The Phoenix is always and inherently an odd, anomalous bird at the annual New England Newspaper & Press Association (NENPA) conference and awards banquet. Held this year at the Park Plaza hotel in downtown Boston, many of the NENPA workshops were geared toward ideas that hardly apply to us — while weeklies and dailies across New England, reeling from declines in print readership, are considering paywall options for digital content, the Phoenix hasn't charged for its newspaper in more than a decade.
Nonetheless, this odd converged bird wracked up six bronze, eight silver, and six gold prizes at this past Saturday's New England Better Newspaper Contest. In categories ranging from convergence and Web design to general news story, the Boston, Providence, and Portland Phoenixes proved that, though our content is free, we continue to produce some of the most meticulous and entertaining journalism in New England.
Portland's plaques went to: Shay Stewart-Bouley, who won first place in Coverage of a Racial or Ethnic Issue for her coverage of inmate treatment in Maine state prisons; Lance Tapley, who placed second in the Investigative Reporting category; and Deirdre Fulton, who took second in Health Reporting. The Portland paper's Portland Style magazine also emerged as the penultimate Niche Publication; the Portland Phoenix also placed third in Arts & Entertainment Coverage for its circulation class.
Providence also fared extremely well. News editor David Scharfenberg snagged third place in Environmental Reporting, first place in Reporting on Religious Issues (a tie with Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix), and first and second prize in the Social Issues Feature Story category.
The whole Boston crew walked away with third place in Overall Web Site and second for its Arts & Entertainment Section, while the design team took second in Overall Design (for the 2010 Fall Arts Preview), and another silver in Print Advertising Campaign for a series of WFNX ads by corporate design director Kevin Banks. Individually, Valerie Vande Panne placed third in Human Interest Feature Story for her scoop about a weed-slinging suburban soccer mom, while staff writer Chris Faraone won the General News Story category for "The War Over Peace," his critical analysis of Boston anti-crime efforts then-and-now.
Other noteworthy winners include Boston Phoenix art critic Greg Cook and Katherine Taylor, who took third in Slideshow (No Audio), and Erin Baldassari, whose cross-platform approach to covering up-and-coming local hip-hop artists, "10 for 2010," placed third in Convergence. Our images also won big, with artists Dave Curd, Danny Hellman, and Rob Zammarchi all recognized for illustration work, and Joel Veak landing in the top spot for Personality Photograph. The latter was a good example of the Phoenix's unique standing among other NENPA members — the money shot was of the "balls-out" Naked Comedy showcase at Improv Boston.