Matthew Prosser named Journalist of the Year

MOUNT VERNON – Matthew Prosser was named 2012 Journalist of the Year during the North and East Texas Press Association (NETPA) Annual Conference Saturday afternoon.

Prosser is News Editor and Photographer for the Henderson Daily News, the paper of record for Rusk County with a daily circulation of well over 7,000.

The awards program and luncheon were held Saturday at a resort near Mount Vernon.

Prosser, who joined the Henderson Daily News in August 2009, was recognized with the prestigious Journalist of the Year Award for all daily newspapers, taking the first-place award over journalists from much larger dailies, Lufkin Daily News, The Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel, The Paris News and The Texarkana Gazette.

“It’s surprising but I’m very thankful,” Prosser said. “I am very appreciative to the judges for honoring me with this award […] it certainly wasn’t anything I was expecting.”

This was the third-straight year Prosser was in the running for the award, after finishing as runner-up in 2010 and 2011. Prosser was also honored with multiple other awards in various writing and photography categories including a first-place finish in News Photography.

Sue Dunham from the NETPA praised the research and craft that she said was evident in all of Prosser’s work.

“He’s a well-rounded journalist with a nice fluid writing style,” she added.

Prosser said to even be considered among the other candidates was itself an honor.

“To receive any amount of praise for one’s work is always rewarding,” he said. “But this honor means so much more to me, coming from fellow journalists […] the praise of one’s peers carries a lot of weight, and to be chosen as among the best in my field is very humbling.”

A 1995 graduate of Overton High School, Prosser attended the University of Oklahoma where he studied philosophy and religion. Married to Candace Daniels Prosser, the couple reside in Overton with their five children.

Prosser helped found the Overton News in June 2011 after the close of the Overton Press. He serves concurrently as News Editor for both the Overton and Henderson papers.

The Henderson Daily News as a paper was recognized with top honors from the NETPA, including the Sweepstakes and General Excellence awards.

Overall, the HDN rolled to 750 total points in the judges’ scoring, well ahead of chief competitors Athens Daily Review, 675, Waxahachie Daily Light, 675 and Stephenville Empire-Tribune, 500, to take first-place awards in the Sweepstakes category.

The Henderson newspaper also earned first-place awards in Column Writing (Editor & Publisher Les Linebarger, first, Managing Editor Tony Floyd, fourth), and Editorials (Floyd).

In addition, HDN was recognized with second-place awards in Sports Photo (Linebarger and Sports Editor Hughes Ellis). Third-place awards were received for Page Design (Floyd) and Feature Story (Linebarger).

HDN publisher Linebarger said the contest awards are important and helpful for news staff members in planning and producing content.

“Winning awards is nice and you’re always happy when peers honor your hard work. Most of all, we want our Rusk County readers to know we’re publishing a good newspaper for them. That’s the most important thing to us.”

Floyd said it was important for staff members to be recognized for their work.

“We are extremely proud to receive these honors for last year’s work,” Floyd said. “It helps confirm that some of our efforts to produce the best community daily newspaper possible for Henderson and Rusk County are being recognized by our peers. Our hope is that this recognition will give us even more incentive to keep improving,” Floyd added.

The North and East Texas Press Association includes member newspapers from the Wichita Falls area to the north and west, and to north of Houston to the south.

Other newspapers winning sweepstakes in their divisions were Lufkin Daily News, Wise County Messenger, Winnsboro News, The Farmersville Times and Joshua Star.

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