April 22, 2005

Pantagraph reporter wins Polly Robinson Feature Contest

by Paula Davenport

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A heart-rending story of newlyweds whose brief love affair was shattered when the groom learned he had cancer just a week after their wedding took top honors in the 2005 Polly Robinson Feature Writing Contest.

Reporter Kate Arthur, of The Pantagraph in Bloomington, penned the compelling first-place story: "Time ran out early…Memories Abound." It played as a centerpiece in the paper's Sunday, June 27, 2004 Focus section. First prize is $150.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale's School of Journalism sponsors the annual competition.

The contest is a tribute to the late Polly Robinson, a young reporter who loved feature writing. An SIUC alumna, she was a staffer at Tazewell Publications when she died in 1972. Her parents, the late Warren and Doris Robinson, established the contest through the University's School of Journalism.

Second place, $75, goes to Dan Churney, a reporter for The Daily Times in Ottawa. His piece: "Small fry, big voice," showcased the talented 6-year-old African-American boy from Seneca. Churney's story says the youngster has the makings of the next Frank Sinatra, Mick Jagger or Ray Charles.

The piece ran as a section front in the newpaper's Friday, Jan. 14, 2004 edition.

Paul Sweich of The Pantagraph in Bloomington took third place, $50, for " Ear2Ear," a touching look at how the family of hearing-impaired nine-month old twins is helping the babies overcome their hearing loss.

It ran on the front page of the paper's Health section Monday, Feb. 7, 2005.

Judges awarded one honorable mention.

Huey Freeman of The Herald & Review in Decatur submitted "Singing the gospel blues: Jim Reed of Findlay knows the hard side of life, and it comes through in his music. It appeared as the Life section front Saturday, Jan. 1, 2005.