DAVENPORT, Iowa (April 28, 2021) — Kevin Mowbray, president and chief executive officer of Lee Enterprises, Incorporated (Nasdaq: LEE), announced today the winners of the 2020 Lee President’s Awards for outstanding journalism and innovation in revenue.
“This year’s winners are very best of the many outstanding entries from across Lee,” Mowbray said. ‘Each one demonstrates our highly valued and important role in the communities where we work and live,” he added. “In an unpresented time, we’ve held steadfast to serving our readers and our communities, while helping our business partners recover and thrive in a new economic environment.”
To view a video of all winners of this year’s awards, please CLICK HERE.
EXCELLENCE IN NEWS
The news award recognizes outstanding achievement in any aspect of print and online journalism, from reporting and writing to photography, graphics and presentation. Receiving awards are:
- The Arizona Daily Star for reporter Amy Silverman’s year-long investigation of Arizona’s system for helping its most vulnerable residents, which found disturbing shortcomings in the promise of help offered by the state’s Division of Developmental Disabilities. The project was supported, in part, by ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network and garnered national attention for its accessibility efforts. Reporter Alex Devoid and Photographer Mamta Popat also contributed.
- The Buffalo News for its coverage of the Covid pandemic. Buffalo News reporters, photographers and editors went far beyond the statistics and press conferences and obituaries. They dug deep into federal documents to uncover why Covid spread like wildfire through nursing homes and took readers inside the scariest place in town: the Covid wards at big local hospitals. They crunched data to show how being Black and poor could be fatal with Covid. They let unemployed New Yorkers tell their story in their own words. In a moving photo project, they showed the physical toll Covid took on the faces of nurses and doctors. They painted a picture of how the second wave would be different.
- Lee Enterprises and Gannett joined forces to publish a powerful, lasting tribute to many of the state’s victims of the pandemic. The project, called “Iowa Mourns,” published on Sunday, Oct. 19, roughly six months after the first documented death of COVID-19 in Iowa. Journalists from 10 newsrooms stretching from the Quad Cities in the east to Council Bluffs in the west sought to tell the life stories of the coronavirus’ Iowa victims. Beyond the numbers, these were mothers, fathers, grandparents, children and friends. In all, some 60 life stories were told, and the project is ongoing.
- Lee’s Midwest Region News Team for a two-tiered investigation that put notions of racial diversity and police accountability to the test across 14 news markets spanning four Midwestern states. This data-centered project measured the diversity, or lack thereof, of dozens of Midwest police departments, showed how those police forces compared to the diversity of communities they were sworn to protect and shined a spotlight on a deficiency of police body cameras for accountability.
- The Wisconsin Valley Media Group for the Kenosha newsroom‘s coverage of the shooting of Jacob Blake. Their daily comprehensive coverage told of curfews, arrests, updates and official statements on the Blake case, and more. The content was shared immediately throughout Lee Midwest and throughout the company.
Receiving honorable mention are the Billings Gazette, where reporter Tom Lutey’s scrutiny of NorthWestern Energy, the state’s largest monopoly utility, and the Public Service Commission, the state’s elected regulatory body, may have saved the state $407 million; and the Casper Star-Tribune, whosepersistent, watchdog journalism provided clarity to the state of Wyoming after its lone four-year public university dismissed its first female president without explanation. Seth Klamann, Andrew Graham and Nick Reynolds were Casper’s primary contributors.
Judges for the Excellence in News category were: David Beard, an editorial consultant and strategist who has worked with National Geographic, the Center for Public Integrity, the Pulitzer Prizes and the AP; Dr. Richard Cole, John Kerr Distinguished Professor and Dean Emeritus, Hussman School of Journalism and Media, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Noreen Gillespie, Deputy Managing Editor for U.S. News at The Associated Press; and veteran journalist Richard Green.
INNOVATION IN REVENUE
The award for innovation in revenue recognizes an individual or team for creating or significantly advancing an idea that drives revenue. Receiving awards are:
- Lee Enterprises of Montana for its local and statewide political strategy that generated more than $2,300,000 in political revenue for the 2020 election cycle for Lee newspapers across the state breaking its prior best of $840,000 in 2018.
Primary contributors include: Anita Fasbender, Dave Worstell and Jim Strauss
- Madison Newspapers Inc. for its launch of a local business directory and gift card program to keep its sales force engaged and provide essential support to local businesses during Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” state order, These programs were adopted across the company and helped spark the company’s local marketing grant initiatives. Through the collaborative efforts of sales leadership and staff throughout the company, the grant program generated more than $15 million in revenue.
Primary contributors include: Tom Wiley and Benjamin Blackwell of Madison Newspapers, Inc. Allie Peters, Betsy Green, Gabby Hoyle, Jake Henneman, Mark Bullard, Meagan Danielsen, Nick Meier, Preston Stahley and Tressa Starkweather of Lee Digital
- The Times and Democrat in Orangeburg, South Carolina, for a series of sales initiatives that resulted in growth of controllable revenue of 7.5 percent over prior year despite a drastic economic downturn.
