The newspaper’s Managing Editor, Gary DeVon, was presented a plaque denoting the honor by WNPA Executive Director Bill Will at the awards dinner held Friday evening at the Red Lion Hotel-Yakima Center.
“Congratulations, it is a real accomplishment,” said Will.
“I was almost speechless when I went up there to receive the plaque, I couldn’t believe we’d earned first place. This award really belongs to the whole staff of the G-T,” DeVon said.
Josh O’Connor, Vice President of East Sound Newspaper Operations, was thrilled with the honors bestowed on the newspaper.
“A General Excellence Award is an indication of the quality of work being done by our staff in making the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune a best of class newspaper. I’d like to personally congratulate the entire staff on this huge accomplishment. This is truly a proud moment for everyone,” said O’Connor.
For the General Excellence Award, newspapers are judged in several categories including news and community events, opinion, photos, advertising and design. This year the newspapers in the contest, which included four groups based on circulation, were judged by the New York Press Association.
Second place in Group 1 for General Excellence was won by the Othello Outlook and third place by the Whidbey Examiner, of Coupeville, Wash, which is also a Sound Publishing publication.
This is the third General Excellence award for the Gazette-Tribune in the last nine years. The newspaper won third place honors in 2003 and 2010.
In addition to the WNPA’s top honor in the annual Better Newspaper Contest, several staff members received awards, including staff writer and photographer Brent Baker, who earned a first place in the Special Sections category for his High School Winter Sports 2011-2012 section and a second place for Best Sports News Story for his article “Fantastic finish ends CTL streak.” Baker also placed third, along with Kirk Myloft, for their creation of the Recreationland 2012 cover in the Best Special Sections Cover category. Charlene Helm, the newspaper’s advertising sales representative, won a second place award for Best Use of Process Color (Smaller than Half Page) for an advertisement she designed called Discover Republic Brewing Company. She and DeVon received a second place in the Multiple-Advertiser Ad (One to Two Pages) category for an advertisement Helm created for Gold Digger Apples Inc.
Emily Hanson, former Tonasket reporter for the G-T, won two awards at the convention for her work for the Shelton Mason-County Journal. Polly (Straub) Keary, who grew up in Oroville, is the editor of the Monroe Monitor and Valley News. She won several awards and was a finalist for News Writer of the Year.
Congratulations for the G-T’s General Excellence Award were also forthcoming from Bill Forhan, a former publisher of the G-T, and owner of NCW Media. Forhan is the incoming president of the newspaper association, which represents about 130 community newspapers in Washington State. The association, which is the successor of the Washington Press Association, founded in 1887, was celebrating its 125 anniversary at the convention.