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Chronicle honored for excellence in journalism

Posted: Thursday, Sep 19th, 2013

The Arizona Newspapers Association announced Sept. 14 that the Lake Powell Chronicle had earned 11 awards in the ANA’s Better Newspapers contest, including one for general excellence.

“We’re definitely getting better,” said Chronicle editor Michael Rinker. “Now we have to get better at getting better.

“Before I got here, there was a lot of turnover on the editorial side of the paper, which was not a good situation,” he explained. “Now that [Chronicle publisher] Jeanie [Wright] and I have each settled into the town and our jobs here, and with the addition of a talented reporter like Blake [Tilker], we’re on our way to putting out a newspaper the people of Page can enjoy and be proud of.”

The Chronicle chalked up three first-place awards, including one for the newspaper’s tourism publication, Gateway to Canyon Country, which was named best magazine.

Rinker took the top prize in two categories—commentary and news story.

The commentary was a column questioning whether voters should approve a property-tax increase to benefit the Page Unified School District. In particular, Rinker wrote about how Lana and Perry Berry, two top officials of PUSD, had failed to pay their share of property taxes, even as Lana Berry, the district’s business manager, was pushing for approval of the tax increase.

Rinker’s winning news story was a piece about Page City Council’s dysfunctional debate over whether to cancel a contract with a firm hired to do marketing and branding for the city. After a long and heated debate, the issue was dropped when members realized the city’s tourism board hadn’t decided whether it wanted to continue the contract. Rinker invoked Shakespeare’s Macbeth when he characterized the debate as “full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.”

The Chronicle as a newspaper won awards in four categories: In addition to the first place for Gateway magazine, it also took second in departmental news and copywriting excellence, third in page design excellence and third for best website.

Results of the newspaper categories are used to determine general excellence winners. First place earns 20 points, second place 15 points and third place 10 points.

The Chronicle scored 55 points, good for third place behind Arizona Capitol Times (85 points) and Arizona Range News (75). The Times also was named Arizona’s non-daily newspaper of the year.

The awards, which were for content that appeared in the paper between June 1, 2012, and May 31, 2013, were announced at the conclusion of the Arizona Newspapers Association’s fall convention and annual meeting last weekend in Tempe.

Fifty-three newspapers submitted 1,360 entries in the ANA’s Better Newspapers Contest.

The contest includes eight categories that measure the overall quality of a newspaper and 19 categories that honor individuals who contribute to journalism excellence. The Nevada Newspaper Association judged this year’s contest.

The Chronicle competes in the ANA’s division for “Non-dailies under 3,500 circulation,” one of three non-daily divisions. It includes such papers as the Maricopa Monitor, Nogales International and Arizona Silver Belt.

There are two divisions for dailies. The lower division includes the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff, while the upper division includes the Arizona Republic, which was selected daily newspaper of the year.

Overall, the Chronicle’s total of 11 awards was second only to the Capitol Times’ 20; Rinker’s six individual awards trailed the Times’ Evan Wyloge in the division.

Other awards for Chronicle staff include the advertising department’s third place for best special section— again, Gateway magazine.

Rinker also earned third-place awards for sports coverage (Page High boys basketball), sports column (about the first round he played at Lake Powell National Golf Course), feature photography (a local gymkhana event) and headline writing.

Earlier this summer, he won two awards from the Arizona Press Club—a first place for feature headline writing and an honorable mention for sports feature photography.

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