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Independent named among best papers in New England

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BOSTON — The Addison County Independent won nine awards — including the top award for publications its size — at the New England Newspaper and Press Association’s annual competition held in Boston this past weekend. The Independent’s sister paper, the Brandon Reporter, also earned two awards, including a first-place nod.

The Independentwon first place in General Excellence for weekly papers of 6,000-10,000 circulation — the first time the paper has won this coveted award. In the Advertising General Excellence category, the Independentpulled in second place.

The newspaper also earned three other first-place titles. Senior reporter John Flowers was a winner in the Transportation Reporting category for a package of stories on the closing of the Champlain Bridge in October of 2009. News editor John McCright was honored with a first-place in the Humor Column category for a July 2010 Clippings column on washing dishes.

NENPA judges paid tribute to two Independentspecial sections in the Editorial Supplement category. Last July’s “Salute to Local Firefighters,”  which featured photos and rosters of 17 Addison County and Brandon fire departments, won first place and last March’s “Addison County Guide to Local Farms and Food” was second.

A panel of distinguished judges selected the winners from nearly 3,000 entries representing the 700 member NENPA-newspapers in the six-state region. Entries came from papers published between Aug. 1, 2009, and July 31, 2010.

The Independent garnered four more second-place awards and a third-place nod. Photographer Trent Campbell’s compelling image of Mike Sweeney crossing Lake Champlain in a row boat — taken from the bottom of the boat — was named second place in Feature Photo. Reporter Andy Kirkaldy’s two Clippings columns on immigration hypocrisy and truth in the media netted him second in Serious Columnist. Flowers also earned second in History Reporting for his story on a sheriff's deputy who died in the line of duty in the 1930s.

The paper’s advertising department was third in the Advertising Campaign category for it “Reader-submitted comments” campaign.

Brandon Reportereditor and reporter Lee Kahrs won first place in Business/Economic Reporting for a January 2010 series on planning and development in Brandon. Kahrs, along advertising general manager Alyssa Zollman and graphic designer Mandy Davis, took the third-place award in Editorial Supplement for its first ever Local Foods guide.

In explaining their decision to designate the Independent as the best newspaper in its class, the judges wrote that they saw “Solid coverage of the region with small staff (Andy Kirkaldy doing double duty with news and sports?) John Flowers has state issues covered (lawmakers take stock of session and Douglas stress frugality, new jobs).”

They also praised the layout of the Independent as excellent. And they praised Campbell, saying he “has the eye for a good photo, both news and sports.”

Angelo Lynn, publisher of both the Independentand the BrandonReporter, was generous in his praise for the staffs at the two publications.

“I’m particularly heartened that we won the General Excellence award,” he said. “It recognizes that  contributions from each and every one of us went toward winning the award.”

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