Lebanon Local, New Era bring home the win

The Lebanon Local and its sister paper, The New Era, came away with 18 awards from this year’s Better Newspaper Contest conducted by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association.

Winners were announced at the ONPA’s annual convention, held Sept. 28-29. The entries this year were judged by members of the Texas Press Association.

Lebanon Local’s Sarah Brown took second place for Best News Photo for her “Explaining Easter” shot of the King’s Chapel Easter bunny doing a song and dance at Cheadle Lake. The paper took third place for General Excellence with its August 2022 edition.

“Even though Lebanon Local is one of the smaller newspapers in this competition, it’s gratifying to see judges in Texas recognize the quality that Sarah brings to our readers in her reporting and photography,” said former Publisher Scott Swanson.

The New Era’s Benny Westcott and Sarah Brown each scored first-place recognition in the Best Sports Story category, Brown for a story on local nonagenarian bowlers and Westcott for a story about Brooke Burke breaking multiple school scoring records in a basketball game last year.

First place for Best News Photo went to a shot of a crash in the Narrows in late January 2022 by Scott Swanson. The New Era also received first place for a photo essay about the Sweet Home Wrestling Camp in the summer of 2022, shot by Westcott.

“These awards are an indication of the talent that serves Sweet Home readers,” Swanson said. “I’ve appreciated having that talent on the staff and I’m happy that The New Era will continue to have staffers who are capable of producing good-quality work.”

Brown and former copy editor Cory Frye won second place in the Best Story of the Year category, which includes all participating newspapers in Oregon, for their story about power shutdowns due to strong winds and warm temperatures. The story also earned them second place for Best Online Coverage of Breaking News.

“That is a significant award,” said Swanson, who served as ONPA’s president last year. “Sarah, who works for one of the smaller papers in the state, was up against everybody else, from the Oregonian on down, and finished with a second-place story.”

Brown, along with Frye and Westcott, also took second for Best Spot News Story. Frye received third place for Best Headline Writing and Swanson received third place for Best Editorial.

The newspaper also received a third place for Best Feature Photo, and third place for Best Overall Website for sweethomenews.com.

In the advertising competition, held separately, The New Era received five first-place awards, along with a second and a third:

First place for Best Multi-Sponsor ROP Ad.

First place for Best Section Cover.

First place for Best Institutional Ad.

First place for Most Effective Use of Small Space.

Second place for Best Multi-Sponsor Ad.

Third place for Best Merchandising Section.

“I’m not surprised,” said Chris Chapman, who took over as publisher of the two papers in July. “When you have a group of people who are passionate about their work, this is the byproduct. Everyone here is talented in their own way, and it’s the combination of those talents that yields a quality newspaper every week.”