News-Optimist big winner at SWNA awards

The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist has come up as an award winner in several categories at the annual Saskatchewan Weekly Newspaper Association Better Newspapers Competition.

Reporters John Cairns and Josh Greschner each earned awards. Cairns received first place for Best News Story of the Year for his coverage of the Gerald Stanley trial, and also won Best Tourism Story for his story “New hotels part of North Battleford building boom.”

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Josh Greschner took Best Government Coverage for his stories on a local individual impacted by crime and the city’s plan to address the situation.

Greschner took second place for Best Agricultural Coverage for his story “Rural crime on the minds of residents,” as well as second for Best First Nations Coverage. Cairns took third place honours for Best Government Coverage for his stories on the marijuana legalization debate at City Hall.

Cairns and Greschner also shared second place for Best Health/Healthcare Coverage Series of Stories on the new Saskatchewan Hospital.

Averil Hall finished second in the Hard News Photo category for her front-page photo of Gerald Stanley as he left the Battleford courthouse following his acquittal of the second degree murder of Colten Boushie. Hall also finished third for Photographer of the Year.

Former editor Becky Doig received second place for Editorial Writing Excellence.

Louise Lundberg, a regular contributor of photographs, received third place for Best Wildlife Photo.

Joan Champ took third place for Best Saskatchewan Arts or Cultural Series of Stories for her regular feature Railway and Main.

Our sister paper Unity-Wilkie Press-Herald received several honours, as Sherri Solomko took first place for Best Saskatchewan Recreational Story about the farewell to Luseland’s Centennial Swimming Pool, while Helena Long took third place for Columnist of the Year, third for Best Feature and third for Best Black and White Photo.

The awards were handed out in Regina Saturday at the SWNA’s annual meeting.

Editor Jayne Foster said hard work and dedication is behind the awards won by the News-Optimist this year. John Cairns and photographer Averil Hall worked grueling hours, braving freezing weather to report on the Gerald Stanley trial, she said. What was published in the paper itself, she added, represents only part of the work they did, as they provided online updates for the News-Optimist website three times per day during the trial.  

As a spinoff from the Stanley trial, Josh Greschner delved into the reaction among rural residents and how they felt about their safety, attending meetings and researching statistics and statutes, said Foster.

Publisher Gord Brewerton said, “I am incredibly proud of our small, but mighty editorial crew. Together, they brought home 12 awards, more than any other paper in the province. It is a testament to their hard work and dedication to their craft.”

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