsten Crow, Brown and Sandra Sanchez received first place in deadline reporting for their coverage on April 17, 2013 — the night of the explosion.
Photographer Jerry Larson won first place in general news photography for a shot taken during the memorial service for first responders.
Larson, a 10-year veteran of the Trib, also won first place in feature photography for an unrelated photo of a window washer cleaning Floyd Casey Stadium’s skybox windows.
Smith earned third place for Star Investigative Report of the Year for his continued work investigating chemical hazards in communities following the West blast.
Smith’s reporting revealed gaps in the federally mandated system used to identify and mitigate those hazards.
The Tribune-Herald staff as a whole received a second-place award in the team effort category and honorable mention for community service, both for its West coverage.
The newspaper is judged in the TAPME’s 3A division with papers such as Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and Abilene Reporter-News, among others.
Other honors included:
Second-place team page design — Brian Bateman and Ned Pedersen
Third-place spot news photography — Jerry Larson
Honorable mention comment and criticism — Carl Hoover
Honorable mention editorial writing — Bill Whitaker
Honorable mention best video longer than 2 minutes — Chris Oliver
Third-place best video less than 2 minutes — Chris Oliver