Islander Named Maine’s Best



NORTHPORT — The Mount Desert Islander was named the weekly newspaper of the year at the annual meeting of the Maine Press Association here Saturday.

During the better newspaper contest awards presentations at the Point Lookout Conference Center, the Islander won a total of 34 other awards for writing, photographic and advertising excellence; more than any other weekly newspaper in the state.

In awarding first place for general excellence in the small weekly division to the Islander, the judges wrote: “This newspaper stood out among other entrants in this category as a competently designed, clearly written, feisty model of a community weekly, all the more impressive because of its young age and its independent ownership.”

The judges added, “No other paper in this class came close to matching the overall package. The stories are nicely written and edited, and presented clearly… I liked the use of courtesy titles and the spirit behind their use. The coverage obviously ranges across a wide geography and traversed the full complement of arts, sports, and lifestyle: I especially liked the inclusion of “Maritime” as a section head. Opinions page is comprehensive and local, local, local.”

Coming on the heels of an impressive 7 percent growth in paid circulation last year, when most newspapers nationwide were shrinking, receiving the top honor in a state known for great newspapers is a double treat, Islander editor Earl Brechlin said.

“This award doesn’t just belong to the folks in our organization. It also belongs to all our loyal readers and advertisers who have helped us get to where we are today,” Mr. Brechlin said.

In three out of the last four years, the Islander has been named the best weekly by both the Maine and New England Press Associations. It has won general excellence from the National Newspaper Association twice in four years.

In the editorial division, Islander writers Oka Hutchins and Earl Brechlin won first place for spot news for coverage of the fire that destroyed several buildings on Main Street in Northeast Harbor in August of 2008. Ms. Hutchins also won first place for her continuing coverage of the fire and recovery efforts.

Other first-place writing awards included: investigative reporting to Mr. Brechlin for his story on financial questions and nepotism in the management of the Mount Desert Island Marathon; arts and lifestyle features to Ms. Hutchins for a story on artist/author Ashley Bryan; sports story for reporter Jeff Walls’ coverage of Mount Desert Island High School football; and the critic’s award for reporter Robert Levin’s arts coverage.

In the photography division first place awards went to news editor Melinda Rice for picture story, Mr. Walls for news photo, Ms. Hutchins for spot news, and to Mr. Brechlin for a scenic photo. Graphics artist Christine Taylor won first place for graphic. The paper also took first place for illustration, specialty page design, advertising layout, best new idea for its on-board papers distributed to Cunard Line cruise ship passengers, and best newspapers in education idea for the Trojan Advance, a special newspaper inside the Islander produced by students at MDI High School.

In the advertising division the Islander also won first place for local ad, in black and white.

Reporter Mark Good won second-place awards for news headline and arts and lifestyle feature. Mr. Levin took second for investigative reporting, and the paper won second place for sports section, and local advertising in color. Mr. Brechlin won second place for feature story writing.

Second place photography awards included: Mr. Levin, sports photo, and people photo; Mr. Brechlin feature photo and picture story. Ms. Hutchins won a third place for people photo. The paper also won second place for front page design.

Other third places included: Ms. Rice, headline writing; Mr. Brechlin feature writing, and to the paper for editorial page and sponsorship page.

The Islander’s sister paper, The Ellsworth American, came in third in the large weekly newspaper category; it also won 27 other awards. The Bridgton News was first followed by the Star Herald of Presque Isle.

In the small weekly division, the York Weekly was second behind the Islander, followed by the Piscataquis Observer. The Sun Journal in Lewiston was named the daily and weekend newspaper of the year.

For more of the latest news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.

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