The Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber won 13 awards, including top prizes in several categories, in the annual Better Newspaper Contest, put on by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association (WNPA).
The awards were announced in a virtual awards ceremony that aired on Friday, Oct. 8.
The Beachcomber had a strong showing in advertising, news and editorial categories.
Reporter Elizabeth Shepherd took the contest’s first-place prize for a breaking news story, for her March 30, 2021 story, “More COVID cases in schools in schools — this time, in students,” detailing the decision by Vashon Island School District (VISD) superintendent to reject advice from Vashon’s Medical Reserve Corps regarding actions to be taken following an exposure involving sports teams at the school.
Paul Rowley won the contest’s second-place prize for comprehensive coverage for his news stories about the decisions of Vashon’s fire and healthcare districts to enact budgets with levy rates resulting in a significant funding shortfall for Vashon’s Parks District, due to Washington’s complex property taxing structure.
Shepherd also won a third-place prize in the business news category, for her story, “In Painful Move, Sawbones Reduces its Workforce,” about layoffs at one of Vashon’s largest employers, Pacific Research Northwest (Sawbones).
Together, Shepherd and Rowley won a first-place award for The Beachcomber’s editorial pages, which together, they oversaw throughout 2020 and much of 2021 to include a mix of thoughtful commentaries by island contributors, a lively letters to the editor section, strong editorials and accomplished local cartoons.
Local artist Steffon Moody, who contributed cartoons to The Beachcomber on a weekly basis from June 2020 to mid-April 2021, won both first and second prizes for an editorial cartoon, with the top prize going to his cartoon about renaming Maury Island (see page 6) and second prize for his full-page color artwork published on the front page of The Beachcomber in December 2020.
Shepherd also won the contest’s first- and second-place prizes for editorial writing, for her watchdog editorials, “Fire District should better care for its force,” and “More than ever, School Board needs to hold focused meetings.”
Publisher Daralyn Anderson and Sound Publishing designer Analise Hannah were top winners in both advertising and special sections contests. The pair swept the contest for multiple advertiser full pages ads, with the first-place prize for their Women in Business spread, second place for their spread on “Help Vashon Stay Connected,” and third place for “Who’s Who in Business” ads.
Anderson and Hannah also won first place prizes for “Most Original Idea” for their work on VashonBePrepared’s “Gratitude Project” advertisement, and for an in-paper special section for The Beachcomber’s “COVID-19 Guide.”
The Beachcomber, the weekly newspaper of record for the island since 1957, has been the recipient of numerous WNPA awards in previous years.
The WNPA is a statewide newspaper advocacy organization for about 100 publications, which includes The Beachcomber and its parent company Sound Publishing, as members.
Every year, the organization judges among its members which newspapers had the best advertising, news, photography and special sections. The number of entries in this year’s news division, where The Beachcomber’s editorial prizes were won, totaled 980. Entries in the advertising and special sections divisions, where Anderson’s and Hannah’s prizes were won, totaled 240.
This year’s WNPA contest entries were judged by the Kentucky Press Association.