BOSTON, Mass. — The Sun Media Group was awarded six first-place honors by the New England Newspaper & Press Association at the New England Better Newspaper Competition banquet Saturday.
Christopher Williams, Sun Journal staff writer, picked up two first-place awards in transportation and crime and courts reporting for his investigation into the extradition of Meghan Quinn from Florida to Maine in late 2016.
Quinn was locked in a cage during a five-day trip by U.S. Prisoner Transport, and held in such inhumane conditions that all of the district attorneys in Maine have since stopped using this private company for prisoner transport.
In making the award, a judge commented that the investigation “illustrates the societal value of a probing, fact-based press.”
Sun Journal Staff Writer Kathryn Skelton was awarded first place in environmental reporting for her examination of Maine’s booming bottled water industry. Judges called her work a “deep dive into an important topic for local readers,” and praised the project’s inclusion of “so much data to help readers make up their own minds on this issue.”
Justin Pelletier, who is the managing editor nights/sports for the Sun Journal, won first place in the sports feature story category for his profile of Jeromey Rancourt, co-captain of the Lewiston High School varsity hockey team, and how the loss of his father inspired him to play hockey and become a leader.
Judith Meyer, executive editor for the Sun Journal, won first place in spot news for her coverage of a double fatal car accident in Durham in September 2016.
And, former Advertiser Democrat Staff Writer Erin Place won first in the human interest feature story category for her reporting on U.S. Sen. Angus King’s efforts to bridge the partisan divide in Washington, D.C. through BBQ and relaxed “getting to know each other” monthly dinners. According to judges, “it gives readers an unexpected and important view of what one of their elected officials is doing behind the scenes to bridge that chasm that divides governance these days.”
Second place awards were given to:
Williams for investigative reporting; Sun Journal Staff Writer Wil Kramlich for sports story.
Third place awards were given to:
Sun Journal staff in the religion category for its Christmas Eve series on the power of faith; Sun Journal Chief Designer Heather McCarthy for food page; Skelton for business/economic reporting; Sun Journal Staff Writer Mark LaFlamme and Managing Editor/days Mark Mogensen for headline writing; Advertiser Democrat Staff Writer Leslie Dixon for business/economic reporting; Forecaster Staff Writer Alex Acquisto for education reporting and for racial or ethnic issue coverage; Forecaster Staff Writer Kate Gardner for science/technology reporting; and Forecaster Staff Writer Callie Ferguson in the social issues category for her reporting on food insecurity in Maine.
The Sun Journal also won third place for general excellence. According to judges, “The Sun Journal excels at producing public service journalism built on good story-telling and informative graphics.”