TN publisher recognized for editorial writing

Published 1:42 pm Monday, October 8, 2012

NAPLES, Fla.—Tidewater News Publisher Steve Stewart was honored in the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association’s annual Carmage Walls Commentary Prize competition.

Stewart’s series of columns and editorials on a Franklin Public Schools grading policy that was later rescinded won second place among commentary published by newspapers with circulations below 50,000.

Southampton County native John Railey, editorial page editor of the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, won second for newspapers with circulations above 50,000.

The judges said Stewart’s editorials and columns embody the goals of the Carmage Walls Commentary Prize.

The winning commentary criticized a Franklin Public Schools policy that prohibited teachers from giving any grade below a 60 on a 100-point scale.

“There is nothing more local than local school policies,” they said. “When Stewart was done, readers could have no doubt just how ludicrous the new grading policy was. His work immediately sparked reader anger and kept it focused over time. Incessant public pressure in print drove the school board to reverse the decision.”

Stewart will donate his $500 prize to the Franklin City Education Foundation, which supports the city’s public schools, and the H. Shelton Prince Jr. Memorial Endowed Scholarship for journalism education.

Railey was honored for his columns about forced sterilization in North Carolina.

Of Railey’s entry, judges said: “John Railey is nothing if not persistent. He has been writing about forced sterilization in North Carolina for a decade. His investigations brought to light the terrible wrongs committed in the past, and his ongoing writing keeps the matter in the public eye while lawmakers talk big but do little to compensate victims of the state’s abuse.”