The Observer Group won 17 awards, including five first-place awards, at the Florida Press Association’s “Better Weekly Newspaper Awards” July 11, in Palm Beach. The Observer Group, whose publications include The Longboat Observer, The East County Observer, The Sarasota Observer and The Gulf Coast Business Review, garnered more awards than any other newspaper company competing in the annual contest. Seventy-two weekly newspapers submitted more than 1,500 entries.
The Observers competed in Division A, the more-than-15,000 circulation category, and The Gulf Coast Business Review competed in Division C, the under- 7,000 circulation category.
The Longboat Observer picked up three first-place awards: Editorial Page (Matt Walsh, editor), Front Page Layout (Nancy Schwartz, assistant managing editor/design) and Sports Feature Story (Robin Hartill, community editor).
Contest judges deemed Walsh’s editorials as “devastatingly detailed editorials on local government’s lapses and misjudgments. Clever writing — conversational, easy read. Broad grasp of local issues, well-deliberated.”
Schwartz’s front-page design had judges citing her “great, consistent look — modern, yet gets news up front. Colors are subtle but impactful.”
Judges’ comments about Hartill’s sports-feature story, “Longboaters take steps for breast cancer,” included, “Good description, puts the reader in the middle of the activity. Not just a collection of quotes pretending to be a feature story.” Hartill also received an honorable mention in Business Writing for her story on St. Armands Circle property owners fighting for property tax re-assessments.
Longboat Observer Managing Editor Jessica Luck took second place in Outdoor Writing for “An ounce of hope,” a story about Warren Girle and Billy Harris’ fishing-tournament victory — their first in four attempts. Judges said, “A great fish story — well-told and well-structured.” Luck also garnered third place in Spot News Photo for her photograph of Vice Mayor Bob Siekmann and David Brenner reacting to Siekmann’s commission-seat victory.
The Longboat Observer placed third in Overall Graphic Design and received honorable mention for General Excellence. For a complete listing of Observer Group awards, see the box below.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Longboat Observer
• Front Page Makeup — First Place
• Editorial Page — First Place
• Sports Feature Story — First Place
• Outdoor Writing — Second Place
• Spot News Picture — Third Place
• Overall Graphic Design — Third Place
• General Excellence — Honorable Mention
• Business Writing — Honorable Mention
The East County Observer
• Feature Story — First Place
• Feature Picture — Third Place
• Photo Series in One Issue — Third Place
• Sports Feature Story — Third Place
• Sports Game Day Story — Third Place
• Special Issue, Section or Supplements — Honorable Mention
The Sarasota Observer
• Business Writing — Second Place
The Gulf Coast Business Review
• Photo Series in One Issue — First Place
• Business Writing — Third Place