The Independent wins 14 journalism awards in annual Missouri Press contest

The Missouri Sunshine Coalition also honored The Independent as a ‘Sunshine Hero’

By: - September 17, 2022 1:25 pm

Missouri River and Capitol Building during sunset in Jefferson City (Getty Images).

The Missouri Independent won 14 awards Saturday — including five first place honors — in the annual Missouri Press Association Better Newspaper Contest. 

The awards were presented at the association’s annual convention in Lake Ozark. The Independent competed in the Dailies Class 2 category.

A months-long, multi-story collaboration between The Independent and The Documenting COVID-19 Project was awarded first place honors for “best COVID-19 coverage.” 

For “best health story,” The Independent’s Tessa Weinberg and Documenting COVID-19’s Betsy Ladyzhets won first place for coverage of the state’s lackluster response to the deadly surge of the delta variant in the summer of 2021.


Deputy Editor Rudi Keller won second place for “best health story” for his report on inaccuracies in state reports on COVID deaths and infections. 

Editor-in-Chief Jason Hancock won first place for “best breaking news story” for his report on Gov. Mike Parson’s attempt to have a reporter prosecuted for revealing a flaw in a state website that put the social security numbers of thousands of public school teachers at risk for exposure. 

Keller won first place for “story about history” with his look at the 1913 case of George Deskin, and how a court ruling that his gum dispenser constituted illegal gambling mirrors arguments surrounding so-called gray-market video gaming devices proliferating the state today. 

Rebecca Rivas was awarded first place for “best video” for her look at the last day of the Good Samaritan Care Clinic in Mountain View, Missouri

She also won second place for “multi-media reporting” for a two-part collaboration with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. The project, “Why Police Reform Fails,” followed a group of Ferguson activists who decided the key to transforming public safety is changing who has political power over the police department.

Allison Kite won second place for “best coverage of rural life or agriculture” for a series of stories on residents’ fight against concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Her CAFO reporting was also awarded third place for “best story about rural life or agriculture.” 


Weinberg won second place in “best coverage of government” for her series of stories on the state’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine

The Independent also won four honorable mention awards: Keller for “best news or feature series”; Hancock for “best news story”; Kite and Weinberg for “best health story”; and “best headline writing.”

In addition to the 14 Missouri Press Association awards, The Independent was also honored on Saturday as a “Sunshine Hero” for its work covering state government since launching in October 2020. 

That honor was awarded by the Missouri Sunshine Coalition, a nonprofit group of volunteers committed to the free flow of government information.

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