Primary contributors include: Orangeburg advertising department, Kyla Fraser and Cathy Hughes
- The Rapid City Journal for the organization of a seven market print and digital advertising campaign to secure spending by the Governor of South Dakota to promote safe travel to the Black Hills area,
Primary contributors include: Jaimie Mohler, Jesse Hendrickson and Eddie Hebron.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Feast Magazine for its creation of a timely and relevant cooking and lifestyle video series, customized to individual markets. The series generated $578,000 in revenue in 2020.
Primary contributors include: Catherine Neville, Donna Bischoff, Teresa Griffin and the Brand Ave Studios staff
- Richmond Times-Dispatch for their collective effort to win back large preprint advertisers from a local competitor through the addition of high impact digital solutions and sponsorship opportunities. In 2020, the team in Richmond was able to win back 12 top advertisers along with one of the region’s largest grocers.
Primary contributors include: Farah Walton, Jeff Wong and Joe Allen
- The Local Marketing Grant program. In the midst of a pandemic, this program provided much needed marketing opportunities to nearly 3,000 advertisers when they needed it the most, while generating more than $12 million in advertising revenue across the Lee.
Primary contributors include: Ben Blackwell, Betsy Green, Dan Kivlin, John Lich, Amanda McGinnis, Scott Oostman and advertising staffs throughout the company.
Judges for the Innovation in Revenue category were: Joe Battistoni, Vice President – Local Advertising; Ray Farris, Operating Vice President and Vice President of Advertising; Mary Junck, Lee Board Chairman; and Herbert W. Moloney III, an independent director of Lee and longtime advertising and publishing executive.
OUTSTANDING SALES PERFORMANCE
The Outstanding Sales and Performance Award recognizes sales executives demonstrating extraordinary results, creativity and tenacity while driving revenue for our company. Our winners exhibited a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a relentless drive to close sales. Receiving awards are:
- Ashley Battles — St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Throughout an unpredictable year that was a shock to our systems, Ashley’s positive attitude and forward thinking approach allowed her to consistently overcome obstacles and achieve positive results, including a 50.3 percent over prior performance in period three and $3.8 million Amplified Full Circle agreement with a client for 2021.
- Alicia Daily — Journal Gazette/Times-Courier in Mattoon, Illinois. Since beginning with the company in November, 2019, Daily achieved goal in every full period that she worked, finishing more than 50 percent over goal in two of those periods, while providing outstanding customer service and attention to operational detail.
- Kodiak Schears — River Valley Media Group. Schears finished 113.5% to his annual total revenue goal and 129.3% to prior year while emerging as a top performer in digital advertising sales. He grew digital revenue by 146.7% and surpassed his annual digital goal by 39.9%. More than 85% of his annual revenue came through digital advertising sales.
- Kristy Trusty — Dothan Eagle of the Alabama Group. Kristy was able to become the white label digital arm for two local agencies, providing all digital services from SEM, programmatic, web development and more. The results of this effort grew revenues from eight clients and $46,000 in revenue in 2019 to 14 clients and more than $140,000 in revenue for 2020.
- Farah Walton — Richmond Times-Dispatch. Walton represents our company with integrity and serves our customers with innovation, energy and result-driven solutions. Her use of a newly developed front page takeover allowed her to grow one of the Times-Dispatch’s top clients by 48% from the prior year.
LEE SPIRIT AWARD
The Lee Spirit Award recognizes outstanding personal commitment to our company and the people we serve.
This year, Lee recognizes three of its organizations for their commitment to sustaining much-needed charities in the midst of the very difficult social and economic conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to their efforts, these charities were able to maintain or grow resources for those in the community in need.
Receiving Spirit Awards are:
- The Dispatch-Argus and The Quad-City Times for their Santa Fund, which distributes tens of thousands of dollars throughout the Quad-Cities in an effort to help those in need, to improve in some small way their living condition, and to lift their spirits during the holiday season.
- The Daily News in Longview, Washington, for its Neighbors in Need fundraiser. Lead by point person Deziray Weikum, the program nearly doubled its contributions from the prior year at time when need in the community was perhaps never greater.
- The Globe Gazette in Mason City, Iowa, for the Cheer Fund. To address concerns brought on by the pandemic, Greg Wilderman took the lead to move the entire program online. This, along with the collective efforts of the entire Globe Gazette staff, drove the Cheer Fund to its highest level since 2017.
Lee Enterprises is a leading provider of local news and information, and a major platform for advertising, with daily newspapers, rapidly growing digital products and over 350 weekly and specialty publications serving 77 markets in 26 states. Year to date, Lee's newspapers have average daily circulation of 1.2 million, and our legacy websites, including acquisitions, reach more than 55 million digital unique visitors. Lee's markets include St. Louis, MO; Buffalo, NY; Omaha, NE; Richmond, VA; Lincoln, NE; Madison, WI; Davenport, IA; and Tucson, AZ. Lee Common Stock is traded with Nasdaq under the symbol LEE. For more information about Lee, please visit www.lee.net.