Jessie Stensland, assistant editor of the Whidbey News-Times, was named News Writer of the Year during the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association’s 2012 Better Newspaper Contest.
Other staff members also won a series of awards for advertising, photography and news coverage in the annual competition. The awards were announced Friday at the association’s annual conference in Yakima. A total of 73 newspapers from across the state participated in the contest.
The News Writer of the Year award is given to the top news writer across all circulation categories. The judges noted that Stensland’s stories were “really hard-hitting.”
In addition, Stensland was awarded first place in Best Investigative Reporting for the story, “Jail interview: Double murder suspect claims ‘hallucination.’” The award is also given for the top story across all circulation categories.
Stensland received a second-place award in the Best News Story (Long) for “Sleuth uncovers public beaches.”
Reporter Justin Burnett earned first place in Comprehensive Coverage of a Single Issue for a series of stories, “Human bones stall project.” He placed third in Best News Story (Short) for “Angler dies after landing ‘fish of my dreams.’”
Burnett won first place in General News Photo for his photograph, “Occupy Whidbey occupies Coupeville.”
Reporter Rebecca Olson won second place in Best General Feature Story (Long) for “A dog is a kid’s best literary friend.” She won second place in the coveted News of the Weird category for “Whidbey woman gives birth in speeding car.” She placed third in Best Education Story for “Students turn to News-Times for math project.”
Reporter Nathan Whalen earned a third-place award in the Best Environmental Story for “Ivy-gulping goats hired to attack noxious invaders.”
In the advertising division, production manager Michelle Wolfensparger won second place for Best Ad for Single Advertiser Promoting a Sale or Event for “Island Transit Bus Sale.”
Wolfensparger and marketing artist Ginny Tomasko won a second-place award in the Best Advertising Insert category for Coldwell Banker Koetje Real Esate.
Marketing artist Leslie Vance and advertising manager Lee Ann Mozes earned first place in Ad Campaign for Single Advertiser for Martin’s Auto Electric. They also won second place in the Multiple Advertiser Ad for “Your Backdoor Access: QR Holiday Pages.
In the special sections division, the News-Times and South Whidbey Record staff earned first place in Best Tourism Guide for the 2012 Whidbey Islander.