Writing business

Las Cruces Sun-News Wins 7 State Journalism Contest Awards

SANTA FE — The New Mexico Press Association recognized the best in New Mexico newspaper writing, photography and advertising at the Better Newspaper Contest banquet on Saturday.

The Las Cruces Sun-News won three first-place and four second-place awards, earning seven plaques. In addition, Sun-News journalist Justin Garcia has won awards for helping the News cover the McBride Fire.

The NMPA organization gave awards to newspapers from four divisions. The Sun-News competes in the first division, with the largest newspapers in the state. Garcia’s reconnaissance report for the Ruidoso News came in the small weekly division.

Sun-News Journalist Michael McDevitt won first place in the Best News Writing category for a profile on Desert Hope Apartments, an affordable housing development serving previously homeless residents. The story is titled “Desert Hope Promised a Model for Homeless Transition. Now Tenants and Staff Say It’s a Neglected Property.”

A judge wrote: “Well written, goes beyond – follows what could have been against, what is.”

McDevitt also won second place in Business Writing for her story about once-vacant properties that have found new life as cannabis stores.

Sun-News News director Lucas Peerman and reporters Algernon D’Ammassa, Miranda Cyr and Leah Romero have teamed up to win first place in a new category in 2022: COVID-19 in Your Community. In this category, newspapers were invited to submit up to five print editions covering the pandemic.

Submissions included Peerman’s year-end story exploring how a Doña Ana County family was coping after a loved one died from COVID-19. The story was accompanied by a list of all COVID-19-related deaths in the county in 2021. Additionally, D’Ammassa wrote about steps residents should take if exposed to COVID while on vacation. of Christmas.

The Sun-News also submitted several articles published the week New Mexico lifted its mask mandate in mid-February, including Romero’s look at how businesses in the region responded, Cyr’s exploration of what that it was in schools the day after students didn’t have to wear masks, and D’Ammassa’s story detailing how heads of state made their decision.

The front page of Las Cruces Sun-News February 19, 2022

“Excellent variety of coverage for an issue that almost touched on an aspect of life,” one judge wrote of the Sun-News‘COVID coverage. “This set of stories struck the perfect balance between statistical and government coverage while incorporating the human element that made reporting sing. Including the list of deaths in the county in 2021 was particularly haunting and impactful.”

Report for America Education Fellow Cyr won second place in the Education Writing category for a series on community schools in New Mexico. Cyr spoke with school districts across the state to explain why community schools exist and how they have helped amid the pandemic.

Sun-News Senior reporter Damien Willis won two awards.

Willis’ 2021 Distinguished Resident Profile on Garrey Carruthers won first place in the Best Use of Multimedia category. The online package included an hour-long podcast with Carruthers as well as an extensive photo gallery with archival footage from Carruthers’ time as governor of New Mexico and when he was chancellor of the New Mexico State University.

A judge wrote, “You could tell they are integrated into the community. I really like it. Overall very clean.”

The Reporter’s Notebook is both a newsletter and podcast, which Willis produces weekly, to bring readers behind the curtain in the reporting process. Willis earned second place in Explanation of News Operations or Newspaper for The Reporter’s Notebook.

The Sun-News the staff received second place in Breaking News-Digital for their online coverage of the first day of legal recreational cannabis sales in New Mexico. Since the city of Las Cruces has not set hours for recreational cannabis stores, sales could begin at midnight on April 1. Cyr attended a company’s midnight premiere and documented the first legal sale of recreational cannabis in the state.

Sun-News reporters provided coverage throughout the day, including McDevitt’s analysis of the first day of sales at Las Cruces; D’Ammassa’s look at sales in southern Doña Ana County, near the Texas border; and intern Cielo Rodriguez’s roundup of restaurants opening soon in case readers get the munchies.

Garcia, reporter for the Sun-News, traveled to Ruidoso to help cover the McBride fire in April. His stories have been picked up by several properties owned by Gannett, including the Sun-News and Ruidoso News. His story recounting the harrowing first 24 hours of the fire received the award for Best News Writing in the Weekly Division II.

“Your first paragraph caught my attention and I wanted to read on,” wrote one judge. “Your next two paragraphs kept me on my toes. I desperately needed to know more about the residents of Ruidoso and the fire. Well written overall, but what really cemented my decision was “That’s how you caught my attention at first and didn’t let go. That’s exactly how good short stories should be written. Great! Congratulations, you’re a talented writer.”

Garcia, with Carlsbad-Argus Current journalist Adrian Hedden and Alamogordo Daily News/Ruidoso News Journalist Nicole Maxwell won first place in the Weekly Division II Best Ongoing/Ongoing Coverage category for her work on the McBride fire.

One judge wrote, “You were there when the community needed you! Excellent continuous updates in coverage and solid image and video support.”

One newspaper from each division is awarded for overall excellence, the highest honor. This year’s winners are: Santa Fe New Mexicon, every day i; Farmington DailyDaily 2; Taos News, Weekly I; and Chief El Defensor in Socorro, Weekly 2.

The competition was judged by the Wyoming Press Association.

The awards were presented at the NMPA’s 113th Annual Convention.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Lucas Peerman can be reached at [email protected] Where @LittleGuyInATie on Twitter.