DAVENPORT, Iowa --- The Courier on Thursday was named a winner of the 2012 Lee President's Awards for its coverage of the missing cousins in Evansdale.
Mary Junck, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Lee Enterprises Inc., the parent company of The Courier, announced winners of the awards for outstanding journalism, innovation, exceptional achievement and spirit.
"The magnificent work we honor with these awards underscores the vital role we play every day for our audiences, advertisers and communities," she said. "In reviewing these accomplishments, we're inspired all over again and reminded how lucky we are to be in this business."
The Courier was one of five Lee newspapers to win an Excellence in News Award, recognizing outstanding achievement in print and online journalism, from reporting and writing to photography, video, graphics and presentation.
The staff of The Courier was recognized for "creating massive public engagement" in the search for Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins, cousins who went missing July 13 in Evansdale while out riding their bicycles. The girls are still missing.
The Courier laid out continual coverage that riveted the community and beyond, with its stories and photos reaching 310,000 people on Facebook and amassing more than 1 million Web and mobile page views, according to the award citation.
Courier Editor Nancy Newhoff said the paper opened up a live chat on its website the first weekend the girls went missing for people to learn about the search and communicate their condolences, worries and ideas.
"Our reporters took questions from people following the case from around the world. It became their connection to Evansdale, Iowa, and two missing little girls," she said.
Added Courier Publisher David Braton, "It was truly a great effort. This was an unfortunate story to have to work on, but our staff handled it with professionalism and compassion."
To read more about how the Courier covered the story, go to http://bit.ly/evansdale_girls.