Two Log Cabin Democrat staffers were awarded for excellence in 2015/16 on behalf of the newspaper’s parent company Morris Communications.

Sarah Allen was honored with The Morris President’s Club Award, named for W.S. Morris III, Morris chairman and CEO. It is an annual award to honor the company’s top advertising sales representatives. The winners were selected on criteria including exceeding revenue budgets, teamwork, leadership, creativity, total product line selling, local selling awards and community involvement.

David McCollum was presented the award for the writing category of Journalism Excellence, which includes entrants from newspaper properties companywide.

Allen, who will complete her sixth year at the Log Cabin in 2016, was recognized for the first time for the President’s Club Award.

"This award is more than a validation of my hard work and dedication to the businesses of Faulkner County," she said. "Morris Communications has further invested in my future with this company. They recently sent me to an advertising conference where I learned even more tips and lessons to bring back to the Log Cabin Democrat."

Allen said client relationships are important to her professional success, and living in the community where she works is key to developing strategies that work well for clients.

"I have made lasting relationships and I genuinely care about all my clients," she said. "I live and work in Faulkner County, which means that I care about the success of all these businesses as individuals and as a whole to the health of Conway and Faulkner County."

Allen acknowledges her clients have choices when it comes to advertising, so working hard to put her best foot forward in a competitive arena is part of what makes the job so rewarding.

"The fact that businesses in Faulkner County are choosing me to do business with is very rewarding," she said. "There are so many options but my long term clients know that I will do my very best to take care of them and make it as easy as possible to do business with Faulkner County. Furthermore, some of my out of state clients are so wonderful to put their trust in me and the Log Cabin Democrat without having met me in person and that means so much to me!"

McCollum marked 34 years as a writer, columnist and sports editor for the Log Cabin this year. His award for writing excellence is the first he’s won from the Morris company, but is a welcome addition to countless other state and national awards for his craft received over three decades.

"Among many honors, this is one of the highest because: 1. It comes from your peers and respected members of the profession outside our corporation: 2. It is an award for writing, period, not just a sports writing or news writing or feature writing award. It is an award for storytelling, which is still foundational to what we do," he said. "And to do a good job of storytelling and writing, you have to do a good job of reporting, which is another foundational element."

The writing excellence award was for the piece "Celebrating an angel among us," about a Vilonia teen dying of ovarian cancer and her relationship with the football coach and neighbor.

One judge’s comment explains why McCollum took home the award: "Good details and a tale well told and told in a distinctive voice that jumps off the page. It is a lovely piece about a girl who died of cancer and what she meant to people. Emotional, but not overly so. Just the right tone."

McCollum, although honored, said the story was one he would have told, regardless of any prospect of an award.

"I am proud of this award because the story came out of nowhere," he said. "The seeds were planted by a coach’s simple explanation of why he never returned emails or phone calls for a basic postseason interview. When he passionately and politely explained his negligence, I realized there was something there bigger than just a preseason interview. There was a universal story there that related to so many elements of life experiences. It was exciting and rewarding to tell it, whether it won an award or not."

As a newsroom leader, McCollum often talks about change in the industry and how learning new technologies and setting new standards and goals can challenge any journalist, especially one who has decades of experience and "teachable moments" to share.

"We get the first shot — sometimes the only shot — at history. There’s something exhilarating about getting to tell a story, or provide a information that is important to people or having an insight that few people have thought about or capturing the spirit of an event that causes people to think and inspires a variety of emotions," he said.

"Some of the best compliments I’ve had are something like ‘I was experiencing the same thing and you put into words what I was thinking in a way I could not.’ It’s also having the opportunity to report on first-hand everything from a Presidential inauguration to an Olympics to championship events on every level and thereby coming into contact with hundreds of special people."