Battlefords Publishing, who own both the Battlefords News-Optimist and the Regional Optimist, had reason to celebrate last weekend as both papers took home numerous honours at the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspaper Awards.
In competition with 82 other newspapers, the two Battlefords and area newspapers nevertheless managed to win three awards and place in the top three of nine categories.
The Regional Optimist won Best Overall Paper in its circulation class (over 6,500). The “Best All Around” category is judged on eight different criteria: community news (where the Regional Optimist received 129 out of 150 points), photography (85 out of 100), advertising content (93 out of 100), presentation (90 out of 100), advertising design (89 out of 100), local features (39 out of 50), sports (39 out of 50) and classified advertising (48 out of 50).
Judges noted the newspaper had an “excellent layout with good font selection and use of colour.”
The classified section was also praised, and the judges concluded the explaining that it was “difficult to point out anything … to improve on.”
“Being judged best overall against some of the best newspapers in the province illustrates the quality of the team that puts the Regional Optimist together each week,” commented publisher Alana Schweitzer. She added that she “could not be more proud of our team.”
The newspaper also performed well in other general categories, placing second in Best Front Page and second in Best Editorial Page. In the Best Editorial Page category, the Regional Optimist scored only one point (out of 100) behind the winner. In the Best Front Page category, the Regional Optimist was five points out of 150 behind the winner.
In the Premier Awards category, Tara Scaglione placed first in the Saskatchewan Recreation category, but also placed third for First Nations coverage and (with Jayne Foster) for overall K-12 coverage. Brian Zinchuk and Alex McPhail, who write for the News-Optimist, won first and second, respectively, in the columnist category.
Zinchuk’s columns were described by the judges as having a “clean style, local focus and a point to make,” while McPhail was described by a “colourful, observant writer” with an “insightful perspective.”
Also performing well at the awards were Jackie Young, who placed second for Best Advertisement, Danica Lorer, who received third for the Saskatchewan Cultural Story category and Heather Young, who received third in the Black and White Photo category.
Fierce competition kept other writers from being nominated, but they placed very close. John Cairns was in a four-way tie for fourth place in the business writing category, and Cairns and McPhail tied for fourth place in the news story of the year category, with 37 out of a possible 40 points.
“The wide-ranging scope of the Premier Award nominations reflects the solid pool of talent in our newsroom, and also the skilled work of those who guide and execute the production of our newspapers,” Editor Becky Doig stated.