MORGANTOWN — Four West Virginia newspapers earned first-place General Excellence awards, which honor outstanding achievement by circulation division, in the 2019 West Virginia Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.
The General Excellence Award winners are Charleston Gazette-Mail in Division 1, Bluefield Daily Telegraph in Division 2, Hampshire Review in Division 3, and The Moorefield Examiner in Division 4.
With the top point total in both editorial and advertising of newspapers in West Virginia, The Charleston Gazette-Mail earned the Newspaper of the Year honors.
Sandy Buzzerd, publisher of the of Morgan Messenger in Berkeley Springs, won the WVPA’s highest honor — The Adam R. Kelly Award — for outstanding dedication to the newspaper industry, the West Virginia Press Association and her local community.
A photo by Craig Hudson for the Charleston Gazette-Mail received the honor for best photo of the year.
The results of the annual competition, which honors excellence in newspaper journalism, were announced Saturday, Aug. 3, during a banquet at Lakeview Resort in Morgantown.
“Our annual newspaper competition always brings out the best of our state’s newspapers and journalists have to offer,” said Don Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Press Association.
“From the largest daily newspaper to the smallest weekly newspaper, West Virginia residents benefit from the outstanding and dedicated work of journalists throughout the state. Community journalism remains the centerpiece of the newspaper industry in the Mountain State. The West Virginia Press Association is proud to recognize and honor the excellent work produced by West Virginia’s terrific newspapers and journalists.”
Newspapers across the state compete in four circulation groups, two each for daily and weekly newspapers. The contest has 29 categories, ranging from Coverage of Government Affairs to Reporting Generated from Public Notices and Best Editorial Page. In 2019, 32 newspapers submitted nearly 1,451 entries. The overall awards for General Excellence are based on total points earned in the basic categories.
For General Excellence, the West Virginia Press Association recognized three places in each division. The newspapers recognized for General Excellence in editorial coverage in 2019 were as follows:
Division I (Dailies over 16,000 circulations):
First place: Charleston Gazette-Mail
Second place: Beckley Register-Herald
Third place: Parkersburg News and Sentinel
Division II (Dailies 16,000 and under):
First place: Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Second place: The Exponent Telegram
Third place: The Inter-Mountain
Division III (Weeklies over 4,000):
First place: Hampshire Review
Second place: The Times Record and Roane County Reporter
Third place: The Spirit of Jefferson
Division IV (Weeklies 4,000 and under):
First place: Moorefield Examiner
Second place: The Record Delta
Third place: Grant County Press
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The Register-Herald won eight first place awards in Division 1, the largest circulation class.
Among the highlights were:
• The paper swept Best Lifestyle Feature with Michelle James taking first with “Steps towards a new life,” Wendy Holdren capturing second with “Acknowledging addiction,” and Jordan Nelson winning third place with “Banding together.”
• Rick Barbero won first place in news photo while Jenny Harnish won first place in feature photo.
• Executive Editor J. Damon Cain won best editorial for the third consecutive year.
• Sports editor Gary Fauber won first place in sports writing and sports page design along with a third place for best sports columnist. The late Dan Stillwell won second place in sports page design.
• The team of reporter Jessica Farrish, videographer and photographer Harnish and Cain for his editorials won first place for Service to the Community for their coverage of PCB contamination in Minden.
• Matt Combs won first place for best business, economic or labor reporting for a story about gas pipeline protesters in Monroe County, and a third place award in legal affairs reporting about the pipeline industry.
Other Register-Herald winners were:
• Best headline writing: second place, Mary Stillwell
• Best governmental affairs reporting: second place, Farrish; third place, Erin Beck
• The staff also won a third place awards for best front page and best lifestyle page.
The Register-Herald advertising team won five awards, including a first place for best black and white ad, two seconds and a third.
• • •
“This team here in Beckley continues to inspire me,” said Cain following the banquet. “I am walking out of here tonight with eight first place plaques and a second in general excellence. This is a heavy load.”
Cain said he and his staff are proud to represent Beckley and southern West Virginia with “such an outstanding showing.”
“We may be a small newspaper, but we produce big results.”