Staffers win individual honors for reporting, photos and open meetings coverage

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The Farmington Daily Times took home 11 individual and staff awards Saturday in the New Mexico Press Association’s 2018 Better Newspaper Contest. The awards included the E. H. Shaffer Award for General Excellence.

The newspaper’s staff won first-place awards among Division II dailies for News Coverage and Supplements and Special Sections, and a second place for Best Website. There were several individual honors for writing and photography.

The Daily Times competed among Division II daily papers with under 10,000 circulation.

“Our primary goal is to serve our readers,” said Editor John R. Moses. “Awards are nice to win, and I think our reporters deserve recognition from their peers for their hard work. But our focus as a staff remains on covering our diverse community.”

Reporters Hannah Grover and Megan Petersen won First Place in Breaking News-Digital for early coverage of the Aztec High School shootings on Dec. 7, 2017.

Grover also won second place in Breaking News for coverage of news events the day following the Aztec High School shooting and a first place Sunshine Award in the Daily Division I and II category for challenging the presentation of agenda information under the state’s Open Meetings Act on the agendas of two local government panels.

Her article documented that those governmental entities, the San Juan College Board of Trustees and the Bloomfield City Council, promptly changed the way they present closed-session agenda information.

Reporters Josh Kellogg and Grover won second place in the Investigative Reporting category for a series of articles about the police investigation into the Aztec High School shooting, and the FBI’s mistaken identification of a possible school shooter they had warned Aztec police about months prior to the shooting.

Photographer Jon Austria won first place for a sports photo taken after the 2018 Connie Mack World Series championship game, and second place for a photo series depicting a memorial vigil in Kirtland for two children who died during a trailer fire in December 2017.

Reporter Noel Lyn Smith won a second-place award in Education Writing for a feature on Carol Begay Green, a teacher of the blind and visually impaired for the Farmington Municipal School District who developed a braille code for the Navajo language. Braille is a system of raised dots that enables blind or visually people to read and write through touch.

The first-place award for Supplements and Special Sections recognized “Looking forward,” subtitled “What’s next for San Juan County,” which published on Dec. 10, 2017.

That premium publication, delivered to print subscribers, detailed impacts of the past five years of San Juan County’s economic downturn and provided local leaders and other members of the community a chance to say what they think the next five years will bring.

“Looking forward” is available online in the Special Publications section of our website under “Quick Links” at www.daily-times.com.

The Farmington Daily Times is part of the USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Better Newspaper Contest award rankings were announced Saturday in Albuquerque. The awards recognized work published from July 2017 to June 2018. The contest judges were from the Maryland, Delaware and D.C. Press Association.

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