The New Orleans Advocate won 14 prizes at the Press Club of New Orleans’ 57th annual Excellence in Journalism Awards Gala over the weekend. Five of those were first-place awards.
During the ceremony at Harrah’s New Orleans Theatre, staff photographer Matthew Hinton won the Hal Ledet Still Photography Award, which is the highest honor the Press Club gives to a photographer each year.
Hinton also won first place in the categories of breaking news and general news still photography. The breaking news photograph for which he was honored showed two young men reacting in despair at the scene of a shooting that left two people dead and five others wounded. That also was the photo that earned him the Ledet Award. The general news photo for which Hinton was recognized chronicled a ceremony at which former New Orleans Mayor Dutch Morial was reinterred.
Photo editor John McCusker won first place in the category of feature still photography for his image of a lunar eclipse that seemed to hang just within reach of the One Shell Square skyscraper.
Frequent New Orleans Advocate contributor Katy Reckdahl won first place in the general news writing category for a story about community concerns over Orleans Parish Prison’s practice of housing teenage inmates. Separately, writing for the Weather Channel, Reckdahl won the Press Club’s top writing prize — the Alex Waller Memorial Award — for a story about the effects on families living on coastal marshland when Louisiana seizes private land that sinks underwater.
Staff writer Ramon Antonio Vargas won first place in the sports feature writing category for a story about various hardships Saints running back Khiry Robinson overcame before he joined New Orleans’ NFL team in 2013. Vargas covered the Saints for The New Orleans Advocate during the 2013 and 2014 seasons but is now a reporter for the newspaper’s metro section.
Meanwhile, former New Orleans Advocate police reporter Danny Monteverde won second and third place in the breaking news category for stories about a fire that left five people dead and the crumbling of a 200-year-old building. Monteverde is now the assignment editor at WWL-TV.
McCusker had second- and third-place finishes in the breaking news still photography category. Hinton had second- and third-place finishes in both the feature and sports still photography categories, and a second-place finish in the portrait still photography category.
The Press Club honored two prominent members of the local news media with lifetime achievement awards: NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune’s John Pope and WWL-TV’s Sally-Ann Roberts.
Pope, who has been writing for The Times-Picayune for more than four decades, is best known for penning colorful obituaries of New Orleanians from all walks of life. Advocate editorial cartoonist Walt Handelsman introduced Pope at the awards ceremony.
Roberts has been an anchor and reporter at WWL-TV for 38 years. She was introduced at the ceremony by her sister, “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts.
Louisiana state Rep. Helena Moreno, a former reporter and anchor for WDSU-TV, served as hostess for the ceremony, which honored work that was published in 2014.