Cardinal News won 21 awards in the Virginia Press Association News Contest competition for its work during 2022, including a best-in-show by staffers Markus Schmidt and Megan Schanbel for their coverage of flooding in Buchanan and Tazewell counties.
This was the first year that Cardinal News was eligible to compete in the contest that recognizes outstanding news coverage in Virginia.
Cardinal journalists won 10 first-place awards, four second-place awards and six third-place awards in the online news category, plus the best-in-show award. That’s more than twice as many as any of the other six news sites competing in the online news category.
All four reporters on Cardinal’s 2022 staff and five of its freelancers were recognized Saturday for their work during VPA’s conference in Short Pump.
Staffers Megan Schnabel, Markus Schmidt and Susan Cameron won multiple awards, as did freelancers Robert Anderson and Ralph Berrier. Other award winners were staffers Grace Mamon and Dwayne Yancey and freelancers Lakin Keene, Sarah Wade and Randy Walker.
“We are delighted to be recognized for our work so quickly,” said Luanne Rife, executive director. “When I look at the depth and the breadth of the award-winning work produced by our journalists, I am in awe. And I am delighted each morning to keep reading their stories.”
Megan Schnabel won several first place awards for her reporting as Cardinal’s business writer prior to her promotion to managing editor. She earned top place for in-depth reporting on hospital finances, and for a general news photo taken in the aftermath of flooding in Buchanan County.
She shared a first place award for general news writing with Markus Schmidt for their coverage of severe flash flooding in Southwest Virginia as well as the best-in-show in the online category for that coverage. Schnabel also took second place for a feature writing portfolio that included stories on St. Charles and Pound; she earned third place for health, science and environmental writing for stories on the nursing shortage and Bristol abortion debate. Schnabel also took two “alternate winner” awards, effectively, an honorable mention in business writing and general news photo (those don’t count toward the 21 formal awards).
Schmidt, Cardinal’s political reporter, also earned first place for public safety writing that included a story on the health department rationing Narcan. He shared a second-place general news writing award with Susan Cameron for their work on skilled games of chance litigation. Schmidt also placed third for government writing on a package of stories on crumbling schools and was an “alternate” winner in breaking news and government writing.
Cameron, who is based in Bristol, earned two additional third place awards for education writing and for a feature profile on an engineer turned playwright.
In addition, Schmidt, Cameron and executive editor Dwayne Yancey were recognized with a third place award for in-depth or investigative reporting for their small nuclear reactor coverage. Yancey was also an alternate winner in column writing.
Grace Mamon, Cardinal’s Danville-based reporter, earned first place in feature profile writing for her story on a bare-knuckle boxing champ.
Cardinal freelancer Ralph Berrier won two first place awards for education writing and for a feature writing portfolio that included stories on the first integrated Little League team based in Norton, public health nurse Mary Anne Hall and documents found from the 1912 Carroll County courthouse shootout. Berrier took second place for a general news photo of Hall.
Robert Anderson placed first for both a photo and a feature story on broadcaster Justin Ditmore’s return to the booth from a coma.
Lakin Keene, first place breaking news photo of July flooding in Buchanan County.
Sarah Wade earned second place for her story on cavers in Lee County discovering the skeleton of an Ice Age cat.
Randy Walker took third place in personality or portrait photo for internet pioneer Bernie Cosell and was an alternate winner in feature writing portfolio.
Three other freelance reporters were also alternate winners — weather journalist Kevin Myatt for pictorial photo, Joe Stinnett for feature photo, and Winnipeg-based freelancer Judy Owen for her story on a Danville football player who is playing in the Canadian Football League.
These five freelancers won awards. Top row, from left: Robert Anderson and Ralph Berrier Jr. Bottom row from left: Lakin Keene, Sarah Wade and Randy Walker.
These freelancers won honorable mentions. From left: Kevin Myatt, Judy Owen and Joe Stinnett.