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Gazette garners 12 awards in PNA contest

by The Indiana Gazette on March 28, 2014 10:55 AM

The Indiana Gazette has won a dozen Keystone Press awards from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association in this year’s contest, the newspaper’s highest tally ever.

All told, the Gazette won five first-place awards, four second-place awards and three honorable mentions.

The Gazette competed in a division comprising newspapers in Pennsylvania with a circulation of 20,000 or less for material published in 2013.

“The Gazette staff works hard to produce quality journalism day in and day out, and it’s gratifying to earn the recognition of our peers for our superior efforts,” said Eric Ebeling, executive editor.

“We celebrate these accomplishments as an indication that we are dedicated to providing readers with top-notch coverage of events important to them.”

[PHOTO: A fire destroyed Accent Fuels, Homer City, in December. Gazette Chief Photographer Tom Peel was a Keystone Press Awared for this photo.]

The sports staff led the way with eight awards, including a sweep in the sports beat reporting category, in which sports editor Tony Coccagna took first place for his coverage of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s basketball team, assistant sports editor Matt Burglund took second for his IUP football coverage, and Eli Nellis earned honorable mention for his reporting on the Homer-Center football team’s stellar season.

“It’s particularly satisfying to see our sports staff dominate the beat reporting category, among the toughest gigs at any newspaper,” Ebeling said. “To excel in this realm, the writer must eat, breathe and sleep the beat throughout the course of a full season — never losing enthusiasm for the assignment and always seeking ways to deliver fresh, insightful information. My hat is off to them.”

The sports staff took first place in the graphic/photo illustration category for the cover of Kickoff 2013, the newspaper’s annual high school football preview, published Aug. 29.

Burglund garnered second in the sports story category for “World Class: Dixson becomes first horseshoe pitcher in hall,” one in a series profiling inductees into the county sports hall of fame. That story was published May 12.

He also grabbed an honorable mention in special project for Eye on the Hawks, a supplement previewing the IUP football season, printed Sept. 5.

Nellis took second in the sports event coverage for “Fantastic finish,” detailing Homer-Center’s last-second comeback win over unbeaten Ligonier Valley, printed Oct. 12.

Gazette outdoors writer Jeff Knapp took first in the sports column category for a sample of his columns.

“I’ve always told my staff that I would put them up against any staff anywhere, and this just confirms what I have always believed about the talented, resourceful and hard-working group we have here at the Gazette,” Coccagna said.

Heather Blake topped numerous entries to take first in the personality profile category for her piece “Man embarks on journey of a lifetime” about Marion Center’s Mike Briggs who, at 66, hiked the rugged Appalachian Trail. That was published March 30.

Julie Martin took first in the business/consumer story category for “Owner of Boss’s Stereo closes shop,” profiling Bob Mehalic’s 36 years in business, printed Sept. 6. In the same category, Sam Kusic earned honorable mention for “Downtown gallery evolving” about The Artists Hand Gallery’s first year in operation. That piece was published July 14.

Chief photographer Tom Peel took second in the news photo category for his coverage of the fire that destroyed Accent Fuels in Homer City on Dec. 19.

In the last three years alone, the Gazette has won 27 PNA awards, which reinforce excellence in the newspaper profession by recognizing journalism that consistently provides relevance, integrity and initiative in serving readers. Winners will be honored at a banquet in State College in May.

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