Newspaper of the Year awards, Hall of Fame inductions highlight 2013 Fall Conference

The Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram were named the daily and weekend Newspapers of the Year, respectively, during the Maine Press Association’s 2013 Fall Conference on Oct. 26 in Bar Harbor.
For the second year in a row, the Mount Desert Islander of Bar Harbor was named Newspaper of the Year among weeklies with circulation of 4,000 or more, and the York County Coast Star of Kennebunk won the award for smaller papers.
The winners were honored during an awards dinner that drew close to 190 people to the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel and Conference Center. Throughout the course of the day, the conference drew close to 250 people.
Since 2006, the Mount Desert Islander has been named Newspaper of the Year seven times. It won five times in the Weekly 1 division before moving up last year and winning the Weekly 2 award. The judge for the category, Morry Thomas, publisher of the News and Press in Darlington, S.C. said: “Clean, consistent design showcases the editorial content of this quality newspaper. Great photography and strong headline writing pushed the Mount Desert Islander into the top spot.”
In picking the York County Coast Star as Newspaper of the Year in Weekly 1, Charles Perry, editor of the Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Herald, said, “There’s a great sense of community in this paper. … This is the clear winner.”
The Maine Sunday Telegram was the weekend Newspaper of the Year for the third time in four years. With the win for the Press Herald, the Portland papers swept the Newspaper of the Year awards for the first time since 2000. The last paper to win the daily and weekend awards in the same year was the Sun Journal of Lewiston, in 2009.
For the second year, the MPA also gave awards for Advertising General Excellence.
The Kennebec Journal of Augusta took first place in the daily division and the Sun Journal won the competition for weekend papers. The Mount Desert Islander won the competition for larger weekly papers, and The Original Irregular of Kingfield took the award in the Weekly 1 division for the second consecutive year.
The Sun Journal was the winner of the Freedom of Information Award for daily and weekend papers, for at least the fourth year in a row, and Jennifer Feals and Laura Dolce of the York County Coast Star won the award for weeklies.
The Best Website award went to The Ellsworth American in the competition for weekly papers, and to the Press Herald/Telegram in the competition for dailies and weekend papers.
See the complete list of winners by clicking on 2013 CONTEST  WINNERS.

Individual honors

Lindsay Tice holds her plaque after being named Journalist of the Year. With her are her parents, left, and Sun Journal editors Judy Meyer and Rex Rhoades.
Lindsay Tice holds her plaque after being named Journalist of the Year. With her are her parents, left, and Sun Journal editors Judy Meyer and Rex Rhoades.

Lindsay Tice, a longtime staff writer for the Sun Journal, was named Journalist of the Year by the MPA. The nominations were judged by Tom Kearney, longtime editor of The Keene Sentinel in New Hampshire and the Stowe Reporter in Vermont, who said: “Tice’s range is deep and wide. … (She) has a knack for getting people to talk with her, and the skill to use all the tools available to her – a nose for news, fine writing, research, data analysis, careful thought – to give Sun Journal readers the kind of information every news organization should strive to deliver.
Michael Shepherd was the winner of the annual Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award. The judge, Jon Kellogg, editor of the Waterbury Republican American in Connecticut, said: “What I like about him … is that he is a story teller” who finds interesting characters and uses knowledgeable sources to build controversy, depth and drama. … I’m going to keep his clips; not to steal him, but to share with our cops and courts reporters.”
And the MPA’s first Unsung Hero Award went to Nancy Larsen of The Ellsworth American. The winner was chosen by the MPA board. In nominating Larsen, The Ellsworth American’s managing editor, Stephen Fay, said, “No one knows exactly all that she does, or exactly how she does it. And she doesn’t hear the words ‘thank you, I appreciate that’ nearly often enough.”

Three new members of Hall
During the day’s Hall of Fame luncheon, the MPA inducted three new members: Don Hansen, Scott Haskell and Emery “Legs” Labbe.
Over the course of 30 years, Hansen was a reporter, editor, political columnist, editorial writer and editorial page director for the Press Herald and Telegram and the Portland Evening Express.
Haskell was a photographer and photo editor with the Bangor Daily News before retiring in 2011 after a 33-year career.
Labbe, a well-known figure in Aroostook County’s St. John Valley, was a sportswriter for the St. John Valley Times for more than 30 years and publisher of the paper for a decade.
The keynote speaker for the luncheon was Matt Hongoltz-Hetling, who was co-Journalist of the Year in 2012, along with A.M. Sheehan, for reporting for the Advertiser Democrat on substandard public housing in western Maine. Read his speech here.

Auction provides $1,600 for scholarships
The annual auction to benefit the MPA’s scholarship fund for journalism students at the University of Maine raised close to $1,600, thanks to donations by members and friends of the association. The money raised on the Saturday night of the conference will be used to award one or more scholarships in the spring.
If you were the winning bidder on any item and have not yet paid, please contact the MPA at

Were you there?
Did you attend the Fall Conference? If you did, what did you think worked best? What didn’t work? What would you like to see at future conferences? Honest feedback is critical for the MPA board as it plans each year’s conference aiming to give members what they want.
So let us know what you thought, about everything from the seminars to the Hall of Fame luncheon to the venue to the awards dinner. Contact the MPA at
If you took photos at the conference, we hope that you’ll share some for a photo gallery on this website. Please include information for captions and email your photos to us.