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MBJ wins big at state journalism contest

Mississippi Business Journal claimed the General Excellence award for weekly newspapers this year, capping off a strong showing at the 145th Mississippi Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest.

The staff won awards spanning all aspects of creating a newspaper, from best Editorial Page and website to overall design, news, photography and business writing. The staff also won awards in targeted categories that aren’t an obvious fit for a publication focused on business, such as community service, alternative energy, history, and sports features.

The judges recognized the MBJ in the specific category of Community Service for a series of investigative stories by Amy McCullough into the state’s public utilities.

Due to an obscure law, then unknown to Mississippians, the state’s public electric utilities – Entergy Mississippi and Mississippi Power Company — had been “donating” millions of dollars to charities and then getting reimbursed through their customers for the donations via raising electric bills to cover the cost. The company images of these regulated monopolies had been enhanced through these donations at no cost to shareholders. And customers may have likely donated through their electric bills to causes, which they did not personally support.

Due to Mississippi Business Journal stories, the issue came to the attention of the public, and the Mississippi Public Service Commission has now amended the law to be more favorable to ratepayers.

The MBJ examined reimbursed donations over a three-year period, which totaled more than $3 million.

In all, the newspaper collected 12 awards, including first-place rankings in 7 categories.

The winning work:

••• MBJ, First Place, General Excellence

••• Clay Chandler, First Place, Sports News: “Heritage or Hindrance?”

••• Tacy Rayburn, Don Smith, Ross Reily, First Place, Overall Design

••• Ross Reily, First Place, Best Editorial Page or Section

••• Staff, Amy McCullough, First Place, Community Service: “No More Easter Egg Hunts”

••• Stephen McDill, Best Web-exclusive photo: “Gov. washes car in water crisis”

••• Staff, First Place, Best Website

••• Clay Chandler, Second Place, Spot News Story: “MDOT chief arrested for public intoxication”

••• Amy McCullough, Third Place, In-Depth/Investigative Coverage: “Barbour’s Kemper connection”

••• Ross Reily, Third Place, Sports Column

••• Amy McCullough, Wally Northway, Clay Chandler, Third Place, Picture-Story Combination: “No oil or business”

••• Amy McCullough, Third Place, Daniel Phillips Freedom of Information Award

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