The Press And Journal has won a record seven Keystone Press Awards for excellence in writing, reporting and page layout.
The newspaper won first-place awards for its 2012 coverage of Middletown Borough Council’s funding cuts to the Middletown Public Library and the one-year anniversary of the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee.
The paper’s editorials on the library’s fate, the borough’s financial distress and council’s plan to revitalize Middletown’s downtown business district also won a first-place award.
“We are so very proud,’’ said Joe Sukle, publisher of the Press And Journal. “Recognition by our industry’s peers is a fickle thing, but it most certainly is gratifying that our staff’s dedication and professionalism have been recognized.
“This has been a challenging and contentious year and will continue to be so in our community – and reporting it will continue to push our staff. But we know everyone will not shy away from our job to meet the needs of our community.’’
There were more than 4,400 entries from 138 newspapers that serve Pennsylvania in this year’s contest, held annually by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation. The winners, announced on Friday, March 22, will receive their awards at the annual Pennsylvania Press Conference on May 18 at the Hilton Harrisburg.
The newspaper won for Ongoing News Coverage in Division VI (non-dailies with a circulation of 5,000 to 9,999) for a series of six stories by Editor Jim Lewis and reporters Daniel Walmer and Noelle Barrett that chronicled council’s de-funding of the library and its survival as a nonprofit.
Barrett also won a first-place award for her feature story, “Ed and Olga O’Connor,’’ about a Lower Swatara Twp. couple whose home was destroyed by flooding from Tropical Storm Lee in 2011; and a second-place award for “The long arms of the law,’’ a story on a Steelton cop’s unusual arrest of a rape suspect.
Walmer won an honorable mention for his news feature story, “Student friendly?’’ about how Penn State Harrisburg students are caught in the middle of the controversial development of dorm-style housing in the Middletown area.
Lewis won a first-place award for three editorials: “It’s not just about trees,’’ a commentary on the borough’s removal of trees in the business district and the protest by – and subsequent arrest of – the paper’s owner, Louise Sukle; “Staring Act 47 in the eye: It’s not where we belong,’’ on the borough’s financial situation and council’s handling of it; and a commentary on the borough’s proposed revitalization of the business district, “Heading for a dead end?’’
He also won an honorable mention for “Type rider,’’ a feature story on a writer who was touring the country by bicycle to create the great American poem.
Lewis and designer Margie Smith won a second-place award for front page design for three front pages published in 2012.
Links to the Press and Journal's award-winning entries:
First Place-Editorial: Jim Lewis: Staring Act 47 in the eye: It's not where we belong, Heading for a dead end?, It's not just about the trees
Second Place-General News: Noelle Barrett: The long arms of the law
First Place-Ongoing News Coverage: Jim Lewis, Noelle Barrett, Daniel Walmer: No plan to close library, Generous patrons built library endowment, County funding for library unlikely, Library funding cut from budget, Will our library survive?, Turning the page
First Place-Feature Story: Noelle Barrett: And the RAIN fell upon the EARTH-Ed and Olga O'Connor
Second Place-Front Page Design: Jim Lewis and Margie Smith: Front pages