BOSTON — At a ceremony in Boston this past weekend, The Addison County Independent won 12 awards for journalistic excellence at the annual New England Newspaper and Press Association Better Newspaper Competition. Among the more than 350 newspapers entered in the contest, the Independent won six first place awards, four seconds and two thirds.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo, who has been with the Independent for the past two years following a summer internship after graduating from Middlebury College, won two first-place awards in writing. The first was for her piece on education, in which she reported on how the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) testing through the federal No Child Left Behind law was missing the mark, and another in technology, in which she profiled how information technology is helping area libraries fulfill their missions. Suozzo also collaborated on another first-place winner for a sports slide-show on the Independent’s web site with sports editor Andy Kirkaldy and photographer Trent Campbell.
Suozzo, who doubles as the Independent’s online editor, was also instrumental in the newspaper’s biggest honor of the awards banquet: winning the best website among all weekly newspapers in New England, besting the second-place Boston Phoenix. The judges said they recognized the tough choices to determine the top website, but gave the Independent the “nod by virtue of its exceptional local events calendar and clean, efficient design.”
Veteran reporter John Flowers won first for his transportation piece on the controversial Omya rail spur that would go from the Foster quarry in Middlebury west to the railroad tracks cutting across Halladay Road. Of the extensive report, judges wrote: “An almost-magazine length piece about the limbo faced by property owners threatened by plans for a new railroad spur … Vermont law allows railroad eminent domain power without explicitly providing public interest. Reporter John Flowers lays this all out in a clear narrative.” It was the second consecutive year for Flowers to win for a story involving transportation issues.
Campbell won three awards in photography: a first place for a sports photo of a bicyclist racing, and two seconds — for a personality photo and a feature photo; as well as his work on the award-winning sports slide show.
Campbell was in the running for Photographer of the Year, an honor to be considered one of three in all of New England among the weeklies; and Suozzo was in the running for Reporter of the Year — also an honor just to be named.
The Independent also placed second in general excellence for advertising, and second for a subscription promotion; while news editor John McCright placed third for a serious column on the cost of elections written for the Clippings column on Page 4; and Vermont Ski & Ride Magazine, produced by the Addison Independent, placed third as a special niche publication.
The Reporter — covering the news of Brandon, Pittsford, Proctor and West Rutland, and which is a sister publication of the Addison Independent — won first place for community involvement for its publication covering Brandon’s Bicentennial.
“We’re excited to have placed so well among the larger weeklies in the six New England states,” said editor-publisher Angelo Lynn, noting that the 8,000-circulation weekly competes against weekly and twice-weekly newspapers ranging in circulation from 6,001 to more than 70,000.
“As one of the smaller weeklies in our category, it’s always fun to be able to compete with the very best in the region.”
Lynn noted that while the Addison Independent didn’t repeat as winners of the General Excellence category this year as they had in 2011, “we’re really pleased to be recognized as having the best website among all weeklies in New England. It’s quite an achievement for the news staff, and particularly for Andrea Suozzo and reporter Andrew Stein, who take the lead role on the site. It shows that we can produce an excellent newspaper, while also moving forward in the digital world to produce one of the best online sites in the region. We’re rightly proud of those accomplishments hope our readers appreciate the hard work that goes into this and the high level of information provided to the county by the Addison Independent staff.”