Not even the best in Ohio
The competition gives three awards for General Excellence, so each paper has a 50-50 chance of getting at least a mention. It's a coin flip.
When the awards were handed out this weekend, the Enquirer lost. First place for General Excellence went to Cleveland, second to Akron and third to Columbus.
In all, there were 109 awards in 31 categories. The Enquirer won 19 awards, including six first-place awards, including Best Business Writer (Alexander Coolidge), Best Investestigative Reporting (imagine that, for a package on eminent domain) and Best Web Site. The Enquirer was strongest in photography, where it won three firsts for Best Spot News Photo, Best General News Photo and Best Photographer -- all for Glenn Hartong, who deserves the recognition.
That's the good news. The big winner was the Columbus Dispatch, which won 30 awards and eight firsts. The Cleveland Plain Dealer won 28 awards and 11 firsts. The Enquirer was shut out in 14 categories, including General Excellence, Best Columnist, Best Feature and Best Community Service.
In 15 categories where writing and reporting were most important, including "best section" awards, the Enquirer didn't do well -- just two firsts and eight awards overall. The Dispatch received 16 awards and seven firsts. The Plain Dealer: 14 awards and three firsts. There were four awards given for Best Community Service. Columbus won the top two, followed by Akron and Dayton. Cincinnati's over-the-top Marcus Fiesel coverage -- clearly the paper's highest priority story since August -- got an honorable mention for Best Breaking News. The Enquirer also won a second in that category for its coverage of the shooting involving rapper T.I.
I point this out to show just how weak the Enquirer's news operation has become. Start with 19 awards. Take out seven that went to photo, four to sports, and one each to the web site, Borgman and the recently departed Byron McCauley. That means the heart of the news operation won just five awards, and two of those were honorable mentions. There were zero for features, graphics and headlines.
This is a newspaper that doesn't know how to excel. I'm not sure it wants to.