The Killeen Daily Herald and its staff won a total of 18 awards and honorable mentions in the Class 2A division for Texas newspapers for its coverage of important news in 2021, as announced at the annual Texas Associated Press Managing Editors awards ceremony Saturday and Sunday.
The paper’s coverage of Winter Storm Uri in February 2021 won first place in the Community Service category, with the reporting team of Jacob Brooks, Artie Phillips, Thaddeus Imerman, Lauren Dodd, Erin Eskew, John Clark, Steve Wilson and Hunter King being recognized for their efforts.
“Comprehensive, in-depth coverage of community trauma and responses,” the judges said of the storm coverage.
The Killeen Daily Herald was awarded second-place honors in Team Effort for its ongoing coverage of the city’s water outage in October 2021 after a water quality report highlighted unsafe levels of chlorine in Killeen’s drinking water. The team of Jacob Brooks, Lauren Dodd, Jack Dowling and Clay Thorp handled the subsequent coverage.
“The KDH provided comprehensive coverage of an issue affecting thousands of residents,” judges in this category stated. “But what really makes the coverage a standout is the accountability reporting, as reporters pressed for straight answers about why the water supply became undrinkable. The newspaper didn’t let city officials off the hook as they tried to avoid responsibility.”
Individual editors and staff reporters also won numerous other awards for their coverage throughout the year.
Opinion Editor Dave Miller received a third-place award in the Star Opinion Writer of the Year category for his hard-hitting takes on issues concerning Killeen and Bell County residents. Miller wrote several editorials on topics ranging from Winter Storm Uri, the COVID-19 mask mandate, and city and school board issues.
“There’s no doubt that Dave Miller knows Killeen,” the judge said. “His writing displays his love for his community, expressed both in praise of its virtues and in calls to do better in responding to its problems.”
Miller also won third place in the General Column Writing category for his series of columns in the Harker Heights Herald offering a humorous take on living in the local area.
“Humor is good in a column, and this column has just the right pinch of humor in it without ruining the writing,” the awarding judge said of the entries.
Metro Editor Lauren Dodd received second place in the Video category for her work recording the fire at the Hilton Garden Inn in Killeen, which burned down in February 2021. Dodd covered the story as the hotel was burning that evening, and worked for weeks following the fire to uncover more information about the incident.
Dodd won another second-place award in the Deadline Writing category for her work on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, specifically the stress area hospitals were operating under in July 2021 as cases in Bell County surged.
Dodd also received third place in the Deadline Writing category for her coverage of the Hilton Garden Inn fire. This award was for the story that accompanied the video of the fire.
Sports Photographer Andy Zavoina won second place in the Sports Photography category for a photo he took of a Harker Heights/Round Rock football game in September.
Graphic Designer Christina Pace received a second-place award in the Infographic category for an image she designed in May 2021 showing the areas in Killeen city districts that caused voters confusion at the ballot box in the election that year.
Copy Desk Chief Artie Phillips received a second-place award for his work designing the layout of several pages of the Killeen Daily Herald throughout the year.
The Killeen Daily Herald also received several honorable mentions for multiple different award categories:
Freedom of Information — Lauren Dodd (KISD deputy superintendent resignation)
Freedom of Information — Lauren Dodd (hotel fire)
Freedom of Information — Emily Hilley-Sierzchula, Steve Wilson, Jacob Brooks and David A. Bryant (Sunshine Week stories)
Star Photojournalist of the Year — Andy Zavoina (sports photography)
Star Investigative Report of the Year — Lauren Dodd (KISD deputy superintendent resignation)
Star Breaking News Report of the Year — Thaddeus Imerman and Lauren Dodd (mall shooting)
Star Breaking News Report of the Year — Lauren Dodd and Hunter King (hotel fire)
Star Breaking News Report of the Year — Jacob Brooks and Lauren Dodd (water outage)
To see the complete list of winners and entries, go to http://tapmecontest.org/winners/.