The Chronicle, a weekly newspaper founded in 1909 in Creswell that now serves all of southern Lane County, earned 18 awards in the 2020 “Better Newspaper Contest” as part of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association contest.
Nine of the awards were first-place honors, including “Best Government” and “Best Enterprise” reporting for coverage of South Lane Fire District Chief John Wooten, who posted offensive material to his public social media pages, was suspended in July 2020, then reinstated without punitive action. One SLFD board member resigned in protest. Executive editor Erin Tierney’s reporting was cited by judges as “broad, thoughtful, fair.”
Another judge said, “This coverage held officials accountable and gave the public access to more information by fulfilling public records requests.”
Tierney also won “Best Lifestyle Coverage” for her intimate profile of Pazzo chef/owner Scott Pisani, which appeared in the Creswell Visitors and Newcomers Guide, published by The Chronicle. “The best stories are the ones where you feel like you are there and this one made me feel like I was there AND eating the food,” said one judge. “That was a bonus on top of the chef’s personal journey.”
Tierney took “Best Spot News” honors for her coverage of the people and events related to the Holiday Farm Fire. She was among the first reporters to speak with survivors at a Springfield rescue center.
“This article is well-sourced, showing the breadth of the initial impact of a wildfire on a community. The writing is clear and powerful, and the details paint a clear picture,” said a judge.
Publisher Noel Nash, an occasional columnist, won “Best Editorials.” Said one judge: “Great variety of topics and thought provoking.” Nash also won “Best Feature Story” for a profile of Creswell’s founder, John J.C. Creswell of Maryland.
The paper was recognized for two of its special sections. The Creswell Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Visitors and Newcomers Guide took “Best Special Section.” A judge said: “From front to back, the section had a warm, inviting and uncluttered layout. A magazine that readers will want to keep around.”
And the paper’s annual high school graduation special section won for “Best Institutional Section.”
The paper earned eight awards in 2019, the first year under owners Noel and Denise Nash, who purchased The Creswell Chronicle in March 2019, and renamed it The Chronicle in September 2019. Tierney, hired in 2016, has led the weekly to 26 ONPA awards in the past two years.
The ONPA also announced that Noel Nash was elected to its Board of Directors for a two-year term.
The awards in full are as follows:
Best Special Section or Issue: Creswell Newcomers & Visitors Guide
Best Feature Story: How did we get here? Creswell’s namesake was a champion for the marginalized by Noel Nash
Best Lifestyle coverage: Pazzo Eats Chef Experience by Erin Tierney
Best Spot News Coverage: Tragedy chokes valley: Holiday Farm Fire by Erin Tierney
Best Enterprise reporting: Chief Under Fire by Erin Tierney and Emma Routley: Wooten investigation ongoing ; Fire chief reinstated without disciplinary action ; Wooten ‘truly sorry for posts’ ; Chronicle investigation reveals ‘hacking’ letter, more controversial posts ; Finding a way forward
Best Government Coverage: Chief Under Fire by Erin Tierney and Emma Routley (links above)
Best Institutional Section: A Class of its Own: Graduation section
Best Institutional Ads: City of Creswell
Best Feature: Seeing beyond the picture with Don Prechtel by Ron Hartman
Best Page 1 design: Chief Under Fire (see above)
Best Graphics: Chief Under Fire (see above)
Best Black & White ad: KNND Live Radio
General Excellence: Overall
Best Section Cover: Back to School
Best ad series: Camas Swale Medical Center
Best overall advertising: City of Creswell 12 Days of Lights