Pennsylvania Women's Press Association

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2018 Excellence in Journalism awards announced

The Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association Excellence in Journalism awards recognizes the outstanding work of the organization’s members in 21 categories, including general news and feature reporting, photography, page design and online projects.

First-, second-, third-place and honorable mention awards are given in each category by out-of-state judges. A point system determines the top winner among those who garner 10 or more points. The top award carries a $250 prize; other winners receive certificates.

The Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association is proud to announce the winners of its 2018 Excellence in Journalism Awards.

The entries were a stellar representation of the best of journalism coverage in Pennsylvania.

PWPA will recognize winners at an awards luncheon Saturday, June 2, 2018, during the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association’s 2018 Pennsylvania Press Conference weekend at the Wyndham in Gettysburg.

We look forward to celebrating a wonderful year of work with all of our members.

“Congratulations to all of the winners. It’s wonderful to see how many talented members we have in our organization, and I’m glad to see them recognized for their hard work and talents,”  said PWPA President, Kristen Doerschner, managing editor of the Beaver County Times.  “All of our members make a difference each year by telling the stories of their respective communities. Local journalism is so important, and I’m always inspired to see the good work of my fellow journalists.”

This year our contest judges offered excellent and extensive comments on winning entries, some of which will appear in our awards program, as usual.  If winners would like me to send them their full judge’s comments, let us know and we will email them to you.

At the luncheon, the winner of PWPA’s top prize, the Journalist of the Year Award, will be named.  The Journalist of the Year is the man or woman who accumulates the most points from category wins
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PWPA’s Excellence in Journalism Awards contest does not have divisions based on circulation or publication frequency – all newspapers and news websites compete against one another. All of the contest entries were judged by current and former media professionals.

Congratulations to all of the 2018 Excellence in Journalism winners!

Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association 2018 winners:

GENERAL NEWS

First place: Jennie Hutchison, Erie Times-News, Women take on Washington

Second place: Jo Ciavaglia, Bucks County Courier Times, Mother was once children’s advocate

Third place: Sarah Rafacz, Centre Daily Times, ‘EMS is perpetually stressed …’

Honorable  mention: Madasyn Czebiniak, Valley News Dispatch, Sheetz shines light on drug abuse

Honorable mention: Christine Haines, The Daily Courier, Unusual call leads emergency crews to bovine water rescue

SPORTS

First Place: Steven Nesbitt and Steph Chambers, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, MLB ump saves woman

Second place: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Beaver County Times, Checks without balances?

Third place: Katie Kohler, Times Herald, Salters humbled by introduction

Honorable mention: Tom Reisenweber, Erie Times-News, Identical twins, different sports

LIFESTYLES

First place: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Beaver County Times, Life after free love: How things changed

Second place: Lini Kadaba, Philadelphia Inquirer; 20 years of growth

Third place: Pam Parker, Erie Times-News, Mother/daughter complete Appalachian Trail.

Honorable Mention Jennie Hutchison, Erie Times-News, Emojis jump to big screen

Honorable Mention:Patricia Sheridan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Clutter chic

Honorable Mention: Patrice Wilding, Times-Tribune, Nailed it

FEATURES

First place: Jenny Wagner, Bucks County Courier Times, Agent Orange: Battle continues

Second place: Patrice Wilding, Times-Tribune,  Arms full, Hearts full

Third place: Sarah Hofius Hall, Times-Tribune, Feeling right at home

Honorable mention: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Beaver County Times, Good for the soul

Honorable mention: Lindsey Poisson, Erie Times News, Walk this way

COLUMNS

First place, Lisa Micco, Beaver County Times

Second place: Tamara Dunn, The Standard-Speaker

Third place: Katie Kohler, Times Herald

BUSINESS & CONSUMER

First place: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Beaver County Times, Whither the cash cow?

Second place: Patrice Wilding, Times-Tribune, Like father, like son

Third place: Jennie Hutchison, Erie Times-News, Stores try to build oasis in food deserts

SERIES

First place: Jo Ciavaglia and Marion Callahan, Bucks County Courier Times, Born into addiction

Second place: Pam Parker, Erie Times-News, Women work Erie

Third place: Sarah Rafacz, Centre Daily Times, Making of a musical

PROFILES & INTERVIEWS

First place: Megan Guza, TribTotal Media, Pittsburgh family struggles to cope with son’s unsolved homicide

Second place: Katie Kohler, Times Herald, Pittsburgh barber Sal Gianonne begins his journey through addiction and recovery

Third place: Caitlin Heaney West, Times-Tribune, Insta-Outreach: Wallenpaupack grad connects people, tells stories through Instagram job, photography.

