News wins top prize in ONPA awards

The Hood River News won a record number of first place awards in the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association 2002 Better Newspaper Contest, whose results were announced Friday at the annual Summer Publishers Convention in Tigard.

Along with numerous individual awards, the News took home the prestigious General Excellence award for weekly newspapers.

Staff writer RaeLynn Gill won first place in Spot News Coverage for her report about the criminal inquiries into four deaths that happened within a five-week period last spring and summer.

Gill also won first place for Lifestyle Coverage for her story, “Starting Over,” about women overcoming domestic abuse.

Staff writer Janet Cook won first place in the General Feature Story category for her piece entitled “A Disappearing Past,” about the efforts of an officer with the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Enforcement to stop looting and vandalism of Native American cultural sites.

Cook also won first place in the Best Writing category for the second year in a row for a collection of her stories and columns.

Staff photographer Jim Semlor, who also does page design and graphics work, won first place in both the Best Page One Design category and the Best Inside Page Design category.

Semlor also took first place in the Best Graphics category for his photography and design work on a Kaleidoscope feature about Parkdale glass artists, and third place in the same category for his design and photography on another Kaleidoscope feature about environmentalist and “tree sitter” Julia Butterfly Hill.

In addition, Semlor won third place in the Best News Photo category for his photographs of the culmination of a car chase and the apprehension of the suspect on I-84 near The Dalles.

The Hood River News staff won first place in the Best Special Section or Issue category for “Panorama,” its annual special section that comes out during Blossom Festival.

The News staff also won first place for Best Coverage of Business and Economic Issues for its series entitled “Uprooted Harvest” which focused on the challenges facing the Hood River Valley’s fruit industry.

In addition, the News staff won second place in the 9/11 category for its coverage of the local impact of the East Coast terrorist attacks. The award was for coverage in the first two weeks following the attacks.

“I couldn’t be happier and more proud of everyone,” said Tom Lanctot, News publisher. “I’m especially proud of the fact we received so many first place awards. It’s a reflection on the individuals who work hard every day.”

Lanctot said the General Excellence award is a “reflection on the entire staff, from the newsroom to production to the pressroom.

“It shows a strong team effort,” he said.

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