I'm back from the summer conference of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, where one of the highlights was the presentation of the award winners in this year's Better Newspaper Contest.
I'm pleased to report that the Albany Democrat-Herald and the Corvallis Gazette-Times fared well this year, landing 10 awards, including two in the general excellence category, in which judges are instructed to examine the total content — stories, photographs, headlines, even how the advertisements look. (This year, journalists from Kentucky judged the Oregon entries.)
The state awards were announced just a couple of weeks after the Society for Professional Journalists gave photographers Mark Ylen and Andy Cripe four additional first-place awards for their work. All in all, this was a good awards season, and this is the one opportunity I get every year to brag about it.
Both the D-H and the G-T compete in the classification for newspapers with less than 10,000 circulation for most of the awards, which were given for work published in 2018.
So here we go. (If you're reading this online, the column includes links back to the winners.)
• Reporter James Day collected a first-place award for coverage of business and economic issues, for a February story about Eric and Seth Crawford, two brothers who are pioneering industrial hemp.
• Photographer Andy Cripe won a first-place award in the sports photo category for his shot of a jubilant Oregon State University baseball team celebrating its national championship last year in Omaha. (You'll recall that this is the photo that we displayed in a horizontal format across the entire front page.) Cripe recently reminded me that one of the reasons I dispatched him to Omaha in the first place was to capture this very photo should the Beavers win it all; the Beavers came through in the clutch, and so did Cripe.
• Day collected two other awards in other categories: A story about how other Oregon communities were faring with the issue of homelessness garnered a second-place nod in the enterprise reporting category. And he won a second-place award in the best feature category with a detailed look at how the work of architect John Bennes shaped the Oregon State University campus.
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• Reporter Jennifer Moody won a third-place award in the educational coverage category for "Furnishing a Future," a story about how the Greater Albany Public Schools Foundation and partners have created a fund that helps to cover living expenses for Albany Options School graduates attending college.
• Photographer Mark Ylen landed a second-place award in the best news photo category for his compelling shot of a car crashed into the front of a downtown Albany bank at the end of a police pursuit. (You'll read more about this photograph in just a few paragraphs.)
• Ylen took home another second-place award, this one in the photo essay category, for his photos from the annual Mud Fest near Sweet Home.(Again, there's more to come about these photos.)
• A Ylen photo of Crescent Valley soccer player Amelia Wilson celebrating a goal collected another second-place award, this one in the sports photo category.
• The general excellence category asks newspapers to submit an edition from three separate months; judges are instructed to take a look at all aspects of the paper — news, photos, opinion, advertising, headlines and so forth. (In this category, we were competing against papers with up to 25,000 circulation.) The Democrat-Herald claimed second place and the Gazette-Times finished third. (The East Oregonian took first place.)
The newspapers reported earlier about the four first-place awards that photographers Ylen and Cripe collected in the Society of Professional Journalists' regional competition, in which they competed against photographers at medium-sized papers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. Ylen took three first-place awards in that contest, including one for the best photo portfolio for 2018, a collection of 10 photos that included the shots that were honored in the state contest. In the regional contest, Ylen won a first-place award for the photo of the car crashed into the bank and another first-place award for best photo essay for his Mud Fest photos; both of those finished second in the state contest. Andy Cripe's photo of an Albany man who loves to watch the trains go by won a first-place award in the regional contest.
If you're counting (and I was), that adds up to 14 total awards in state and regional journalism contests. Of course, winning awards from our peers is not the main reason why we report to work each day, but it's always nice to see that our efforts measure up to some of the best journalism being produced in Oregon. (mm)