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Six Awards For 'Newtown Bee' Following NENPA Better Newspaper Competition



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BOSTON, MASS. — The Newtown Bee picked up six awards during The New England Newspaper & Press Association (NENPA) Better Newspaper Competition last weekend.

Two members of the newspaper’s Editorial department picked up second place honors, three members of the same department picked up third place honors, and the sales staff also picked up a third place honor during awards ceremonies held Friday, February 7 and Saturday, February 8 at Boston Renaissance Waterfront Hotel.

This year’s competition judged entries that were published between August 1, 2018 and July 31, 2019. The competition drew nearly 3,000 Advertising and Editorial entries, divided into five divisions based on publication (daily or weekly, based on circulation levels; and a Specialty & Niche Publication division).

A panel of 56 judges made up of editors, publishers, photojournalists, et al selected the winners this year. The top three in each category were notified in January that they would receive an award, but the placements were not announced until the awards ceremonies last weekend.

Education Reporter Eliza Hallabeck picked up a second place honor for News Feature Photo with an image she captured on the final day of the 2018-19 academic year. Judges responded to Ms Hallabeck’s front page photo, which showed a very happy Hawley School student waving to Principal Christopher Moretti just before the bus departed for the final run of the school year, calling it a “nice image.”

Associate Editor Shannon Hicks also received a second place honor Saturday night, for a photo that ran with a February 2019 feature called “Canine To The Rescue: A Blessing Named Bella.”

The award-winning photo showed a 2-year-old black Lab named Bella curled up on the end of a bed where Dolores Meehan was lying, recovering from a fall five weeks earlier. Bella’s barking had alerted her owner to Ms Meehan, who had fallen and fractured her hip doing a quick errand outdoors on Christmas Eve. The photo was taken while Bella was visiting Ms Meehan during her recovery in a local healthcare facility.

Features reporter Alissa Silber’s “Daniel Hasselberger Continues To Beat The Odds With PMG” was a third place finish in the Local Personality Profile.

The judge for that category said “It’s always gratifying to see a newspaper revisit someone, but this fine portrait of a very brave young man is much more than a follow-up — it’s a window into a world not many of us could handle.”

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison also received a third place honor, for Sports Feature Story. Judges liked his March 2019 piece, “Trio Brings Dedication And Professionalism To The Newtown High School (Scorer’s) Table,” calling it an “interesting story about people associated with the games who we typically don’t know anything about.”

Sandy Hook artist Virginia Zimmerman also received third place honors, for the illustration she created for The Newtown Bee’s 2018 Christmas cover. The illustration depicted the building at 5 Church Hill Road as it appeared when it first housed the newspaper offices at the turn of the 20th Century, before multiple additions led to the current silhouette.

A snowy scene included a pair of large trees to the left of the building, a bird feeder in front of the building, and animals including sheep, lambs, and a rabbit all enjoying the weather. A banner across the top of the page offered readers a wish of “Love, Peace & Joy” for the 2018 holiday season.

The NENPA judge for that category called the work “delightful,” adding, “The peaceful illustration really draws you in.”

Ellen Therrien, manager of The Newtown Bee’s sales department, received a third place award for Local Online Ad. Judges found Ms Therrien’s work for the C.H. Booth Library Donation and Book Sale “charming.”

The New England Better Newspaper Competition is the largest and most comprehensive journalism recognition program in New England, according to NENPA. Member newspapers from all six New England states participate.

The annual event challenges reporters, photographers, and designers in areas of multiple areas of reporting, pages and sections, columns, design, digital publishing, and photography. Special recognition awards (Rookie of The Year, Reporter of The Year, Photojournalist of The Year) are also offered each year, as are General Excellence honors.

In addition to the awards ceremonies, the convention weekend included two days of workshops, training sessions, seminars, and panels related to newspaper and media developments, opportunities, and obstacles.

A few minutes after he was named Photojournalist of The Year-Daily by NENPA, Peter Pereira took a photo of Newtown Bee staff members while they, too, were celebrating journalism honors on February 8. From left are Features Reporter Alissa Silber, Associate Editor Shannon Hicks, Education Reporter Eliza Hallabeck, and Associate Editor John Voket following the conclusion of the New England Better Newspaper Competition Journalism Awards. —Peter Pereira photo
Sports Editor Andy Hutchison displays the award he earned at the recent NENPA convention. —Bee Photo, Crevier
Education Reporter Eliza Hallabeck picked up a second place honor for News Feature Photo with this image she captured on the final day of the 2018-19 academic year. —Bee file photo
Sandy Hook artist Virginia Zimmerman, left, holds the framed 2018 Christmas cover illustration that won her an award at this year’s NENPA convention. Ellen Therrien, advertising sales manager, holds her NENPA award for the Local Online Ad category. —Bee Photo, Crevier
Virginia Zimmermann's award-winning illustration graced the cover of the December 21, 2018 issue of The Newtown Bee.
Ellen Therrien, manager of The Newtown Bee’s sales department, received a third place award for Local Online Ad for her design for the 44th Annual Friends of C.H. Booth Library Book Sale.
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