The Palo Alto Weekly Saturday received the second place award for general excellence among all large non-daily newspapers in California – along with five first-place awards and two other second-place awards.
The Weekly was awarded a first-place “Freedom of Information” award for its legal challenge, news coverage and editorials relating to secret e-mails and staff responses between City Council members and city staff, which resulted in a groundbreaking open policy in council member/staff communications.
The Weekly’s second-place for general excellence follows three-in-a-row first-place general-excellence awards in the prestigious “Better Newspapers Contest” of the California Newspaper Publishers’ Association (CNPA) – in the highly competitive category of large weekly and semi-weekly papers. The contest covered newspapers published during 2003.
The CNPA conference was held aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach. The several thousand entries are judged by editors and staff of California newspapers, and finalists are judged by a “blue-ribbon panel” of out-of-state editors.
The Weekly also picked up its fourth-in-a-row first-place award for its editorial pages; a first for spot-news coverage (the eighth top award for spot news in a row) for a “Hit-and-run tragedy” story by Weekly editors and Staff Writer Bill D’Agostino; a first for a spot-news photo (“You’ve got a friend,” by former Staff Photographer Don Feria) and a first place for a sports photo (“Another winning finish,” by Sports Editor Keith Peters).
It won second-place awards for overall sports coverage and for a photo essay by Chief Photographer Norbert von der Groeben.
Six other entries were cited for making it into the final "Blue Ribbon" round of judging: for a local spot-news story, “Stunned into silence,” by former Staff Writer Rachel Metz; a feature story, “Behind the music,” by D'Agostino; columns by Staff Writer Sue Dremann; a spot-news photo by former Chief Photographer Kate Robertson, a feature photo by Chief Photographer Norbert von der Groeben; and an editorial on “Media spoofing,” about the City Council’s extended consideration of a behavior code.
The Weekly’s sister paper, the Menlo Park-based Almanac, picked up a first-place award for enterprise and investigative reporting and two second-place awards, for lifestyle coverage and a sports story.
Another sister paper, the Mountain View Voice, picked up three second-place awards, for public service, environmental reporting and a sports photo.
The first-place award for general excellence went to a brand-new weekly newspaper, the Santa Barbara-based South Coast Beacon, founded three years ago and eligible this year for the first time to compete in the CNPA contest.
Among large daily papers, the Los Angeles Times picked up first place for general excellence, and the San Jose Mercury placed second.
The Palo Alto Daily News, in a smaller-dailies category, won a first-place award for an editorial and a second place for an editorial cartoon.