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Journal staffers garner 10 first-place awards in NMPA competition

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Journal staffers were honored with 10 first-place awards, taking top spots in such categories as public service, breaking news, columns, editorials, photo series, sports photo and design and typography, as part of the 2017-18 Better Newspaper Contest.

Albuquerque Publishing Co. employees were also recognized for their work with several first- and second-place awards in the advertising categories.

The New Mexico Press Association recognized the best of the state’s newspaper writing, photography and advertising during the contest banquet at the Albuquerque Marriott on Saturday as part of the NMPA’s annual convention. The contest that included 1,126 entries from 29 newspapers was judged in 38 categories by the Maryland, Delaware and D.C. Press Association, the NMPA said.

The Journal competed in the Daily I division for newspapers with a circulation over 11,000.

And the awards went to:

Journal writers Elise Kaplan, Matthew Reisen and staff won first place in the prestigious daily Public Service category for their coverage of a 7-year-old girl who was allegedly sex-trafficked by her relatives, and how the system let her down.

“The little girl’s story at the center of this story is heartbreaking,” reads the judge’s comment. “Kudos to the reporters for pulling all of the threads and affecting change. It would have been easy to write about the criminal proceedings and leave it at that. But this series gave a voice to the voiceless and hopefully will prevent another child from going through the same ordeal. Bravo.”

That package of stories also garnered Kaplan, Reisen and staff first place in the series or continuing coverage category.

Staff writers Katy Barnitz and Kaplan took first place in the breaking news category for the story “A shocker in Martens case” in which the district attorney announced that much of what had been reported about the rape and murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens was “simply not true.”

“Excellent, clear reporting on a complex case with little lead time,” reads the judge’s comment. “Reporter skillfully recounted how new information in the case differed from previous statements, and how investigators uncovered evidence to point in a new direction.”

Staff writer Maddy Hayden won first place in the columns category for her UpFront account of the Great American Eclipse just outside Orin, Wyo., with the judge saying “the column does a great job capturing the emotion of watching the eclipse, and the crisp but descriptive writing style keeps the reader engaged.”

Journal North Editor Mark Oswald earned first place in the editorials category, while cartoonist John Trever won first in the editorial cartoon category.

Two Journal photographers also won two top spots for their work, including Jim Thompson, who won first and second places for sports photo.

Photographer Roberto E. Rosales received first place in the photo series category for an essay on Cuba. “This photographer not only used Cuba’s beauty as the palette but even in the black and white picture used texture in the scenery,” reads the judge’s comment. He won second place for feature photo.

The Journal was also recognized for its design and typography, with the design staff taking first place in the category. “Wonderful design, excellent typography, superior photo reproduction and use of color! The Journal’s approach even to section heds is clearly ‘the news comes first,'” reads the judge’s comment.

The Journal also took first place in the supplements or special sections category for its “Frame by Frame” publication on the state’s film and television industry. “A great publication all the way around,” the judge wrote. Journal Arts and Entertainment Editor Adrian Gomez was the section editor.

Multiple Journal staffers also were honored with second-place awards: Geoff Grammer and Jessica Dyer for the Sunshine Award; Dyer in education writing; Ellen Marks in business writing; Joline Gutierrez Krueger in the columns category; Editorial Page Editor D’Val Westphal in the editorials category; Martin Salazar, now an editorial page writer, in the series or continuing coverage category; Grammer in the sports columns category; Hayden for obituary news; and news staff for best news coverage.

Albuquerque Publishing Co. employees were also recognized for their work with several first- and second-place awards.

The company won first place for classified ad section with the judge saying “Wow, what a thriving classified section! Must have an engaged audience with this volume of ads. Color logos in the recruitment ads are a nice touch. Recruitment display ads are well designed and plentiful.”

Monica Schwartz took first place in the real estate advertising category, and second-place awards went to Byron Hughey in the best rate card or marketing kit and community/newspaper event advertisement.