Staff at The Republican take top honors in regional newspaper awards

Mar 14 2017

Staff at the Springfield daily newspaper earned more than two-dozen awards in the 30,000 and over circulation category at the association’s dinner on Feb. 25 at the Boston Mariott Long Wharf Hotel.

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The Republican and Sunday Republican are the recipients of key honors for writing, photography, design and advertising in the New England Better Newspaper Competition sponsored by the New England Newspaper & Press Association.

Staff at the Springfield daily newspaper earned more than two-dozen awards in the 30,000 and over circulation category at the association’s dinner on Feb. 25 at the Boston Mariott Long Wharf Hotel. The contest annually recognizes outstanding journalism at New England newspapers in five weekly and daily categories.

More than 3,226 entries were reviewed by judges for work published between Aug. 1, 2015 and July 31.

“The Republican received a total of 21 awards, ranging from reporting, photography, layout and design, headline writing and videography. We received nine first-place awards. It was truly a great effort across the entire spectrum of journalism and is reflective of our talented staff of writers and editors,” said executive editor Wayne E. Phaneuf.

“The staff of the content and publications teams at The Republican work every day, 365 days each year, to produce a newspaper which is interesting and informative for our readers,” said Cynthia G. Simison, managing editor who oversees the print publications. “These honors validate all the hard work and dedication by an incredibly talented group of people.”

Among the top awards, “Outlook 2016: Working for the Future” was honored as the best business section in New England, marking the fourth time in the past five years that the Sunday Republican’s premier business and economic development section received the top honor.


“Outlook 2016 stands as a testament to the stupendous critical thinking, organizing and attention to details that mark outstanding work,” wrote the judges.  “The five sections published over two days dig deep to take readers through the economics of the Pioneer Valley, the causes, the cures and the results. It could be a textbook for a master’s level degree in community growth and job creation.”

Said Simison, who conceives and edits the content for the annual section, “It is humbling to read this level of comments about our work from the panel of distinguished judges. Our design and production team deserve the bulk of the kudos for creating the presentation for our readers.” Outlook 2016, which also earned a third place honor among all special sections, was designed and produced by Patricia Thompson and Annmarie Murdzia.

Staff writers Stephanie Barry and Ron Chimelis were among the first-place honorees. Barry earned two first-place awards, one for crime and courts reporting for her four-part series published in December 2015 about organized crime in Springfield and the other for human interest feature story for her piece, “Death brings no solace,” about two men confronting the death of one’s father in prison while serving a life term for the murder of the other’s dad.

Commented the judges about the mob series, “This revealing series shows how a past Mafia case still resonated in the newspaper’s community. It’s a story that might have been dismissed as old news, but not in this journalist’s hands.”


And, of Barry’s honored feature story, the judges wrote, “The opportunity to tackle a story like this rarely presents itself once in any reporter’s career, and, in too many cases, when it does, the writer comes up short in terms of both the story and the subjects. Quite the opposite here: well told, often gripping narrative and exhibiting excellent skill getting key details out of her subjects.”


Chimelis received first-place honors for commentary writing.

Said the judges of the piece “Put yourself in Granby cop’s shoes” — about the case of a Granby officer who pulled over former Belchertown police chief Francis Fox for driving erratically — “The writer most effectively presents the ‘other side’ of a local contretemps.”

Chimelis also received a third-place award for sports feature story.


In photography categories, staff photographers Dave Roback and Don Treeger earned multiple awards, including Roback’s first-place honor for the personality photo category for an image of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, shot during the Democratic convention in Springfield, and Treeger’s first-place feature photo entry for an image of a child swimming underwater at the pool at Forest Park in Springfield.

Assistant managing editor Greg Saulmon earned a first-place honor for spot news video for his footage from the 2016 collapse of the National Guard armory building in Holyoke. Said the judges, “This spot news video enlivened the story very nicely.”

The Republican’s Advertising Department earned first-place awards for special advertising supplement and local display advertisement, along with five other second- and third-place awards.

Said advertising director Mark French, “I’m very proud to have my design team recognized for their accomplishments. The creativity and quality of their work just keeps getting better, much to the delight of our advertising clients.”

The publications team for The Republican and Sunday Republican also earned first and second place honors for front-page design. Thompson served as lead designer for the two pages, one on May 29 which launched the newspapers’ series marking the fifth anniversary of the 2011 tornadoes and the other on Dec. 6, 2015, which highlighted a story about Pearl Harbor attack veterans from World War II.

Of the tornado series front page, the judges wrote, “This submission won for a tightly focused package of Sunday articles insisting the reader look inside. The leafless silhouette of a tornado-ravaged tree drew attention to a retrospective look at a powerful storm that devastated Springfield five years earlier.”

The week-long retrospective series marking the five-year anniversary also earned an honorable mention for The Republican and writers Barry, Johnson and Peter Goonan. Said the judges, “The reporting taken collectively is well worthy of recognition. All three reporters did spectacular work weaving historical details and interview content into a well thought out, photographed and designed series on Springfield’s devastating tornado.”


Jason Remillard, a curator and page producer, earned a first-place award for headline writing. The entry, “David signs Goliath deal,” was published on Dec. 2, 2015, when pitcher David Price inked a seven-year, $217 million deal with the Boston Red Sox.

Among the other writing and photography awards, Patrick Johnson earned a third-place award for crime and courts reporting for his series published in September 2015 about the “Granby Girl” cold case. Said the judges, “At its heart, this well-written series speaks to what fascinates all of us when it comes to crime and punishment, making it all very human.”


The Republican’s Statehouse writer, Shira Schoenberg, received a second-place award for health reporting for her Jan. 3, 2016, story, “High suicide rates plague correction officers.”


Other photography awards included second and third-place honors for Roback and Treeger, respectively, in the category of news feature photo, third-place awards for Saulmon for general news and personality photos, a second-place honor for now retired photographer Mark M. Murray in the category of pictorial photo

The publications team also received second-place honors in the category of overall design and presentation. Wrote the judges, “Clear, consistent design. Structure and spacing are well ordered. The design clearly has reader comfort and accessibility in mind.”

Designer Thompson also earned a third-place award for a food page published on March 17 that highlighted St. Patrick’s Day tips for cooking a corned beef dinner.

The Republican’s annual summer entertainment section, published on May 26, earned second-place honors among arts and entertainment sections. “The composition of the front page is a thoughtful wrap-up of what is inside this interesting guide,” wrote the judges.

The Republican’s advertising team swept the top three awards for the advertising supplement category, led by the Better Health cancer section designed by Michelle Johnson earning top honors. She also earned top honors for local color display ad, while designer Megan Connor-Thomas took third place in that category.

Third-place awards also went to designers Steve Dunnigan and Sam Judson for real estate and automotive display ads, respectively.



Apr 2024