James B. Boone Jr., chairman and CEO of Boone Newspapers of Tuscaloosa, Ala., was presented the Frank W. Mayborn Leadership Award on Monday by the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association at its annual News Industry Summit.
Colleen McCain Nelson, an editorial writer with The Dallas Morning News, and Keith Magill, executive editor of The Courier in Houma, La., were awarded top honors in the Carmage Walls Commentary Prize competition.
The Mayborn Award recognizes outstanding newspaper executives for their vision, community leadership and significant contributions to the newspaper industry.
The annual award is named for Frank W. Mayborn, a former editor and publisher of the Temple (Texas) Daily Telegram and the Killeen (Texas) Daily Herald, who served as SNPA president in 1961-62. Mayborn held key leadership roles in SNPA throughout the 1950s and 1960s that helped shape the organization's growth and future success. Mayborn died in 1987.
Lissa Walls Vahldiek, vice president and chief operating officer of Southern Newspapers, Inc., based in Houston, presented the award to Boone, whom she called a "shining light in the newspaper industry." She noted that Boone was guided into his newspaper career by his father, Buford Boone, and her father, Carmage Walls.
Boone said he became interested in newspapers at age 16 when he started work at The Tuscaloosa News, where his father was editor and publisher. After college, he worked for Walls, and later, struck out on his own. He bought a weekly newspaper, then a daily paper _ newspapers that formed the foundation of his company. Boone Newspapers now owns or manages newspapers in 38 communities in eight states.
The Carmage Walls Commentary Prize was named in honor of Walls, whose newspaper career spanned 70 years. Walls primarily owned community newspapers and advocated strong, courageous and positive editorial page leadership.
In the more than 50,000 circulation division, Nelson's entry about South Dallas "hit all of the elements of outstanding editorial writing," the judges said. Her editorials were part of an effort to look at the stark social and economic disparity between the city's better-off northern half and distressed southern half. Each month, the paper presented a progress report examining accomplishments and further opportunities for improvement.
In the under 50,000 circulation bracket, judges praised Magill's columns on coastal protection. His columns demonstrated just how serious the dual threat of an eroding coast and a lack of hurricane protection has become to the local community.
_ The Tribune, Nassau (under 50,000 circulation) _ Rupert Missick Jr. and Paco Nunez, who wrote two in-depth pieces urging passage of a bill that would recognize rape within a marriage as a crime. Under pressure from the local religious community and despite vigorous editorial debate on the part of the paper, the government ultimately dropped the bill from its legislative agenda.
_ The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville (more than 50,000 circulation) _ Joe Adams, Mike Clark and Tonya Weathersbee. Their five-day series of editorials exposed problems and offered solutions relating to Duval County's 45,600 students each year who miss at least two weeks of school. They took community leaders to task for ignoring the problems and called on changes in policy to keep more students in school and off the streets.
Two honorable mentions also were awarded by contest judges:
In the more than 50,000 circulation bracket, Victor Schaffner, the Orlando Sentinel, for unwavering support of rail transit in central Florida, despite odds that looked hopeless; Tod Robberson, The Dallas Morning News, for his editorials on South Dallas.
In the under 50,000 bracket, Tom Barton and Edward Fulford, the Savannah (Ga.) Morning News, for their editorials about a sugar refinery disaster; Ken Stickney, The News-Star, Monroe, La., for editorials about the local school board and superintendent.
The Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, based in Atlanta, was established in 1903 to promote the interests of its members, which include daily and non-daily news publications, media vendors, retired industry executives and journalism schools.