The Lodi News-Sentinel received the prize for general excellence among papers its size at the annual meeting of the California Newspaper Publishers Association on Saturday.
“This newspaper has meaty editorial pages with muscular editorials. Well edited,” wrote a representative of the blue ribbon judges who cited the News-Sentinel for only its second general excellence award since 1964. “Selection of stories shows a sense of the community while preserving awareness of the world. Clearly laid out and printed. Photos are boldly placed.”
In individual story categories, judges gave the News-Sentinel first-place for public service. It was the paper’s sixth such commendation in seven years. The award-winning articles covered allegations that several local men were linked to Middle East terrorist activities. Federal prosecutors were able to convict Hamid Hayat and force the deportation of two Muslim clerics. The controversial case gained national attention last summer.
A story of the initial arrest in that case was given the first-place award for local spot news.
“Editor Rich Hanner and his staff have a virtual lock on the California association’s public service award, a key measure of journalistic excellence,” said publisher Marty Weybret.
In addition, the weekly Lodi Living section, edited by Tricia Tomiyoshi, was judged second among lifestyle sections. The first-place award was given the Daily Republic in Fairfield. Tomiyoshi also received an honorable mention for her feature story on folk-rock musician Jackie Greene.
Honorable mentions were given the paper’s Web site Lodinews.com, managed by Internet Services Manager Simon Birch.
In the writing category, a story by News-Sentinel Administration Manager Theresa Larson was honored. She wrote an account of her fight with breast cancer.
“Rich has done a remarkable job improving our paper,” said Weybret. “Small newspapers see a lot of staff turnover in their news departments and we’re no exception. But the CNPA judges have consistently commended our work since Rich came in 1998.
“Our recent staff just out did themselves this year. The news department is anchored by sports editor Scott Howell, public safety reporter Layla Bohm and veteran general assignment reporter Ross Farrow, as well as many excellent journalists and citizen-columnists.
“I’m very proud of the work of all the News-Sentinel departments which turn out an excellent newspaper for the citizens of Lodi.”
The News-Sentinel competes in a category with some 17 daily newspapers with 10,000 to 25,000 subscribers.
The Record of Stockton, which competes in the 25,000 to 75,000 circulation category, won prizes in the categories for columns and business coverage.
“My thanks to Marty and Fred Weybret for their passionate involvement in the paper,” said editor Rich Hanner about the awards. “In an era of corporate ownership, they are exceptional owners, concerned about community service and journalistic quality — not merely the bottom line.”