Falmouth Outlook honored by Kentucky Press News

“This year, we are pleased to have received an Outlook record 10 awards for the editorial staff coupled with 12 awards for the advertising and design staff. I am very proud of the strides we have made this year, and am very proud of the staff for their continued hard work and dedication,” said Falmouth Outlook Publisher Neil Belcher.

Kentucky Press News Association provides coverage of the work of newspapers across the state throughout the year and honors the best in awards each January.

Falmouth Outlook was honored with 21 awards for their work from October of 2017 to September of 2018 in both editorial and advertising. Editorial was honored with ten awards, including five first place finishes. Advertising claimed 11 awards with three first place awards.

“This year, we are pleased to have received an Outlook record 10 awards for the editorial staff coupled with 12 awards for the advertising and design staff. I am very proud of the strides we have made this year, and am very proud of the staff for their continued hard work and dedication,” said Falmouth Outlook Publisher Neil Belcher.

Two major stories in Pendleton County and Falmouth that the staff spent hours covering were honored with first place finishes by the judges.

Starting with a story by Ed Salerno in the December 19, 2018 edition, Falmouth Outlook extensively covered the school resource officer situation in Pendleton County with a total of 12 stories.  Included in that coverage were the threats via social media made against Sharp Middle by a former student who is currently enrolled at Campbell County Middle School, then-Superintendent Dr. Anthony Strong’s response to add a second SRO for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year, and the debate among the Board of Education, the Sheriff’s Office, and Pendleton County Fiscal Court to agree to a memorandum of understanding for two SRO’s for the 2018-19 school year.

The judges noted, “Timely coverage as real-life events converge. A dramatic presentation of real life scenarios in the context of the county’s school district. Opinion offers great sampling of local voices.”

Included in the series of stories was an editorial piece from the staff of Falmouth Outlook that encouraged all parties to come together and fund a SRO for each of the four schools. To date, it is the only editorial stance the staff has taken on an issue since the change in editorial leadership.

The second award-winning series of stories was this paper’s analytical series of stories on the utility rate increases instituted by Falmouth City Council.

Salerno covered the July city council meetings where the discussion of the rate increases wereheld. The increases went into effect at the beginning of August. Reactions from residents were furious and vocal. The Outlook covered it with a front-page story entitled, “Falmouth residents shocked by utility bills” and devoted a full-page inside the paper looking at the issue from different views.

The judges recognized the hard work and time that went into having the readers informed from the different views.

“This package provided a comprehensive look at a city utility fee hike, examining it from a variety of angles, including views of council candidates, customer impact, etc.”

They continued in their assessment, “This is a solid attempt to explain the community impact of what might seem like a dry but important pocket-book issue.”

Also, included in the first place finishes was Falmouth Outlook use of social media and the website to provide coverage for the effects of flooding on a Fall day.

Editor Keith Smith and Reporter Scott Collins spent most of September 25 traveling the county roads reporting and providing photos of closed roads via the paper’s Facebook account. An accompanying story on the website included comments about Pendleton County Schools Superintendent Joe Buerkley on the status of school being released early or the students staying for the entire day.

The duo also worked with Emergency Management Director Mike Moore to help provide the best information to the readers and residents of Pendleton County.

The final first place finish went to Best Headline. A trio of headlines were submitted and the judges noted them for “Cleverly written headlines that draw the reader in. Good job of thinking outside the box to grab the reader’s attention.”

The first was led the story when a hearse was stolen from Peoples Funeral Home and simply posed the question, “Who steals a hearse.”

The second also used a question to draw focus on the story. It was in the SRO series and asked, “Our are schools safe?”

The third accompanied a photo fo students on stilts demonstrating during the General Assembly in Frankfort. With the stilts photo in mind and the Republicans passing legislation that the Republican Governor did not fully support, the headline read, "Republicans stand up to Governor."

In Best Breaking News Coverage, Falmouth Outlook’s coverage of a primary residence question of Board of Education Chairperson Dr. Shawn Nordheim which led to her resignation was named third place. The judges said, “Holding public officials accountable and not letting them off or threaten stories takes tenacity.”