The winners of the Ohio Newspaper Association’s first-ever Rising Star Awards were announced last week at the annual convention. The award, which recognizes the next generation of leadership in the Ohio newspaper industry, honored five newspaper professionals. They are:
- Stephanie Kelly, Digital Specialist at Cox Media Group Ohio. In the two years since Kelly joined Cox she has gone from handling smaller digital accounts to managing campaigns for the organization’s largest clients. Her managers said she excels at identifying key client challenges, balancing the right solution for the client’s budget, and making sure the campaign succeeds and renews. In addition, they commended her enthusiasm and take-charge attitude.
- Everdeen Mason, a business reporter for Cox Media Group Ohio. Her managers say that since joining the Springfield News-Sun in 2010, she has handled a variety of beats, including covering Springfield’s most well-known company, Navistar. Through basic doggedness she used SEC filings, interviews and on-the-ground reporting to bring to press numerous stories about important changes in Navistar’s fortunes and what these could mean to Springfield’s economy. As a Cox Media Group reporter, she has also contributed to TV, radio and digital reporting through Cox’s combined newsroom operations.
- Jennifer O’Rouke, account executive with The Athens Messenger. During O’Rouke’s first year at The Messenger, she increased her territory’s billing by 46 percent and grew her territory’s digital sales 10-fold. In addition, during her first four months on the job she led the sales team in a week-long digital sales effort by securing the most new business contracts, and repeated the feat the following year.
- Arian Smedley, reporter for The Athens Messenger. Smedley joined The Messenger in July 2012 and quickly proved a valuable member of the paper’s editorial staff. Her beat primarily consists of covering five school districts but she is also a strong feature writer and has covered a wide range of topics, resulting in several of her articles being considered for the 2012 Ohio APME Newspaper contest. Smedley not only writes compelling, clean copy but also produces effective video and shoots story-telling photographs.
- Deanna Stevens Ulrich, copy editor for The Akron Beacon Journal and Ohio.com. Ulrich became the Beacon Journal’s first content publisher for micro sites in January 2012, and in the following six months she launched 10 micro sites. In doing so she established workflows and technology to harvest existing editorial content and break it down for the individual micro sites, worked with editors to coordinate what would appear on the micro sites and in the newspaper, and worked with the marketing and advertising departments to introduce the sites to both the public and potential advertisers. The sites have already picked up a loyal following and a number of advertisers, with many of the sites being completely sold for the year.
The ONA Rising Star Award will be given out each year to employees of Ohio Newspaper Association member newspapers who been in the industry for five years or less. Nominees must be an active newspaper professional in advertising, circulation, digital, business, or editorial or any other working department of an ONA member in good standing.