BAR HARBOR — The Republican Journal’s advertising staff placed third for general excellence in advertising, and the news staff won two first-place awards for its news coverage and editorial section in the annual Maine Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest for 2022.

Members of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association served as judges this year. The Republican Journal competed in MPA’s Weekly 2 division (weekly Maine newspapers with circulation greater than 2,000).

Advertising honors

In the prestigious “Special Categories” of the annual statewide competition, The Republican Journal placed third for general excellence in advertising after its MaineStay Media sister papers, the Mount Desert Islander and The Ellsworth American, which placed first and second, respectively.

Of The Journal’s advertising section, the judge commented: “Strong publication with … lots of focus pages. Classified section was also well done, making it easy to follow.” The judge liked The Journal’s Best of the Best and Shop Local sections, the Home and Garden focus pages mixed with news and features, and the Pet Adoption, Spirit of the Season and Christmas by the Sea pages.

Spot news: McCrum fire

First place for spot news went to The Journal staff for its extensive coverage of the March 24 fire that leveled the Penobscot McCrum potato processing facility on the Belfast waterfront. Reporting and photography involved not only Journal staff, but also a former staff writer and now editor of The Free Press, a sister MaineStay Media newspaper, who lived just blocks from the conflagration, as well as MaineStay’s head of technology, who shot video footage en route to work.

The judge commented: “Impressive reaction of newspaper staff to breaking news story in their town. Stories covered all the bases, from the cause of the fire to the reaction of the community. I appreciated
the initiative displayed by all staff members to give the community a complete package.”

Winning editorials

Journal staff also placed first among Maine’s Weekly 2 division newspapers for its editorial/op-ed section. The judge noted: “Very well-designed and easy to follow. Lots of local perspectives. A consistently solid opinion section.”

In addition, then-Editor Sarah E. Reynolds took second place for her March editorial about the community’s heroic response to the devastating McCrum fire and its impact on employees. About her opinion piece, the judge commented: “Clean, hyperlocal, strong message. Evident (and deserved) pride in community.”

Staff writer Kendra Caruso placed third for her editorial headlined “City’s eminent domain attempt risks loss of public trust,” which was based on her news story about the Belfast City Council’s decision to take by eminent domain a strip of intertidal property, create an easement and give the easement to Nordic Aquafarms to lay intake and discharge pipes for its proposed land-based salmon farm.

The judge called Caruso’s editorial “Clean, simple but direct. Hyperlocal and written with target audience in mind. Watchdog journalism.”

Design awards

Reynolds and Arts & Entertainment/Special Sections Editor Christine Dunkle took second place for front page design, and Dunkle also won second place for best supplement cover design.


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