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N&R takes five awards in VPA press contest

South Boston NewsSouth Boston News
N&R honorees David Conner II and Emily Jones / April 16, 2018
The News & Record claimed five awards — including three first-place honors — in the Virginia Press Association’s 2017 News and Editorial Contest recognizing the year’s best journalism in Virginia.

Two first place honors went to staff photographer David Conner II, a perennial winner in the VPA Contest. Conner took first place in the general news category for his photo, “Taking the field in memory of Casey,” taken at a Comet softball game played months after the death of teammate Casey Pulliam in a car crash in December 2016.

“Really no cutline needed for this photo. Awesome shot,” wrote the judges of Conner’s photo.

Conner also took first place in the picture story or essay category for a series of photos, “South Boston rings in the Fourth of July,” on the downtown South Boston Independence Day parade — “full of captivating faces and scenes,” noted the judges.
Conner’s final honor was a third place award for sports feature photo with his image of the Comet football team with a member waving the flag, “Ready for the season opener.”

The News & Record’s other two awards came in the writing category — both by former staff writer Emily Jones, who has since relocated to Virginia Beach. Jones, a Virginia Tech graduate who also a VPA honoree in 2015, took first place for feature writing for her February 2017 piece on Svetlana Durkovic, a one-time foreign exchange student at Halifax County High School and refugee during the Balkans War.

Jones’ story picked up Durkovic’s life in the present day as she returned to South Boston — where she had spent a portion of her youthful exile — for an exhibit of her art at The Prizery. “Great in-depth feature that touches on timely issues,” wrote one judge. “Well researched [with] great insight of a former refugee’s perspective in today’s America while still remaining relevant to the newspaper’s coverage area,” stated another judge’s comment.

Jones also took a third place award for feature portfolio: a package of three stories, including the Durkovic profile, a piece on the wedding adventures of South Boston newlyweds Will and LaTonya Hamilton, and a look at Buggs Island Lake residents Watt and Cindy Meadows and the abandoned boat they refurbished to serve as a basement bar.

“Stories were well-presented with unique content and good use of quotes,” wrote the judges.

With more than 5,000 entries in more than 50 categories, the Virginia Press Association contest is one of the largest newspaper competitions in the country. This year’s contest was judged by members of the Alabama Press Association. The News & Record competed in the category for mid-size non-daily newspapers.

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