Football Writers Association of America 2011 BEST WRITING CONTEST

Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio State)

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Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has won the inaugural FWAA Beat Reporter of the Year Award for his coverage of the Ohio State football team.

Doug Lesmerises
Age: 38
College: Northwestern
Background: Despite leaving his laptop at the football facility his first week on the job, Doug Lesmerises has been allowed to cover Ohio State football for the Cleveland Plain Dealer since 2005. He is the husband of Katie and the father of Kyra, 7, and Daria, 4, and is trying to hold off on getting a dog though the kids ask about it every day. People sometimes yell at him for his Top 25 voting and often mispronounce his last name, which in French means "the wild berries." Before joining the Plain Dealer, he worked for the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal and The Times of Northwest Indiana. His career highlights include running in the Sausage Race at a Milwaukee Brewers game, getting soaked in a rainstorm walking back from the fan march to Jim Tressel's driveway and accidently using the women's restroom in the Kentucky Derby press box.

The FWAA announced last January it would accept nominations for the best college beat reporter in the country as a part of its annual Best Writing Contest, which otherwise is composed of four individual categories of Best Column, Best Enterprise, Best Game and Best Column.

The FWAA's Beat Reporter of the Year award is based on a comprehensive look at a way a person covers the beat and encompasses all the aforementioned categories.

Malcolm Moran, the inaugural John S. and James L. Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society, headed a committee that judged the nominations. Moran serves as director of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, housed in the College of Communications at Penn State University. He is a former sports reporter for the Newsday, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and USA Today and also an FWAA Board Member.

Moran, who reviewed beat writing samples of all those nominated, presented two excerpts from the nominations on Lesmerises.

"No other staffer covers OSU full-time to help him, often forcing him to leave four recorders scattered at interviews to make sure he does not miss anything. Despite going toe-to-toe with local papers that staff as many as six writers for an OSU game, Lesmerises' passion for his job shines through in his writing. ... As far as finding a writer who churns out more unique content on such a restricted beat, you would be hard pressed to find a better candidate than Lesmerises."

From a separate nomination: "He is a work horse who feeds the PD web site constantly with alerts and video and also has innovative angles for his newspaper coverage. He goes the extra mile every day as a one-man content machine. ... He breaks his share of stories more than his share, actually. Year in and year out, you cover the same stories the same way. But he goes out of his way to break the mold and give his readers a different viewpoint and better coverage."

Here are links to some of Lesmerises' stories: