The Seattle Times won 10 awards, including three first-place finishes in Deadline Reporting, Distinguished Coverage of Diversity and Feature Writing, in the annual C.B. Blethen Memorial Awards contest for 2018-19.
The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., won seven awards, including firsts for Distinguished Coverage of Diversity, Enterprise Reporting and Feature Writing.
The Oregonian in Portland also won three times — for Enterprise Reporting, Investigative Reporting and the Debby Lowman Award for Distinguished Reporting of Consumer Affairs.
The Seattle Times and The Oregonian compete in the 50,001 and over circulation division. The Columbian competes in the 50,000 and under circulation division.
Other smaller dailies taking home first-place awards were The Chronicle in Centralia, Wash., for Investigative Reporting, and The Daily Herald in Everett, Wash., for Deadline Reporting.
This year’s contest received 199 entries from 15 newspapers, an increase of 46 entries from last year. Last year, 16 papers competed in the contest.
The Oregonian topped the Investigative Reporting category for its series “Polluted by Money: How corporate cash corrupted one of the greenest states in America,” by Rob Davis, with photography by Beth Nakamura, video by Teresa Mahoney and data analysis by Steve Suo.
The judge in the category called the entry “a great in-depth series.”
“This is what all investigative reporting should look like,” the judge said. “First, the reporter(s) followed the money. Then they talked to people who were affected personally by the fallout. This piece definitely shines a light on a huge issue in a state that most outsiders view as a safe, clean, healthy place to live. So much for that utopia.”
The Seattle Times’ win in the Deadline Reporting category was for a story about a man who took a plane from Sea-Tac Airport and crashed it into an island in Puget Sound. The reporting team consisted of Paige Cornwell, Agueda Pacheco-Flores, Christine Clarridge, Evan Bush, Hal Bernton, Dominic Gates, Daniel Beekman and Matt Day.
“Great story and follow through," the judge said. “Sources were varied and story was told in a compelling way. You can feel the passion in the work. Also, the multimedia inclusion was well done. And dealing with regulations and aircraft mechanics that are not commonly known was handled in a way that allowed other layman to understand.”
The Columbian won in the Enterprise Reporting category for a six-part series about the rise and fall of John Bishop, a Vancouver, Wash., boy who grew up to achieve great success as a founder and senior pastor of Living Hope Church.
Reporters Patty Hastings, who covers religion, and Jessica Prokop spent seven months assembling hundreds of pages of public documents, combing through Bishop’s books and past interviews, conducting dozens of interviews, and structuring and writing their text, editor Craig Brown wrote in a description of the series.
The judge called the series “absolutely riveting.”
“Deep, incisive reporting and artful writing. Design, photos and graphics are all exceptional. Stories were supremely balanced. Could this be a miniseries on HBO? Bravo.”
The Chronicle won in the Investigative Reporting category for Alex Brown’s story about the proposed closing of a third of the Timberland Regional Library system’s most rural libraries.
“The coverage was a powerful story about a volatile community issue involving secret plans to close a local library,” the judge wrote. “It was one of the few entries in the field to include real investigation.”
The Daily Herald won in the Deadline Reporting category for Caleb Hutton’s story about DNA evidence that led to an arrest in the 1972 murder of an Everett woman.
“Excellent, dramatic and vital reporting for the community who now may rest easier,” the judge said. “Well done.”
Award plaques will be shipped to the winning newspapers later this month. Winning newspapers will also receive a $100 check for their newsrooms to help celebrate the awards.
The Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association, which administers the Blethen Awards, will create house ads for winning newspapers to publish to highlight their collective work in the Pacific Northwest.
“PNNA wants to encourage all member newspapers to afford this contest and its sponsors the esteem they deserve,” PNNA President Josh O’Connor said. “Let’s make a point of celebrating them. Cheers to each of you and keep up the good work!”
The C.B. Blethen Memorial Awards are sponsored by The Seattle Times.
The awards consist of six categories: Distinguished Coverage of Diversity, Deadline Reporting, Feature Writing, Investigative Reporting and The Debby Lowman Award for Distinguished Reporting of Consumer Affairs.
Experienced journalists from outside the Pacific Northwest judge the contest.
The Blethen Awards were created in 1977 to honor one of the Northwest’s most distinguished newspapermen.
C.B. Blethen was publisher of The Seattle Times from 1915 until his death in 1941. He was known in his community and among his newspaper colleagues as one who made the ideals and standards of American journalism a way of life.
He was knowledgeable in almost all phases of the newspaper business — as a reporter, editor, advertising authority, cartoon idea man, innovator and inventor of mechanical processes.
In 1987, C.B. Blethen was inducted into the State Hall of Journalism Achievement at Washington State University for his contributions to the profession and his commitment to the belief that a newspaper’s first responsibility is to its readers and to the community.
Questions? Contact contest administrator Simon Birch at (916) 288-6010.