The Tyler Star News and Wetzel Chronicle earned awards in the 2013 West Virginia Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.
The honors were given at the West Virginia Press Association's annual convention, held Aug. 8-10 at Oglebay Park, Wheeling, W.Va. Newspapers across the state compete in four circulation groups, two each for daily and weekly newspapers. The Tyler Star News is in Division 4 while the Wetzel Chronicle. is in Division 3.
In the editorial contest Tyler Star News Sports Writer Judy Light took home two awards: second place for Best Photograph-Photo Essay for "Hunter vaults for gold" and, similarly, third place for Best Sports Page or Pages for her state track meet coverage. The advertising contest saw the Star News receive three awards: first and third places for Best Special Section for the Tyler County High School Alumni and How to Craft Book, respectively. They also earned first for Best Theme Pages Retail for their Halloween Coloring Contest.
West Virginia Press Association President Perry Nardo, publisher of the Wheeling News-Register and The Intelligencer, right, presents Ed Given, publisher of Braxton Citizens’ News in Sutton, with the Adam R. Kelly Premier Journalist Award during the WVPA’s annual convention at Oglebay Resort, Aug. 8-10. Premier Journalist is the highest individual honor bestowed by the state’s oldest press organization. The award was established in 1991 in memory of the late Adam R. Kelly, former owner and editor of the Tyler Star News in Sistersville, W.Va., who was known nationally for his outstanding service to newspapers. (WVPA Photos)
The Wetzel Chronicle won one award each in the editorial and advertising contests. Bruce Crawford garnered second place for Best Photography-Feature for a shot of Emily Bassett on a mechanical bull at last year's Town and Country Days. A second place advertising award was given to the Chronicle for Best Theme Pages Retail for their Halloween Coloring Contest.
"This competition displays the quality of journalism in West Virginia. From the largest daily newspaper to the smallest weekly newspaper, West Virginian residents benefit from the outstanding and dedicated work of journalists working in the Mountain State," said Don Smith, executive director of the WVPA. "Community journalism remains the centerpiece of the newspaper industry in West Virginia. The West Virginia Press Association is proud to recognize and honor these outstanding journalists and newspapers."
The contest has 25 categories, ranging from Coverage of Government Affairs to Best Sports Feature Writing and Best Editorial Page. In 2013, 40 newspapers entered 2,216 entries.
At the end of the awards ceremony the Smith awarded the Adam R. Kelly Premier Journalist Award, named after the Tyler Star News' editor emeritus, to Ed Given, publisher of the Braxton Citizens' News in Sutton, W.Va.
The award is the highest individual honor bestowed by the state's oldest press organization. It's given in recognition of his service to newspapers in the state, the West Virginia Press Association, and to his local community. A committee of past presidents of the WVPA selects the Premier Journalist. The award was established in 1991 in memory of the late Adam R. Kelly, former owner and editor of the Tyler Star News, who was known nationally for his outstanding service to newspapers.
For more than two decades, Given has been a leader in the West Virginia Press Association, having served as WVPA board member, president, and now as a trustee of the WVPA Foundation. Given has been a member and chair of the WVPA Legislative team, helping direct the Legislative Committee's efforts at the Capitol and around the state. He has also served on numerous other WVPA committees, including the nominating and convention committees. He and his wife, Jeanine, are major supporters of the fundraising efforts for the WVPA Foundation, which awards scholarships and internships to West Virginia College students.
WVPA President Don Smith, who announced the selection, said Given is a tremendous example of a community journalist. "Ed Given understands that community journalism isn't just about reporting on a problem. It's also about helping solve the problem. He knows that a community journalist is both: a journalist and also a part of the community."
Charleston Attorney Phil Reale, who served as lobbyist for the WVPA and works with Given on the legislative panel, had this to say: "One might say that Ed Given is an outstanding publisher of a small town newspaper. However, he is and always has been a hard-nosed truth seeking reporter at heart - challenging his community to deal in the truth and transparency with its people. When the adage was coined that it was the duty of the press to hold the governing class accountable for its actions, someone must have envisioned Ed Given, for no one does it better than he.
"He is a champion for the industry in which his life's work has been made. He has been a board member of the WVPA and he has been its president. He has worked tirelessly in behalf of the Association and its foundation throughout his career. Any award recognizing his commitment to his industry, freedom of the press, dedication to family and community service is befittingly bestowed upon him."
Given started the Braxton Citizens' News in 1976. In the decades since, while running a newspaper, printing operation and serving numerous roles for the WVPA, Given also served Sutton as a council member, as mayor and was a leader in both the fire department and EMS squad. During a lifetime in Braxton County, Given has also served with numerous committees, boards and scholarship programs.
Also during the convention, Perry A. Nardo, general manager of the Wheeling News-Register and The Intelligencer, was elected WVPA president. He will serve in the position for the coming year.
Nardo, a 32-year veteran of the newspaper industry and former general manager of the Wetzel Chronicle and Tyler Star News, heads a slate of WVPA officers that will work to strengthen the community newspaper presence in West Virginia.
"Newspapers remain key contributors to their communities and guardians of fundamental freedoms," Nardo told members of the West Virginia Press Association during the convention's Better Newspaper Banquet.
Daily and weekly newspaper members of the WVPA provide unique services to their readers, Nardo said in an interview afterward. In-depth coverage of their communities, unmatched by any other medium, is available from newspapers, he pointed out.
Talking about the industry, Nardo said a variety of news reliable and unbiased also separates newspapers from television, radio, and the Internet, he added. Too much content available through primarily electronic media is opinion "cloaked as news," Nardo explained. "For communities to grow, they have to be able to turn to newspapers and their websites to find an unbiased source of news, then turn to the opinion pages for a variety of viewpoints, and then make an educated decision on how they stand on issues," he added.
Other media often "disguise their opinions as news and cover what drives ratings, not what is best for the communities they serve," Nardo said in his speech at the WVPA convention.
But newspapers and their websites continue to be "the most-read medium in any community," he added.
Nardo is an Ohio Valley native who grew up in Key, Ohio, and lives in Shadyside. He and his wife, Jayme, have three sons: Matthew, Bryan and Luke. "They've been very supportive of my career no matter where it has taken them," Nardo stressed.
A member of the board of directors of the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce, Nardo also serves on the board of the Regional Economic Development Partnership. He is a member of the Ohio University Eastern Advisory Board. He also has been involved in coaching athletics at three different local high schools.Nardo said his career in newspapers has been rewarding in part because of the industry's importance. "But what I love about it is that we're the only industry that every day produces a different product. No one else does that."