News-Herald wins 17 VPA awards

Published 10:51 pm Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Suffolk News-Herald took home 17 awards, including six first places, from the Virginia Press Association’s annual competition in writing, photography, artwork, design and multimedia.

The contest, which covered work published in calendar year 2014, was judged by journalists from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association and others from throughout the country. The awards were presented at the annual conference at the Hotel Roanoke on Saturday.

The paper earned a total of 36 points in the Sweepstakes contest, but it wasn’t enough to win. The paper competes in the Daily 1 category, which includes all daily papers in the state with a circulation of less than 20,000.

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Editor Res Spears earned a first-place award in the Feature Photo category for a photo of a Hillpoint Elementary School teacher blowing bubbles at students on the last day of school last year. Judges said the photo had “beautiful depth of field, color and focus. The composition helps tell the story without distractions.”

Spears also won a first-place award in the Headline Writing category. The five submissions had “focused wit that pertains to story,” judges said.

Publisher Steve Stewart won first place in the Editorial Writing category. “These editorials were a great example of watchdog journalism,” judges wrote. “Each topic was interesting and written in such a way that it was easy to follow along. The language and word usage in each was impressive.”

Sports reporter Titus Mohler won a first-place award in the Sports Feature Photo category for a shot of a helicopter golf ball drop at Treasurer Ron Williams’ annual golf tournament. Judges called it a “nicely composed photo that immediately raises all sorts of questions for the reader, in a good way.”

Designer Jen Jaqua and the rest of the staff won a first-place award in the Special Sections or Special Editions category for the Peanut Fest 2014 section. Judges said it had “great local flavor, stories written with a touch of hometown flair and everything you would need to know about the festival.”

The staff also won a first-place award for Editorial Pages. Judges especially liked that letters to the editor were placed at the top of the page. “Pages invite you to read them,” the judges wrote.

Second-place awards went to Mohler in the Sports News Photo category for a photo of a Nansemond River High School football player making an interception; to Mohler for Headline Writing; to News Editor Tracy Agnew for Business and Financial Writing; to Spears for Editorial Writing; to reporter Matthew Ward for Health, Science and Environmental Writing; to Ward and Agnew in General News Writing for their multiple-day coverage of the murder of downtown business owner Donald Carter; and to Jaqua and the staff in the Specialty Pages or Sections category for Fun and Leisure pages published throughout the year.

Third-place awards went to Spears in Feature Photo for a shot of Santa Claus putting ketchup on his hamburger; to Ward for Business and Financial Writing; to Agnew for Education Writing; and to the staff for the Strides special section in the Special Sections or Special Editions category.

In the advertising contest, designer Ryan Outlaw took home a second-place award for his design of an advertisement promoting the Priceless Pets Photo Contest on which the News-Herald partnered with the Suffolk Humane Society.