Greenfield Recorder wins 3 top awards in New England newspaper competition






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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Greenfield Recorder has won three top awards in the 2017 New England Better Newspaper Competition.

Out of more than 3,000 entries, The Greenfield Recorder won two first places and a second.

A first-place writing prize, in the category for newspapers under 25,000 circulation, was for a local personality profile written by the Recorder’s senior reporter, Richie Davis, who has been with the paper for 40 years.

Davis wrote about Israeli native Rami Efal, the new executive director of Montague-based Zen Peacemakers, who has traveled to Bosnia, Auschwitz, the Black Hills of South Dakota and the streets of New York City to “bear witness.”

Judges said the piece was “rich with details of Efal’s story, his search, inner struggles and fulfillment in his new life. Davis is the narrator, but he uses Efal’s own words to weave the tale.”

The other first place, for spot news video reporting among all of New England’s news organizations, was awarded to a team of three Recorder videographers: photographer Paul Franz, reporter/videographer Andy Castillo and former photographer Matt Burkhartt. The three teamed up to cover a major women’s rally on the Greenfield common in January of 2017, following the presidential inauguration. The video wasn’t planned, but came together organically when the photographer assigned to the event was joined by his two fellow staffers when the event mushroomed to involve hundreds of women.

The judges cited “good production and sound quality. This video included a nice mix of scenery from the rally and interviews with people who were there.”

“That our three photographers just saw the opportunity to collaborate when the event grew into something much bigger than expected, showed real dedication and professionalism,” the paper’s editor George Forcier said of the photo staff. “They saw an event that could best be told visually for our web readers and took the initiative, even though two of them were off duty and were just there by coincidence.”

A second-place prize was won by former reporter Aviva Luttrell in the sports category for a feature story about roller derby in the Pioneer Valley.

The judges said her piece was a “wonderful update on how Roller Derby is now played, for those of us old enough to remember the slugfests. Photos helped with the presentation.”

The 10-year-old roller skating program has grown over the years and attracts players from all walks of life and from all over the valley, “which made it a story of wide interest beyond the team coverage in our sports pages, and I suspect that caught the attention of the judges,” noted Forcier.

The awards were presented Saturday at the annual New England Newspaper and Press Association convention in Boston at a special awards banquet.

The Recorder’s sister paper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, also took home a first prize and finished in four other categories. Photojournalists Sarah Crosby and Carol Lollis, sports reporter and columnist Matt Vautour and former Gazette reporter Amanda Drane all received awards. Reporters, photojournalists and a designer from two other Massachusetts Newspapers of New England publications also received honors.