Daily Times wins 11 awards in NMPA Better Newspaper Contest

The Daily Times staff

FARMINGTON — The Farmington Daily Times took home 11 awards in the New Mexico Press Association’s 2021 Better Newspaper contest.

The newspaper, which competes in the Daily Class 2 division, took first place in Design & Typography and Classified Ad Pages and second place in the News Coverage and Obituary Page categories.

Several staffers won individual honors.

Reporter Mike Easterling took first place in Feature Writing for his coverage of a unique dinosaur fossil discovered in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness south of Farmington in 2017.

"Great feature covering the discovery of a 75-million-year-old dinosaur skull," the contest judge wrote. "Layout and art a plus, compared to other features which didn’t have much art."

Former Daily Times staffer Hannah Grover received a first place award for Breaking News for her print, video and photo coverage of a rally protesting the governor’s COVID-19 restrictions.

“Great use of video,” the judge commented.

Easterling and Grover took first place in Best Series for their three-part series called “San Juan Rebuilds.”

“An insightful look into the future of San Juan County spurred by the economic impacts of COVID-19, a contest judge wrote of the series. Calling the series “well-sourced and well written” the judge said the content was “vitally important to the rural county in the Four Corners region.”

Editor John R. Moses won first place in Editorials for an examination of the Children, Youth and Families Department’s policies on public records destruction and retention.

“Well-reasoned presentation of facts and consequences of a compelling issue,” the judge wrote, noting the editorial went over legal issues around records retention and used quotes to represent the various viewpoints of those in involved, leading to a strong conclusion.

Reporter Noel Lyn Smith won second place for a photo gallery of a luminaria display in Window Rock, Arizona, in memory of those who have died of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation.

Former sports reporter Matt Hollinshead won second place for Sports Writing for an article about Navajo Prep basketball player Laila Charley making great strides toward recovery after a serious injury.

Smith, Grover and reporter Joshua Kellogg share a second place award for Best Ongoing/Continuing Coverage for a series of articles examining issues around hemp farming and illegal cannabis cultivation on Navajo Nation lands.

General Excellence winners this year were:

• Weekly Class 2 – El Defensor Chieftain

• Weekly Class 1 – Taos News

• Daily Class 2 – Roswell Daily Record

• Daily Class 1 – Santa Fe New Mexican

The awards were presented on Oct. 30 during a banquet at the El Dorado Hotel & Spa in Santa Fe.

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