(T-G Photo by Jim Davis) [Order this photo]
Simmons earned The Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Reporting for a series of articles highlighting the families of the Shelbyville Missing.
The award was one of 22 received by the T-G this year in the Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors contest in the division of newspapers with a daily circulation of up to 10,000. The T-G had eight first place awards this year, with a total of 22 awards. Last year the T-G picked up four firsts and 11 awards.
"This was a compelling story about families who just keep hoping and wondering about what happened to their loved ones," the contest judge wrote about Simmons' winning entry.
The TAPME established the Law award in 1973 to honor Malcolm Law, associate editor of The Jackson Sun, who died in December 1972. T-G writer Brian Mosely earned the award in 2008; David Melson and Clint Confehr won the 2007 award for their coverage of the March 2006 shooting death of Fermin Estrada.
"It's rewarding to once again see the T-G represented in this category for journalistic excellence," said Sadie Fowler, T-G editor. "To see Tracy accept this award was wonderful because, quite simply, she is deserving. She is dedicated to her craft, and in her 'Shelbyville Missing' series she tackled a sensitive subject with grace and professionalism. I'm proud of her, and the rest of our staff as well."
Criterion for selecting the winner of the award is subject matter (40 percent), writing style (30 percent), and delivery (20 percent).
"Right now, the newsroom is positioned right where it needs to be," Fowler said. "We couldn't have a stronger, more diverse staff. While the recognition from our peers is rewarding, the reason we do what we do is to make a difference in our community and serve the public by sharing the good as well as the truth."
TAPME awards are given in 14 categories overall, with six featuring written entries, and eight which relate to media products.
Editor Sadie Fowler picked up two awards for feature writing, receiving second place for her feature, 'Brighter Days Ahead,' which triumphs the recovery of Victoria Atwell, the survivor of a fatal car accident in 2009. She picked up third for 'Grit and Willpower,' a story about the fight of a local man fighting to recover from a farming accident. She also earned second place in the online slideshow category for her gallery of the Shelbyville Christmas Parade.
David Melson, copy editor, dominated the competition by receiving four first place awards plus others.
He received first place honors for editorial writing, representing a composite of opinion pieces throughout the year; online slide show, for his photo coverage of the Sept. 11 observance; spot news photography, for rescue workers cutting the roof from a vehicle following a serious traffic accident; and photojournalism, for his coverage of a vigil in honor of missing person Shelley Mook (he also took second place in this category for his coverage of a house fire).
Melson was also lead writer of two stories which received second and third place honors for daily deadline reporting. "Child Killed, Siblings Serious After Crash," written by Melson, earned second place and "One Stormy Night" (with city editor John Carney and Simmons contributing) took third.
He rounded out an excellent night with a third place finish in the online slideshow category for his coverage of the Mook vigil as well as a third place finish in the category Individual Achievement/Body of Work in Photography where Simmons claimed first place.
"David is more than deserving of all of these awards," Fowler said. "His diversity, experience and hard work are second to none and we are blessed to have him on our staff. He, along with the rest of our team, have made our paper one of the best in its division."
Local tech columnist Carney, who also coordinates much of the T-G's website in addition to covering county government, was honored with first place finishes in the categories Best Website, as well as Video of the Sept. 11 observance where Brian Mosely also contributed. Carney swept the video category, also earning second for his Christmas parade video.
Sports coverage remains strong at the T-G. The sports department was represented with Jimmy Jones' second place finish in feature photography. Former sports editor Danny Parker swept all three places in sports photography.
The Tennessee newspapers' work was judged by AP member newspapers in Texas.
TAPME is one of two agencies in the state which recognize quality in journalism each year. Winners of the Tennessee Press Association awards will be announced in July.
The T-G newsroom also includes long-time paginators Mary Cook and Carol Spray and newcomers to the staff Mitchell Petty, Chris Siers and Jim Davis.