National attention for local paper

It was a good week at The Reporter.

Last week, staff here received word regarding at the Canadian Community Newspaper Awards (CCNA). As the name suggests, the annual awards event celebrates the best in English and French-language community newspapers across the country. The Reporter was honoured in two categories.

The publication won the Best Editorial Page division. The winning entry featured a Jake Boudrot editorial regarding the legalization of cannabis, and more accurately, the shortcomings of the provincial government’s plan to allow sale of the drug.

With Boudrot, reporter Grant McDaniel was also honoured. In the Best Historical Story division, McDaniel’s “Storytellers Spin Yarns from Prohibition Era” placed second. The story related to an event held at the Chestico Museum in Port Hood where tales of moonshine and bull beer making were shared.

Interestingly, the two accolades are good examples of the mandate of The Reporter. We look to offer up-to-the-minute coverage of current events taking place in local communities, but we also pay respect to history of our area. While the editorial and story garnered national attention, we aim to provide that same level of quality every time our paper hits the stands.

We pride ourselves on the column writing skills of Gina MacDonald, Don Boudrot, Wally Ellison, and Adam Cooke, all of whom celebrate the region with their particular skills: be it the popular historicism of Boudrot, the natural beauty detailed by Ellison, the witty and clear-flowing prose of MacDonald, or the constantly-engaging observations of Cooke, a winner of several journalism awards himself.

In terms of journalists, we’ve been blessed with several very sharp minds in recent years. Cooke, Matt Draper, and Melanie Holder were our most recent alumni members, and each did great things while visiting the newsroom. Indeed, it’s a good chance you’ll still see their bylines in the paper from time-to-time, as well as that of Dana MacPhail-Touesnard, all of whom are regular freelancers with us.

On the subject of freelancing, The Reporter found an absolute treasure of a photographer recently, with the work of Mary Hankey appearing in our pages. Hankey was leading the charge for us at the other recent newspaper competition we visited, Newspaper Atlantic’s Better Newspaper Competition.

Hankey’s wildlife shots around the Canso Causeway led The Reporter to the Outstanding Photo Essay award. Once again, Boudrot won for Editorial of the Year, and the paper was also acknowledged for Outstanding Community Engagement, due to the efforts of Advertising Manager Nicole Fawcett and her work with Seniors Expo 2017.

The year before, The Reporter also did extremely well at the BNCs, with Fawcett’s work taking centre stage. She was the mind behind our success in winning for Outstanding Advertising Campaign, Outstanding Online Innovation, and Outstanding Ad. That year, The Reporter also won Outstanding Special Section and was a finalist for the BNC General Excellence Award.

Fawcett had big shoes to fill, in taking the advertising manager position. Prior to her, the position was held by Anne Cluett who, with her husband Rick, were cornerstones of The Reporter for decades, with Rick serving as publisher and Anne working as ad manager. The Cluetts, now retired, were central to The Reporter growing its audience from day one.

In the last two years, The Reporter has garnered a total of nine highly prestigious awards. We’re not perfect and we will always put the effort in to improving, but we are doing our best with every issue. It’s a pretty cool feeling to occasionally get kudos for it.

The Reporter is looking forward to many more years of serving the community. Indeed, in the last year, we’ve fortified our staff with new additions. Melinda Grant joined as office manager, and she plays a central role in serving as the voice of The Reporter to anyone phoning in, while handling classifieds and many other duties. Corrine MacLean, a summer student from Mount St. Vincent, is providing great entertainment coverage for us while also visiting festivals with her camera.

Last but not least, The Reporter is happy to welcome Drake Lowthers to the newsroom. Lowthers is a bright young journalist who’s jumped headlong into the Strait area newsbeat and, with just two weeks under his belt, he’s already acquitted himself as a great writer, interviewer, and photographer.

We would like to take a moment to thank the judges at both the CCNAs and the BNCs for recognizing us and, more importantly, we offer a thanks to those in the local area for allowing us to tell your stories.

Let’s keep the ball rolling for years and years.