The National Newspaper Association on Wednesday recognized The Times Leader as one of the best newspapers in the country as part of its 2014 Better Newspaper Contest competition.
It was the only publication in Pennsylvania to make NNA’s “General Excellence” list.
The Times Leader now goes on to compete against about 20 other General Excellence winners from across the country for top honors at NNA’s annual convention later this year in San Antonio.
The newspaper took first place for “Best Breaking News Story” for an entry titled “Wilkes-Barre’s Deadliest Year,” a multimedia report published in November after Wilkes-Barre’s 13th homicide made 2013 the city’s worst for murder rate.
Judges awarded top honors to Roger DuPuis and Edward Lewis, the primary reporters on the project, while also praising the report as a whole: “Lots of research — great use of graphics and photos! Layout is fantastic; story is well-written. I just can’t say anything negative about this entry. Superb!”
“Wilkes-Barre’s Deadliest Year” was the second in a three-part report conducted by The Times Leader’s newsroom.
The first installment, “A Deadly City,” analyzed crime statistics before concluding that you’re more likely to be murdered in Wilkes-Barre than New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Chicago. A third installment, “Community Solutions,” showcased advice gathered from hundreds of readers who were asked what Wilkes-Barre could do to resolve its high murder rate.
“Our comprehensive coverage of Wilkes-Barre’s homicide rate went well beyond traditional reporting,” Executive Editor George Spohr said. “We worked hard to tell the story behind the story, and we were never afraid to ask the tough questions: Were police doing enough? Why was this being ignored by state and federal officials? Are we equipped to solve this problem? I think judges recognized that.”
The newspaper also took second place for Best Photo Essay (Bill Tarutis for “Wyoming Valley Riverfest”), Best Serious Column (Mark Guydish for “How Did This Become A Bridge Too Far?”) and Best Sports Story (Derek Levarse for “Grand Finale”). It also won third place for Best Editorial (Mark Jones for “Violent Crime Calls For Wide Response”) and received an honorable mention for Best Newspaper Website for timesleader.com.