UPA executive director Michael J. Fox, left, joins publisher Richard Shaw and associate editor John Serfustini in displaying some of the awards the Sun Advocate won for the 2010 competition.
The Sun Advocate was awarded the prestigious Community Service Award from the Utah Press Association this past weekend during the organization's annual winter convention in St. George. This is the second year in the last three years that the paper has won the award.
"Whenever we win this I always think how much more important it is than any other award they give out at the convention each year," said Sun Advocate publisher Richard Shaw. "But whenever we have won it, we owe the honor to our wonderful community, who supports us so well in many of our endeavors."
The paper won the award for 2010 for the "No Grave Unadorned" project that was done in the spring of 2010. During that project, sponsored and headed up by the paper, an estimated 1,500 residents of the county worked to make sure every grave in the county had at least one flower on it for Memorial Day. The effort and complete success of the project was noted by a number of publications in the state. Shaw says the project is moving along for this year as well.
"We have been advertising for help again and already the lists have many names on them," he stated. "We are also expanding the program to Emery County this year."
Shaw said he is particularly satisfied in getting the award this year because it wasn't given by group this year (the papers are broken into four groups based on circulation for awards at the convention). Instead only one paper in the state was selected for the award, out of all the dailies, big papers and small papers.
"I just need to tell our our volunteers thanks for what they did last year," he said. "They really made us look good to the judges."
The paper also took home a total of 13 other awards at the convention. While they did not win best in group this year, they came in with the second most awards of any paper. The winning entries included:
* First place for the best news series. The award came for the series of articles Richard Shaw wrote last year concerning the hiring, arrest and finally the resignation centering around Carbon School District's Superintendent George Park.
* First place for the best editorial. The award came from a piece written by John Serfustini and Richard Shaw titled "Legislative 'You break it, you buy it" that was published on June 29 concerning the legislatures crippling Wellington with a moritorium on sales tax on mining equipment.
* First place for the best advertising idea. That award came for the production of the "Uranium and Coal Camp Life" special that was produced last July.
Second place for best general news story (Mine Bankruptcy Aftershock, by John Serfustini publishing on Aug 17), Best front page (selected from three submitted), Best Circulation Promotion (They're there when you need them, firefighters) from the month of June, Best In-House Self Promotion (an ad depicting production assistant James Bailey nearly falling from a cliff grabbing for a copy of the Sun Advocate), and for the best website.
Third place awards came from Best Breaking News Story (School Superintendent Arrested, by Richard Shaw, Aug. 10), Best Sports Photo (Skate to Finish, Jan. 19, taken by previous staff member Michael Overson), Best Staff Produced Advertising Campaign (Tony Basso GM ads), Best Feature Series (a series of foster care articles written last spring by John Serfustini, Kevin Scannell and Michael Overson), and Best Use of Color in an Advertisement (Pinnacle Canyon Academy).
"The contest was very different this year because we sent in all the entries electronically and they were distributed to the judges in the same way," stated Shaw. "Before this year everyone used to gather in a big room for a day and go through hundreds of entries. Sometimes towards the end of the day people who didn't work in one field or another were judging outside of their areas of expertise. Now they entries go directly to editors, advertising people, production people, etc. They went to people who are very qualified to judge the categories. They also have two or three weeks to look at them rather than an hour or two. The results that were released on Saturday night show the difference in that effort. There was a lot more diversity in papers that won awards. I think this system it is a lot more accurate and objective that way."
In addition to the paper winning awards, former Sun Advocate publisher Hal MacKnight, who passed away in 1983, was honored by being inducted into the Utah Newspaper Hall of Fame.
"MacKnight took over this paper when it was a very weak and fledgling enterprise," said Shaw. "I was very proud to make the presentation at the convention."
MacKnight's son Scott was there to accept the award for the family. MacKnight is the second publisher from the Sun Advocate to be so honored. The first was Robert Crockett, who ran the Eastern Utah Advocate and The Sun, early ancestors of the present paper. The Newspaper Hall of Fame is located on the first level of the Utah State Capitol.
The Sun Advocate won as the top paper in their group (circulation 2,500 to 6,000) three times during the last decade and Shaw says that in this new decade that just started the staff is dedicated to winning it even more often.
"We looked at some of the papers that won excellence this year and we have plans to make some changes to make our product better," he said. "But our readers and advertisers remain our emphasis. We will do what is right for them. But if awards come our way by doing that we are happy to accept them."
Shaw says that despite the individual names attached to articles, photos or advertisements that won, the paper is a team effort and no one is really more valuable than anyone else.
"To get the paper out twice each week requires we all work together. It takes everyone from sales to the paper carriers to put