Times wins 14 awards in regional press contest
The Martha's Vineyard Times won 14 awards in the New England Press Association's 2005 Better Newspaper Contest, including first-place honors among large weeklies for the best newspaper web site and for the best editorial pages.
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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 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.
The Times also won awards in news categories for an editorial illustration by freelance artist Todd Cleland, for infographics by Times designer Tara Kenny, and for transportation and commuter reporting, coverage of a racial or ethnic issue, community involvement in the paper, health reporting, and reporting on religious issues.
In advertising categories, The Times took honors for its sponsorship pages, for advertising general excellence, for local black-and-white advertisements, for self-promotion, and for its classified advertising section, which is managed by Linda Wood.
"The success of this newspaper is the result of the commitment of every member of The Times staff to the job of delivering the news, information, and advertising that Islanders want and need," Times editor Doug Cabral said Monday. "The range of awards we received Saturday from the New England Press Association reflects this commitment. Community newspapering is what The Times is all about, and these honors acknowledge the hard work that underpins that commitment."
Members of the American Press Institute, based in Reston, Virginia, judged the NEPA contest. In awarding The Times web site top honors, the judges wrote, "Terrific depth of local info: sports, real estate, free classifieds for cheap items, calendar, honor roll, courts, weather, web cam." Amy Simcik Williams is editor of The Times web site, which has recently been redesigned and expanded. The site that earned the 2005 award was built by Karen MacKay, who was the web administrator at The Times until her death last summer.
The judges were especially complimentary of The Times editorial pages. "The main face of The Times' editorial section is the editorial itself," they wrote, "and this eloquently crafted piece in support of the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank (and in defense of the Bank's straw purchase of a property) sets the pace for the rest of the section. A wonderfully tongue-in-cheek cartoon portraying affordable (cemetery) lots in the region compliments thought-provoking letters to the editor and guest essays and commentaries. This is a class act."
And a third-place award for community involvement in the paper focused on the OpEd Page. The judges said, "The Times' effort to draw more voices into the paper has clearly succeeded, making the paper's Op-Ed a vital and important place."
Times news editor Nelson Sigelman won two prizes, including second place honors for health reporting. "On Martha's Vineyard," the judges observed, "it is considered one of the front lines of medical care. So, rather than a brief article on one aspect of the emergency room at Martha's Vineyard Hospital, reporter Nelson Sigelman took a more universal, but still personal approach: he profiled each member of the emergency room's staff, from the director of emergency services to one of the ER's secretaries. Their dedication is exemplified by a quote Sigelman elicited from the ER's director: 'I had not had anybody come in alive in over a decade and leave dead, and I was not about to break that streak.' Sigelman provided readers with a table that showed a minute-by-minute snapshot over 24 hours of ER activity."
Mr. Sigelman won third place honors for transportation and commuter coverage, exemplified by a story about the Steamship Authority as it coped with a bad storm that affected service. "The Steamship Authority is the lifeline between Woods Hole and Martha's Vineyard," the judges wrote. "That lifeline was temporarily fractured when a major winter storm shut down ferry service. Many stranded motorists found they could not make reservations for a later time or wait in a standby line. Reporter Nelson Sigelman interviewed commuters and Authority representatives to put together a powerful package of stories that detailed the issues, culminating with the Authority setting new policies for ferry cancellation. Backed by anecdotal reporting on those inconvenienced, Sigelman focused on the overall problem."
Pat Waring, The Times Calendar editor, won third place honors for reporting on religious issues in a story about the Very Reverend Francis B. Sayre. The judges called her work "a nice effort, comprehensive and thoughtful."
The judges were particularly enthusiastic about the newspaper's Islanders Read the Times promotional series. "The Martha's Vineyard Times' staff doesn't have to worry about promoting itself. Its readers do it for them! The newspaper encourages readers to take their copies of the newspaper with them and send in 'postcards' from around the world. The Times has been photographed atop a camel in Egypt, on a roller coaster in Orlando, on the Yucatan Peninsula, in Belize, Mongolia, Antarctica, Zimbabwe - even on the Queen Mary. By running the photos through the paper on a regular basis, The Times emphasizes its readers' loyalty and sense of ownership." Times photo editor Mae Deary manages the Islanders Read pages, which took third place among large weeklies.
Display advertising representatives Barbara Ronchetti and Carrie Blair won second place honors for advertising general excellence. The judges concluded, "Newspaper has very clean, friendly and inviting look. Even though the newspaper is a tab, it does not seem cluttered or compact. Great business directory."
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