The West Virginia Press Association (WVPA) has released the results of their 2020 Newspaper Editorial and Advertising Contest, which they host annually. Newspapers from across the state compete with other publications in their division in multiple editorial and advertising categories.
This year, the Mountain Messenger scored a total of five awards, including first place overall in the editorial category Best COVID-19 Coverage.
Head Editor Sarah Richardson won second place in the Best Legal Affairs Category for her piece, “Local Attorney’s Law License Suspended,” which was published in April 2020. Richardson also won third place in the Best Business, Economic, or Labor reporting category for her piece, “True Value Announces Closure After Nearly 50 Years,” published in September 2020.
Former Mountain Messenger Journalist Lyra Bordelon scored two awards, including second place in the Best In-Depth or Investigative Reporting category for their pieces “Controversy Around Rainelle Police Department, Mayor Smith, and Recorder Bell Explained” and “Search for Rainelle Chief of Police Continues, Sheriff’s Deputies and State Police on Patrol,” published in October and December 2020. Bordelon also won third place in the Best Governmental Affairs Reporting for a trio of pieces: “Alderson Police Chief Calls for Mayor’s Resignation in Explosive Town Council Meeting,” “Alderson Town Council Responds to Policing Shortfall and Public Calls for Mayor Copenhaver’s Removal,” and “Former Ronceverte Police Chief steps into Alderson Police Leadership Role” published in July, August, and September 2020.
For the second year in a row, COVID-19 has forced the WVPA to cancel its in-person convention in Charleston and go with a website-only celebration.
“We are so proud of our newspapers and staff members and thrilled to announce these editorial and advertising honors,” WVPA Executive Director Don Smith said. “Unfortunately, the dangers related to COVID-19 forced us to cancel our convention. Back in January, the WVPA Board of Directors voted to go virtual this year. When the numbers dropped in late spring and early summer, we looked at possibly having a smaller in-person event; however, the Delta Variant’s growth made it clear we needed to protect our membership and stay virtual.”
“We are together in spirit and purpose. Our theme – The press is a watchdog – outlines the importance of our industry. The WVPA decision to go virtual again this year outlines the importance of the people working in our industry. We want to keep our people safe. We have lost too many coworkers, family members and friends,” Smith said. “Our goal is to have a full slate of in-person events in 2022. Let’s hope that is possible.”
“It’s sadly ironic that COVID has forced the cancelation of our convention for two years. Our newspapers did an excellent job with COVID-19 editorial coverage and advertising information. Every community in West Virginia benefitted from the information featured in their local newspaper,” Smith said. “Each of our newspapers earned outstanding recognition for its COVID coverage.”
All Mountain Messenger content is available online at www.mountainmessenger.com with a digital newspaper subscription.