Pelham Examiner wins awards for news, education and healthcare coverage from state press association


The Pelham Examiner won three awards for its 2020 news, education and healthcare coverage from the New York Press Association, the 700-member professional trade group that is the largest such organization in the United States. Winners were announced at the end of last week.

In the NYPA 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, Sophia Leung and Delia Lavallee received Third Place for News Story and Honorable Mention for Coverage of Health, Health Care & Science for their story describing the lives of Pelham frontline medical workers battling the first surge of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sophia Leung and Delia Lavallee received Third Place for News Story and Honorable Mention for Coverage of Health, Health Care & Science for their story on local healthcare heroes.

Charlotte Howard, who was executive editor of the newspaper at the time, won Second Place for Coverage of Education for a June 27 piece on the dreams denied to last year’s seniors by the pandemic.

The judge in the News Story category said of Sophia and Delia’s story: “This story made me feel—and after decades in the news business, I don’t do that often. Well done.”

“Very strong reporting with excellent writing skills,” said the judge in Health, Health Care & Science of the same story. “Great transitions and headlines that bring the reader in.”

For Charlotte’s Coverage of Education award, the critique said, “The story captures the anguish, disappointment that the Class of 2020 experienced during the pandemic.”

A total of 151 newspapers submitted 2,440 entries to the Better Newspaper Contest. Only one, the Examiner, is owned, run, edited, written and reported by people under the age of 18. The entries were judged by the members of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association.

To get an idea of the competition, in third place below Charlotte’s story is the Schenectady Daily Gazette, a printed newspaper with daily circulation of 35,083, while honorable mention in that same category went to the Southampton Press—Eastern Edition, a perennial winner of multiple awards in the competition and this year’s recipient of the contest’s two top overall prizes, Newspaper of the Year and the Stuart C. Dorman Award for Editorial Excellent.

Charlotte Howard won Second Place for Coverage of Education for her story on last year’s seniors.

Above Sophia and Delia’s piece in the highly competitive News Story section—a news story can be about almost anything—was the Riverdale Press, another regular honoree and a Pulitzer Prize winner, and the very same Southampton Press.

This is about the place in this story where an executive from the paper provides a quote about the big wins. Since I’m doing the writing, I’ll say it.

It’s particularly gratifying that the honored stories were published as the Examiner was coming through the first surge of Covid-19. From the beginning, the Examiner’s locked-down staff kept going, never giving up, as breaking news story followed on top of breaking news story. Almost every development had more than one angle to cover. You couldn’t catch your breath. None of the staffers knew what was to come or how long it might last. That the team could create the space and time to write stories that got deep inside what was happening to healthcare workers and the high school seniors is a credit to the three award winners and the entire staff.

To win against professional competition, the best weeklies and small dailies in the state, is historic. Those papers are all staffed with people who have college degrees and journalism experience measured in years and decades. They have newsrooms with full-timers. The resources of combined print and online operations.

What the Examiner has done with these wins has never happened before.