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Gazette Staff Takes Top Honors At VPA

Gazette-Virginian staff members Charles Wilborn, Joe Chandler, Paula I. Bryant and Doug Ford claimed 10 awards in the annual Virginia Press Association Contest Saturday night in Roanoke.

Wilborn, the newspaper’s graphic design artist, captured the Gazette’s second Best-In-Show Award in as many years.

Last year Chandler, the newspaper’s sports editor, captured a Best-In-Show Award when he won in the non-daily photography category.

This year, Wilborn captured the prestigious title for non-daily presentation.

Other Best-In-Show awards were presented in four competition areas including writing, art, photography and presentation for each of the contest’s divisions – daily publications, non-daily publications and speciality publications.

Before the night was over, Wilborn had chalked up three first place awards for front page makeup, general makeup and sports page makeup in addition to Best-In-Show.

The judges wrote, “By far the best entry in this group. The submitted issues are consistenly clean, well-organized and easy to use. Good reproduction.”
A veteran graphic designer, Wilborn joined the Gazette staff last July.

When making the front page layout selection, judges considered overall appearance, use of headlines and their relationship to the importance of each story, use of headlines and their relationship to other headlines on the page, selection and use of pictures and artwork, and the variety and importance of news on the page.

When selecting the general makeup winning entry, judges considered the general appearance and makeup of the entire newspaper. Key elements included departmentalization, special pages, use of headlines in relationship to the importance of the story and to page makeup, selection and use of pictures and artwork, packaging of related stories and general typography.

Sports page layout was judged on makeup and general appearance, comprehensiveness of coverage, selection and use of stories and pictures, and local appeal.

Also winning Saturday evening at the awards banquet was Bryant, the newspaper’s editor, who drew favorable comments from the judges for her second place finish in the general news photography category for a front page photo entitled “Child Found Safe.”

The photograph captured the successful rescue of Jaylynn Thorpe one cold December afternoon after the 3-year-old Virgilina youngster spent over 20 hours lost in a “heavily wooded area” off Buckshoal Road.

Chandler and Ford swept the sports feature category at Saturday’s banquet with Chandler taking first and third place wins for photos entitled “Contrasting Emotions” and “Consolation,” and Ford capturing second for his photo entitled, “You Gotta Have Heart.”

The sports duo also shared a first place award with Wilborn for having the best sports pages of all newspapers across the state competing in the same category.

Veteran photographer Chandler also placed second and third in the sports news photo category for his photos entitled “Betts Battles” and “A Fingertip Grab.”

The Gazette-Virginian staffers are no newcomers to winning VPA awards.

Over his 35 years in the newspaper business, Chandler has won numerous awards for his sports photography including 24 from the VPA, 13 of those in the past six years.

Bryant, who has worked in the journalism field for the past 33 years, has received various VPA awards in the category of news writing, news photography and newspaper layout design during her career.

Ford’s two awards represented the sports writer’s first time winning in the VPA.

Wilborn has won multiple VPA awards in the past including awards for front page makeup and business design in the daily newspaper classification.

The awards were earned in the W3 category, the next-to-highest circulation category among non-daily publications.

Presented Saturday at the association’s annual meeting were 771 first, second and third place awards for writing, artwork, photography, presentation and multimedia in a competition that included 3,140 entries submitted by 101 member publications.

Judges for this year’s contest were from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.