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Newspaper awards

Feb 1, 2013 - Staff

We held our own with Wyoming's best

The Wyoming Press Association has completed its annual newspaper awards contest for the year, and Riverton Ranger Inc. staff members acquitted themselves well in competition with the numerous outstanding newspapers in our state.

Our staff collected 14 WPA "Pacemaker" awards across various categories, including five first prizes.

On the WPA list of awards, No. 1 on the entry form is general news reporting, and staff writer Christina George took first place among daily newspapers for her work on the ongoing story of a double homicide in Hudson that began as a burglary, progressed to arson and later was determined to have been murder as well.

There were 45 entries in the general news category in the daily newspaper division, in which The Ranger competes against the Casper Star-Tribune, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in Cheyenne, the Gillette News Record, the Rock Springs Rocket-Miner, the Laramie Boomerang, the Sheridan Press, the Rawlins Daily Times and the Northern Wyoming Daily News in Worland.

In the eyes of most who enter the contest, general news is listed as the No. 1 category for a reason. To win it is an honor indicative of sterling quality and performance. Congratulations to George for her achievement.

Reporter Martin Reed also took first prize in the same category representing weekly newspapers. His work on a homicide case on the Wind River Indian Reservation was published in both The Ranger and the weekly Wind River News. It won the Pacemaker in the small weekly newspaper division.

Reed also grabbed a first prize in the news feature category for his Wind River News piece headlined "One nation, one people."

Ranger staffers dominated the opinion-writing categories among daily papers as well, earning first and second places in both. Sunday columnist Randy Tucker took first place for daily newspaper column writing, the second time in three years he has won that high-profile category. Ranger publisher Steve Peck placed second, his second straight year in that position.

And sports columnist Craig Blumenshine placed first in daily newspaper sports column writing, with Tucker placing second. Tucker, Peck and Blumenshine have combined to claim seven of the available nine Pacemakers for column writing since 2010.

Peck was awarded second prize in the "plus business advertising idea" category among daily newspapers for The Ranger's expanded newspaper treasure hunt program. What began with the Wild West Winter Carnival medallion hunt in 1986 has since expanded to four full treasure hunt contests, culminating with this year's "Find the Football" event. Peck shares the prize with The Ranger ad staff.

The publisher also assembled The Ranger's entry in the WPA Award of Merit category consisting of the numerous news stories and opinion-page tributes to the late Carolyn B. Tyler. She died in July, ending a 51-year career on The Ranger staff, and she was memorialized by current and former staff members in a moving testimonial over several days.

The collection placed second in the Award of Merit category. The prize is not necessarily awarded every year, depending on the quality of the entries. Since the Award of Merit's inception in 1990, The Ranger has won it more than any other daily newspaper.

Photographer Wayne Nicholls, one of Wyoming's most-decorated shooters over the past 15 years, scored again this year, earning a Pacemaker in the spot news photo category for a shot of a car accident headlined "Close Call."

George added to her general news prize with another Pacemaker in the in-depth reporting category for her coverage of the Hereford/Armajo murder case.

Reed got his third Pacemaker of the year for the story of a Fort Washakie man who shot a mountain lion in his garage, and reporter Emily Etheredge was a Pacemaker winner for her story of retiring Mountain View Cemetery sexton Jeff Hutchison.

Second place in column writing in the large weekly category went to Lander Journal columnist Tim Kepple, who also creates most of the Journal's advertisements. One of Kepple's ads earned a Pacemaker in the merchandise ad category, a prize he split with Journal publisher Anne McGowan.

George shared a Pacemaker with Reed for their combined work on the rural Pavillion groundwater crisis and the accompanying reporting on hydraulic fracturing by energy developers in the area.

Finally, The Ranger's new online news site, dailyranger.com, was awarded a Pacemaker in the best newspaper website category. It's the first time we've ever entered that category, and the recognition is especially gratifying to staffers Craig Blumenshine, who designed and created the site, and Jamie Drendel, who updates it daily.

Nine staff members helped us win 14 prizes across 10 newspaper categories. Contests are not and never will be our motivation in journalism or business, but it is rewarding to note again that when we were judged against the best Wyoming had to offer in 2012, we held our own -- and then some.

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