Award winning entries, sort of | Editorial
By KRIS HILL
Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor
October 4, 2012 · Updated 9:25 AM
A crazy thing happened this past Friday night.
TJ Martinell, Dennis Box and I cleaned up on photography awards at the annual Washington Newspaper Publishers Association’s Better Newspaper Contest ceremony.
TJ and I both won writing prizes, which is really fantastic as TJ has been with the paper not quite 18 months, but considering I only began taking photos with a DSLR about four years ago and am primarily self-taught this is kind of amazing.
Oh, and TJ had no clue how to use the Canon DSLR (digital single lens reflex, by the way) when I handed it to him his first day on the job in April 2011.
Meanwhile, Dennis and I took five out of six awards in two photography categories.
We kind of chuckled at that when he called me from Yakima, where the WNPA conference was taking place Sept. 28, but on a serious note he told me the photography competition was pretty fierce this year.
First, though, I’ll tell you a little bit about the writing prizes TJ and I won.
I’ll start with mine since it’s the first one I came across on the spread sheet.
A year ago my series called “Under the Influence,” which ran in early 2011, took third place in the Group IV Comprehensive Coverage of a Single Issue or Series category. It was the first journalism award I’d ever won.
It was a series about the abuse of drugs and alcohol among teens and Maple Valley, an issue both adults and kids told me parents have a hard time seeing in this community.
In the fall of 2011 I was inspired to tackle another topic involving high schoolers: their use of technology. Inspiration came from a conversation I had with Jason and Kelly Krafsky, a Maple Valley couple who have literally written the book on how to be on Facebook and stay happily married.
In April 2011 I did a follow-up story with them on the book they released in 2010. At the time they were working on a social media guide for teens that they planned to publish later that year.
It seemed like it would be the perfect starting point for another series.
And that series, “Teens and Technology,” won first place in the Comprehensive Coverage of a Single Issue or Series category this year.
If you didn’t see it last year, you can to go www.covingtonreporter.com and search for the name of the series, “Teens and Technology.”
I am pretty proud of the work I did.
The judge’s comment for this series was, well, concise. Hopefully it’s illuminating.
“Very timely, well-written, informative and helpful to readers.”
Good. That’s exactly what I was going for.
Meanwhile, TJ took second place in the Best Personality Profile - Long category with his story called “Celebrating a Nice Round Number.”
The judge’s comment cracks me up, actually. I recall talking with TJ about the length when I laid it out.
“A little long for my taste, but still very well done,” the judge wrote. “Captured a lot of his 100-year life. Too long but very interesting. If it was bit tighter, it really would have won this category for me.”
(Note from TJ: This comment didn’t help the Monday morning quarterback in me because I distinctively recall taking out roughly 350 words from the story to fit it on the page but later reinserted the edited sections due to an ad that got moved from the page, so it was out of my control....and how a story can be ‘too long’ if it’s within the maximum word count for the category?)
TJ loves writing historical pieces and I remember reading this, thinking it was awesome. Really, the comments about it being too long are a knock on me as an editor, not TJ as a writer. But to heck with that, I thought it was a great article at the length it was written.
Where TJ’s passion for film and video production shines through in his work is in his photography.
He has an intuitive eye for composition plus his training in video production as well as his love of a well-shot (and well-written) film really show up in his pictures.
It’s no surprise to me he won the Black and White Best Sports Photo Action or Feature category with a shot of Kentwood High’s Danny Lunder during a cross country race a year ago.
“Contemplation, concentration and endurance are all captured on the face of the foreground figure,” the judge wrote.
That, by the way, was Groups III and IV combined, which means it beat out many other quality entries from photographers across the state.
(Yet another note from TJ: It was one of roughly four sports photos I had taken at that point and I was reluctant about submitting because I felt no one besides myself would find a photo of runners interesting compared to some football action shot. Apparently I was wrong).
I also took first place in a photo category: Color Sports Photo - Action.
Now, this is actually the first time I’ve entered photos into the WNPA contest. I guess I did OK as three of the four awards I won were for my photography.
“Getting the right angle on everything is what made this shot work,” the judge wrote. “Solid in every aspect.”
It was a photo of Jessie Richardson, a Kentlake High 2011 graduate, during a fastpitch playoff game. Dennis said they showed the photo to the audience at the ceremony and he said I stopped the ball perfectly in front of Jessie’s bat. Not bad considering I timed that shot and was not using burst mode where the camera takes several frames per second.
The judge wasn’t quite as nice on my third place shot for the Color Photo Feature category.
“An average shot that begs the coming of spring.”
I like this judge’s comment on my entry in the Black and White Sports Photo - Action or Feature, which took third place, much better.
“The precise moment chosen by the photographer lets the viewer experience the player’s anticipation while also playing the role of a spectator who has already begun to project the consequence of the action witnessed,” the judge wrote.
This was another Kentlake fastpitch shot. Brittany Styger, who graduated in 2011, hit three home runs in a game early in the season at Thomas Jefferson.
I got my camera up in time to capture the second one. Looks like I got it just right, at least according to the judge.
This is the same category TJ won with his shot of Lunder. Pretty awesome, huh?
While I am not a huge fan of contests for a variety of reasons I am proud of the awards we won. Especially for TJ who is a young, up and coming journalist.
Hopefully this also represents the breadth and variety of work we do around here which is my primary goal: to provide our audience the opportunity to read stories and see photos they won’t get anywhere else, of their friends, neighbors, kids, as well as how all the tax money everyone contributes is being spent.
And congratulations to all the winners in Sound Publishing as TJ and I are in great company here.
Well, that’s enough celebrating for this year. Back to work!
Contact Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor Kris Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 432-1209, ext. 5054.