The newspaper wins eight Merit awards including the prestigious John B. Russwurm Trophy as "Best Newspaper in America"
The Los Angeles Sentinel was honored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association with eight Merit Awards including the John H. Sengstacke Award for General Excellence and the John B. Russwurm Trophy as the “Best Newspaper in America.”
“We are honored and humbled by such an outstanding award. We accept this on behalf of our readers, our great staff, and those great publishers who have come before us who set a standard that we are honored to be able to follow,” said owner Danny Bakewell Sr.
“We feel that this award is a reflection of our great staff and team here at the Sentinel and a great reflection of the tradition started by Col. Leon Washington, the Thomases and now us,” said publisher Danny Bakewell Jr.
This marks the first time in the last 11 years that the Russwurm Trophy has not gone to either the St. Louis American or the Philadelphia Tribune. The NNPA, based out of Washington D.C., has traditionally favored East Coast newspapers for their awards, a fact highlighted by only one other California newspaper finishing in the top three for an award this year.
The Sentinel is the first West Coast newspaper to win the Russwurm Trophy since the Sacramento Observer won in 1996. It was chosen out of 210 newspapers to receive the “highest award that a newspaper can be given” according to Tribune editor-in-chief Robert W. Bogle.
Hazel Trice Edney, editor-in-chief of the NNPA, praised the Sentinel for continuing to “carry the torch for justice” and living the adage of “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.”
“From coast to coast, our Black newspapers are shining forth with journalistic excellence,” Edney said, “The L.A. Sentinel is a standard-bearer this year and we are really, really proud of that.”
The Sentinel finished in first place for Best Church Page and the Frank L. Stanley Sr. Award for Best Feature Story. The decisions were announced last month in Seattle at the 67th Annual NNPA Convention.
The Best Feature Story Award was for staff writer Christine Sabathia’s sobering personal account on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation on New Orleans. It was cited by the NNPA as “well-written, perfective, informative, compelling and thought-provoking.”
A New Orleans native, Sabathia traveled back home last August and in addition to speaking with her family, she found touching stories of residents, schools and businesses still trying to recover from the worst natural disaster in United States history.
“It was very heart-wrenching to know what was going on from other people’s perspectives,” Sabathia said of her journey, “The city will never, ever be the same again.”
The Best Church Page was for the February 16 and 23 editions of the Religion Section and it was cited for “great editorial coverage of local religious activities, attractive lay-out and high quality journalistic articles.”
It was the final honor for longtime religion editor Virgie Murray, who retired last September.
“It’s a good ending for a 42-year career with the Sentinel,” Murray said. “I’ve received many awards over the years but this was a good way to top it off and end it off.”
The paper also placed second for the Robert S. Abbott Award for Best Editorial (Jasmyne Cannick: “Stopping The ‘N’ Word Starts with Blacks,” November 30) and the E. Washington Rhodes Award for Best Original Advertising as well as third for Best Business and Women’s sections.
“It is a tremendous event for the Sentinel and the community that supports it,” said Michael Parks, director of the Annenberg School of Journalism at USC. “Everybody should share in this award.”
Bakewell Sr. shared this sentiment by pointing out the impact the readers have had on the mission of the paper.
“Our readers have both required and inspired us to be the best Black newspaper in America,” said Bakewell, “We are just so pleased and privileged to deliver this honor of being selected the nation’s No.1 Black newspaper.
“The Sentinel is just beginning to hit its stride and we thank all of those at NNPA who voted for us for recognizing the hard work and dedication of those all over the country who are dedicated to the Black press.”