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Democrat newsroom receives MPA Gold Cup

Staff takes home 25 awards


In addition to 25 awards, the Democrat newsroom took home the Gold Cup for Class 1 Dailies in the Missouri Press Association Better Newspaper Contest for work published in 2021.

The awards were presented at the 2022 Missouri Press Association convention in Lake Ozark on Saturday, Sept. 17. The Democrat competed against other daily newspapers of similar circulation size.

“I could not be more proud of the Democrat newsroom for our fantastic results from this year’s MPA contest,” Editor Nicole Cooke said. “Our reporters work so hard every day to provide quality local journalism for our readers, whether that is through photography or feature stories or breaking news. Receiving the Gold Cup was a huge surprise this weekend, but my staff is more than deserving of the honor.”

This is the first Gold Cup win for the Democrat.

Gold Cups are given to the newspapers that win the most points in each circulation class for dailies and weeklies. Newspapers receive points for each award they win, with more points attached to first place finishes, followed by second, third and honorable mention.

The Democrat newsroom also took home seven photography awards.

Reporter Chris Howell received first place in Best News Photograph for a photo from the aftermath of the Martinez Body Shop fire. 

“A nice image you captured, it caught my eye and causes me to linger; great storytelling,” the judge wrote. “I like your composition, lighting and wide view of the scene. Half the job of a photographer is capturing the moment in time that lasts only but a second but will be remembered forever. You did just that.”

In the same category, Howell also received second place for his photo of a Sedalia fireman battling a brushfire just south of the city limits.

The Democrat took home three awards in the Best Feature Photograph category. Howell received first place for his photo of linemen hoisting the American flag during the Veterans Day ceremony at Otterville School. Reporter Faith Bemiss received third place for her portrait of artist Ali Halane at the Hayden Liberty Center and an honorable mention for her photo of Natalie Windle, who played Clara in Studio A Dance Conservatory’s performance of “Suite Dreams: The Tale of the Nutcracker,” during a rehearsal. 

Former Sports Editor Alex Agueros received second place in Best Sports Feature Photograph for his photo of Tipton basketball senior Kiley Bailey walking off the court after a loss to Steelville at the MSHSAA Class 3 Show-Me Showdown. He also received third place for his photo of the Lincoln Cardinals boys basketball team celebrating their victory over Smithton in the Class 2 District 8 Tournament. 

Reporter Skye Melcher received first place in Best Story About Rural Life or Agriculture for “Family traditions run deep in mule barns.” Howell received third place for “Sedalia man inducted into Bowhunter Hall of Fame.”

Melcher received first place in Best Feature Story for “The working dogs of Sedalia.” Bemiss received second place for “From kill pen to paradise: Couple adopts retired racehorses.”

Reporter Faith Bemiss received first place in Best Military Story for “A journey comes full circle: Former Democrat reporter and veteran meet again.” Former Democrat columnist Bob Satnan received second place for “Dedicated to the Batallion: Sgt. Major named Sons of the American Revolution JROTC Instructor of the Year.”

Former reporter Ryan Sheehan received first place in Best News or Feature Obituary for “Legendary Sen. Mathewson dies at 83.”

Bemiss received second place in Best Business Story for “Kona Ice of Sedalia returns.” Melcher received third place for “Funky Pot plants its way into homes.”

Bemiss received second place in Best Story About History for “Santa Fe Trail celebrates 200 years: Local woman descendant of trailblazer Bicknell.” She also received an honorable mention for “Sedalians remember the Polio outbreak.”

Bemiss received third place in Best Story About Religion for “Downing retires but will still minister to others.”

“This was a perfect tribute to someone who dedicated their life to their religious calling,” the judge wrote.

Howell and Sheehan shared a third-place finish in Best News Story for “Sheriff disputes $77,000 City bill for housing pitbulls.”

The Democrat staff received first place in Best Online Newspaper or Website and third place for Best Business Coverage.

The Democrat shared a first-place honor in the Best News or Feature Special Section category with its fellow Missouri-based Phillips Media Group newspapers that contributed to the Missouri Bicentennial magazine. The project was spearheaded by the Democrat.

“This Missouri bicentennial special publication was visually compelling and well-written,” the judge wrote. “The variation of page layouts keeps the reader engaged and avoids monotony. And the wide range of articles do well to celebrate Missouri's past, present and future.”

In the same category, the Democrat received second place for its 20 Under 40 special section. The Democrat and Star-Journal newsrooms also shared a third-place award for their Veterans Day special section.

“Not only was this a great Veteran's Day issue, but the staff also did a great job of highlighting the psychological challenges that many veterans face — and the resources available to help them heal,” the judge wrote. “The cover image was nice, albeit simple. But the images throughout helped tell the stories well, and the photos of veterans who have passed was an honorable touch.”