Vindicator takes home six first place awards at annual AP awards


Staff/wire report

COLUMBUS

The Vindicator continued its tradition of excellence in journalism by winning six first-place awards in the annual Ohio Associated Press Media Editors newspaper competition.

The Vindicator also placed second 10 times, including for general excellence, and had four third-place awards.

This year’s awards, announced Saturday, are for Division IV, newspapers with circulation between 19,000 and 59,999.

“Being part of a community’s pulse is what journalism is about. Vital events happen or need to happen. Our reporting reflects that today and has for the last 150 years,” Vindicator Editor Todd Franko said.

“That’s what today’s awards mean for the staff that was honored and the community that was served.”

The Vindicator’s reporting team won both first and second place for spot news reporting for its coverage of the deportation of Al Adi and the closure of the General Motors Lordstown Assembly Complex, respectively.

Former Vindicator reporter Jordyn Grzelewski was named best business writer. Kalea Hall, also a former staff member, took second in the category.

Art Director Robert McFerren was awarded first place for best full page design, and photographer Emily Matthews was recognized for having the best feature photo.

Sports writer Brian Dzenis won first place for best sports feature.

Reporter Graig Graziosi was awarded best enterprise reporting. Reporter David Skolnick and former reporter Justin Wier took second place in the same category.

The Vindicator was awarded second place for both digital presence and digital project categories.

Columnist and Editorial Page Editor Bertram D’Souza placed second in the best-column category.

Sports editors Ed Puskas and Jen Schatzel took third in headline writing, and reporter Samantha Phillips won third place for investigative work.

The Vindicator’s sports section was also recognized with a third-place award.

Entries were judged by Digital First Media editors from Troy, Mich.

Also on Saturday, the AP handed out broadcast awards, and 21 WFMJ-TV, The Vindicator’s broadcast partner, took home seven, four first-place winners and three second-place finishers.

Michelle Nicks was named best reporter, and Derek Steyer won first place for his feature reporting.

Robert Meluch placed first for best photographer.

Steyer and Meluch won first and second place, respectively, for best use of photography.

Dana Balash placed second for best sportscast, and Sheila Miller placed second for best continuing coverage.

Also on Saturday, the Lancaster Eagle Gazette won the First Amendment Award for outstanding accomplishment in pursuing freedom of information. The newspaper won with its entry “DNA Collection Series.”

Two journalists were inducted into the Ohio APME Hall of Fame for exceptional distinction and honor in the field of journalism: Tom McKee of WCPO-TV in Cincinnati and John Erickson of the Dayton Daily News.

Jennifer Smola, a reporter at The Columbus Dispatch, was named Ohio APME’s Newspaper Rising Star. That award recognizes journalists with five years or less in journalism.

Fifty-five daily newspapers submitted 1,776 entries in the contest, which featured news and sports stories, features, editorials, columns, graphics and photos from 2018.

The Associated Press is a not-for-profit news cooperative representing 1,400 newspapers and 5,000 broadcast stations in the United States.

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