West Life earned general excellence honors Feb. 9 at the annual Ohio Newspaper Association convention conducted in Columbus, the culmination of points awarded for first-place finishes in news coverage, original column and editorial writing and a second-place finish for design.
The award is the fourth in as many years for the publication.
The award was given in the weekly Division B, determined by circulation size. West Life’s sister paper, the Chagrin Valley Times, won general excellence in Division A.
“These awards are gratifying,” said Peter Comings, managing editor, “but even more so now as our industry shifts its perspective toward a more open relationship with its readers and advertisers. To win awards in the absence of readers amounts to art for art’s sake.”
In the category of news coverage, judges observed the paper’s strong effort to localize coverage of Senate Bill 5, Gov. John Kasich’s failed attempt to regulate public bargaining units, calling out “good all-around coverage and balance of communities served.”
Sue Botos, West Life’s Rocky River reporter, won first place in column writing.
“She writes about a foodie’s anxiety attending a cooking class, the value of sex vs. hard work in bringing attention to a women’s sports team and deceptive use of green marketing. These are topics that would engage a wide audience in her community and they are enjoyable to read.”
“West Life is lucky to have on staff writers who are well-known as residents in their communities,” said Comings. “It is no surprise to me that Sue would know how to connect to our readers.”
At the other end of the opinion spectrum, judges appreciated the newspaper’s stand in its editorial regarding the secretive meeting of Cuyahoga County’s new council in December 2010. The contest period for submissions ran from Oct. 1, 2010, through Sept. 30, 2011.
“Forcefully written with a clear focus, this editorial represents a paper that is not afraid to speak out in the face of community challenges,” wrote the judge. The editorial award was given without regard to circulation size.
Sister paper The Press in Avon Lake won awards in best local feature (2nd) and in special edition (2nd). The North Ridgeville Press won in the categories of best local feature (1st), original column (2nd) and headline (5th).