BOSTON — SunJournal.com has been awarded first place for best overall newspaper website of daily newspapers in its class at the New England Newspaper and Press Association’s 2010 Better Newspaper Contest on Feb. 12.

A panel of 24 judges reviewed nearly 3,000 entries produced by staffers at daily, weekly and monthly publications in the six-state region for the 2010 contest.

The Sun Journal took the award for its category, Daily Class 2, which includes all papers with a circulation greater than 30,000. Awards were also given to weekly papers and smaller daily papers.

The award is intended to “recognize newspapers that have made the commitment to expand their presence and service to readers on the Internet,” according to the category description. The contest was judged on presentation, ease of navigation, timeliness of information, depth of information, use of photos and/or graphics, use of links to other sites and overall usefulness.

The judges wrote in the competition notes that the Sun Journal’s site “rose above contenders in a tight competition because of its clean, uncluttered first impression, its compartmentalized roundup of top news by community, care of navigation and robust content.”

In the past year, visits to SunJournal.com have risen more than 15 percent. Staff has made it a priority to post stories throughout the day, quickly when news breaks, with video whenever possible. In the past year, Sun Journal staff has produced more than 400 videos, as well as several live-broadcast events and multimedia compilations.

Another publication of Sun Media, The Forecaster, received seven awards.

The Forecaster’s winners were:

* Emily Parkhurst, first-place awards for Education Reporting and Social Issues Feature Story, for her stories on physical restraint of students in Maine public schools.

* Steve Mistler, first place for Investigative Reporting, for his series on the failed attempt by the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority to help Oxford Aviation establish a new business at the redeveloped Brunswick Naval Air Station.

* Mo Mehlsak, first place for Editorial Writing, for editorials about Oxford Aviation, School Board procedures in South Portland, and school officials’ refusal to cooperate with Parkhurst’s investigation into the use of physical restraints.

The Forecaster also received a second-place award for its Editorial Page, and third-place honors for its Right-to-Know coverage and for reporting on local government by Randy Billings.

Approximately 500 people attended the NENPA awards banquet at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, where General Excellence awards were presented to the Ellsworth American, Cape Cod Times, Foster’s Daily Democrat, North East Independent, The Stowe Reporter, Addison County Independent and The Catholic Transcript.


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