East Oregonian wins best in state

EO earns coveted Charles A. Sprague award for second time in three years

GLENEDEN BEACH – The Oregon Newspaper Publisher’s Association awarded the East Oregonian for the best and the funniest of 2007.

The EO received the distinguished Charles A. Sprague Award for General Excellence for newspapers with a circulation of 10,000 or less.

“It’s the most prestigious award in our division and reflects the contributions of our entire newsroom staff,” said EO Editor and Publisher George Murdock. “The most exciting part is the fact that everyone in our newsroom can celebrate in this honor.”

The EO also won the “Oops!” award, which is the equivalent of a newspaper blooper.

On Aug. 28, 2007, the EO accidentally published a poll question about methamphetamine use with answers about the first day back at school.

Associate Publisher and Co-owner Kathryn Brown attended Friday’s portion of the ONPA publishers convention and accepted both awards on the EO’s behalf Friday evening.

“I was very pleased and very proud,” she said after receiving the award. “I appreciate all of the hard work and dedication that the entire staff of the East Oregonian puts into the newspaper every day. We’re just really honored the ONPA has recognized the EO with this award.”

Murdock said likewise.

“Day in and day out, our reporters and editors do everything they can to make sure the East Oregonian provides quality local news for its readers,” he said. “We appreciate the fact that the judges acknowledged the effort.”

The Dalles Chronicle won second place in general excellence while The La Grande Observer won third place.

“It’s sort of an all Eastern Oregon kind of thing,” Brown quipped.

This is the second time in three years the EO has won the general excellence award and the fourth time overall. It previously won in 2006, 2001 and 1988.

This also is the third-consecutive year the East Oregonian Publishing Company has won the award. The Daily Astorian won the award last year.

The ONPA decides on the general excellence award by sampling editions from throughout the year. Newspapers were required to send publications from a certain week in April, from two weeks in July, and from the month of October.

“This category represents the highest award presented to Oregon newspapers and entries should truly be the best examples of the industry,” the ONPA states in the rules.

Earlier in the day, the ONPA announced winners in the other 29 categories which span six divisions.

The EO received eight awards including: A first place award for best economic and business issues; second place in the categories of best sports page, best general feature story, best editorial page and best writing; and third place in the categories of best inside page section front design, best general feature story and best local column.

Former EO reporter Matt Thompson earned the first place award for his article, “Northeast Oregon’s Top 25 Employers: Leading employers span region, economy,” which looked at businesses employing the most people in Eastern Oregon.

Senior reporter Kathy Aney received two awards, second and third place in the best general feature category. “A brother’s keeper,” about 3-year-old James Halladay rescuing his little brother, Ian, from the family’s backyard pond in Pendleton last December earned Aney’s second-place prize. Aney’s story of the life and tragic accident that eventually led to the death of Stanfield resident Michael Greer titled “A slow and agonizing death results in another victim of meth,” brought Aney third place.

The three page design awards went to Murdock, deputy managing editor Dave Sager, sports editors Matt Entrup and Daniel Wattenburger and former paginator Sofi Smith. Murdock and Sager received the award for the Nov. 20 editorial page. Entrup and Wattenburger received second place for a sports page featuring softball player and Riverside graduate Erica Hancock. Smith’s Lifestyles section page featuring La Grande’s Hot Lake Hotel earned her award.

Former community editor Terry Murry submitted three of her “Home Front” chronicles to earn her third place in the best local column category. She lamented her singing abilities, or lack thereof, in ” ‘Tis the season for the tone-deaf,” gave her thoughts on odd laws relating to teenage sex in “If you’re in Georgia, make sure to put on your shoes” and dispatched her advice on patience and parenting in “As parents, we should live by the rules we make our children live by.”

The last award, second place in the best writing category, went to reporter Samantha Bates for her stories “DA shares long, complex Flaiz story” telling how Jonathan Theodore Flaiz killed Mark Englehart because Flaiz believed a moth was eating his brain, “Until the end” profiling the hospice program at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution and “Is downtown safe?” examining fire safety in downtown Pendleton after the Eagle’s fire in March 2007.

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