The Martha’s Vineyard Times won seven first-place awards at the New England Newspaper & Press Association (NENPA) annual convention Saturday. The awards were presented at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.
The Times won a first-place award for best overall website.
The newspaper’s “Voices on Racism” special section received three first-place awards, for best special section, racial, gender, and ethnic reporting, and overall design and presentation. Judges called it a “powerful section.”
Editor George Brennan won two first-place awards — one for general news writing, and the other for editorial writing.
On Brennan’s story about the Mansion House illegally pumping water into the town’s wastewater treatment plant, the judges wrote, “A superb example of covering a routine select board meeting and discovering preferential treatment by public officials.”
In judging Brennan’s editorial writing, the judges wrote, “When this newspaper takes an editorial stand, it uses sharp, emphatic language, and pulls no punches.”
Reporter Rich Saltzberg received a first place for “right-to-know” reporting for his dogged pursuit of public records. “This one’s long, but it’s because this is one of the strongest entries we’ve seen in years. Rich Saltzberg of The Martha’s Vineyard Times is the Harry Houdini of public records,” the judges wrote. “Government officials might slam shut steel doors in order to safeguard their secrets, but just as they relax inside their fortress, they look around to see Saltzberg quietly scooping up their files. He’s creative, smart, and determined, deftly using every tool at his disposal to uncover blockbuster stories that often are hiding in plain sight. Sometimes he uses charm and persuasion; other times he succeeds simply because he never gives up. To tell the story of police failures that led directly to a teenager’s rape, Saltzberg filed dozens of public record requests — and followed them up with no fewer than 22 appeals to the supervisor of public records. He makes the public records laws work as intended, routinely making municipal lawyers look like Keystone Kops. Temporarily stonewalled in his quest for a town’s vaunted investigative report, Saltzberg found his story by using a side door: He used the law to obtain a pile of financial receipts that led to this front-page headline: “$17K Investigation, But No Report.” Saltzberg’s reputation and derring-do are such that when he got a tip about a Glock missing from police headquarters, the police chief — knowing that resistance would be futile — simply handed over the files. If you want a master class in how to vindicate the public’s right to know, just sit down and read Rich Saltzberg’s body of work.”
Saltzberg also won a third place for his investigative reporting on the Tisbury Police Department: “Relentless reporting that exposes serious incompetence that impacts public safety. Great work.”
Jeremy Driesen received a second-place award in the feature photo category. The judges described it in one word: “Beautiful.”
Bluedot Living, a sister publication of The Times, won seven awards, including two first-place awards.
Leslie Garrett and Nicole Jackson won first prize in the illustration/infographics category for “Temperature’s rising.” “Gorgeous illustration & typographic désign. Amazing infographic. Great to keep!”
Garrett also won first place in the serious column category. “Detailed facts in what looks like a mild-mannered advice column. Dear Dot is well-researched, professionally written, and the pages attractively designed, adding to the friendliness of the approach.”
Bluedot received a second place for best overall website. Catherine Walthers and Randi Baird also won a second prize for best food page or section for “Kelp Is on the Way! Savory Seaweed Might Save the World.” The judges wrote, “Excellent work distinguished by beautiful photography and thorough reporting. In a sea (so to speak) of syndicated copy, it was refreshing to come across an original and highly current recipe, presented in such a way that every reader would consider making it.”
Nancy Slonim Aronie won a third place for her humor column. “The theme of the writer’s husband saving the planet one factoid at a time, and her just trying to live her life, is really amusing,” the judges wrote.
Bluedot also won a third place for best mobile product. “Clean, consistent design, easy to navigate,” the judges wrote.
And Bluedot won a third place for best niche publication. “Though this publication is still in its infancy, it’s already extraordinary,” the judges wrote. “Beautiful, clean design, and full of much-needed information. Congratulations!”