Independent staff receives honors at New England press convention

BOSTON — The Addison Independent staff was honored with four New England Newspaper and Press Association awards at the organization’s annual banquet on Saturday, including recognition for reporter Kathryn Flagg as the NENPA Weekly Rookie of the Year and first place for Jessie Raymond in the Weekly Class 2 Humor Columnist competition.
The Independent staff as a whole also earned second place for General Excellence in Weekly Class C, while Flagg also earned second place in Weekly Class 2 Business/Economic Reporting.
The Independent’s sister paper, the Brandon Reporter, was also recognized: Reporter News Editor Lee Kahrs earned second place in the Weekly Class 1 Human Interest Feature Story.
In choosing Flagg, the judge said she “demonstrated a great deal of diligence” in tackling her complex “Dairy in Crisis” series, and praised her Clippings column, “Without a dog, house not a home.”  That piece, the judge wrote, “told me a great deal about this rookie as a person. Not only was it well-written and humorous, it told me — like any reader — who this person was. This is a great trait in any community journalist.”
Raymond won for columns on the challenges of following an exercise program and getting over being “a priss” while raising children and livestock. The judge of that category called her work, “One woman’s amusing take on the vagaries of life.”
In awarding the Independent staff second place for general excellence, the judges wrote, “Balanced content, well-written stories. Attractive front page with a good balance between photos and articles. Good local sports coverage, and a welcome ‘Good News’ section.”
Flagg won second place for Business/Economic reporting for her “Dairy in Crisis” series. The judge wrote that Flagg “explained new problems for even the well-acquainted. The writer made the industry interesting and gave it a human face so necessary to attract readers. Well done.”
Publisher Angelo Lynn said the Independent typically does well in annual NENPA (formerly NEPA) awards, and he was happy to see his staff recognized once again.
“That we do well in this competition, year after year, is a real testament to the professional talent we have here at the Addison Independentand the hard work that everyone does week after week,” he said.“We have a terrific staff, and I can’t emphasize that enough.”
Lynn said he was satisfied with the finish in the General Excellence category, and called the top individual recognition earned by Flagg and Raymond, a previous winner, richly deserved.
“We’re thrilled to place second in general excellence among the larger circulation New England weeklies. It’s a tough category that pits us against publications like this year’s winner, Providence Business News,” he said. “I’m also really excited and pleased that Katie Flagg was named the Rookie of the Year among all weeklies, and that Jessie Raymond won first — again — as a humor columnist.”
Of Raymond’s work, Lynn said, “Jessie’s repeat performance really demonstrates that she touches a chord in the human funny bone that resonates. She is truly laugh-out-loud funny, which is a real talent and skill.”
Lynn said he could not think of anyone more deserving than Flagg of recognition as a novice reporter.
“She not only has a tremendous work ethic, but she is thorough and conscientious as a reporter and knows how to weave a story that engages the reader from start to finish,” he said.
Lynn noted that Flagg’s rookie recognition was based on a “wide variety of stories,” and that writing is only part of her job description at the Independent.
“Knowing that she has also been the Addison Independent’s first on-line editor and helped build a new Web site that was named best in Vermont this year among weeklies — while also covering police reports, school and town budgets, zoning issues and the college as part of her weekly beat reporting — makes her success as an award-winning reporter all that much more impressive,” he said.
Kahrs won second place for her account of a memorial service for Brandon’s Sarah Leary, 16, who died in a car accident, and the community response to her tragic death.
“This article really captures the feeling of the memorial and the love that the family and the community had for this young girl,” the judge wrote. “It really provided insight into the girl’s personality and life.”
Lynn, also publisher of the Reporter, noted that paper is also on a winning streak.
“I’m also really proud of the Brandon Reporter. It’s the second year in a row they’ve won news awards,” Lynn said. “For a small staff, they do a great job.”

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