Awash in awards: Hook takes top state prize

For the third time, the Virginia Press Association has bestowed its top honor– the Journalistic Integrity and Community Service Award– on the Hook, this time for the paper's coverage of the June 2012 ouster and subsequent reinstatement of UVA president Teresa Sullivan.

"The Hook provided a seamless mixture of reportage, speculation, analysis, and context to give the UVA community in Charlottesville and beyond insight and presence during and after the turmoil of the president's ouster," judges wrote, praising the paper for "being out front at times" in spite of limited resources.

"Aggressive inquisitiveness beyond a daily's or even a weekly's normal scope produced unusual facets of the story that went uncovered by other news outlets," judges wrote. "This includes pursuit of angles that, while risky, opened the aperture for the audience."

Founded in 1947, the award is given to papers in three categories and recognizes editorial leadership and community service "above and beyond a publication's circulation area." The Hook previously won this award in 2006 and 2008.

Additionally this year, the Hook took home awards for writing, photography, and design, including a first place in public affairs writing for newsroom staff for the UVA ouster coverage, conducted under the Hook's founding editor Hawes Spencer, and first place in feature writing for the Hook's current editor Courteney Stuart for her story on a former fashion model's descent to homelessness and her death just days after she left the Occupy Charlottesville encampment in Lee Park. News editor Lisa Provence earned a second place in news writing for a package of stories on a pot sting that resulted in the rare use of jury nullification, and photographers Tom Daly and Bill Emory each took a prize for their images. The Hook's design team, including art director Liz Milligan and assistant art director Heather Palmateer, won 13 prizes for their work in both editorial and advertising design.

The Hook wasn't the only local paper making a strong showing at the annual event, held this year in Norfolk. The Daily Progress earned a slew of awards including six for photographer Andrew Shurtleff. Editorial page editor Anita Shelburne was honored with the D. Lathan Mims Award for Editorial Leadership in the Community for her writing following the Sullivan ouster.

"Anita Shelburne did not hesitate or mince words in her reaction to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors' announcement on June 10, 2012, that President Teresa Sullivan was breaking ties with the university– or, as everyone understood it to be, was being dismissed," judges wrote. "This, Shelburne said in an editorial on June 11, is a 'shocker.  And it's a mistake.'"

In a new category this year for online-only publications, with two organizations participating, Charlottesville Tomorrow received five first-place awards.

And while UVA's Cavalier Daily, which is often honored for its work by the VPA, earned nine writing and photography prizes, it was another college paper– JMU's The Breeze– which won its 26-member category with 16 prizes.


Congratulations to the entire Hook staff for the well deserved awards, and especially for being recognized for your outstanding reporting, not only for our community, but those following the Sullivan affair around the world .
This is one journalistic effort that will go down in history, as the most thorough, and thoughtful coverage of this event.

Wait, what? No prizes for covering windmills killing birds in Monterey? Fans are disappointed.

Congrats to the best news team in cville- hope the new Hook overloads value the quality as much as the rest of us do

Your team and each one mentioned deserve these awards. The Hook is truly a hidden gem to most of the world. L.A., Memphis, NY, and all could learn a lot from reading your fine publication!

Hawes, Courteney, Lisa and Dave are such a joy! You have loyal fans not only in your area, your readers stretch across the the world!


Way to go guys! I respect how you are keeping honorable print journalism alive. It's hard to get everything exactly right when covering news but you always, always, always try your best to get the story correctly. I appreciate how you go out of your way to take extra time to carefully quote me and want to truly understand why things happen as they do above and beyond what you actually publish. It's an honor to volunteer my time to help maintain your unsurpassed quality local coverage.

congrats folks! Keep up the great work!