Honorable mention: Dana Massing, Erie Times-News, Farewell to Friends: Longtime volunteers organizing their last library book sale

PAGE DESIGN

First place:  Kristin O’Malley, Times-Tribune

INVESTIGATIVE/ENTERPRISE

First place: Jo Ciavaglia, Bucks County Courier Times, No sex crime but law still calls them a sex offender

Second place:  Daveen Rae Kurutz, The Beaver County Times, Evidentiary privilege

Third place:  Megan Guza, TribTotal Media, Spike in Ohio’s synthetic opioid ODs offers grave warning to western PA

Honorable mention: Madasyn Czebiniak, Tribune Review, Blindsided by FEMA: Revised floodplain maps saddle homeowners with insurance requirements, higher costs

HEALTH & SCIENCE

First place:Megan Guza, TribTotal Media, Inside one woman’s near-fatal overdose, struggle with addiction

Second place: Jo Ciavaglia, Bucks County Courier Times, The right to fight

Third place: Lini Kadaba, Philadelphia Inquirer, The upside of dirt

Honorable mention: Jenny Wagner, Bucks County Courier Times, Lyme disease on the rise as controversy persists

EDUCATION

First place: Sarah Hofius Hall, Times-Tribune, Growth presents challenge

Second place: Andrew Chiappazzi and Daveen Rae Kurutz, Beaver County Times, Who’s keeping score?

Third place: Gia Mazur, Times-Tribune, Arts program for all Arts Alive students, local seniors collaborate to stage final exhibitions

TRAVEL/A&E

First place: Gia Mazur, Times-Tribune, For the love of art

Second place: Lindsey Poisson, Erie Times-News, Rocking a new path

Third place: Caitlin Heaney West, Times-Tribune, Final bow

HEADLINES

First place: Tamara Dunn, The Standard-Speaker

Second place  Caitlin Heaney West, Times-Tribune

NEWS/FEATURE PHOTO

First place: Ellen O’Connell, The Standard-Speaker

Honorable mention: Steph Chambers, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

SPORTS PHOTO

First place: Steph Chambers, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

VIDEO

First place: Steph Chambers, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Honorable mention: Jo Ciavaglia, Bucks County Courier Times

MULTIMEDIA

First place: Megan Guza, Andrew Russell, Kristina Serafini, TribTotal Media, Families hope candid obituaries will spare others anguish of addiction

Second place: Jenny Wagner, Kyle Bagenstose, Bill Fraser, Bucks County Courier Times, Records: Military knew of firefighting foam hazards in 1995

Third place: Sarah Hofius Hall, Times-Tribune, Grading our schools

RELIGION

First place:  Dana Massing, Erie Times-News, Erie church’s pipe organ to undergo restoration

Second place: Jo Ciavaglia, Bucks County Courier Times, Decorating for the dead

Third place: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Beaver County Times, Jewish community “distressed” by Spicher’s Holocaust comments

OUTDOOR/ENVIRONMENTAL

First place: Kay Stephens, Altoona Mirror, Healthy start

Second place: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Beaver County Times, Cracker plant’s critics pleased by deal

Third place: Patrice Wilding, Times-Tribune, Emergency landings

ROOKIE

First place: Madeleine O’Neill, Erie Times-News

Second  place: Gia Mazur, Times-Tribune

***********************************************************

The 2017 winners were announced May 1, 2017. Here’s the full list:

Class 1.  General News

First: Kara Newhouse and Susan Baldridge, LNP and LancasterOnline.com, “Leaked audio: Manheim Township school board conspired to deliberate privately on superintendent search”

Second: Dana Di Filippo, WHYY(newsworks.org), “Prison death shows system ill-equipped to handle mentally ill, East Oak Lane family says”

Third: Madasyn Czebiniak, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Quadruplets settle in for 4 years at Duquesne University”

Class 2. Sports

First: Daveen Rae Kurutz and Andrew Chiapazzi, Beaver County Times, “Despite ongoing budget issues area schools don’t want sports to be cut”

