The Times wins 15 awards in regional press contest
The Martha's Vineyard Times won 15 awards in the New England Press Association's 2006 Better Newspaper Contest, including six first place honors among large weeklies - for the best newspaper web site, the best arts and entertainment reporting, the best arts and entertainment section, the best social issues feature coverage, the best color photo, and the best newspaper advertising campaign.
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 second-place awards for its coverage of racial and ethnic issues, sports coverage, for advertising general excellence, and for sponsorship pages.
The Times took third-place honors among the region's largest weeklies in local election coverage and what the newspaper industry calls convergence, or the integration of news coverage in the paper's print and online publication. The Times also won third-place awards for in paper circulation promotion, self promotion, advertising supplements.
"The Times' success and our growth are 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 to readers and advertisers. 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 American Press Institute judges wrote, "The Martha's Vineyard Times' web site is exceptional. It has a strong homepage, one that makes a statement that this is a sophisticated site, full of news and interesting information. The play of the stories reinforces this by recognizing the type of stories people will talk about at dinner as well as those that are important and useful. The mix is excellent. The site's stories are unusually timely, and there is a great deal of local information. The 'Everything Martha's Vineyard' presentation on the front page is a great way to immediately get a tremendous amount of useful information to the readers. A site with unusual scope and sensibility."
Amy Simcik Williams is editor of The Times web site, which has been redesigned and is steadily adding new features. The site recorded more than 132,000 total visitors in December 2006. Rick Mello, the web administrator at The Times, built the web site.
The first-place award for social issues coverage recognized a collection of stories about the use of the MySpace.com web site by Island young people. The coverage was conceived by Times news editor Nelson Sigelman and written by Nis Kildegaard and Mr. Sigelman. The judges wrote, "This entry was excellent on all counts. The writing is clean, well organized and complete. The issue of Myspace.com has sparked the interest of news media around the country. Kildegaard and Sigelman have provided an in-depth account that equals, if not surpasses, any that I have read in much bigger markets. The layout and illustrations added to the power of the project." A second first-place award in this category went to the Salem Gazette of Salem, Massachusetts.
The Times won third-place honors in a category called convergence because of the integration of the myspace.com coverage in print and online. The judges wrote, "The paper's Myspace project spurred an online discussion among readers, especially parents who most likely had no idea what their children were putting on their pages. Nice use of the photos and the stories on the web that were in the print edition."
Pat Waring, former editor of The Times Calendar section, was in charge last year. Her section won top honors among large weeklies. The judges wrote, "Very impressive publication for a paper of any size. Loads of info, well presented. A notable achievement."
And, a feature story in the Calendar/Community section, written by Karla Araujo, a frequent freelance contributor to The Times, took top honors for arts and entertainment reporting with her story on the occasion of the sale of the Hot Tin Roof. "This retrospective on an iconic nightclub is easily the most engaging entry in a weekly a-e category," the judges wrote. "Reporter Karla Araujo puts her readers in a time machine and takes them back to a feel-good bygone era, then brings them forward with a nice interview with Carly Simon. The photographs are evocative as well and the layout is effective."
It was an especially good week for Mr. Sigelman, who won second place honors for his sports story about Molly Fischer's big bass. Mr. Sigelman was also the leader of The Times' local election coverage which took second place honors, and he conceived a series of stories, published in English and Portuguese, in which freelancer Edward Cerullo described the lives of Brazilian immigrants who have become a part of the Vineyard community. Mr. Cerullo's work was second among large weeklies in the category for coverage of racial or ethnic issues. The judges wrote, "Edward Cerullo does a nice job in sharing the stories of Brazilians who are a quiet by growing part of the Martha's Vineyard community. The Times should be commended for asking Cerullo to make this contribution and providing a Portuguese translation for each story."
Mr. Sigelman also received a second-place award for a column about ex-secret service agent and fisherman Albert Angelone from The New England Outdoor Writer's Association, which held its annual meeting Saturday.