New Castle News

Closer Look

May 27, 2013

New Castle News staffers win awards

NEW CASTLE — New Castle News staffers finished out the spring awards season with wins in four contests.

In the Keystone Press Awards competition, reporter Debbie Wachter took first place in the spot news category for her coverage of the fire at the Black Whale in downtown New Castle.

Editorial page editor Mitchel Olszak captured a second-place award in the editorials category.

His winning pieces looked at the dust-up over the nativity scene in Ellwood City, state politicians misusing campaign funds and how state law on homicide and juveniles has impacted Jordan Brown.

The Keystone Press awards are presented each year by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation.

According to the foundation, the awards aim to “reinforce excellence by individuals in the newspaper profession by recognizing journalism that consistently provides relevance, integrity and initiative in serving readers, and faithfully fulfills its First Amendment rights and responsibilities.” The awards also strive to “stimulate journalists to improve their craft and ultimately improve their community.”

Wachter also was honored by the Keystone Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

She captured a third-place spot in the business and labor reporting category for her series on the shale boom in Lawrence County.

News photographer Erica Galvin also received third-place honors in the SPJ competition.

Her award was in the photo story category for coverage of the funeral of legendary New Castle football coach Lindy Lauro.

The organization considers its award-winners to be “the best in Pennsylvania journalism.”

Competition is open across the state, meaning large and small papers compete against each other, rather than with other publications of similar size.

In the Associated Press Managing Editors News Excellence Competition, Olszak captured two awards.

In the columns category, he was first with “Do we want politicians to pray to God?” That column explored the debate over the Wilmington Area School Board opening its meetings with prayer.

He also finished second in the editorials category for “Exploited donations” about state politicians using campaign funds in criminal cases.

Sports editor Kayleen Cubbal also captured a first-place in the APME contest. Her winning entry in the feature writing category was “A true hero,” the story of Vietnam War casualty Charles Slack Jr.

The Associated Press Awards honor “superior journalism and innovation among newspapers” and other media across the United States and Canada. The awards seek to promote excellence “by recognizing work that is well written and incisively reported and that effectively challenges the status quo.”

Closer to home, Wachter, Cubbal and Olszak were nominated for Golden Quill awards with Olszak and Cubbal capturing the Quill.

Wachter’s nomination was in the business/technology/consumer article or series category.

She was recognized for her series on the shale boom in Lawrence County.

Cubbal’s nomination and win was in the feature article or series category for her stories “A true hero” and “A time for healing” about New Castle native and Vietnam War casualty Charles Slack Jr.

Olszak’s nomination and win was in the category of editorials.

The honor was for editorials about state law and Jordan Brown, the Ellwood City nativity dust-up and state politicians’ misuse of campaign funds.

The Golden Quill competition is sponsored by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. It “recognizes excellence in written, photographic, broadcast and online journalism” in 29 western Pennsylvania counties.

“It makes me very proud to see the hard work of our staff recognized by these organizations,” said Sharon Sorg, publisher of the New Castle News.

“Recognition such as this reinforces their dedication to bringing quality community journalism to our readers on a daily basis.”

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