A few of us from the Addison Independent had fun in Boston Saturday night.
We were there for a conference, which incorporates two full-days of 90-minute training sessions (getting three hours of instruction both morning and afternoon) along with staff camaraderie and the annual awards banquet for the New England Newspaper-Press Association.
We reviewed the basics of our craft, caught up on the newest initiatives in the world of digital journalism, were challenged and inspired by speakers and went out for a Chinese dinner (Gourmet Dumpling House) at which reporter Andrew Stein used his fluency in Chinese to renew a friendship with the owners and order enough for eight of us.
We talked shop for most of the 36 hours we were there, compared notes on the various seminars we attended, exchanged revelations and critiqued points of view. We drew up our list of things to improve — more town correspondents and columnists to broaden the reach of our community coverage, shorter meeting stories but more focus on break-outs, expanded arts, entertainment and business news, freshening up our layout and design, and continuing to work on our Website and digital offerings — then whittled it down to the three or four things that are a priority. Things we know we can get done and see improvement.
And we took the time to have a bit of fun together — something that’s not always possible in the crunch of yet another, never-ending string of deadlines.
Such is the stuff that helps create team spirit.
And it shows. The Addison Independent brought home six first place awards, four second places and a couple thirds, and The Reporter, our sister paper covering Brandon-Pittsford-Proctor, won first place in Community Involvement — an important category in which to win.
While the Addison Independent didn’t repeat as the top weekly newspaper in general excellent in New England this year as we did last (the Vineyard Gazette won this year), we did win top honors for the Best Overall Website for all weeklies in the six New England states. That’s quite a tribute to Andrea Suozzo, our online editor, and Andrew Stein, who works on the online edition with her.
Suozzo, photographer Trent Campbell and sports editor Andy Kirkaldy also combined on a sports related online slideshow that took first place; Campbell won a first for a sports photo and two second places in other categories; Suozzo won two other first place awards for reporting — one in education and another in science-technology; reporter John Flowers took first place for his reporting on the Omya railroad spur; we placed second in general excellence for advertising and second in local promotion for subscriptons; got a third place for niche publication (Vermont Ski & Ride Magazine) and news editor John McCright took third for a serious column. It should also be noted that Suozzo and Campbell were considered for Reporter- and Photographer-of-the-Year, respectively, among the more than 350 weeklies entered in the competition. While they just missed the top spot, it’s an honor to be named among the top three.
We also cheered as two Vermont colleagues were inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame — Tom Kearny, editor of the Stowe Reporter, and Ross Connelly, editor/publisher of the Hardwick Gazette — and listened to their stories of a lifetime dedicated to the profession.
It was an inspiring weekend and a lot of fun. Once again, congratulations to the entire Addison Independent and Addison Press Inc., teams; and a tip to the hat to our readers, without whom our efforts would be for naught.