Catamaran Media won 11 awards including three first-place accolades in the 2016 Better Newspaper Contest sponsored by the New Jersey Press Association. The awards were announced Feb. 7.
The statewide competition compares newspapers of similar size and scope, with separate groupings for dailies and weeklies. Weekly publications are grouped based on whether their circulation is greater or less than 6,500.
Catamaran Media publishes The Current Newspapers in Atlantic County, and The Gazette Newspapers in Cape May County.
The Lloyd P. Burns Memorial Award for public service and responsible journalism for papers over 6,500 went to Current Solutions, a series seeking solutions to the opioid addiction crisis.
Project leader Laura Stetser, reporter for The Current of Egg Harbor Township, was permitted to submit five of the 14 articles written for the series to represent the project. The stories submitted were written by Stetser; Suzanne Marino, reporter for The Current of Linwood, Northfield and Somers Point; and Bill LeConey, sports reporter for The Current Newspapers. Madison Russ, former reporter for The Leader of the Wildwoods, won first place in the same category for weeklies under 6,500 for a story in the series submitted as a separate entry.
Also contributing to the series were Nanette LoBiondo Galloway, The Current of Ventnor, Margate, and Longport; Madelaine Vitale, The Current of Galloway; Emily Lingo, news media specialist, and Joan Kostiuk and James FitzPatrick, editors.
One judge called the series "a concerted effort to address the rising heroin/opioid issue."
Stetser also received a first place award in education writing for papers over 6,500 for her coverage of a controversial reading curriculum and a proposed policy regarding transgender students in the Egg Harbor Township School District.
For interpretive writing, papers with circulation under 6,500, Christopher South of The Gazette of Cape May won second place for "Autistic children are different, not less, parent says."
Second place in feature writing for papers over 6,500 circulation went to Nanette LoBiondo Galloway for "Her name was Sara," a story about Holocaust survivor Betty Grebenschikoff.
Third place award winners were:
Bill Barlow, The Gazette of Cape May, feature writing for papers under 6,500, "Time, salt air takes its toll on Middle Thorofare Bridge;"
Nanette LoBiondo Galloway, The Current of Ventnor, Margate and Longport, best lede for papers over 6,500;
Nanette LoBiondo Galloway, The Current of Ventnor, Margate and Longport, best coverage of government for papers over 6,500 for her stories about Longport's decision to exit the county library system;
Madison Russ, The Leader of the Wildwoods, news writing under 6,500, "Wildwood High School grad in Orlando shooting";
David Benson, The Gazette of Middle Township, First Amendment Award over 6,500, "Officials say delays in medical examiner reports hampering investigations";
And Associate Editor Joan Kostiuk, The Current Newspapers, best headline writing over 6,500.
Kostiuk's winning headlines included: "Kettlebell lifting allows record holder to juggle wife, 3 kids; "Cast feeling the love for 'Lion King Jr.'" and "Committee pecks away at chicken ordinance."
Galloway's winning lede is meaningful when one recalls the smiley face on the Lonport Borough water tower:
"LONGPORT – The well hasn’t run dry, but the smiley-face water tower could soon be sporting a frown without a concerted effort to cut water usage here."
Catamaran Media is the parent company of The Current Newspapers of Atlantic County, The Gazette Newspapers and The Leader of Cape May County, The Beachcomber News in Brigantine and the seasonal publications Freetime and The Sandpaper, all of which appear online at www.shorenewstoday.com.
Catamaran Media is part of BH Media Group.