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Column: We're all working to be the best — and it shows

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People love competition. What college basketball fan could have turned his head away from the Indiana-Butler men’s basketball game last weekend in Indianapolis, a nail-biter that was won by the underdog Bulldogs in overtime.

Today, this season’s overachieving Indianapolis Colts match up against the underachieving Kansas City Chiefs with the local team’s NFL playoff hopes squarely on the line. Win and the Colts are in. Lose and it comes down to one last chance next week against a more powerful foe.

As a participant or observer, competition is fun — a whole lot of fun.

In my world, we compete, too.

The Republic and its Columbus-based media company, Home News Enterprises, “is committed to being the most trusted and comprehensive source of information and largest community marketplace,” said Jeff Brown, president of the company.

That pledge is published on the company website, an excerpt from our operating philosophy.

Read it again and you will see the competitive nature of that commitment. The company’s expectation is to be the best as we compete for your trust and your attention.

But in our version of the playoffs, we also compete against newspapers our size twice a year in Indiana newspaper contests. This past year, The Republic news team as a whole and its talented journalists as individuals did very well competing against their peers.

The Republic received 15 awards Dec. 1 at the Hoosier State Press Foundation Better Newspaper contest. The Republic competed in Division 4, for daily newspapers with 8,000 to 18,000 paid circulation.

If you like to keep score, as I do, here is the recap.

  • Andrew Laker, first place, best sports feature photo (cancer support)
  • Laker, first place, Division 4 photo of the year/finalist for photo of the year (cancer support)
  • Laker, first place, best general news photo (Iraq war ends)
  • Harry McCawley, second place, editorial writer, Division 4 (portfolio of three editorials)
  • Joe Harpring, second place, best spot news photo, Division 4 (gas fire)
  • Laker, second place, best picture story with audio or video story (“A brain for birds”)
  • Kirk Johannesen, second place, best business/economic news coverage (“Critical conditions, effects of drought”)
  • Johannesen, third place, best business/economic news coverage (“Need for nurses”)
  • Laker, third place, best feature photo (frog)
  • Alton Strupp, third place, best multiple picture group (farmer)
  • Republic staff, third place, best news coverage with no deadline pressure (“Title IX, 40 years of fair play”)
  • Paul Minnis, third place, best short feature story (“Special delivery: Father takes daughter’s birth into own hands”)
  • Jess Huffman, third place, best sports news or feature coverage (“Hoosier pro wrestling rocks Columbus”)
  • Republic staff, third place, best special section (Salute!)
  • Republic staff, third place, best community service (Pink Purpose)

But that’s not all.

The Republic received 14 awards at the Indiana Associated Press Managing Editors Conference on May 13. The Republic competed in Division 3, for newspapers with 10,000 to 19,999 paid circulation.

Here’s the scoring recap of that competition.

  • Laker, Joe Harpring and Chrissy Alspaugh, first place, for a video, story and photo package (“Brother in Arms,” about the Bartholomew County Veterans Color Guard)
  • Republic staff, second place, feature series (“Friendships forged on day of infamy endure”)
  • Andrew Laker, second place, feature photo (Iraq war ends)
  • Alton Strupp, second place, photo package (“Farming at 81”)
  • Chris Schilling, second place, deadline news reporting (“Tornado leaves a broad trail of destruction in Greensburg”)
  • Amy Laker, second place, column writing.
  • Amy Laker, second place, Page One makeup
  • McCawley, second place, editorial writing
  • Republic staff, third place, nondeadline sports reporting (“The Indy 500 at 100”)
  • Republic staff, third place, feature series (Pink Purpose)
  • Andrew Laker, third place, spot news photo (Columbus SWAT bust)
  • Andrew Laker, third place, feature photo (Luckey Climber)
  • Harpring, Andrew Laker, Strupp, third place, photo package (“Pearl Harbor remembrances: In their own words”)
  • Andrew Laker, third place, video or slideshow (“Miller House opens for tours”)

Good work, lots of it — in breaking news, features, sports, photography and commentary. It covers all of the content bases.

Just four months into my job as editor, I had nothing to do with any of the awards listed above. The deadlines had all passed by the time I arrived. Nevertheless, I am proud of the work the staff did — and continues to do each day. They do their best to help The Republic be “the most trusted and comprehensive source of information” for customers in the market we serve.

If we win your trust and keep it, that’s the best award of all.

Tom Jekel is editor of The Republic. His column appears each Sunday. You may reach him by phone at 379-5665 or by email at

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