WELCHES, Ore. – Competing against statewide papers – including daily newspapers such as The Oregonian and Register-Guard in some categories – The Chronicle added to its three-year haul of more than 40 “Better Newspaper Contest” awards this past weekend at the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association’s annual convention.
This year, the Maine Press Association judged the Oregon “Better Newspaper Contest.” Competing in the G Division – papers at 1,000 subscribers or less – in most of the categories, The Chronicle totaled 14 awards, including six first-place honors and a General Excellence honor for the third consecutive year.
The paper’s coverage of the Creswell Fourth of July events in 2021 won first place for “Best Online Coverage of Breaking News” in divisions A-G – in other words, against every media outlet in the state, including The Oregonian and Eugene’s Register-Guard.
The “Best Editorial Page,” “Best Headline Writing,” and “Best Graphics” were won against papers in the combined divisions E-G (papers up to 3,000 subscribers).
Erin Tierney-Heggenstaller, the paper’s executive editor, has won five first-place writing awards in the past two years. Her first-place and second-place awards for “Best Lifestyle Coverage” in 2021 came against papers up to twice the size of The Chronicle’s circulation.
“We couldn’t be more proud of our team,” said Chronicle publisher Noel Nash, who attended the awards banquet with Tierney-Heggenstaller and co-owner Denise Nash at the Mt. Hood Oregon Resort. “When you consider that we were operating during the second year of the pandemic – the most difficult and perilous times from a business perspective – and were still recognized for our journalism and the hyper-local news and information that serves our community, it reflects well on Erin and our team.”
The Chronicle’s coverage of the unpermitted and politically charged Fourth of July parade in Creswell, and later that evening the fireworks show held during drought conditions and led to a fire, earned the judges’ praise. Chronicle staff covered the events in real time, posting stories, photos and videos on chronicle1909.com and the paper’s social media sites, Facebook and Instagram.
The paper also won first in its division for “Best Editorial Page,” based on samples from January, March, and August.
Chronicle staff writer Ron Hartman’s entry for “Best Headline Writing” won first place, with gems such as “Scorch of July” for the holiday news coverage in Creswell, “Vax Scene” and “Sticky Situation” for the vaccine rollout, and others.
Tierney-Heggenstaller earned first place in the “Best Feature Writing” category for her piece on civil rights icon Ruby Bridges and the United Way’s efforts around racial justice.
The Chronicle also won first place for “Best Special Section” for the Emerald Valley Almanac Annual, published in March 2021 with writing by Elyse Grau, Yaakov Levine and Dana Merryday. The special section is an extension of the Almanac in the weekly paper, and provides a yearlong view.
Second-place awards: Best Lifestyle Coverage, “Patrician Park residents saved,” Heggenstaller; Best Local Column, multiple columns, Noel Nash; and Best General Feature, “Coop’s widow seeking closure,” Ron Hartman.
Third-place awards: The staff earned the overall General Excellence award; Best Education Coverage, “South Lane superintendent leading through crisis,” Dana Merryday; Best Local Column, multiple columns,Tierney-Heggenstaller; Best Graphics, Creswell yard sale map, Staff; and Best Photo Essay, “Forged by Fire,” Emma Routley.
“I am so impressed by our small team earning awards from all of the communities we serve,” Tierney-Heggenstaller said. “A skeleton crew with grandiose ambitions to cover three communities, it’s rewarding to see our plans coming into fruition and that hard work pay off. We didn’t get here by chance; Noel has set a strong, ethical, and inspiring precedent for our team, and it is reaffirming to see The Chronicle recognized by our esteemed colleagues in the media industry. And we are just getting started.”
The Chronicle is the only locally owned, subscription-based weekly newspaper serving the southern Willamette Valley.