The Las Vegas Review-Journal won several top awards Saturday at the annual Nevada Press Association's "Better Newspaper Contest," including the general excellence award for the second year in a row.
"It is easy to see all the pride that is put into every section of this newspaper," judges said. "Clean, modern design, good mix of news, beautiful ads and classifieds."
Police reporter Lawrence Mower was named the year's journalist of merit, and Assistant Editorial Page Editor Vin Suprynowicz won for editorial of the year.
The Review-Journal also received 11 first-place awards.
"While the winners deserve the credit for their efforts, we should not forget that there is a large supporting staff making their fine journalism possible -- everyone from secretaries to press crews to ad sales to maintenance crews," said Review-Journal Editor Thomas Mitchell.
Judges called Mower, 27, a "vivid storyteller" whose "second-day stories were often as compelling as the first." They also noted his "outstanding work" on stories about an officer who was killed after he struck a pickup while driving 109 mph.
The journalist of merit award recognizes outstanding journalists who have less than five years of experience.
Suprynowicz's winning editorial, "Firemen's pensions past due for reform," took aim at the "artificially fattened up paychecks" Clark County Fire Department personnel receive immediately preceding their retirements "that substantially increase their retirement pay."
Judges said the piece presented a "clear issue, well-structured argument" and "includes a call to action."
The Reno Gazette-Journal took home both the freedom of the press award and the community service award for its series on Nevada DUI enforcement. Martha Bellisle, who wrote the series, also won story of the year and was named outstanding journalist.
Photo of the year honors went to Las Vegas Sun photographer Leila Navidi.
The Review-Journal's first-place awards included best spot news story for its coverage of a downtown Las Vegas gunbattle between federal court officers and an embittered gunman with a grudge against the federal government.
Staff writers Brian Haynes, Mike Blasky, Henry Brean, Francis McCabe, Paul Harasim, Kristi Jourdan, Adrienne Packer and Keith Rogers, along with columnist John L. Smith and Stephens Washington Bureau chief Steve Tetreault, contributed to the effort.
"Strong storytelling on deadline, with phrases that pull the reader in," judges said.
The Review-Journal swept the awards for editorial writing, with Editorial Page Editor John Kerr placing first. Judges said Kerr's "lively writing makes strong opinion even stronger."
Jennifer Robison won best business news story for a piece about the opening of CityCenter.
"Informative, clear and creative," judges said.
Ed Graney won best local sports column. Judges said he wasn't "afraid to state strong opinions" and that his columns were "well-written and emotional."
Photographer K.M. Cannon took first place in the illustrated photo category for shots that focused on the faces of cowboys and cowgirls at the National Finals Rodeo.
The judges called the idea a "fun concept."
Media critic Steve Bornfeld placed first in headline writing for the headline "The Days of Our Knives" that appeared over his story about a production of "West Side Story." The judges' comment? A succinct, "Oh, yeah."
The Review-Journal also won for best website. Judges said lvrj.com won "based on its reader interaction efforts, including polls, galleries and contests."
The paper took first place in the advertising general excellence category, and the advertising staff swept the best large-space ad category, with Jeffrey Bona taking first.
It also swept the black-and-white ad category, with Jueen Loh taking first.
Mike Miller won for best in-house advertising promotion.
The Nevada Press Association also inducted veteran Nevada journalist and Review-Journal Special Projects Editor A.D. Hopkins into its Hall of Fame this year.
Gary Peck, former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, received the association's first amendment champion award.
Best feature story, Henry Brean; best local column, John L. Smith; best entertainment writing, Christopher Lawrence; best critical writing, Steve Bornfeld; best editorial page, Review-Journal; best editorial writing, Glenn Cook; best overall design, Review-Journal; best page one design, Review-Journal; best information graphic, Mike Johnson; best illustrated photo, K.M. Cannon; best feature photo, Gary Thompson; best portrait, John Gurzinski; best multimedia story, Justin Yurkanin, Alan Maimon and Michael Quine; best large-space ad, Yvonta Thompson; best black-and-white ad, Mike Miller; best special section advertising, Review-Journal; best in-house advertising promotion, Justin Lau.
Community service, Review-Journal; best editorial writing, Vin Suprynowicz; best headline writing, Matthew Crowley; best local column, Jane Ann Morrison; best local nonstaff column, Linn Mills; best local sports feature, Mark Anderson; best illustration, David Stroud; best multimedia story, Mark Antonuccio; best blog, John L. Smith; best large-space ad, Joe daCosta; best black-and-white ad, Jennifer Dibble; best in-house advertising promotion, Mike Miller; best special section editorial, Review-Journal.
Best spot news story, Laura Myers; best business feature story, Sonya Padgett; best news feature story, Richard Lake; best investigative or in-depth story, Alan Maimon; best local column, Geoff Schumacher; best local sports feature, Matt Youmans.
Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0285.