Reporter-News awarded for its 2019 Abilene tornado coverage

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The Abilene Reporter-News scored two statewide awards for its coverage of the 2019 tornado that carved a destructive path in west Abilene.

Competing in the second largest Texas Associated Press Managing Editors contest division, the Reporter-News was judged second in team effort behind the Beaumont Enterprise and ahead of the El Paso Times. Beaumont’s coverage of Tropical Depression Imelda was judged superior.

The ARN was judged not just on its initial reporting of the tornado when it struck May 18 but the following days and even weeks as the impact became more apparent and the community reacted to cleanup and helping those affected by the storm.

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Abilene Reporter-News tornado coverage in 2019 was judged second in Class 3A in the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors annual contest. Its online coverage was judged third. (Photo: Ronald W. Erdrich/Reporter-News)

The Reporter-News tied with the Longview News-Journal for third place, for its online reporting of the tornado. The El Paso Times won the category.

ARN staff members Brian Bethel, Timothy Chipp, Ronald Erdrich, Laura Gutschke and Greg Jaklewicz were involved in the tornado reporting, with staff member Nathaniel Ellsworth providing technical assistance. The newsroom, located three blocks from the tornado’s path, was without power and its computer network knocked offline for hours, necessitating alternative means of coverage.

Photojournalist Erdrich won three individual awards: third place in photo gallery and honorable mention notice in feature writing and news photography.

Jaklewicz won first place in headline writing.

Bethel won honorable mention in short features for his report on spirited dominoes competition at the Texas Police Games held in Abilene.

More: Dominating at dominoes defines Abilene’s Police Games

The awards normally are presented at a statewide meeting, which was scheduled for April in San Angelo. It was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Other awards for 2019 work have not been announced.

Greg Jaklewicz is editor of the Abilene Reporter-News. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to 

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