Martha's Vineyard Times wins awards in annual press contest
The Martha's Vineyard Times won seven awards in the New England Press Association's (NEPA) 2008 Better Newspaper Contest, including three first-place honors among large weeklies - for its Calendar and Community section in the contest's living section category, the best business and economic reporting, and the best illustration.
The awards were announced Saturday at the press association's annual convention held in Boston. The New England Press Association is the largest regional newspaper group in the nation, with more than 400 members, including weekly and daily papers. The Martha's Vineyard Times competes among the largest weeklies, whose circulation ranges from 10,000 to 75,000. More than 350 newspapers from the six-state region competed in the Better Newspaper Contest.
In a remarkable show of dominance among large weeklies, island newspapers took top awards. The newspaper of the year award went to the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, a Dow Jones Ottaway paper; first place in the general excellence category went the Vineyard Gazette; and second place in general excellence went to The Martha's Vineyard Times.
The NEPA judges seemed to acknowledge the imbalance reflected in their award of high honors on the island papers when the contestants were widely dispersed among six northeastern states. And their impressions of the two Vineyard newspapers were succinct and detailed.
"Yes, we know," the judges wrote, "it doesn't seem fair, awarding the top two prizes to rival newspapers on the same island. But the Martha's Vineyard Times attracted our attention even before we examined the Gazette. It has a clean, crisp layout, punchy headlines, fine writing. Coverage of high school teacher's inappropriate advances to student was very thorough and sensitive. Good reader involvement revealed in letters. Editorials thoughtful, columns fun to read."
Of the Gazette, they wrote, "Love of place is stamped indelibly on every page of this old-fashioned broadest of broadsheets. Achievement of local people, observations on nature, generous dollops of history and nostalgia are served up along with the more mundane news of governing bodies. The writing quality is excellent and occasionally literary, as befits an island that is home to well known writers."
Times writer Steve Myrick won first and third place awards for business and economic reporting, for his report on the Monster Shark Tournament in Oak Bluffs, "Tourney hooks sharks, Oak Bluffs businesses net bucks." Mr. Myrick, the judges wrote, was "well sourced from people on both sides of the issue. You can tell this reporter works hard." Mr. Myrick's third place award recognized his report of the difficulties faced by Island business that depend on the federal government's H-2B visa system. "This story," the judges wrote, "includes many voices - both business owners and the political perspective.
The Martha's Vineyard Times' Calendar and Community section won the first place award for living sections. Edited by C. K. Wolfson, the section's collection of feature articles, news, information, and columns impressed the judges who thought they understood the Vineyard community better after reading the section. "The columnists," they wrote, "seem like the heart of the community section. How special to have several at once."
The first place award for illustration went to Omar Rayyan. "Mr. Rayyan," the judges concluded, "has a real talent. Wow...the whimsical style of this illustration draws you right in. It is truly magical. The attention to detail and the incredible composition really make this piece take the first place spot. Excellent work!"
The Martha's Vineyard Times website, mvtimes.com, took second place honors this year. "At first glance," the judges wrote of the site, built and managed by Rick Mello, "we felt an immediate sense of what was going on in Martha's Vineyard from the completion of the hospital's new building to who had a good catch that week."
Times editor Doug Cabral, who won third place honors for editorial writing among the large weeklies, reflected on the newspaper's success in the NEPA contest. "This contest is both a reward and a yardstick," he said yesterday. "It's a chance to compare what we do with what our competitors and colleagues in the business are doing. We've been handsomely rewarded this year, as we have so many years, and although the awards are generally attached to the particular work of individual staff members, the awards are always earned by every member of the staff - writers, designers, typesetters, and compositors, business people, freelancers - the list is a long one. And everyone shares in the recognition."