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Gazette claims 11 press awards

Gazette-Virginian staff members Charles Wilborn, Joe Chandler and Doug Ford claimed 11 awards in the annual Virginia Press Association Contest Saturday night in Roanoke.


For the third year in a row, The Gazette’s news and sports pages have won either first or second place in the Virginia Press Association competition.

Competing against 27 other publications in the W2 category of non-dailies with circulation between 5,000 and 10,000, the newspaper totaled 24 sweepstakes points coming in close behind The Eastern Shore News of Tasley who captured the sweepstakes award with 26 of a possible 234 points.

The Gazette led its group in presentation with Wilborn, the newspaper’s graphic design artist, chalking up three first place awards for front page, specialty pages or sections in The Gazette’s Women Today special section and page design.

Commenting on Wilborn’s first place awards judges said:

Page design: “Overall clean design with respect for art and typography.”

 Speciality pages or sections: “Great ideas and excellent job of showcasing profiles. The topic normally would not interest me, but the photos, layout and typography pulled me in.”

 Front page: “Very effective use of quality photographs — and in one instance a photographic illustration — large headlines that conveyed the seriousness of a devastating storm; effective use of clean and simple design, subheads, limited story count and no gimmicks.”

Wilborn also won two third place awards for general makeup and
lifestyle or entertainment pages for The Gazette’s County Life page.

When selecting the general makeup winning entry, judges said they 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.

Commenting on Wilborn’s two third place awards, judges said:

 County Life: “Strong layout, attractive pages.”

 General makeup: “Headlines are given proper weight. An orderly design.”

Wilborn also shared a second place win with Chandler and Ford for submitted sports pages.

Sports pages were judged on makeup and general appearance, comprehensiveness of coverage, selection and use of stories and pictures and local appeal. 

Judges commented the sports pages were “well-packaged pages, very clean and simple — very appealing.”

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

Also winning Saturday evening at the awards banquet was Gazette Sports Editor Joe Chandler.

Chandler won three first place awards in the combination picture and story category, sports writing portfolio and for sports news photo.

For his story on the drug raid in Nathalie last April when 41 dogs were seized, judges commented, “The reporter/photographer is thorough, capturing the news story as it broke. The accompanying sidebar brought forth emotional components. Good work.”

Chandler was commended for articles that are entertaining and informative for his first place winning sports writing portfolio.

“The reporter’s style is fast and grabs the reader immediately, leading them with a perfectly-synced drumbeat of grabbing quotes and well-placed facts. The mark of a good sports article is one that would interest the non-sports fan while keeping the fanatic’s attention. In this portfolio, the reporter exhibits a great ability to do just that.”

For his first place winning sports news photo of a softball play, the judges wrote, “A really strong moment captures the aftermath of a collision at the base. The ball rolling aside is an extra storytelling bonus.”

Chandler placed third in the breaking news photo category with a photo of Nathalie residents picking up personal belongings from their ravaged mobile homes on Liberty Road.

“The wide composition shows the scale of the destruction along with the human element in the center of it,” judges commented.

Gazette sports and news reporter and photographer Doug Ford placed third for a softball sports new photo.

“Nice action moment that includes an unusual angle of play at the base,” judges wrote.

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

Over his 37 years in the newspaper business, Chandler has won numerous awards for his sports photography including 31 from the VPA, 19 of those in the past seven years.

Ford’s two awards represented the sports writer’s third 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. 

“The Gazette-Virginian has an outstanding editorial and design staff focused on covering the local news and information that people want to know and bringing the community feature articles on topics readers are interested in learning more about,” said Gazette Editor Paula 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,”   Bryant said. “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 were from the Illinois Press Association.