The Phoenix newspapers and thePhoenix.com were major winners in this year’s New England Press Association (NEPA) Better Newspaper Competition. Maine’s Portland Phoenix scored this year’s prize of prizes — the coveted George A. Speers Newspaper of the Year Award, and the Boston Phoenix took first place for General Excellence.
The NEPA awards dinner was held on Saturday, February 10, at Boston’s Park Plaza, a hotel where they actually charge people $2 to check a coat (very classy, so welcoming). And the chicken was under-cooked. And the soup was over-peppered. Otherwise, it was a great evening, with the Boston Phoenix claiming a total of 18 awards, including six first-place plaques, and the Portland Phoenix going home with a total of 15 prizes (six of them in advertising categories), including an even 10 first-place finishes.
The Investigative and General News categories featured winners from both Boston and Portland papers. Boston reporter David S. Bernstein placed first in Investigative Reporting for his series of features on the shortcomings of the Boston Police Department. Second place in that category went to Maine freelancer Lance Tapley for his series on torture and abuse in Maine’s state-run maximum-security prison.
The Phoenix papers swept the General News category. Top honors there went to Portland Managing Editor Jeff Inglis for a piece on proposed uses for an abandoned Portland armory; former Portland staff writer Sara Donnelly came in second for her coverage of squabbles inside Maine’s Green party; and Boston’s David S. Bernstein took third for a piece on prison brutality in Massachusetts.
For General Web Site honors, thePhoenix.com, which covers the Boston, Portland, and Providence areas, placed third, and, along with the Boston Phoenix print edition, won a first-place plaque in the Convergence category for the 2006FNX/Phoenix Best Music Poll special section and its expanded multi-media online companion.
In the Human Interest Feature category, former Boston Phoenix feature writer Camille Dodero grabbed both first and second place for her March 2006 cover story on MySpace after death (first) and an earlier profile of Boston’s sneaker culture (second).
Other Boston first-place awards went to Mike Miliard (Social Issues Feature), and David S. Bernstein (Transportation Reporting). Milliard won for his feature on the emerging importance of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Bernstein for writing the truth behind the recent MBTA fare hike.
Newcomer Vanessa Czarnecki placed second (Business/Economic Reporting) for her disturbing report on the introduction of RFID (miniature electronic tracking) technology, which allows Big Brother to hide inside a bag of groceries.
The Boston Phoenix design department, under Design Director Kristen Goodfriend, placed third in both the Front Page and the Overall Design categories. Goodfriend herself (under the pseudonym k. bonami) walked off with a first-place Illustration award for her February 2006 cover piece “Attack of the 50-Foot Oprah.” She also placed second and third in the Photo Illustration category for her Lego-construction cover on police brutality and her “Johnny Damon on a Wheaties Box” illustration, respectively.
Three freelance Boston Phoenix photographers scored at NEPA. Eric Levin took first place in the Photo Series category for his series on sneaker culture; Mark Ostow won first prize (Personality Photo) for his portrait of a patient displaced from the Fernald School; and Tanit Sakakini fielded a second-place prize in the same category for her cover portrait of local rocker Juliana Hatfield.
Unbridled congratulations to everyone in the Phoenix Media organization who made these wins possible.