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The Envelope, Please



We have our own version of March Madness. Once a year we gather up what we think are examples our best journalism and send them off to be judged by our peers – writers and editors of other newspapers throughout California. The California Newspaper Publishers Association, which runs the annual Better Newspapers Contest, delivers the results the old fashioned way, via the U.S. mail. In March we anxiously await that envelope.

The North Coast Journal has been on a streak in our circulation category of similar newspapers, winning writing and design awards, ever since we became a newsweekly in 1998. This year is no exception. We, as a team, won an all-time high of 10 awards – seven CNPA plaques that indicate a first- or second-place finish (we’ll find out at the convention in June), and three also-rans: Certificates of Merit.

What is unusual this year is that nine of those 10 awards are due to the writing of one person on the editorial staff. While we are green with envy, we all wildly cheered his success at last Wednesday’s staff meeting.

The awards were for the following stories, published from late 2009 through 2010, all available online:

Investigative or Enterprise Reporting: “The Plane That Wasn’t There,” Dec. 17, 2009

Local News Coverage: “College in Revolt,” April 1, 2010

Businesses or Financial Story: “Reinventing Scotia,” Nov. 26, 2009

Businesses or Financial Story: “Humboldt: The Brand,” Feb. 11, 2010

Environmental or Agricultural Reporting, “Redemption Value,” June 17, 2010

Writing: “Chloe’s Legacy: Mourning parents hope to educate through the suicide of their teenage transgender daughter,” Oct. 14, 2010

Feature Story: “Hooked: Blood, masochism and the shocking thrill of human suspension,” Sept. 9, 2010

Local News Coverage: “Mega-Village,” Aug. 5, 2010

Best Video, “Human Suspension: The Video

The final Certificate of Merit -- Best Website, www.northcoastjournal.com -- was truly a team effort led by former editor Hank Sims, who is now with Lost Coast Communications. (Sims launched a new website for LCC just this week at www.lostcoastoutpost.com.) Contributing to the design, functionality and implementation of the Journal’s new website – a two-year project -- were members of every department here at the Journal, especially our graphic designers, and Katherine Topaz, of Topaz Design in Portland, Ore.

Finally, the staff writer responsible for those nine winning stories?

That would be Ryan Burns, who last week graciously agreed to take over as acting editor of the Journal for a few months while we conduct a search. We sincerely thank Ryan for stepping in during this time of transition.

Yes, we know we picked a winner.


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