Go big or go home.
We went big.
I spent the weekend in Dallas at the annual Associated Press awards banquet and it was amazing on many, many levels. The 4.5-star hotel; the food; the multiple open bars; the waiters carrying trays of wine; the esteemed journalists present; the room service at 3 a.m. after an open bar; the panelists; the conversations with journalists much smarter than I; making connections, friends...and...winning.
We won 13 awards over the course of the weekend, starting Saturday at a luncheon. Some of our reporters and photographers won individual awards and our entire staff won project awards. And then, the big one, announced Sunday at noon.
It was the announcement of the Newspaper of the Year awards in the four categories of newspapers (dependent on the size of Sunday circulation.)
I am pleased and so doggone proud to say that for the first time (after placing second place for the last two years), my newspaper is Newspaper of the Year.
We did it.
The sweat, the stress, the proverbial blood, the tears, the frustrations, the little victories along the way, the late nights, pushing deadlines, day-in and day-out toiling...when it was all weighed and measured, we were found to be the best.
I got a bit teary eyed over it when I was driving alone in my car late Sunday evening. It wasn't the winning, or really even the prestige. It was the nods of respect from people, and the quiet trace of a thought:
You have what it takes.
Maybe I do. Maybe I'll lose it one day. But for now, and for the last 365 days, we did it.