The Vineyard Gazette won 17 awards in the annual New England Newspaper and Press Association contest this year, including nine first-place awards for excellence in journalism and advertising. The awards were announced at the annual banquet held by the small newspaper press association in Boston last weekend. The contest saw nearly 3,000 entries from small daily, weekly and biweekly/monthly newspapers in the six-state region of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Newspapers are judged in daily and weekly categories by circulation.
Gazette senior writer Mike Seccombe won first place in environmental reporting and second place in the general news category for a series of stories on the offshore wind farm controversy on the Vineyard. “A good example of a reporter staying on top of a story and the twists and turns of something of this magnitude,” judges wrote.
Gazette managing editor Lauren Martin won a first place award for arts and entertainment writing for her 2010 season preview for summer performing arts on the Island.
Reporter Mark Alan Lovewell won first place for history reporting for a story about the shipwreck of the Mertie B. Crowley. “Somebody pitch this story for a movie!” judges wrote.
The newspaper won first place in the spot news reporting category for the story about the Menemsha boathouse fire that broke on deadline last July.
The Gazette won first place for headline writing. “They really tell stories and are distinguished in how they successfully dodge cliches,” judges wrote about the Gazette’s headlines.
Reporter Megan Dooley won two prizes: second place for a package of stories about the Island public schools strings program in jeopardy due to budget cuts, and third place in reporting on a racial or ethnic issue for her coverage of the Brazilian scarf controversy just before high school graduation last year.
The Gazette won third place for its arts and entertainment section. Two photography awards, a second and a third, went to photographer Ray Ewing in the pictorial category.
The newspaper won six awards in advertising, including four first-place awards.
Top honors went to the Gazette in the categories of advertising campaign (for a Jardin Mahoney ad), local ad in color (an MV Glassworks ad), real estate (a New Seabury ad) and best idea for generating advertising sales (a Vineyard Homes special section). “Wow! Great color photo . . . this is a work of art that should also sell product,” the judges wrote about the glassworks ad.
The Gazette also won second and third place in the local ad black and white category.
The Gazette fared well among its peers. The Ellsworth American, a Maine weekly, won 33 awards including first place for general excellence in editorial and advertising, and the Inquirer and Mirror, the Gazette’s weekly counterpart on Nantucket, won 25 awards.
The Martha’s Vineyard Times, a weekly newspaper published in Vineyard Haven, won no awards this year.
At the outset of the convention at a luncheon on Friday afternoon Anthony Lewis, the retired Pulitzer Prize-winning and longtime New York Times columnist, received the first Stephen Hamblett First Amendment Award.
Mr. Lewis, who recently authored a book on the First Amendment, was honored for years of advocating government accountability.
The award is named after the late publisher of The Providence Journal who presided over a period when the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing corruption in the Rhode Island court system. Mr. Hamblett died in 2005.
Mr. Lewis is a longtime summer resident of West Tisbury.