South Whidbey Record receives honors for news coverage

The South Whidbey Record news staff brought home 16 awards in news and feature writing, photography and page design in the 2009 Washington Better Newspaper Contest.

Awards were announced during the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association’s 122nd annual convention in Olympia.

Every member of the Record’s newsroom received multiple awards.

“I’m incredibly humbled to be surrounded by these talented writers,” said Record editor Brian Kelly. “These awards are a testament to the skill and dedication they show every week in bringing the best stories on South Whidbey to our readers.”

“It’s gratifying that our newspaper colleagues recognized the efforts of our staff in so many diverse areas of our coverage, from breaking news to sports to crime news, to features to photography,” he added.

This year’s winners were chosen from nearly 2,500 entries submitted by 80 newspapers. The competition was judged by the New York Press Association, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association and the South Dakota Newspaper Association.

The Record won awards against similar-sized newspapers, and in some categories against newspapers with larger circulations, and the entire group of publications competing in the contest.

Reporters Jeff VanDerford, Roy Jacobson and Patricia Duff won honors, along with Kelly and former Record reporter Michaela Marx Wheatley and former Record photographer David Welton.

Kelly said he was especially pleased that the Record won numerous awards for its team-coverage efforts. The paper won more awards for its team coverage — projects that involved two or more staff members — than any other newspaper in this year’s competition.

The team focus was noted by contest judges, who praised the newspaper for committing “overwhelming resources” to issues of tremendous importance in the community, most notably, the newspaper’s coverage of the efforts to start a local power company on Whidbey Island.

The Record earned three first-place awards, nine second-place awards and four third-place awards.

The newspaper won a first-place award for “best front page design.”

Kelly, VanDerford and Jacobson won a first-place award for “best photo essay” for a two-page spread on the Island County Fair.

Kelly won a first place in “best scenic photo” for a sunset shot over Useless Bay.

VanDerford, Kelly and Welton won second and third place for “best sports page.”

Marx Wheatley, Kelly, VanDerford and Jacobson brought home a second-place award for “best comprehensive coverage” for their work on covering the Whidbey Public Utility District issue.

Jacobson, Kelly and VanDerford won second place in “breaking news” for their coverage of layoffs at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders.

VanDerford won second place for “best crime and courts story” for his report on a sex offender who moved to the South End.

Jacobson won third place for “best crime and courts story” for an article about a young Clinton family who lost precious memorabilia in a storage-unit burglary.

Duff won second place for best topical column for reviews of the WICA productions of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street” and the release of a new CD by local jazz artists “Billet Deux.”

Duff also won second place for “best story on the arts” for her profile of island painter Deon Matzen, a prolific artist.

VanDerford won second place for “best sports news story” for an article on Falcons Nick Tenuta and Trapper Rawls, two close buddies and student-athletes who were on the football and baseball teams all four years at South Whidbey High School.

Jacobson won a second place for “best personality profile” for a story on about JaNoah Spratt of Freeland, after the 8-year-old devoted the money raised from his roadside vegetable stand to the Good Cheer Food Bank.

Marx Wheatley won a third place in “best health or medical story” about a South End veteran of the war in Afghanistan who was struggling with post-war life.

Kelly won second place for “best general news photo” for his picture of an Obama supporter underneath a massive American flag at the Joe Biden rally before the election in Tacoma.

VanDerford placed third for “best portrait photo” for his portrait of Theresa Marie Gandhi.

The Record is owned by Sound Publishing, which operates 30 community and suburban newspapers.

Two dozen Sound Publishing newspapers collected more than 150 awards in this year’s competition. The Record won more awards than any other newspaper in the company.

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