News and Sentinel staffers receive awards in annual press contest

PARKERSBURG – The Parkersburg News and Sentinel received awards this weekend in the annual Better Newspaper Contest sponsored by the West Virginia Press Association, which represents newspapers in the Mountain State.

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel competes in Division 1, which includes the largest newspapers in West Virginia.

Evan Bevins, who covers Parkersburg city hall and other things, won first-place in the Best Lifestyle Columnist category for his column, “Back Issues.” “Well written and entertaining,” the judge said.

Kristofer McKenna, who works on the copy desk, received first-place in the Best Headline Writing category. The headlines were “Fossil Fued” on a story about energy sources and environmental concerns and “Razing the Bar” on a story about the demolition of an old building in downtown Parkersburg.

Bevins, online manager Art Smith and reporter Jeff Baughan received first place in the Best Special Section category for a special section on the International Export Import fire. “It’s evident that a lot of work went into this. Great use of photos. Strong layout,” the judge said.

Jess Mancini, city editor, received second place in the Best Business, Economic or Labor category for coverage of the fire at the IEI warehouse in South Parkersburg in October.

Mancini responded to the massive fire shortly after it started and had early photos and videos of the flames, many only yards away from the fire, and efforts to contain the blaze.

Mancini also received third-place in the Best Business, Economic or Labor Reporting with a story about the impact on small businesses caused by the fire. “A well-written human exploration of a fire’s consequences, fleshed out with factual details of the incident and its impact,’ judges said.

The sports staff received a second place in the Best Sports Special Section category for Pigskin Preview.

Paul Lapann, managing editor, received third place in the Best Lifestyle Columnist category for his weekly Saturday column.

“Short, enjoyable anecdotes from the eyes of a writer who must be deeply connected to his community. The columnist’s impressionist style of storytelling,” the judge said. “He did well in capturing the ‘ordinariness’ of life in his region, a role journalists sometimes forget about.”

The staff received a third place for the Ghost Tab in the Best Special Section category. The tab is a collection of ghost stories from the Mid-Ohio Valley.

The annual convention was held at the Embassy Suites in Charleston.

Four West Virginia newspapers earned first-place General Excellence awards, which honor outstanding achievement by circulation division, in the 2018 West Virginia Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.

The General Excellence Award winners are Charleston Gazette-Mail in Division 1, Bluefield Daily Telegraph in Division 2, Hampshire Review in Division 3, and The Record Delta of Buckhannon in Division 4.

With the top point total in both editorial and advertising of newspapers in West Virginia, The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington earned the Newspaper of the Year honors.

Perry Nardo, publisher of Wheeling News-Register and The Intelligencer, won the WVPA’s highest honor — The Adam R. Kelly Award — for his dedication to the newspaper industry, the West Virginia Press Association and his local community.

Nardo, a long-time publisher with the Ogden Newspaper Company, is a former prep coach at Shadyside High School and Bishop Donahue High School. He is a past president and board member with the WVPA. He also served as publisher of the Wetzel Chronicle in New Martinsville.

Craig Hudson with the Charleston Gazette-Mail received the honor for best photo of the year.

The results of the annual competition, which honors excellence in newspaper journalism, were announced Saturday during a banquet at The Embassy Suites in Charleston.

“Our annual newspaper competition always brings out the best of our state’s newspapers and journalists have to offer,” said Don Smith, executive director of the WVPA. “From the largest daily newspaper to the smallest weekly newspaper, West Virginia residents benefit from the outstanding and dedicated work of journalists throughout the state. Community journalism remains the centerpiece of the newspaper industry in the Mountain State. The West Virginia Press Association is proud to recognize and honor the excellent work produced by West Virginia’s terrific newspapers and journalists.”

Newspapers across the state compete in four circulation groups, two each for daily and weekly newspapers. The contest has 29 categories, ranging from Coverage of Government Affairs to Reporting Generated from Public Notices and Best Editorial Page.

In 2018, 36 newspapers submitted nearly 1,700 entries. The overall awards for General Excellence are based on total points earned in the basic categories.

For General Excellence, the West Virginia Press Association recognized three places in each division. The newspapers recognized for General Excellence in editorial coverage in 2018 were as follows:

Division I (Dailies over 16,000 circulation):

* 1st: Charleston Gazette-Mail

* 2nd: The Register-Herald of Beckley

* 3rd: The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington

Division II (Dailies 16,000 and under):

* 1st: Bluefield Daily Telegraph

* 2nd: The Inter-Mountain of Elkins

* 3rd: The Journal of Martinsburg

Division III (Weeklies over 4,000):

* 1st: Hampshire Review

* 2nd: The Times Record and Roane County Reporter of Spencer

* 3rd: Spirit of Jefferson

Division IV (Weeklies 4,000 and under):

* 1st: The Record Delta of Buckhannon

* 2nd: Princeton Times

* 3rd: Moorefield Examiner