Class 3.  Lifestyles

First: Lini Kadaba, Philadelphia Inquirer, “Illuminating search”

Second: Doug Oster, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Prison garden”

Class 4.  Features

First: Dana DiFilippo, WHYY(newsworks.org), “Begging for mercy: Philly panhandlers say citations are pointless”

Second: Megan Guza, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Yinzers celebrate: Pittsburgh term ‘jagoff’ added to           dictionary”

Third: Joanne Harrop, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Deaf cheerleaders sign team spirit”

Honorable mention: Sarah Rafacz, Centre Daily Times, “Nonagenarians reflect on possibility of first woman president”

Class 5.  Opinions

First: Lisa Micco, Beaver County Times

Second: Cheryl Hatch, Meadville Tribune

Third: Dana Massing, Erie Times-News

Honorable mention: Jenelle Janci, LNP

Honorable mention: Tamara Dunn, Standard-Speaker

Class 6.  Business/Consumer

First: Dana DiFilippo, WHYY(newsworks.org), “Injury-causing ‘pole stumps’ represent costly stumbling block for Philadelphia”

Second: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Beaver County Times, “Financial impact of cancer adds additional burdens to patients, families”

Honorable mention: Terrie Morgan-Besecker, The Times-Tribune, “Room to wag”

Honorable mention: Sarah Hofius Hall, The Times-Tribune, “Say cheese”

Class 7.  Series

First: Brian Bowling and Andrew Conte, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Justice for some”

Second: Marion Callahan, Jo Ciavaglia and Jenny Wagner, Bucks County Courier Times, “Recovery road”

Third: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Beaver County Times, “Changing face of Beaver County”

Class 8.  Profiles

First: Chris Togneri, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Just a photographer”

Second: Stacey Federoff, Beaver County Times, “Stories of survival – She’s harnessing her sense of humor”

Third: Jo Ciavaglia, Bucks County Courier Times, “Catching up with Christina”

Class 9.  Page Design

First: Cecelia Baress, The Times-Tribune

Second: Mary Beth Eastman, Beaver County Times

Third: Kristin O’Malley, The Times-Tribune

Class 10.  Enterprise/Investigative

First: Jo Ciavaglia, Bucks County Courier Times, “Three deaths, one house, zero answers”

Second: Kara Newhouse and Susan Baldridge, LNP and LancasterOnline.com, “After tax hikes and school cuts…”

Third: Dana DiFilippo, WHYY(newsworks.org), “Police reexamine Reading woman’s death”

Honorable mention: Terrie Morgan-Besecker, The Times-Tribune, “Stalking horse taints cases”

Class 11.  Health/Science

First: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Beaver County Times, “Conquering the scars”

Second:  Ben Schmitt, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Transplant Tragedy. Ohio family opens up about daughter’s heart procedure, UPMC’s mold crisis”

Third:  Jenny Wagner, Bucks County Courier Times, “Polio: Pain and progress. A century after the first major U.S. epidemic, worldwide eradication is eyed this year.”

Honorable mention: Jo Ciavaglia, Bucks County Courier Times, “A familiar physician. Some millennials reluctant to outgrow their pediatricians”

Honorable mention:  Stacey Federoff, Beaver County Times, “Genetic tests can help with predicting some cancers”

Class 12.  Education

First: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Beaver County Times, “Women earning higher ed degrees in increasing numbers”

Class 13.  Travel/A&E

First: Sarah Rafacz, Centre Daily Times, “’Visionary’ printmaker celebrated with Palmer exhibition”

Second: Gia Mazur, Times-Tribune, “Learning the ropes”

Third: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Beaver County Times, “Lucky Beaver County”

Class 14.  Headline Writing

First: Cecilia Baress, The Times-Tribune

Second: Caitlin Heaney West, The Times-Tribune

Class 15.  Photography

First: Christopher Horner, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Second: Nate Smallwood, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Third: Sean Stipp, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Honorable mention: Ellen O’Connell, Standard-Speaker

Class 16.  Video

First: Gwen Titley, Beaver County Times, “Hopewell pottery studio transforms more than clay”

Second: Madasyn Czebiniak, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Silence of lambs: Pittsburgh’s fix on fear”

Class 17.  Multimedia

First: Laura Malt Schneiderman and Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Silent sanctuaries”

