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The above picture of Arthur Sampson holding a Coca-Cola can at a Ville Platte City Council meeting where the raising of the city’s utility rates was discussed placed first at the Louisiana Press Association Better Newspaper Competition for 2020. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)

Gazette wins multiple LPA awards; Marks sweeps Best Sports Story

Staff Report

The Ville Platte Gazette earned awards in the Louisiana Press Association Better Newspaper Competition for 2020. LPA members competed with one another for bragging rights and distinction in a variety of categories, for work produced during 2019.
The editorial contests range from news story writing to graphic design while the advertising entries were judged based on design, creativity, and effectiveness. The Nebraska Press Association judged the competition this year.
Thirty-nine LPA member publications, along with college, and university student newspapers submitted 1,138 entries.
In the contest, Gazette editor Tony Marks earned a sweep for Best Sports Story as he came out in first place, second place, and third place.
Marks’ story on the Basile wrestling team winning its second state championship in school history won first place. For his work in Allen Parish as sports editor of the Oakdale Journal, Marks came out in second place with stories in the Kinder Courier News on the Elton Lady Indians winning the Class 1A state basketball championship and on the Reeves Lady Raiders falling to district rival Plainview in the Class C state basketball championship game. Third place in Best Sports Story went to Marks’ story on three Houston Astros fans from Ville Platte (Jesse Fontenot, Joe Arnold, and Joey Soileau) attending the clinching game of the 2019 ALCS.
In her first year competing in the contest, Gazette associate editor Nancy Duplechain won first place in Best News Story for her work on bullets flying in Ville Platte between the Y-Not Stop and Domino’s. The story chronicled the incident from perspectives of the Y-Not Stop, Domino’s, witnesses, and city officials.
The following is a rundown of the other awards won by Gazette staff members:
Best Front Page
First Place- Tony Marks and Nancy Duplechain for September 8, 2019, and November 17, 2019
Best Headline
Third Place- Tony Marks for “One enshrining moment” about a story on Doug Ireland from the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame speaking at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Ville Platte.
Best Regular Column Sam Hanna Award
Third Place- Tracey Jagneaux for the column “High school sports is more than wins and losses.”
Best News Photo
First Place- Tony Marks for a picture of Arthur Sampson holding up a Coca-Cola can during a meeting of the Ville Platte City Council held at the Northside Civic Center. Sampson used the can along with other cans, bottles, and packs of cigarettes to illustrate how people have a choice of what products to buy if the price of another product increases. His argument and demonstration were in response to prior comments made by Councilman Bryant Riggs over the city raising its utility rates.
Best Special Section
Second Place- Staff for the Tee Cotton Bowl edition which featured a preview of the 16th annual game, a story on Jerome Vidrine, season previews of both the Sacred Heart Trojans and Ville Platte High Bulldogs, and a history of the city championship.
As a result, the Gazette finished in fourth place with 17 points for Newspaper of Year behind the Gonzales Weekly Citizen (37 points), Kinder Courier News (32 points), and Eunice News (22 points). The designation for the Newspaper of the Year is based on the number of points earned in the Better Newspaper Competition for 2020.
It was also announced, Sam Hanna Jr., president and publisher of The Ouachita Citizen (Monroe/West Monroe) was named president of the Louisiana Press Association (LPA) at its annual stockholders meeting June 22.
Hanna is the 115th president of the 140-year-old association, the official trade organization for Louisiana news publishers. His father, Sam Hanna Sr., was president of LPA in 1971-72, representing the Concordia Sentinel (Ferriday).
The meeting was conducted using video conferencing for the first time in the organization’s 140-year history, due to issues related to COVID-19,
The Gazette and Mamou Acadian Press are member of the Louisiana Press Association, a statewide organization representing more than 150 newspapers, news-related publications, news websites, magazines, and special market products.
Others taking office were: President-elect Mary Terry, general manager of the Southeast Region for Louisiana State Newspapers and publisher of the (St. Martinville) Teche News, (Franklin and St. Mary) Banner-Tribune, (Morgan City) Daily-Review, and (Pierre Part) Bayou Pioneer; and Secretary-Treasurer McHugh David, publisher and editor of the Livingston Parish News.
Elected to three-year board terms were Darrell Guillory, publisher of The Eunice News and CEO of Louisiana State Newspapers which publishes 21 other newspapers in Louisiana; Steve Colwell, general manager of the Natchitoches Times and Natchitoches Times Newspapers (NTN) which publishes nine newspapers and three specialty publications in Louisiana; and David Specht, president of Specht Newspapers publishing the Bossier Press Tribune and Minden Press Herald.
Continuing to serve on the board are Dan Shea, publisher of The Advocate (Baton Rouge), The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate, St. Tammany Farmer (Covington), St. Francisville Democrat and The Watchman (Clinton); Wilbur Reynaud, publisher of Lutcher-Vacherie News Examiner-Enterprise; Norris Babin, co-publisher and editor, Plaquemines Gazette and St. Bernard Voice; and Barbara Leader, editor of the (Monroe) News-Star, Shreveport Times and (Alexandria) Town Talk, as well as for the USA Today Network of Louisiana.
Renette Dejoie-Hall, president and publisher of the Louisiana Weekly in New Orleans, will serve as Past President.
Elected to fill open seats with unexpired terms on the board were Marc Richard, vice president/director of Newspaper Service Co. which publishes the Ruston Daily Leader and Jennings Daily News; and Garland Forman, general manager of the North Region for Louisiana State Newspapers and publisher of the Ville Platte Gazette, Mamou Acadian Press, Basile Weekly, Kinder Courier, Oakdale Journal, Richland Beacon News (Rayville), Caldwell Watchman (Columbia), West Carroll Gazette (Oak Grove) and Tensas Gazette (St. Joseph).

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145 Court St.
Ville Platte, LA 70586
Phone: 337-363-3939
Fax: 337-363-2841