The Journal Opinion, the community newspaper for Bradford and surrounding towns in a bi-state, quad-county readership area, won three awards, including 1st place in Spot News Photography, at the 2020 New England Newspaper and Press Association Better Newspaper Competition.
The ceremony, recognizing entries published from Aug. 1, 2019 to July 31, 2020, was held virtually last week. There were approximately 3,000 entries across dozens of daily and weekly newspaper editorial and advertising categories.
Veteran photographer Tom Neubelt shot the 1st place photograph of a race car striking two people at Thunder Road Speedbowl on Sept. 1, 2019. Both men struck by the car survived and recovered from their injuries.
“Like a number of others that Tom shot in the moments surrounding the collision, the photo shows a horrifying encounter with mortality,” we wrote in an editorial the week after the photo’s publication. “It was visually arresting, awe-inspiring, and haunting.”
The photo was recognized as the top spot news photo across all weekly publications at last week’s ceremony.
Managing editor Alex Nuti-de Biasi lauded Neubelt for resisting efforts by Thunder Road officials to confiscate his camera after the collision. He also said publisher Connie Sanville deserved credit for her insistence on publishing Neubelt’s outstanding photo.
“This award is a testament to Tom’s photojournalism and Connie’s news judgment,” he said.
The provocative photo caused some to question the newspaper’s decision to publish. The following week, we printed an editorial explaining that decision.
That editorial and two others written by Nuti-de Biasi were awarded third place in editorial writing for weekly newspapers with a circulation of less than 5,000 at last week’s ceremony. It was the second consecutive award in editorial writing for the JO, which won 1st place in the category one year ago.
Finally, NENPA also awarded the JO a third place award for a package of headline writing in a combined class for weekly newspapers. Specifically, the judges recognized the headline accompanying a May 6, 2020 story by Linda Buermeyer about the theft of a 500-pound antique wine press from an East Topsham porch: “Light-fingered thieves take heavy press.”