Observer staff wins record best 32 awards in WNPA contest

YAKIMA — At last Friday night’s awards dinner at the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association convention in Yakima, the Chinook Observer staff was honored with a record-best 32 awards for excellence in journalism in the associations annual Better Newspaper Contest.

Topping off the night was the second place award for General Excellence, given to what is deemed the top three papers in the state by circulation. This was the first time the Observer placed in this top category.

“We get a real sense of the community from this paper,” wrote the judges of the category.

Staff writer Kevin Heimbigner was awarded first place in Best News Story for his article detailing the tremendous affects of the December storm.

Observer editor Matt Winters received third place for both Best Editorial Page and Best Gerneral Interest Column.

“Here’s a newspaper writer with a literary passion,” said the judges sheet. “Lots of analogy, metaphorical rationale and a personification that readers must appreciate. I know I did!”

Winters was also awarded second place in Best Special Section-Tourism/Community Guide for last year’s visitor’s guide,  Discovery Coast.

Staff writer Amanda Frink won two second place awards: Best Education Story for an article about the high school fire cadet program and in the News of the Weird category for her “exclusive interview” with Jake the Alligator Man.

“Very interesting topic,” said the judges sheet on the caedt story. “Great lead, thoroughly done and well presented.”

Observer cartoonist Don Cole took third place in Best Editorial Cartoon, while ad manager Andrew Renwick and designer Garth Mix took second for Best Use of Spot Color in an ROP Ad.

Observer photojournalist Damian Mulinix, who was also a speaker on the convention’s multimedia panel discussion, was awarded a personal best 23 individual awards in photography, multimedia and page design in this year’s contest.

In  the photography categories, Mulinix swept three categories: Best Color Photo Essay, Best color Portrait and Best Multimedia — the last of which was an open competition across all circulation sizes. You can view the winning multimedia entries here: First placewww.tinyurl.com/3mcqeo, Second Place www.tinyurl.com/43c5wd, Third Placewww.tinyurl.com/54krzr

In other photo categories Mulinix took first in B&W Feature, Color Spot News, Color General News, Color Feature, Color Scenic/Pictorial and Color Sports Feature.

Mulinix took second place in Color Feature and took third place in B&W Photo Essay, B&W Sports Feature, Color Spot News and Color General News. Mulinix was the first runner-up in the Photographer of the Year category, which was awarded posthumously to Jim Hallas of the River Current News of Duvall who died last February.

“I know a lot of photographers who’d love to work for a publisher that provides the space Damian get to work with. And he doesn’t just fill it with run-of-the-mill photos. He does a great job of balancing art with the mission of community journalism,” said the judges of the Photographer of the Year category.

In page design categories Mulinix received first place for Best Sports Page or Section and third place for Best Overall Feature Section for the weekly Life page.

You can find a photo gallery of the winning photos here: www.tinyurl.com/4mdtyx

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