Bragging rights

CN&R picked up nine awards in statewide journalism contest

Along with the political and social commentary that has filled this space over the past nearly two years, I’ve written about some intensely personal experiences. First off, dear readers, thanks for indulging me.

One of the columns was about my confrontation with a couple of supermarket employees who were making fun of people with developmental disabilities. I dedicated the write-up—a painful yet cathartic one—to my then-2-year-old son, Henry, who has Down syndrome (see “For Hank,” Nov. 21, 2013). Nearly a year had passed from that writing when CN&R’s editorial staff sat down to figure out what to submit to the California Newspaper Publishers Association for its annual Better Newspapers Contest. When it came to Column Writing, a category requiring two submissions, CN&R’s staff chose that piece and another one chastising the Chico Police Officers’ Association (see “I wrote it,” March 6, 2014).

It was a good call. We found out this week that those columns took first place in the contest in our division—largest-circulated weekly newspapers in California, where we go up against big metro papers. Huzzah!

We also picked up two other first-place awards and a second-place award, along with five blue ribbons—honorable mentions—for a total of nine awards. The contest is open to all CNPA member publications, which, from the looks of it, includes just about everyone. The list of winners shows a wide cross-section of the state’s newspaper industry, from the 600,000-plus circulation Los Angeles Times to the 4,000 circulation Turlock Journal.

In each of my eight years at CN&R, the paper has picked up at least a couple of wins. But this year is special for me. That’s because, while I took over as editor-in-chief in mid-2013, last year was my first full year in the captain’s chair.

Here’s how we fared in the other categories: Contributor Debra Lucero’s intimate portrait of Kari Keith, wife of convicted kidnapper and rapist Lonnie Scott Keith—along with heretofore untold and disturbing details of his crimes—picked up second place in the Feature Story category (see “Collateral damage,” Sept. 18, 2014).

Our exhaustive series on the drought took home a first-place award for Environmental Reporting. It included two cover stories, by CN&R staff and contributor Alastair Bland, plus a couple of editorials and a column by yours truly.

The cover for our Green Issue—a photo by contributing photographer Melanie MacTavish with design by CN&R Art Director Tina Flynn—took first place for Front Page Design. If you need a visual, think derrière. This was the issue with a naked guy hugging a tree. (See Downstroke, page 8, for the honorable mentions.)

One final shout out goes to The Orion, the other local publication that took home honors this week. Chico State’s student newspaper, where I got my start in journalism, picked up a first-place award in the Writing category and second place for General Excellence. Congrats to the kids busting their humps in Plumas Hall’s basement.