The Longboat, East County and Sarasota Observers were named the top-three weekly newspapers in the state in the Florida Press Association’s 2010 Better Weekly Newspaper Contest. The Observer Group Inc. (the Longboat Observer, Sarasota Observer, East County Observer, Gulf Coast Business Review and the Pelican Press) received 27 total awards at the Florida Press Association’s annual convention July 1, at The Vinoy Resort, in St. Petersburg. This year’s contest was the largest to date, with the most number of newspapers participating and more than 1,500 contest entries submitted total.
The Observer Group swept the General Excellence category, taking first (Longboat), second (East County) and third (Sarasota) and the Overall Graphic Design category: first (Longboat), second (Sarasota) and third (East County). The company’s website, YourObserver.com, also won first place in Website Development.
The Longboat, Sarasota and East County Observers competed in the largest circulation class, 15,000 or more; the Pelican Press competed in the middle circulation class, between 7,000 and 15,000; and the Gulf Coast Business Review competed in the smallest circulation class of less than 7,000.
The Longboat Observer also won first place in Religion Writing (Robin Hartill); second place in the Editorial Award category; and third place in Community History (Robin Hartill). Hartill’s article on Longboat resident and Holocaust survivor Rifka Glatz won the Religion Writing category, while her two-part series on the history of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort and its longtime patrons and guests took third place in the Community History category.
The East County Observer won first place in Sports Game Day Story (Jen Blanco), Sports Feature Story (Jen Blanco) and Spot News Picture (Michael Eng).
The Sarasota Observer won first place in Community History (Loren Mayo).
The Gulf Coast Business Review won first place for its special section, Gulf Coast 500, along with three additional awards, and the Pelican Press received seven awards.
Judges comments included:
“Powerful page appeal ... well-written ... photojournalism at its best ... good balance between hard news and soft news ... ” — the Longboat Observer, General Excellence;
“Each page of this newspaper is thoughtfully designed — inside pages are well-designed as section fronts. Photography is brilliant ... attention to layout and design makes this newspaper a pleasure to look at.” — the Longboat Observer, overall graphic design;
“An area obviously rich in arts and culture has a publication to match.” — Season magazine;
“Interesting story of how a family business was such a part of Longboat Key.” — Robin Hartill, Community
The Observer Group’s 2010 Florida Press Association awards:
• First place — Website design
• First place — General Excellence
• First place — Overall Graphic design (Nancy Schwartz)
• First place — Religion Writing (Robin Hartill)
• Second place — Editorial Award
• Third place — Community History (Robin Hartill)
• First place — Community History (Loren Mayo)
• Second place — Overall Graphic Design (Nancy Schwartz)
• Second place — Special Issue, Section or Supplement (Season magazine)
• Third place — Spot News Picture (Loren Mayo)
• Third place — General Excellence
East County Observer
• First place — Sports Game Day Story (Jen Blanco)
• First place — Sports Feature story (Jen Blanco)
• First place — Spot News Picture (Michael Eng)
• Second place — General Excellence
• Second place — Sports Picture (Jen Blanco)
• Second place — Portfolio Photography (Michael Eng)
• Third place — Special Issue, Section or Supplements (15 Years Strong)
• Third place — Overall Graphic Design (Jessica Eng)
Gulf Coast Business Review
• First place — Special Section (Gulf Coast 500, Sean Roth)
• Second place — General Excellence
• Second place — Business Writing (Carl Cronan)
• Third place — Education Writing (Jay Brady)
• Second place — Investigative Reporting (William Mansell and Stan Zimmerman)
• Second place — Editorial Page (Rachel Hackney)
• Third place — Editorial Award (Rachel Hackney)
• Third place — First Amendment Defense (Rachel Hackney)
• Third place — Investigative Reporting (William Mansell and Rachel Hackney)
• Third place — Education (William Mansell)
• Third place — Serious Column (Dr. Peter A. Wish)