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Newspaper awards

Jan 24, 2014 - By Steven R. Peck

Work in The Ranger was judged Wyoming's best in several categories

The Ranger participated again this year in the Wyoming Press Association's annual newspaper awards contest, and our paper took high prizes across all major categories -- news, advertising, graphic design and online presentation. The awards were announced last weekend.

We took the WPA Pacemaker Award for first place in front-page design among daily newspapers. The contest judges assign two random dates that we must submit, and we get to choose a third page of our liking. That way, we can't create three "contest pages" whose sole purpose is to wow the judges. The rules require two-thirds of the entry to be from our regular daily work.

Ranger publisher Steve Peck was the page designer for the first-place entry. The Rawlins Daily Times placed second.

We also are the first-prize winner for headline writing. Judges evaluate headlines from front to back, again using the two random editions mandated by the WPA, with a third paper of our choosing.

Steve Peck and copy editor Jamie Drendel were cited by name on the award. Again, the Rawlins Daily Times placed second, with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in Cheyenne also mentioned.

Also winning first prize was a retail advertisement for Kusel's in Riverton, designed by Ranger compositor Anita Duran. It was titled "Find Your Room," showing an exterior view of a house with space cut out for each room showing the store's furniture inside.

Darce Watson was The Ranger's account representative for Kusel's on the ad, and her name appears on the award beside Duran's.

The Ranger got another Pacemaker for its online news site dailyranger.com. Craig Blumenshine designed the site (he has some improvements in the works, by the way). Jamie Drendel manages the online content day to day, and Steve Peck records the daily "Ranger News Brief" that appears on the site and also on KTUG radio in Riverton. All three were cited on the award certificate. The Casper Star-Tribune was the other paper honored in the category.

Staff writer Eric Blom's story on the demise of the Sinks Canyon big horn sheep herd was a Pacemaker winner in the top news category, called General News Story.

Blom took a small item about the death of a well-known ram, Bam Bam, and expanded it to a larger accounting of the unsuccessful recovery effort in the area. Two Casper Star-Tribune stories also were awarded in the category.

And the same Kusel's ad that took first place for Best Designed Ad also was a Pacemaker winner in a different category, Best Merchandise Ad. Anita Duran and Darce Watson were the specified winners.

There are no guarantees at contest time. Six of Wyoming's nine daily papers won first prize in any category, meaning three didn't win any. Only four of the nine dailies won more than one first prize. We were one of those four.

Awards wax and wane through the years. We've had better performances in the annual contest, and we've had worse. Each year's results depend not just on our enterprise and opportunity, but also on the performance of other newspapers, the frame of mind of the judges from different states, and a degree of luck.

We do not come to work each day with winning contests in mind, but we are gratified again this year to see some of our work judged the best in Wyoming. We also appreciate the breadth of our awards performance across several different components of our industry.

Congratulations to our prize winners. They do important work, and the recognition is appreciated.

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