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Independent brings home WNPA General Excellence award
The Port Orchard Independent was recognized last week as the first-place winner in the Washington Newspaper Publishers’ Association’s General Excellence competition, which evaluates community newspapers from throughout the state.
The announcement came on Oct. 1 at the WNPA state convention in Wenatchee.
The Independent competes in Category 4, which includes the papers with the largest circulation numbers.
This is the first time in the Independent’s 120-year history it has captured first place.
“We’re just overwhelmed by this honor,” said Rich Peterson, the newspaper’s publisher. “In the past 10 years, we’ve finished in second place once and in third one other time, but we’ve never come out on top. It’s an awesome feeling.”
In addition to the group recognition, the Independent also captured several important individual honors.
Most notably, Chris Chancellor was named a finalist for the Sportswriter of the Year award.
“We’re unbelievably proud of Chris,” Peterson said. “We’ve known for years he was a very special performer in his field, but now the whole world knows, too.”
The Independent was also recognized for having the best opinion section in the state, as well as garnering several prestigious advertising honors.
Columnist Robert Meadows earned a third-place award, too, for his weekly column.
Among the judges’ comments:
• “This is really a superb paper. It stands out in every area. The news reporting has depth, breadth and flair. The Opinion section was easily the best of any we reviewed. And the design and photo work were really top-notch. A clear No. 1 in our book.”
• “These editions are really packed with local advertising. Great to see.”
• “This paper displayed the strongest, most comprehensive news reporting in the bunch. And it offered lots of little extras, like Scene & Heard, Online Readers Respond, What’s Up, etc. Serious news stories dominate the front, but there’s plenty of community news on the inside.”
• “This paper also displayed the strongest editorial page of all those we evaluated. It features two institutional editorials not afraid to tackle local issues.”
• “We’re quite taken with the clean, fresh, modern, consistent look. This one takes it to another level. Very distinctive and attractive.”
A total of 77 newspapers from around the state took part in this year’s WNPA competition, accounting for 2,400 separate entries.
The Independent is a part of the Sound Publishing group. Its sister paper, the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, earned a first place General Excellence Award in Category 2, for papers with a circulation of 2,501 to 5,000, and the Islands Sounder finished second in Category 1, for papers with a circulation of up to 2,500.
“We’re accustomed to winning individual honors,” Peterson said, “but this means so much more because it represents the work of everyone connected with the paper. It’s really a group effort, and everyone deserves credit.
“We’re going to have a hard time defending the crown next year,” he said, “but winning something like this could definitely get to be a habit.”