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Gazette staffers win press awards

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

Competing against numerous other publications in the W2 category of non-dailies with circulation between 5,000 and 10,000, the newspaper totaled 16 sweepstakes points.

Gazette Sports Editor Joe Chandler won first place for a sports news photo and two second place awards for general news photo and an online slideshow.

For his first place winning sports news photo entitled “Comets baseball,” the judges said, “Clean image with good face. Nice caption.”

His general news photo entitled “Flag presented,” captured “a hard moment to photograph with powerful emotions,” the judges said referring to the photograph of a kneeling soldier presenting the widow of Major General (ret.) Carroll Thackston with an American Flag at the grave.

An online slideshow depicting images from the 2013 Crossing of the Dan celebration in South Boston also placed second earning judge’s kudos for “a journey through history…wonderful photography.”

Again this year, The Gazette was at the top of its group in presentation with Wilborn chalking up two second place awards for front page makeup and page design and a third for general makeup.

A veteran graphic designer, Wilborn has won two Best in Show Awards since joining The Gazette staff in July 2009.

Commenting on Wilborn’s award-winning front page design, judges said, “Nice news mixture and effective use of headlines.”

Wilborn “does a good job of playing up photos,” judges commented on his general makeup.

They credited The Gazette’s graphic designer with “good use of artwork, headlines and color” for his award-winning page design. 

“Photo illustrations were particularly well done. Good use of font sizes and types to make things stand out and provide entry points,” the judges added.

Also winning Saturday evening at the awards banquet was Gazette sports and news reporter and photographer Doug Ford who placed second in column writing for his columns on the Halifax County Fair, a senior moment and fruitcakes.

For the first time in his 14 years at The Gazette, Ford won an award for his column writing. Previously, Ford’s winning entries had been in sports and news writing.

“These columns made you want to read more,” the judges commented.

Gazette Editor Paula Bryant, who has worked at The Gazette for the past seven years after working for 26 years as editor at The Union Star in Brookneal and The Star-Tribune in Chatham, brought home a second place award for public safety writing for a story entitled, “Attempted robbery foiled by frying pan.”

“What a great story, well told. All hail the frying pan!” the judges wrote.

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

Over his 39 years in the newspaper business, Chandler has won numerous awards for his sports and news photography and writing including 38 from the VPA, 26 of those in the past nine years.

Ford’s award represented the sports writer’s fifth time winning in the VPA contest.

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

Bryant also has won multiple Virginia Press Association awards while working in the newspaper business over the past 32 years.  

“The Gazette-Virginian has a tremendous editorial and design staff focused on covering local news and information people want to know, and we work hard to bring the community feature articles on topics readers are interested in learning more about,” said Bryant. 

 “In recent years, the area’s largest newspaper has been privileged to package news, sports and advertising in an award-winning manner that hasn’t gone unnoticed,” she added. “I’m so proud of what our staff is doing and has accomplished, and we look forward to continuing to provide our readers the best local news in print and on the web.” 

Judges for this year’s contest which included competitions in writing, photography, artwork, news presentation and multimedia were journalists who are members of the Colorado Press Association.

They judged more than 3,540 entries from 93 VPA member publications. 

At Saturday evening’s annual awards program, the awards were presented to 830 winners from 93 publications.