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2019 WVPA Gazette-Mail

The Charleston Gazette-Mail won the West Virginia Press Association’s Newspaper of the Year award Saturday night in Morgantown. The newsroom also took home 32 first-, second- and third- place awards in its division, along with numerous awards for the paper’s advertising staff.

MORGANTOWN — The Charleston Gazette-Mail’s reporters, editors, photographers and others won first place in their division in the West Virginia Press Association’s annual Editorial Contest.

The Gazette-Mail was also named the WVPA’s Newspaper of the Year, after combining the newsroom’s results with the Gazette-Mail advertising staff’s win in the WVPA’s Advertising Contest on Friday.

The editorial awards were announced Saturday at the WVPA’s annual conference at Lakeview Resort in Morgantown.

The Gazette-Mail won 32 first-, second- and third-place awards in the division for daily newspapers with print circulation of 16,000 or more.

Reporters Ken Ward Jr. and Kate Mishkin won first place for best governmental affairs reporting for their story on new House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw and his ties to the natural gas industry. Ward, who spent the year focusing on the gas industry as part of ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network, also won first place for best legal affairs for his reporting on court fights between residents and companies over natural gas royalties.

Ward also won second-place awards for best in-depth or investigative reporting, for his coverage of the similarities between West Virginia’s relationship with the coal and natural gas industries; and for legal affairs reporting, for his story on Fayette County leaders’ attempts to limit drilling in the county.

Mishkin also won first place in the reporting generated from public notices category, for her continued coverage of violations incurred by gas pipeline developers. She also won a slew of second place awards: best news feature, for her report on the 50th anniversary of the Farmington mine disaster; best business, economic or labor reporting, for a story on the unlikeliness of a long-term rebound for the coal industry; and best reporting from public notices, for her stories on the proposed Rockwool plant in Jefferson County.

Reporter Caity Coyne won a first-place award for best in-depth or investigative reporting for her “Stirring the Waters” project, on the difficulties Southern West Virginia residents face in getting clean water. She also won first place for best news feature, for her story on two bridge collapses 40 years apart, and how the Soviet Union got involved with one of them.

Coyne was placed in the Gazette-Mail newsroom as part of the initial class of corps members from Report for America, an initiative of the nonprofit GroundTruth Project with support from the Galloway Family Foundation.

Contributing columnist Tom Crouser won first place as best news columnist for his work on the Daily Mail opinion page, and Bil Lepp won third place in the same category for his columns on the Gazette opinion and Sunday Perspective pages. Both Crouser and Lepp have continued to write for the new combined Gazette-Mail opinion pages.

The Gazette-Mail opinion staff won first place for best editorial pages.

Graphic artist Kevin Cade made a clean sweep of all three places in the best illustration, cartoon or graphic category, including first place for his illustration to accompany a story about “Friendsgiving.”

Bill Lynch won the first-place award for best lifestyle columnist for his One Month at a Time series.

Jeff Rider, the Gazette-Mail’s daytime city editor, won first place for best front page design.

Photographer Chris Dorst won the first-place award for sports photography for his coverage of the West Virginia State football game versus UVA-Wise. Dorst also won third place in the best photo essay category, for his photos of a Little League all-star team.

Former Gazette-Mail photographer Craig Hudson won first place for best photo essay for the second year in a row, for his coverage of the State Fair of West Virginia. Hudson also won second and third place for feature photography, and third place for sports photography.

The Gazette-Mail features staff won first and section place for best lifestyle pages. The first-place winner featured design by graphic artist Kevin Cade, a main story by features editor Maria Young and photos by visuals editor Kenny Kemp. The second-place winner was led by a story by former Gazette-Mail reporter Douglas Imbrogno on longtime reporter and columnist Sandy Wells, who died in 2019.

Gazette-Mail sports editor Derek Redd won second place in the best sports columnist category, beaten out only by former Gazette-Mail columnist Mitch Vingle.

Sportswriter Ryan Pritt won second and third places in the best sports event category, for his story on Herbert Hoover’s girls softball team and their capstone to their perfect season; and a report on the state’s first girls high school golf invitational.

The sports staff won third place for their Jan. 28, 2018, section, featuring coverage of WVU’s basketball loss to Kentucky and the state high school wrestling tournament.

Reporter Lacie Pierson won third place in breaking news coverage for her story on the federal indictment of state Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry.

For service to the community, news editor Leann Ray won third place for her revival of the FlipSide section, written by teenagers for teenagers.

On Friday, the Gazette-Mail won first place in the WVPA’s annual Advertising Awards Competition. Kathy Baker won three first-place awards for online advertising. Other first-place awards went to Randi Vaughan for best political ad, Scott Sword for best classified display ad and Hailey Hunter for best full-page ad campaign. The advertising staff also won first-place awards for best retail theme pages and best newspaper promotional campaign.