The National Newspaper Association on Wednesday recognized The Times Leader, a Civitas Media property in Northeastern Pennsylvania, as one of the best newspapers in the country as part of its 2014 Better Newspaper Contest competition.
The Times Leader will compete against about 20 other General Excellence winners from across the country for top honors at NNA’s annual convention later this year in Houston.
”The Times Leader continues to be the top information source for Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding region,” said Jim Lawitz, content director for Civitas Media. “Other publications may make that claim, however only The Times Leader has the resources, the talent and journalistic know-how to make it all happen. We are proud of their accomplishments.”
The newspaper took first place for “Best Breaking News Story” for an entry titled “Wilkes-Barre’s Deadliest Year,” a multimedia report published in November after Wilkes-Barre’s 13th homicide made 2013 the city’s worst for murder rate.
Judges praised the entry: “Lots of research — great use of graphics and photos! Layout is fantastic; story is well-written. I just can’t say anything negative about this entry. Superb!”
“Wilkes-Barre’s Deadliest Year” was the second in a three-part report conducted by The Times Leader’s newsroom.
The first installment, “A Deadly City,” analyzed crime statistics before concluding that you’re more likely to be murdered in Wilkes-Barre than New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Chicago. A third installment, “Community Solutions,” showcased advice culled from hundreds of readers who were asked what Wilkes-Barre could do to resolve its high murder rate.
“Our comprehensive coverage of Wilkes-Barre’s homicide rate went well beyond traditional reporting,” Executive Editor George Spohr said. “We worked hard to tell the story behind the story, and we were never afraid to ask the tough questions: Were police doing enough? Why was this being ignored by state and federal officials? Are we equipped to solve this problem? I think judges recognized that.”
The newspaper also took second place for Best Photo Essay, Best Serious Column and Best Sports Story. It also won third place for Best Editorial and received an honorable mention for Best Newspaper Website for timesleader.com.
The Times Leader competed against 192 other newspapers in the competition. Judging was conducted by newspaper editors, publisher and journalism professors.
The Times Leader and its group of community weeklies and websites covers the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area, two hours from New York City and Philadelphia. Including its affiliated websites, timesleader.com generates more than 5 million pageviews per month and has more than 650,000 monthly unique visitors.