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Conner tops N&R awards haul in Virginia Press contest / April 08, 2019

News & Record photographer David Conner II added to his hefty collection of honors with Saturday night’s presentation of awards in the Virginia Press Association’s 2018 News & Advertising Contest.

Conner took home two first place honors and a third place for his photography in the VPA contest, which recognizes the year’s best journalism by Virginia newspapers and specialty publications. Conner, a perennial winner in the non-daily newspaper ranks, took first place for Sports News Photo and Sports Feature Photo. His third place award came in the Picture Story or Essay category.

Conner’s photo of the Comet softball team holding their bats over home plate in tribute to the late Olivia Noblin was praised by the judges as a “powerful image” and a “creative way to honor a deceased teammate.” The entry was titled “In Memory of ‘O.’”

Conner’s other first place winner, of a submerged Comet swimmer stretching to reach the finish, used a “nice angle” that “captures the reader’s attention,” judges wrote. They also liked his Picture Essay entry, of the Elmo Fourth of July Parade: “Red, white and blue abounds in Elmo and this gallery captures it all.”

All told, the News & Record won four awards in this year’s contest, with the other award going to staff writer Tom McLaughlin.

He won third place in the General News Writing category with coverage of an assortment of stories: flood damage from Tropical Storm Michael, the tattered condition of Halifax County High School, and the poetry beats of bestselling author Kwame Alexander, who appeared at the middle school in November.

“The writer does a great job of taking the reader to an event as an observer. Strong utilization of descriptive words and detail to form pictures in the reader’s mind and then using quotes to provide the sound,” wrote the judges.

This year’s contest was judged by members of the Iowa Press Association, with the awards presented Saturday night at the annual meeting of the Virginia Press Association at Hilton Norfolk The Main hotel in Norfolk.

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