A Lincoln County News reporter is the top young journalist in the state for the third time in four years.
Maia Zewert received the Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award during the 2017 Maine Press Association Better Newspaper Contest awards ceremony at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Conference Center in Bar Harbor on Saturday, Oct. 21.
The Maine Press Association Board of Directors selects the recipient from nominees from the association’s 41 members – daily and weekly newspapers and online-only publications across the state.
The award was the most prestigious of 27 awards and mentions for The Lincoln County News during the contest, including recognition of the newspaper’s reporting, photography, and design.
Lincoln County News Editor J.W. Oliver introduced Zewert during the ceremony.
“Maia excels at the local government reporting at the heart of what we do,” Oliver said. “She aggressively covers breaking news. She writes lively features that capture the depth of characters in our community.”
Zewert covers the towns of Bristol, Damariscotta, Newcastle, and South Bristol. She spearheads The Lincoln County News’ social-media strategy and, among other projects, developed the #LCNme365 photo contest.
“Maia also brings qualities you can’t teach,” Oliver said. “Her enthusiasm and outgoing personality have lifted the mood of our newsroom. Her personality also helps her win the trust of the people she covers. People want to confide in her.”
Zewert started work at The Lincoln County News in August 2015, immediately after graduation from Iowa State University. She lives in Newcastle.
Former LCN reporters Dominik Lobkowicz and Abigail W. Adams received the award in 2014 and 2016, respectively.
The Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award bears the name of the late Robert G. “Bob” Drake, a longtime editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, 1985 Maine Press Association Journalist of the Year, and member of the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame.
The newspaper’s other awards include first place for Feature Story; Picture Story; Self-Promotion, for the rollout of its new website; and Special Section, for the 2016 Pumpkinfest insert.
“These results speak to The Lincoln County News’ commitment to first-class professional journalism and the talent of our staff,” Oliver said.
Editorial cartoonist Glenn Chadbourne; graphic designers Amber Clark, Megan Hyson, and Laurie McBurnie; Oliver; sports reporter Paula Roberts; and Zewert received individual recognition.
The contest divides Maine newspapers into three categories: daily newspapers and large and small weeklies by circulation.
The Lincoln County News competes in the category for the state’s large weekly newspapers, although the Drake Award includes all newspapers in the state.
Journalists from outside the state judge the entries. The judges of the 2017 contest work in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont.
The awards ceremony capped the Maine Press Association’s annual conference. During the daylong conference, newspaper staff attended workshops focused on professional development and issues in the newspaper industry.
During the association’s annual meeting, Oliver was elected to a second two-year term on the board of directors. He is the secretary of the board. He was also a panelist for one of the sessions, titled “News, Fake News, and Media Bias.”
Established in 1864, the Maine Press Association is one of the oldest professional news organizations in the nation. Among its goals, the association works to protect the freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the public’s right to know, and to promote and foster high ethical standards in journalism.
A complete list of LCN awards with some of the judges’ comments follows:
First Place, Feature Story: “As new citizen, Waldoboro businesswoman aims to change minds about immigrants,” J.W. Oliver
First Place, Picture Story: “Holiday Performance,” Paula Roberts
First Place, Self-Promotion: New website, Staff
– “Excellent response to a newspaper’s newest problem. Well-presented and a good reaction from your readers.”
First Place, Supplement/Special Section: “Pumpkinfest,” Laurie McBurnie and Megan Hyson
– “Bright and colorful and a great design and read throughout. Excellent job with a comprehensive piece.”
Second Place, Best Digital Ad Campaign: L. Dewey Chase Real Estate, Amber Clark
Second Place, Continuing Story: Wiscasset Fire Department car-washing issue, Abigail W. Adams
Second Place, Food Story/Feature: “Bristol creamery makes cheese with style in ‘old-school’ aging cave,” J.W. Oliver
Second Place, News Photo: “Pumpkin Drop,” Maia Zewert
Second Place, News Story: “Dresden man speaks on ‘romance scam’ after release from Spanish prison,” Abigail W. Adams
Second Place, People Photo: “Santa High-Five,” Maia Zewert
Second Place, Religion/Spirituality Story: “Bunker Hill organist still pumping out the hymns after 50 years,” Paula Roberts
Second Place, Sports News Story: “Reed’s running streak hits 40 years,” Paula Roberts
– “Reporter found and told a great yarn about a local doctor who hasn’t skipped a day of running – in 40 years. Lots of interesting detail about running through colds, flu, nasty weather, and other hardships to keep his streak unbroken.”
Second Place, Sports Page Design: June 6, 2016, Paula Roberts
– “Although there is a lot going on here, it’s clearly broken up and easy to read.”
Second Place, Sports Photo: “Keeper Crush,” Paula Roberts
– “Ouch! Perfect timing to catch the moment of impact. Great action.”
Second Place, Sports Profile: “Newcastle native competes in horse race across Mongolia,” Maia Zewert
– “The writer does a great job of putting you right there on the ancient steppes in an endurance sport I wouldn’t wish on anyone. A great telling of an epic tale, one without a Disney ending.”
Third Place, Business Story: “Whitefield manufacturing facility to double in size,” Abigail W. Adams
Third Place, Editorial: “A pressing need?” J.W. Oliver
Third Place, Editorial Cartoonist: Glenn Chadbourne
Third Place, Feature Photo: “Monhegan Pier Jump,” Paula Roberts
Third Place, Feature Story: “Community rallies around Newcastle 12-year-old after brain surgery,” Maia Zewert
– “Zewert does what local reporters and newspapers do best: inform and, perhaps most importantly, comfort when a community embraces a child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Zewert also approaches a not-so-easy topic with sensitivity and skill.”
Third Place, Health Story: “Yoga can change inmates’ lives, volunteer says,” Abigail W. Adams
Third Place, Political Story: “Edgecomb activist, Somerville senator work for veteran-friendly workplaces,” Abigail W. Adams
Third Place, Sponsorship Page: Megan Hyson
Third Place, Spot News Photo: “Newcastle Fire,” Maia Zewert
Third Place, Sports Columnist: “View from the Bench,” Paula Roberts
– “This writer took a simple letter to the editor and opened the debate on labeling male and female teams to her readers. They are, after all, the ones paying the bills.”
Third Place, Supplement Cover: “Home and Garden,” Megan Hyson