The News wins MPA awards

It is always to sit back, take a deep breath and bask in the glory of a victory. A year ago, The Bridgton News reached the pinnacle of the journalism world when it was named the Maine Press Association Better Newspaper Contest’s “Newspaper of the Year” in the Weekly II division.

Upon returning for the annual convention at lovely Point Lookout in Northport, I remember telling our staff that while we achieved excellence and should be proud of the achievement, we needed to get back to work and challenge ourselves to be even better.

Although The News failed to repeat as the top Weekly II newspaper, we did place third in General Excellence behind the Ellsworth American and Sanford News. Judge Jeff Potter, editor of The Commons in Brattleboro, Vt. Wrote, “Another classic community newspaper with substance and style, The Bridgton News is well-written and edited, particularly given some of the difficult meeting fireworks that prevailed in some of the entries. The paper provides another outstanding stand-alone opinion section that gives readers a voice and a community forum. The News offers some provocative columns that surely keep people reading. Layout is sharp and professional.”

The News also captured the following honors:

S. Peter Lewis, third place, Local Column. Judge Keith Testa, managing editor at The Villager in Hillsborough, Mass., said, “Very humorous and engaging. A perfect slice of life in Maine. Written with a wit and ease that makes the work extremely readable and breezy. Descriptive language and conversational tone were blended well.”

Gail Geraghty, second place, Analysis. The winning entry was about the town of Harrison’s battle with Camps Owatonna and Newfound over tax-exempt status. Judge Marc Fortier, Sunday editor at the Eagle Tribune in North Andover, Mass., said “A good look at a typical town versus nonprofit battle over the lack of taxes paid to the community. Story serves as a setup piece for the fight to come. ‘Let the games begin,’ is a terrific quote, the kind not typically heard uttered by a public official.”

Wayne E. Rivet, first place, Scenic Photo. The winning photo showed a hiker and dog walking along a ledge on Pleasant Mountain, overlooking Moose Pond. “Photographer caught a perfectly-composed moment,” said judge Peter Ackerman, chief photographer at the Asbury Park Press in Neptune, N.J.

Wayne E. Rivet, first place, Sports Story. The winning entry was “See what Christina sees,” a story about Fryeburg Academy field hockey player Christina DiPietro. Although suffering from a degenerating eye disease which seriously limits her vision, Christina still managed to be one of the Raider’s top scorers as a freshman. Judge Vince Sullivan, associate editor of News of Delaware County in Holmes, Pa., said “Great story to tell, and you told it well. Good job with the background information, and comments from coaches and teammates. Graphics helped some, but your description painted the picture.”

Wayne E. Rivet, second place, Sports Section. Judge Mike Leary, managing editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote, “Use of photos and ‘Player of the Week’ feature distinguishes the paper from its competitors.”

The News, third place, News/Sports Headline. The winning headline was “Final call to the principal’s office.” The story, written by Mike Corrigan, was about the impending retirement of Stevens Brook Elementary School Principal Bev Chalmers.

It’s certainly rewarding to be recognized by your peers. It also means a lot when we hear readers tell us, “You put out a great paper.” We appreciate the compliments, especially in this pressure-driven, highly-charged business. To remain a high-quality weekly newspaper, however, we will strive harder to keep our readers informed with accurate accounts of the happenings in the Lake Region, while also pursuing interesting stories about people in our communities. There is always room for improvement, from eliminating reporting mistakes and errors in advertisements. If you truly want to be the best, you can never rest on past achievements. With that in mind, we’ll continue to ask ourselves, “What can I do better as a writer,” “How can we improve getting the news out to our readership” and “What story out there has a chance to be an award winner?” — WER

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