Second best

Chico’s three newspapers take home awards.

Color me shocked when I opened the Enterprise-Record on Tuesday to see a somewhat comprehensive local write-up about the results of the 2015 California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Better Newspapers Contest. I wasn’t so much surprised that the paper published a short piece, but rather that it included the CN&R’s wins.

This newspaper took home three second-place awards as well as two blue ribbon finalists (a third or fourth place) for a total of five awards. We compete against the state’s largest weeklies. A blue ribbon in the category of Best Writing goes to longtime CN&R contributor Steve Metzger for his excellent July 30, 2015, cover piece “Ain’t you gotta write,” a narrative that intertwines his participation in a songwriting camp in the South with that region’s civil rights history. The other one goes to Arts Editor Jason Cassidy for his submissions of his Arts DEVO column in the category of Best Columns, which included his incredibly sweet tribute to the late Jim Dwyer (aka Moondog).

Cassidy also gets a shout out for his work on last year’s Beer Issue, which he spearheaded; it took home a second place in the category of Special Issue. CN&R Art Director Tina Flynn’s striking illustration of gloved hands clasping a coffee mug for the Jan. 15, 2015, cover story “Mind unsound, body unsheltered,” about Chico’s mentally ill homeless population, earned a second place. And another second goes to Flynn, along with designer Sandy Peters, for their work illustrating the inside pages of Metzger’s aforementioned story.

Putting together this paper each week is the effort of many dedicated journalists, both members of our staff and contributors. Congrats to this year’s winners and thanks to everyone else who helps the CN&R hit the stands every Thursday. This includes our teams of fantastic designers, advertising folks, delivery drivers and interns.

There were too many great stories published in this paper in 2015 to mention them all. But I will say that I’m particularly proud of our coverage of the issues surrounding homelessness. The old newspaper adage “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” applies to no local media more than this newspaper. It doesn’t always win us favor. But that’s the way it should be.

I don’t know what got into the editors of the daily to mention us this time, but we’ll take it. They overlooked us last year when we took home nine awards, including three for first place and one for second. In my years with this paper, we’ve always made a point to mention the other local media to place in this contest. Speaking of giving credit where credit is due, the E-R (which combines with the Oroville Mercury Register and competes against other dailies) earned a second-place award for Photo Illustration. Additionally, Chico State’s student newspaper, The Orion, fared well in its competition against other college weeklies. It took home first place for Column Writing and a second-place award for General Excellence. Congrats to them, too.

I don’t think any of the local papers print stories with the intention of winning awards. We don’t have the manpower or time to focus on such self-indulgent exercises. That said, it’s nice to get a pat on the back now and again.