SANTA FE – The New Mexico Press Association recognized the best of New Mexico’s newspaper writing, photography and advertising at the Better Newspaper Contest banquet on Saturday.
The Las Cruces Sun-News Seven plaques were brought home by the seven winners, who won four first-place and three second-place awards. Additional, Sun-News Justin Garcia, reporter won awards for his work in the area of reporting Ruidoso News covers the McBride Fire.
Four divisions were awarded by the NMPA organization. The Sun-News Competes with the biggest newspapers in the state in the top Division. Garcia’s recognition reporting on the Ruidoso News The small weekly division was the winner.
Sun-News First place in Best News Writing was won by Michael McDevitt for his story on Desert Hope apartments. This affordable housing development provides homes for previously homeless residents. “Desert Hope promised to be a model for transitioning the unhoused,” is the title of the story. Tenants and staff claim that it is a neglected property.
A judge wrote: “Well written, goes above and beyond — follows up on what could have been vs, what is.”
McDevitt won second place in Business Writing, for his story on how once empty properties can be transformed into cannabis shops.
Sun-News News Director Lucas Peerman and reporters Algernond’Ammassa Miranda Cyr and Leah Romero collaborated to win first place for a new category, COVID-19 in your Community. This category allowed newspapers to submit five printed editions that included pandemic coverage.
The submissions included Peerman’s end-of-the-year story exploring how one Doña Ana County family was coping after the death of a loved one to COVID-19. The story was accompanied with a list of COVID-19 related deaths in the county by 2021. D’Ammassa also wrote steps residents should follow if they are exposed to COVID during the Christmas break.
The Sun-News Multiple stories were also submitted during the week New Mexico lifted its mask requirement in February. These included Romero’s analysis of how local businesses responded to the mandate, Cyr’s investigation of schools one day after students no longer had to wear masks, and D’Ammassa’s account detailing how state leaders arrived at their decision.
Judge wrote that the judge praised the “excellent variety of coverage for an article that touched almost every aspect of life.” Sun-News‘ COVID coverage. “This collection of stories achieved the perfect balance between government-based and statistical coverage, while still incorporating the human element that made reporting shine. It was particularly impactful to include the 2021 death list for the county.
Cyr, an Education Writing Fellow for Report for America, was awarded second in Education Writing for a series of articles on New Mexico’s community schools. Cyr spoke to schools from across New Mexico to learn more about the reasons for the existence of community schools and the ways they have helped during the pandemic.
Sun-News Two awards were won by Damien Willis, lead reporter.
Willis’ 2021 profile of Garrey Cartruthers, a Distinguished Resident, was first in Best Use of Multimedia. The online package featured an hour-long podcast interview with Carruthers and a large photo gallery featuring archive images from Carruthers’ time as governor of New Mexico as well as photos from his time as chancellor at New Mexico State University.
A judge said: “You can tell that they are embedded within the community. That is something I love. It’s very clean overall.
The Reporter’s Notebook is a weekly newsletter and podcast that Willis creates to show readers the inside scoop of the reporting process. Willis was awarded second place in Explanation of News Operations and Newspaper for The Reporter’s Notebook.
The Sun-News Breaking News-Digital awarded staff second place for its online coverage on the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in New Mexico. Sales could begin as early as midnight April 1st, because the City of Las Cruces had not established operating hours for recreational marijuana shops. Cyr witnessed the midnight debut of one business, and documented the first state-legal recreational cannabis sale.
Sun-News reporters provided coverage throughout the day, including McDevitt’s analysis of the first day of sales in Las Cruces; D’Ammassa’s look at sales in southern Doña Ana County, near the Texas border; and intern Cielo Rodriguez’s roundup of restaurants opening soon in case readers got the munchies.
Garcia, a reporter at the Sun-News, who traveled to Ruidoso to cover the McBride Fire of April. Many Gannett-owned properties picked up his stories, including The Sun-News And Ruidoso News. His story about the heartbreaking first 24 hours after the fire broke out was named Best News Writing in Weekly Division 2,
A judge said, “Your first paragraph caught my attention and I wanted more,” “Your next two paragraphs kept me entranced. I wanted to learn more about Ruidoso and its residents. Overall, the story was excellent. But what really made me choose you was the way that you attracted my attention right away and never let go. That’s how a news story should be written. Bravo! Bravo, you’re a gifted writer.
Garcia, together with Carlsbad Current Argus reporter Adrian Hedden and Alamogordo Daily News/Ruidoso News Nicole Maxwell, reporter, was awarded first place in Best Ongoing/Continuing Reporting in the Weekly Division II. She covered the McBride Fire.
Judge wrote: “You were there when your community needed you!” The coverage was great, with regular updates and strong images.
General Excellence is the highest award. A newspaper from each division wins this award. This year’s winners are: Santa Fe New Mexican, Daily I Farmington Daily TimesDaily 2 Taos NewsWeekly I; El Defensor Chieftain Weekly 2.
The Wyoming Press Association ruled on the contest.
These awards were presented at the NMPA 113th Annual Convention.
This article was written by The Associated Press.