- Kirsten Ballard
The Dallas Morning News has earned the prestigious “Grand Slam” award from the Associated Press Sports Editors’ (APSE) annual contest, in the over-175,000 circulation division. The “Grand Slam” is a Top 10 finish in four categories including, website/mobile platforms, daily section, Sunday section and special section.
The Morning News has been awarded the “Triple Crown” from APSE 23 times, winning in all three section categories. With the recent redesign to SportsDayDFW.com, the sports department was honored as a Top 10 website, catapulting the Morning News to a “Grand Slam” winner for the first time.
“It is truly an honor for our sports department to be recognized as a ‘Grand Slam’ winner by the Associated Press Sports Editors,” said Garry Leavell, assistant managing editor/sports. “Our team works tirelessly to raise the bar and provide readers with timely, interactive and quality news. I couldn’t be more proud.”
He says they’re always optimistic about the contest because they consistently do good work each day. The challenge comes in what to submit to APSE. “We have a tremendous amount of talented people, whether it is our writers, copy editors or assigning editors,” he said. “They prove over and over again that they do high level work.”
Many of the writers pitch ideas, but Leavell credits the entire team with creating the award-winning packages. He stresses the importance of getting photographers and designers in on the ground level. “That’s a key thing for us, having as many people involved as we can from the start,” he said.
As the industry evolves, he says they’re cognizant that the future is in the digital space. “At the same time, we want to preserve high quality in the paper for our loyal print readers,” he said.
He’s been with the paper for 24 years. “We already had a really high-achieving culture before I got here,” he says. “[Editors] established high expectations and high standards. It feeds on itself, people want to keep having that.”
The APSE contest is an annual competition that selects the best in sports journalism from newspapers and websites across the United States. Judging of work published in 2016 by sports editors and journalists took place Feb. 22 – 26 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. APSE judges initially recognize 10 winners per writing category and a second panel will meet this spring to rank the finalists.