Watershed Voice is a finalist for two LION Local Journalism Awards

Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers announced finalists for the 2022 LION Local Journalism Awards today, and Watershed Voice has been nominated in the Outstanding Coverage Award and Public Service Award categories.

LION is a professional journalism association for independent news publishers founded in 2012, which Watershed Voice has been a member of since May 2021. Finalists for this year’s award ceremony include 45 independent news organizations, and the winners will be announced at the Independent News Sustainability Summit in Austin, Texas on October 27-29.

Finalists were selected by an independent panel of judges, and finalist descriptions were self-reported and slightly edited by LION staff for length and clarity. The following are the respective contenders in the two categories Watershed Voice has been nominated for:

Outstanding Coverage Award

Recognizes general excellence in journalistic impact that builds increased awareness or influences public conversation about a specific issue that reverberates throughout a community. The intent of this award is not to be prescriptive of a specific topic, community or area of coverage, but rather to allow LION members to demonstrate the impact of their journalism based on their community’s information needs.

Micro Revenue Tier

Less than $50,000 in annual revenue

Oviedo Community News

OCN published a series of articles detailing the progression of the city’s major changes to its comprehensive plan, which decides where expected population growth should occur in the city. The articles broke down the information into easy-to-understand pieces with visual aids, such as maps and charts. The work included opportunities for community involvement, such as contact information for elected officials, recordings of the meetings and future meeting dates.

The Red Hook Daily Catch

Coverage of plans to tightly regulate short-term rentals (STRs) in a town of under 10,000 people brought more than 150 citizens into the conversation and out to public hearings in what became an intense public debate the likes of which the tiny town of Red Hook, N.Y. has not seen in recent memory. The paper’s coverage drew dozens of people to testify; it incited the Town Supervisor to hold hearings on Zoom, rather than by letter, as he’d planned; and it slowed the process down to allow for more voices. The proposed law went through three iterations before becoming law.

The Vallejo Sun

After hearing rumors of people who died in the Project RoomKey program, The Vallejo Sun launched an investigation into conditions in the program, turning up squalid conditions, mismanagement and that people who died in the program were not found for days. 

Watershed Voice

On Mothers’ Day 2022, a group of 30 demonstrators stationed themselves outside of Riverside Church in Three Rivers to protest the church’s leadership amid recent allegations of sexual and spiritual abuse. In addition to coverage of the protest, Watershed Voice published the church’s response to the allegations, and sat down with survivor Linda Shank and her mother Joni to tell her story. 

Public Service Award 

Recognizes general excellence in journalistic impact that successfully connects people with the information and services they need to navigate their lives and help make their communities more inclusive and equitable.

Micro Revenue Tier

Less than $50,000 in annual revenue

The Arkadelphian

Veteran reporter Joel Phelps noticed Arkadelphia was changing: a bypass was being built, the main street was being widened and businesses were popping up all over town, but there was no daily account of what was happening, or even why it was happening. The Arkadelphian was born. Since then, the site has been lauded by state-renowned journalists, and the public is now informed of local matters.

Knox Pages

As multigenerational farming becomes less apparent in the area, many farmers are reluctant to talk about succession. Traditionally there has not been a retirement plan for farmers, but local leaders in north central Ohio are working toward creating clearer options — specifically by eliminating barriers for both exit and entry into the profession.

Watershed Voice

The pandemic has been traumatic, particularly for students, who were often stuck in the middle of debates over in-person or remote learning and mask mandates. Our story takes an in-depth look into how a school-linked community adolescent health center is removing accessibility and financial barriers between students and mental health services, and potentially saving lives of those most at-risk.