February 2016
In the News

Alvin Benn Receives Communications Award for Excellent Journalism

  Al Benn, right, receives the Communications Award in recognition for outstanding coverage of Alabama agriculture from the Alabama Farmers Federation, presented by  Jimmy Parnell, Alfa’s President.

Reporter Alvin Benn received the Communications Award in recognition for outstanding coverage of Alabama agriculture from the Alabama Farmers Federation.

He accepted the award Dec. 7, 2015, during a session of the Federation’s 94th annual meeting at the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre in downtown Montgomery. Benn said he was honored to receive the recognition and has always felt a special connection to farmers.

"Growing up in Amish country around Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I saw how hard farmers worked and how vital they were to their communities," Benn said. "I was always interested in telling the stories of the people who make this country tick."

He was nominated for the honor by Dallas County Farmers Federation member Sam Givhan, who cited Benn’s commitment to covering the interesting and moving stories of rural Alabama.

In presenting the award, Federation Communications Department Director Jeff Helms noted Benn’s dedication to journalistic integrity over a career that’s spanned more than five decades.

"Benn understands that every person has a story worth sharing, from political leaders and popular figures to small town farmers, businessmen and teachers," Helms said. "Reading his stories about average people is both enlightening and entertaining. His storytelling style hooks readers quickly and makes the subjects truly relatable, whether he’s writing about an Alabama governor or a Dallas County farmer."

Over 50 years as a journalist, Benn has written more than 50,000 news stories about Alabama and its people. While he covered hard news about civil rights, the space race and football, arguably, his most memorable assignments have focused on everyday people.

Benn started work as a reporter in 1964 with the United Press International wire service. His newspaper career wound through Decatur; Alexander City; Selma; Natchez, Miss.; and LaFayette, Ga., before he landed a job with the Montgomery Advertiser in 1980, where he still works. He is also a regular contributor to Cooperative Farming News, a publication of Alabama Farmers Cooperative.

Benn has also received the Distinguished Alabama Community Journalist honor from Auburn University’s Department of Journalism and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alabama Press Association. Before becoming a reporter, Benn served in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years, leaving with the rank of sergeant. He and his wife, Sharon, live in Selma. They have two children and four grandchildren.

Debra Davis works with Alfa.