Second: Caitlin Heaney, Times Tribune, Regional national parks package

Class 18.  Religion

First: Jo Ciavaglia, Bucks County Courier Times, “Sale of Drexel Shrine wake-up call for church”

Second: Dana Massing, Erie Times-News, “Erie’s Sikhs find home for worship”

Class 19.  Outdoor/Environmental

First: Kyle Bagenstose and Jenny Wagner, Bucks County Courier Times, “Finding safe PFOA level is an uncertain science”

Second: Sarah Rafacz, Centre Daily-Times, “Climate change in Pennsylvania: Energy transition provides opportunity for job growth, innovation”

Third: Dana Massing, Erie Times-News, “Presque Isle draws endangered piping plovers”

Class 20.  Rookie Reporting

First: Gia Mazur, The Times-Tribune

Second: Madeleine O’Neill, Erie Times-News

Class 21.  Student Reporting

First: Christine Manganas, Point Park News Service

Second: Alicia Green, Point Park News Service

Third: Mia Rupani, Point Park News Service

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Past PWPA president tells international tales

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Past PWPA president Linda Espenshade (back, far left), news coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee U.S., spoke to a South Central District lunch gathering in June at Ten Thousand Villages in Ephrata.

Those attending sat in rapt attention as Linda, also a former Lancaster Newspapers staff writer, talked about her travels to such countries as Zambia, Bangladesh, India and Haiti, to write about Mennonite Central Committee’s relief, development and peace work for “A Common Placemagazine,” published by Mennonite Central Committee.

She told riveting tales, including risking arrest when entering Zimbabwe (hint: don’t tell checkpoint officials you’re a writer) and learning the heartbreaking stories of Syrian refugees in Jordan.

On hand were (clockwise, from giraffe) district director Diane Bitting, Kay Stephens, Donna Hudelson and Erin Negley. Also attending, but not pictured, was Laura Knowles.

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Why I joined PWPA

by Stephanie Longo
Vice president, PWPA

It all started with a phone call.

I was working as the editor of The Villager newspaper in Moscow, near Scranton, when I received an intriguing phone call.

“Hello, this is Kathy Ruff, I am the Northeast Regional Director for the Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association,” the friendly voice said.

Kathy then asked me a few questions about my job; I explained to her that I was editor of a one-woman show weekly newspaper and that I also was a full-time student at Regent University working on my masters in journalism.

“So, you’re really on your own up there?” she said.

Oh I was on my own.

I really was — especially considering the fact that my direct supervisor’s office was more than 45 minutes away in Honesdale.

By the end of that phone conversation, I was hooked. I had to join PWPA.

Flash forward to our Excellence in Journalism awards two years later. I had won an award for work I had done while at The Villager for a multimedia piece and, after the luncheon, my mother and I were relaxing in the Hilton Harrisburg’s lobby. This time, a smiling face approached me.

“Hello, you’re Stephanie Longo, you just won an award with us; I’m Kay Stephens. PWPA is looking for a secretary. I thought you might be interested.”

Again, I was intrigued. Admittedly, I’m not the type of person to immediately open my mouth and volunteer for something, so the fact that someone would actually go out of their way to invite me to participate meant a lot to me.

I now have been a PWPA member since 2007, having served as board secretary, Northeast Regional Director and now board vice president. While my involvement as a board member is something I always will cherish, it is the friendships I have made that have made my participation worthwhile.

I never would have met our current board president (and one of my dearest friends) Daveen Kurutz if it hadn’t been for this organization. Having a friend who understands the ins and outs of your job is priceless.

I also had the opportunity to make friends with other journalists from my region. Perhaps while at work we are “competition” but outside, we are all trying to make a living and sometimes it is nice just to get together, talk shop and remember why we became journalists in the first place.

On a more personal level, my membership with PWPA has helped me increase my self-confidence as a journalist. By winning awards, I discovered I am talented at my craft — something I often didn’t fully own. I also became a better journalist through conversations with other members and by getting to read their publications, especially those from outside of Northeast Pennsylvania.

If anyone were to ask me if they should join PWPA, I would emphatically say “yes.” For $25 a year, the benefits far outweigh the cost, which also is a bargain compared to other professional organizations in our field.

If any of you know a potential journalist who is “on the fence” about joining, I’d be happy to speak with them personally.

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