Empire designer wins top honors

Newspaper's city reporter, former sports writers also pick up awards in NW journalism contest

Posted: Monday, May 23, 2005

Michael Plett, a copy editor and page designer for the Juneau Empire, claimed two awards Saturday when winners were announced in the 2005 Society of Professional Journalists-Northwest Excellence in Journalism Contest.

Plett won top honors in the news page design category for daily newspapers with a circulation less than 25,000. Plett also won an honorable mention in the feature page design category.

The SPJ-NW Excellence in Journalism Contest is open to reporters, photographers and editors from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. The award winners were announced during the SPJ-NW banquet Saturday night at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo.

Besides Plett, three others won SPJ-NW awards for the Juneau Empire.

Former sports editor Charles Bingham took second place in the sports news category with his story about Juneau's Chad Bentz making it to the major leagues.

Former sports reporter and page designer Andrew Krueger took third place in the headlines category.

And I-chun Che took third place in the long feature category with a story called "Returning from the fringe," about a homeless man making the transition back into society.

The only other journalist from Southeast Alaska to win any awards was Ketchikan Daily News photographer Hall Anderson, who took first place in the portrait photography category and second place in the spot news division for papers under 25,000.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner won four awards in the under 25,000 circulation categories, with Chris Talbott taking third place in the environmental and energy category, photographers Sam Harrel and Eric Engman taking third place and honorable mention in the spot news photography division, and the News-Miner staff winning an honorable mention in the comprehensive coverage (single day) category for its stories about forest fires.

In the categories for daily newspapers over 65,000 circulation, the Anchorage Daily News won nine awards.

George Bryson took first place in education and Tom Kizzia won top honors in the personalities division, while Josh Niva took second place in business, Craig Medred took third in sports column, and Paula Dobbyn and Bill White teamed up for third in the investigative category. Taking honorable mentions were Lisa Demer (government), Debra McKinney (lifestyles), Doug O'Harra (short feature) and Cinthia Ritchie (long feature)

Freelance writer Geo Beach, who writes for Alaska's Tempest Media Productions, took second place in the general column category.

The Anchorage Press won one award in the alternative newsweeklies division, an honorable mention for an opinion piece by Scott Woodham.

In the radio division, Juneau's Ed Schoenfeld of Coast Alaska Radio News took first place in the investigative category for a story called "3-11 Plasma burner."

Melissa Wentzel of Sitka's KCAW took third place in the feature news division for a series of stories on life at Mount Edgecumbe High School, a state boarding school based in Sitka.

KUAC of Fairbanks took home four awards, with Don Bross taking third place in spot news and third in investigative, Sarah Neal finishing second in investigative, and Libby Casey taking third in sports.

KSKA of Anchorage won two awards with Gilbert Sanchez taking second place and Thad Woodard third place, both in the commentary, analysis and editorial division.

In the television category for small markets, KUAC of Fairbanks won two awards. Aaron Elterman, Michael Letzning and Robert Hannon teamed up for first place in feature photojournalism, while Suzette Hilman and Elterman teamed up for second place in documentary.

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