The Lincoln County News and its staff recently captured 10 awards in the annual Maine Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.
In addition to awards for reporting, photography, and other content, the association named LCN employee Kathy Lizotte a winner of its Unsung Hero Award during the awards ceremony at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor Saturday, Oct. 17.
The Unsung Hero Award honors a newspaper staff member “whose contributions to his or her newspaper have been essential but often overlooked,” according to association guidelines.
LCN reporter Abigail Adams introduced Lizotte at the ceremony.
Lizotte does not have an official job title, partly because “no one job title could encapsulate everything she does for our organization,” Adams said. “From typesetting to copy editing to web administration to editorial assistance to advertising to print jobs, there is not a single department at The Lincoln County News or Lincoln County Publishing that has not benefited from her work.”
LCN Editor Sherwood Olin called Lizotte “our go-to, can-do, will-do, get-it-done, got-it-done, do-anything resource. She is amazing.”
“I am delighted she is getting some wider recognition,” Olin said. “The reporters, our sales staff, we may be the public face of this newspaper, but Kathy is one of those vitally important people behind the scenes whose contributions make the whole thing go. I rely on her heavily. I think there are people inside this company who do not realize the extent of what she does.
“I literally can’t imagine doing my job without her doing her job. She is a tremendous resource for me and for this company. As a co-worker, I can’t say enough good things about her.”
In other honors, the contest judges named Glenn Chadbourne the best editorial cartoonist for all weeklies for the second consecutive year.
“We are extraordinarily fortunate and grateful to have Glenn’s art on our editorial page each week,” Olin said. “Glenn surprises us and makes us laugh each week with his humor and insight, from heartfelt commentary on the Charlie Hebdo terror attack to last week’s pumpkin with a hangover.”
In all other categories, The Lincoln County News competes in the division for the state’s biggest weekly newspapers by circulation. The contest has separate divisions for the state’s daily newspapers and smaller weeklies.
Paula Roberts took first for scenic photo and second for sports photo after winning the latter category two years in a row.
“Paula Roberts is one of the best photographers in the state,” Olin said. “Seriously, I would put her work up against anybody’s. She could win an award like this every year.”
Abigail Adams took second place in the continuing story category for her coverage of the demise of Wiscasset’s Musical Wonder House in the articles “Musical Wonder House Leaves Customers Wondering” and “The Rise and Fall of the Musical Wonder House.”
Adams also took third place in the food story category for “Whitefield Couple Featured in Film About Struggle of the Local Food Movement,” an article about Whitefield farmers Ben and Taryn Marcus and their role in the documentary film “Growing Local.”
“Abigail joined The Lincoln County News in October 2014, and her inquisitiveness and skill as a reporter and writer immediately made her a critical member of our news team,” Olin said.
The category judge called the Musical Wonder House series “a crazy story about a music museum in a 32-room house once owned by a sea captain, the health decline of its owner, an opportunistic villain, and the disappearance of $3 million worth of music boxes and other items in a collection built up over 50 years in Wiscasset. It took a lot of digging by Adams to ferret out the details, the sad ending of what had been a landmark in the community.”
LCN Deputy Editor J.W. Oliver took third place in the environmental story category for his coverage of the Damariscotta River Association’s successful effort to conserve South Bristol’s Crow Island and the political machinations behind the decision to withhold a promised state grant for the project.
Oliver was also elected to the Maine Press Association Board of Directors during the annual business meeting at the conference.
Former LCN reporter Dominik Lobkowicz also continued to rack up awards. Lobkowicz left The Lincoln County News in August for a position outside the news industry.
Lobkowicz took second place in two categories: editorial for “Straight Face Test,” about the lack of transparency in a criminal case involving Waldoboro attorney Philip Cohen; and spot news for his coverage of a helicopter crash in Whitefield May 30, 2014.
Lobkowicz also garnered third-place honors in the news story category for an article about the life, relationships, and disappearance of Charles E. “Chuck” Woodburn, the homicide victim whose body was discovered in a shallow grave in Jefferson Aug. 27, 2014.
“A gruesome discovery of a body provides the backdrop for a convoluted and bizarre tale of divorce, abuse, and mental illness,” the judge said. “Lobkowicz’s measured and careful reporting maintained a voice and tone that kept this story from falling into the realm of the lurid or sensational.”
“Complementing a meticulous and thorough use of public records are multiple interviews with family members, whose candor and very participation speak well for Lobkowicz’s capacity to elicit trust with a most difficult set of themes.”
“We were very fortunate to have Dominik for the time we did,” Olin said. “His career change was a great move for him, but it is a net loss for the public and for our profession.”
Aside from the awards ceremony and business meeting, LCN reporters participated in professional development opportunities at the conference, attending workshops about court reporting and Maine’s Freedom of Access Act, among other topics.