Andrew Sheeley

Salem Publishing Company staff writer Andrew Sheeley with his first-place Best Investigative Reporting Award.

Salem Publishing Company staff writer Andrew Sheeley won the first-place Best Investigative Reporting Award in the 2020 Missouri Press Association Better Newspaper Contest, the organization recently announced.

Sheeley was awarded for “Contract-for-deed settlements spreading across rural Missouri,” which was published in The Salem News and Phelps County Focus in May 2019. The article documents the ground-level conditions at several contract-for-deed settlements in rural Missouri and the realty practices of Classic Country Land and Texas-based owner, Scott Wigginton.

The contest’s judge said of the article, “Strong work that shed light on a costly living arrangement that takes advantage of the poor. Good, emotional storytelling mixed with insightful details and history of this practice.”

The Missouri Press Association Better Newspaper Contest recognizes the work of professional journalists working at newspapers across the state. The first-place award is Sheeley’s ninth in five years working with Salem Publishing Company.