‘Independent’ lauded for efforts; newspaper wins 22 awards in regional competition

BOSTON — The New England Newspaper and Press Association honored the Addison County Independent with 22 awards at the regional organization’s annual convention in Boston this past weekend. The Addy Indy was recognized as the best among larger weekly publications of more than 6,000 circulation in five categories.
The staff of the publication was named first for Best Local Election Coverage, Best Overall Website and Best Special Section. Sports columnist Karl Lindholm and photographer Trent Campbell both brought home the gold for their individual efforts.
The Independent’s sister paper, the Brandon Reporter, earned three awards, including two first-place nods.
“We’re honored and humbled,” publisher Angelo Lynn said, “to be among a half dozen of the best weeklies in New England who were up for so many awards in so many different areas of the profession — from advertising and graphics, to news, sports, photography, coverage of the arts and community involvement, as well as winning best overall website for the second consecutive year. And while you can’t take such awards to the bank, it does say we’re doing something right and that all our hard work from the entire staff is being noticed by others.”
Lynn lauded the Brandon Reporter for its awards noting that the Reporter, with a staff of just three people, competes with papers five times its circulation and staff size, and yet is doing award-winning work compared to papers throughout the six New England states. “The Reporter has made great progress over the past few years and is really coming into its own,” Lynn said, adding that editor Lee Kahrs “deserves a lot of credit for covering the volume of news almost single-handedly while continuing to do excellent writing and reporting.” 
Ace photographer Campbell garnered three awards, overall. His photo of workers marching across the new Lake Champlain Bridge during opening ceremonies won for general news photo. He also brought home a second for a slideshow of photos from the bridge ceremony, and a third in the sports photo category for an image of a Middlebury College quidditch player in action.
Lindholm’s award-winning column told the story of a football team playing the final game of the season for an injured teammate who was hospitalized in a coma. A great story in itself, it could have been overly sentimental but in Lindholm’s hands the column was grounded in great reporting and a masterful use of detail.
The Independent’s previews of Town Meeting Day 2012 and its coverage of Town Meeting Day itself were what won over judges in the Local Election category. They apparently liked the Independent’s inclusion of news from every one of the 23 towns in its coverage area, in addition to eyewitness reports and photos from many of the town meetings.
In naming addisonindepent.com the best website, judges said this was “exactly how a weekly publication should conduct itself online.” They acknowledged the up-to-date news, and noted that the site “continues to feature the fun photos, high school sports and municipal tidbits that form the bedrock of community news.” Andrea Suozzo, who ran the site during the period covered by the contest (August 2011 to July 2012), was honored for her role in heading up addisonindependent.com. This is the second consecutive year the Addison Independent’s website has been judged best in New England among large weeklies.
The Addy Indy won first and third for special sections. Judges said the first-place “Middlebury 250” supplement demonstrated “solid reporting, nicely edited.” The paper also got third place for the 2012 edition of the high school graduation supplement. Judges called it a “must” edition for all papers, and said “the addition of ‘Where Are They Now’ is a reader’s delight.”
Meanwhile, at the Brandon Reporter, Kahrs pulled in two championship plaques and a second-place finish. Kahrs’ wall-to-wall coverage of Tropical Storm Irene flooding in Brandon in late August 2011 won in the Spot News category and her story on birch beer won for business reporting. Kahrs also got second place in the science and technology category for her story titled “The answer to daily grind: Dental research a labor of love for Dr. Thomas Coleman.”
Publisher Lynn noted that his papers showed particularly well in comparison to publications with long, distinguished histories, like the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette, the Ellsworth American, the Nantucket Mirror and Inquirer, Worcester Magazine and many larger rivals in the competition. The Providence Phoenix, for instance, boasts a circulation of 68,000 — more than eight times the size of the Addison Independent’s circulation of about 8,000.
“Of the 22 awards we were nominated for, we were most often competing against some really great newspapers — most much larger than we are,” Lynn said.
The Independent brought home more awards than it has in years. Other second- and third-place awards went to:
•  Jessie Raymond, 2nd in Humor Column.
•  Andy Kirkaldy, 2nd in Investigative Reporting for his stories on beatings at the Northlands Job Corps.
•  Angelo Lynn, 2nd in Arts and Entertainment Reporting for his review of “Funny Girl” and profile of its star. Judges: “After reading this well written, tight little series, I was sorry to have missed the show myself.”
•  Staff, 2nd for Spot News for coverage of Tropical Storm Irene coverage. Judges wrote: “A strong body of reporting and photography to capture widespread damage to roads and other infrastructure, homes and businesses — a daunting task to capture the breadth of catastrophe left behind in the storm’s wake. Powerful visuals.”
•  Best Local Ad, black and white, 2nd.
•  Best Local Ad, color, 2nd.
•  Angelo Lynn and staff, 2nd in Community Involvement for the “Good Jobs Close to Home” series of columns.
•  Creative use of a small space, 2nd.
•  Staff, 2nd in Niche Publication for the “Local Foods Guide.”
•  Website design, 2nd.
•  John Flowers, 3rd for Transportation Reporting for his story on the opening of the new Lake Champlain Bridge.
•  Subscription Sales Promotion, 3rd for the Christmas ads.
•  Best Idea for Generating Ad Revenue, 3rd.
•  Andrea Suozzo, 3rd for Business and Economic Reporting for a story on slaughterhouses.
Angelo Lynn, publisher of both the Addison Independent and the Brandon Reporter, was generous in his praise for the staffs at the two publications.
“I’ve always known that we have a talented team here at the Addison Independent and at the Reporter,” Lynn said, “but having our peers confirm it — as well as our readers with their weekly comments — is especially gratifying. It is hard work to cover 23 towns and stay on top of the issues, as well as keep neighborhoods and communities in touch with each other and their town and school governments. And, today, we do it in multiple formats with the newspaper, our website, Twitter, Facebook and now our recently launched mobile app. But it is what we do, and I think why we’re successful is that we focus on producing quality products and investing in that effort.”
Lynn also noted the Addison Independent has been successful in branching out into the online world with its award-winning website, as well as using social media.
“We’re not just a newspaper anymore,” Lynn said, “we’re multi-media company that works hard to get the news — and all of our advertisers’ messages — out to Addison County residents in multiple ways. It’s what makes the job even more exciting today than it was a decade ago, and it opens up more avenues for future growth. Looking forward, we’re optimistic our expertise in new media, as well as traditional media, will help us help area businesses grow and prosper and provide us with even more tools to do our work better than ever.”

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