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N&R brings home VPA contest wins

South Boston NewsSouth Boston NewsSouth Boston News
McLaughlin, Cassada, Conner / April 22, 2013
The News & Record won nine awards in the annual Virginia Press Association News and Editorial Contest Saturday night in Norfolk. The annual competition honors the best journalism across the state, judged in categories based on newspaper circulation; Virginia has about 50 newspapers the size of the News & Record.

The News & Record finished in a tie with this year’s Sweepstakes winner, The Tidewater News, for most points in writing (12) and multimedia (3), with the Southside Sentinel of Urbanna also accumulating 3 points in the latter category. The Amherst New-Era Progress had the most points in presentation and photography.

The News & Record, last year’s Sweepstakes Winner, for the second year in a row took awards in all four categories: writing, presentation, photography and multimedia. Individual honorees are Eva Cassada, David Conner II and editor Sylvia O. McLaughlin.

The entire News & Record staff won a second-place award in the Front Page competition with an entry deemed “a close second” by judges with the Colorado Press Association. “Liked the design and style,” wrote the judges.

McLaughlin won a second-place honor in the General News Writing category for her coverage of the Halifax County School Board’s cancellation of LORP, an early retirement incentive.

Wrote the judges: “Good story on how a previous board’s action affected the future of education in this part of the country… The retirement program kept sounding better and better to those teachers with 20 years of service, and they started retiring in droves; what made the board wait so long to act? The final story … was quite revealing.”

Cassada won two first-place honors and two-second places. Her awards include:

First place, Feature Series or Continuing Story, on the Daystrom reunion last spring. Wrote the judges: “Such a great look at a business that apparently meant so much to the community. This is sort of poignant in a way — it’s seldom today that people feel about their places of work as the Daystrom workers did, or, for that matter, management feels about its employees. I’m glad you captured that.”

First place, Education Writing, for a collection of stories including one about a grandmother who earned her GED, the threat of cancelling Latin classes at the high school, and an anti-drinking and -driving police program aimed at teens.

Second place, Public Safety Writing. Her portfolio of work included a story about high-speed car chases, distracting cell phones and efforts to recruit volunteer firefighters and EMTs.

Second place, Feature Writing Portfolio, which included stories about successive generations of softball players, Ward Burton’s support of wounded war veterans and a look at the history of the Sinai community. Said judges: “[Y]our work clearly stood out.”

Staff photographer David Conner II took three awards:

First place, Multimedia, for his entry on the “Godspell” production at The Prizery arts center.

Wrote judges: “Nice tie-in from print to online ….”

Second place, Picture Story or Essay.

Conner’s entry on breast cancer awareness — a disease which claimed the wife of his wife, Elizabeth Conner, an elementary school librarian, in 2011. “Nice variety and angles and photos on a difficult subject,” wrote judges.

Third place, Sports News Photo, on an action shot of Jaynee Campbell.

The News & Record’s sister paper, The Mecklenburg Sun, won three awards from VPA: first place in Front Page Design, first place in Business Reporting and third place in Investigative Reporting.

Conner, who lives in Turbeville, also does extensive freelance work through his business, C-Action Photography. He is the father of three sons.

Cassada lives in South Boston and is the mother of two. She is married to News & Record general manager and columnist/reporter Tom McLaughlin.

Mrs. McLaughlin has worked at the News & Record since 1972; she is the mother of five and grandmother of six.

South Boston’s Gazette-Virginian, which competes in a different category, won 14 awards, by Tiffany Hudson, Joe Chandler, Charles Wilborn, Doug Ford, Danielle Vaughn and its staff.

In addition to the award winners, the News & Record staff includes Tracey Conner, Tracy Barksdale, Regina Keichline, George Allison, Wilma Dotson, Tom McLaughlin, Tucker McLaughlin Jr. and Bill McLaughlin.

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Congratulations to a "Class Act"...the News & Record! Thanks for representing true journalism at its best.


Congratulations! From someone who keeps up on the news in Halifax County from afar, I appreciate your dedication and attention to detail. Truly world class journalism.

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