Daily Times wins General Excellence, 10 other awards in NMPA contest

The Daily Times staff

FARMINGTON – The Farmington Daily Times was awarded for General Excellence among daily newspapers under 10,000 circulation and also brought home 10 other awards in the New Mexico Press Association’s Better Newspapers Contest.

This is the third E. H. Shaffer Award for General Excellence win in four years for the Daily Times’ staff in the NMPA’s Daily Newspapers Class II Division.

The paper also took first place in overall News Coverage and earned second place awards for its Obituary Page and Classified Advertising sections during a virtual awards ceremony on Oct. 26.

“The local coverage is solid and on topics that impact the community it serves,” a judge wrote of the paper’s breadth and depth of news coverage.

For the second year in a row the Daily Times also won first place in Design & Typography. “The Daily Times offers a clean design, packaged well with strong visuals and compelling headlines,” a contest judge wrote of the paper’s design and layout.

The Farmington Daily Times was awarded the E.H. Shaffer Award for outstanding newspaper work and General Excellence during the 2019-2020 contest period during an online ceremony Oct. 26 for winners of the New Mexico Press Association's Better Newspapers Contest.

“It’s been a challenging year, not just for our staff working from home but for the whole region,” said Daily Times Editor John R. Moses. “Despite those challenges our reporters never let up and never stopped working hard for our community. These awards are an affirmation of our staff’s commitment to San Juan County.”

Reporter Josh Kellogg’s series of articles about lawsuits filed against the Aztec Municipal School District took first place for Best Ongoing/Continuing Coverage. The lawsuits were filed due to the fatal Aztec High shootings in December of 2017, and the district's alleged failure to protect a girl who died in the shooting from sexual advances by a teacher. That teacher was sentenced in January on a criminal sexual contact conviction for engaging in sex with a female former student who was not the shooting victim.

“This can be a hard topic to cover, just with its sensitive nature,” a contest judge wrote. “I think this did a great job in handling it with finesse and truth, and these are the stories that affect entire communities.”

Reporter Noel Lyn Smith’s coverage of a cultural event at Judy Nelson Elementary School in Kirtland last October won first place in the Education Writing category. 

“The blue corn pancake batter sizzled when Alyssa Begaye-Salazar poured it into the frying pan,” the story began. “It was the first time Begaye-Salazar made blue corn pancakes, and she learned about it in a cooking class offered this month by the Central Consolidated School District Cultural Heritage Department.”

“Great lead,” a contest judge wrote in the judging notes. “It immediately makes the reader feel like they walked into a cooking class in progress. The rest of the story flows well and provides a lot of good perspective.”

Reporter Mike Easterling’s report on the successful development of the filmmaking program at San Juan College won second place, sweeping the education category.

Sports writer Matt Hollinshead took second place in Sports Columns and shared a first place in the Daily Class II Online Photo Gallery category with Carlsbad Current-Argus sports reporter Matthew Asher. The winning gallery contained photographs from the second day of the 2019 New Mexico State High School Wrestling Tournament.

“The highlights were definitely the raw emotion on the faces of the wrestlers and their coaches as they realize the dream they had set out to achieve many years ago,” a judge wrote of the gallery.

Asher, who had traveled to Farmington to cover the last Connie Mack World Series, was also awarded second place in Daily Class II Sports Writing for Carlsbad for "Making Ricketts shine means getting dirty" – a look at how the City of Farmington Parks Department prepared for the Connie Mack World Series at Ricketts Park.

Editor John R. Moses won first place in Editorials for an editorial in the Rebuilding America edition in May about the local economy, the impacts of the COVID-19 shutdowns and the need to rebuild San Juan County’s economic plans from scratch.

“Although other entries covered Covid-19 this particular editorial was front and center and focused on what to do to rebuild the community addressing all areas the virus has impacted their area,” a judge wrote.

The Better Newspaper Contest awards were announced Monday via virtual ceremony and recognized work published from July 2019 to June 2020. The contest judges were from the Arizona Newspaper Association.

Individual Awards were given in four divisions: Weekly 2 – for weekly papers with circulation less than 5,000; Weekly 1 – for weekly newspapers with circulations of more than 5,000; Daily 2 – for daily papers with circulations less than 11,000; and Daily 1 – for newspapers with circulations more than 11,000.

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