We don’t mean to brag …

But what can we say? The Sacramento News & Review cleaned up at this year’s 2004 Better Newspapers Contest, sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA). In competition with weekly papers around the state with a circulation of more than 25,000, SN&R won a total of eight first- or second-place awards.

•First place for best writing went to Joel Davis for his story “The heart of the (gray) matter.” The judges used the word “powerful” three separate times to describe the, well, power of Davis’ story. “Gray matter” also won a prestigious Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Award—a national award given by the University of Missouri School of Journalism—earlier this year.

•Photographer Max Whittaker and designer Don Button’s “Praying for recovery” won first place in the photo-essay category.

•The first-place award for editorial writing went to Melinda Welsh, for her column “Much ado about nothing.”

•Welsh won again in environmental reporting, taking the first-place award—along with writer Cosmo Garvin—for “The Dirty Dozen.” In fact, SN&R swept the environmental-reporting category, also garnering second place for the “Sacramento 2025” series by Garvin and Jeff Kearns.

•The second-place award for arts-and-entertainment coverage went to Jackson Griffith, Becca Costello and Erin Sierchio.

•Second-place honors for page layout and design went to Andrew Epstein and David Jayne.

•And finally, second place for special issues went to the SN&R staff for “It came from Sacramento,” our “Best of” issue for 2004.

With a grand total of eight CNPA awards, SN&R won more than any other weekly in this year’s competition.