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AWARDS
AG COMMUNICATORS SCORE BIG
Editor's note: Farm Journal and Vance Publishing received high honors in the annual Jesse Neal awards contest which recognizes outstanding B2B journalism. We invited their representatives to share the experience.

First Ag Magazine in History to Capture Business Journalism's "Pulitzer"
by Sonja Hillgren, Sr. vice president, Editorial, Farm Journal Media, Inc.

Pam Henderson, crops and issues editor of Farm Journal, is the first agricultural journalist to be awarded the Grand Neal, selected out of nearly 1,300 entries from dozens of markets as the most prestigious prize in business-to-business journalism.

She was recognized for a nine-article series entitled "Asian Soybean Rust Takes Root in the U.S." in front of an audience of nearly 500 editors, publishers, media executives and advertisers from all sectors of U.S. business. Often described as the "Pulitzer prizes" of business journalism, the 52nd Annual Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Awards for editorial achievement were presented March 23 at a luncheon at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

Henderson became eligible for the Grand Neal, the culmination of the awards ceremony, by winning in the category of "best subject-related series of articles" for magazines with more than $7 million in advertising and circulation revenues.

Farm Journal is the first agricultural publication to receive the premier award.

This year's winning nine articles in the soybean rust series were published in Farm Journal between January and May 2005, following discovery of the devastating disease of soybeans for the first time on U.S. soil in November 2004. Andrew Burchett, former chemicals and seeds editor of Farm Journal, contributed to the series. Karen Freiberg, the Farm Journal editor who recently retired after a 23-year career with the company, edited the series.

"Discovery of this devastating plant disease after the 2004 harvest gave farmers time to study in-depth coverage in Farm Journal prior to the 2005 planting season," said Steve Custer, executive vice president of Farm Journal Media and publisher of Farm Journal. "Pam has been ahead of everyone else on this challenge. These articles will be useful to farmers year after year."

Competition for the Grand Neal award is tough. A distinguished board of nine judges selected Henderson from 32 winners of specific categories. They were chosen from 101 finalists out nearly 1,300 entries in the competition. The judging panel was chaired by Marshall Loeb, one of the nation's most distinguished business journalists.

The Appeal of a Neal at Vance's food360
by Paul Welsh, marketing manager, Vance Publishing, Inc.

Marlys Miller, Jane Messenger and James Arnold climbed aboard commercial jets headed for the Neal Awards Ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. They were bubbling with excitement but for different reasons.

Miller had made the trip many times, having captured six previous Neal Awards. On her first visit in 2003 Messenger had received a finalist certificate and was hoping this trip would bring a coveted Neal Award. Arnold, the third member of the editorial team who were being honored as finalists for their work on porkmag.com, was experiencing the thrill of New York and the Neal Awards for the first time. The Web site includes daily news, weather, an industry calendar and many other features.

When porkmag.com began six years earlier, the goal was to extend the Pork magazine brand to an online medium. That meant creating a product that was relevant and useful to its audience keeping both the reader and the industry in mind.

Of course, there were snickers from the audience as there always is at this event when the word "pork" is mentioned. Still the seasoned veterans at this event didn't snicker. They had seen the staff from "Pork" receive Neal Awards many times before. Indeed, this was their tenth Neal Award for a publication that had only been around for 25 years.

"It was a tremendous feeling knowing that all of our hard work had paid off," says Messenger. "My first trip was very exciting but I wanted it even more this time because I realized what it takes to win." AM


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