Chris Gentilviso and Pamela Stallsmith of The Richmond Times-Dispatch were awarded the Virginia Press Association’s 2020 D. Lathan Mims Award for Editorial Leadership during the association’s virtual 2020 News and Advertising Best in Show awards presentation April 29, 2021.
Presented for work published during the 2020 calendar year, the award is named for the late D. Lathan Mims, a former editor and general manager of the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg and a former president of the Virginia Press Association.
Stallsmith, the newspaper’s opinions editor, and Gentilviso, who is the associate opinions editor, were nominated by Paul Farrell, publisher of The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Farrell noted that the paper uses a solutions-oriented approach to issues facing the community.
The judge was captivated by the narrative writing style of both opinion editors at the Times-Dispatch, the deeply reported perspectives presented and the time and effort each put forth in their editorials.
“These are detailed editorials, thoroughly researched, chock-full of information, with helpful links embedded throughout,” the judge wrote, adding that both “employ a conversational narrative style that makes the editorials approachable and enjoyable to read.”
In addition, the judge said: “They avoid the pontificating and patronizing so common in editorial writing. They write as who they are, trained observers and concerned members of the community, reporting to the best of their ability to their readers about issues of importance in their community.”
The judge also gave high marks to the leadership exhibited by the newspaper’s publisher.
“As we enjoy the work of two very good writers in these pieces, it is also clear that a high standard has been set for these editorials at the Times-Dispatch, and Publisher Paul Farrell is to be commended for that.”
The Mims competition is for writers of editorials, signed commentaries, or editorial page columns at non-daily or specialty publications of any size, or a daily publication with a circulation of 40,000 or less.
The award was established to memorialize Mims’s conviction that newspapers and their editors should be active, caring parts of the communities they serve. He believed that a newspaper should support those things which would make a community a better place in which to live and oppose those things which detract from the quality of life.
Entries are judged on skill in writing, clarity of position, fairness in handling of the issues, appropriate use of pertinent facts, and vision of the community’s needs, both present and future.
The Maryland, Delaware, D.C. Press Association judged the entries. For more information about the contest results, visit https://www.vpa.net/contest-winners-gallery/2020-vpa-news-advertising-contest-winners-gallery/