Pretty neat when you think about how far our paper has come. There is no denying the quality of it went way
up over the last few years. There was a time when the stories weren't accurate, were terribly written, there wasn't much in the paper, etc. Not anymore!!!
Paper accumulates statewide honors
Array includes 2nd win by reporter of PNA Distinguished Writing Award
Sunday, May 23, 2004
BY ELIZABETH GIBSON
Of The Patriot-News
The Patriot-News eclipsed the state's largest newspapers, garnering more journalism awards this year than any other paper in its division, including the award for best writer in the state.
The Harrisburg-based newspaper won a combined 24 awards in two of the state's most-prestigious journalism competitions.
The Patriot-News picked up the Division I Sweepstakes Award at the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Keystone Press Awards banquet in State College last night. The honor goes to the newspaper that earns the most awards in its division.
On Friday night, Patriot-News reporters, editors and photographers accepted awards for excellence in the 2004 Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors Writing and Photo Awards competition.
In both competitions, Patriot-News stories, photos and design were pitted against The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, which have larger staffs than The Patriot-News.
Patriot-News staff writer Jim Lewis won PNA's Distinguished Writing Award, a distinction he previously captured in 2001. Lewis gripped judges with stories on everyday people in trying circumstances, describing their dilemmas in a style that allowed readers to imagine their suffering.
"We're the smallest paper in that category. It's just a reflection of the kind of paper we now have and the paper we give our readers every day," said John Kirkpatrick, Patriot-News publisher.
Kirkpatrick and some of the paper's editors, reporters and photographers basked in last night's accolades at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.
"Some papers do stories that they think will win awards. I'm not knocking that. One reason I'm delighted that we won the sweepstakes award this year is because we think a lot, not about contests, but about stories readers are really interested in," said David Newhouse, The Patriot-News executive editor.
"The stories that won for us are exactly those kinds of stories," he said.
For instance, a story about the mystifying murder of Randi Trimble, an East Pennsboro woman whose husband and his co-worker were eventually convicted in her death, won first place in the ongoing news category for staff writers Pete Shellem, Joe Elias, Matt Miller, Jerry Gleason, Frank Cozzoli and Daniel Sheehan.
A 17-year Patriot-News reporter, Lewis won best writer in the state based on a portfolio of stories, including his narrative of Margaret Sharar, whose cookies were legendary before she died at 83. Lewis revealed a fantastic twist in his story and forever sealed the New Cumberland woman's baking reputation. Her family, Lewis wrote, had buried Sharar's cremated remains in her cookie jar.
"I think what I do best is listen, and I end up getting something I didn't think I'd get going into a story," Lewis said.
The Patriot-News took seven first-place Keystone honors, six second-place awards and won an honorable mention for news-beat reporting.
John Curley, former president, chairman and CEO of Gannett Co. and USA Today's first editor, said The Patriot-News' seven, strategically placed bureaus generate thorough news coverage for the paper's readers.
Patriot-News' stories about traffic problems on Interstate 81 and worries about West Nile in the midstate represent diligent daily journalism.
"I think many judges look at how a paper does day in and day out," Curley said.
The Patriot-News also does a better job than any paper in the state, he said, at unearthing local readers' connections to national events, often interviewing residents from four or five counties to do so.
Three years ago, the 150-year-old Patriot-News got a new look when the production department moved from Harrisburg to a $60 million Hampden Twp. facility, which housed a new Goss Colorliner press.
Curley said the paper's look "sort of came together in a graphic sense," with eye-catching promotional boxes on the front page.
Photo production is sharper, too.
Keystone judges bestowed awards on photos from photographers Amiran White and Gary Dwight-Miller.
Photos from White and Christopher Millette also drew 2004 Pennsylvania APME honors.
Newhouse noted that the numerous awards aren't for work from a small group of celebrity journalists.
"You don't win this many awards unless everyone in the newsroom is pulling together every day to do good work," he said.