A comprehensive Towson Times report on how more than $1 billion in development could change the face of Towson was among the top winners in the regional MDDC Press Association 2015 editorial contest and one of nearly 100 awards presented to the community newspaper unit of the parent Baltimore Sun Media Group.
"The new Towson: Emerging cosmopolitan hub or chaotic patchwork of developments," by Jordan Branch, published last August, received "Best of Show" for business reporting and first place in the non-dailies newspaper division for publications with more than 20,000 circulation.
The Best of Show includes entries from all newspaper divisions – from big city dailies to rural weeklies – in Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia.
Branch, a University of Maryland, College Park student intern, also shared a first place award for "Best Use of Interactive Media," with Dan Griffin, a digital editor for the Towson Times and affiliated publications, for an online graphic that accompanied the 1,900-word development story.
Nearly 2,000 entries in 50 categories were submitted for the annual Maryland Delaware District of Columbia Press Association awards, judged by members of the New Jersey Press Association, and presented Friday at a luncheon in Linthicum.
Times reporter Larry Perl also received a Best of Show and first place certificate for his March 2015, report on how one of Baltimore County's major employers, Towson University, is coping with growth pressures.
Two entries from the Howard County Times, also under the BSMG umbrella, were also selected Best in Show. They were from photographer Jen Rynda and Jon Sham, a digital editor and videographer, in the multimedia storytelling category, for "All-American Pro-Rodeo at the Howard County Fair;" and Tim Schwartz, sports story, for "Oakland Mills' Smith puts together perfect end to senior season."
Perl, who left the newspapers earlier this year, received other awards for works that appeared in the Towson Times and its sibling newspaper, Baltimore Messenger. Those awards included first place for "Loch Raven Village seeks one ZIP code," in the general news category; and second place for "Wiltondale flooding in Towson," continuing news coverage.
Perl's story "Brake lights," on efforts by Sherwood Hill residents' efforts to keep a car dealership award from their neighborhood, received a first place for local government reporting. He received a first place for a state government story, "Senator wants seat belts on school buses;" first place in the new "Policing in Communities" category for the Baltimore Messenger's report "Stepping Up;" first place in environmental reporting for "Flood of memories;" and first place for religion coverage with "New rector for Redeemer."
"The awards demonstrate our community newspaper group's dedication to producing stories and photos for our papers and websites that are relevant, timely, informative, entertaining and an indispensable source of news for the communities we serve," Elizabeth Eck, assistant managing editor of the Community Newspaper Group at BSMG, said in an email. "The entire team deserves highest congratulations for their commitment to excellence and passion for producing top-notch journalism."
The Howard County Times received the "News Organization of the Year" award for weekly newspapers with circulation between 10,000 and 20,000.
The Aegis, also a BSMG paper covering Harford County, also received News Organization of the Year for newspapers with circulation over 20,000.
In another category, Towson Times placed second for general web excellence for its online presentation. Sham, working with writer Barbara Pash, received first place for multimedia storytelling for their Towson Times video, "Cockeysville man performs guitar solo, making handcrafted acoustic instruments." Sham's "World War II vet has prayer book returned after 70 years," produced for the Towson Times, received first place for best web video.
Heather Norris, of Arbutus Times, won first place, for "Blind students get feel for driver's seat," and Rachael Pacella, of Catonsville Times, second place, for "Retirees put craft skills to work for Toys for Tots," in the multimedia category.
In photography, Rynda's "All Saint's Convent" photo gallery for Catonsville Times won a first place. Staff photographer Brian Krista's image, "Baby with Santa," from the Towson Times, placed second for general news photo; and "Learning environment," in the Catonsville Times, received a first-place certificate for photo series.
•Norris of Catonsville Times, first place in the non-profile feature story category for, "John Wilkes Booth's connection to Catonsville;" second place in Medical/Science reporting for "Fighting malaria with tea;" "Art Classes for Young and Old," first place in arts and entertainment; second place, religion reporting, "All Saints order of nuns."
•For front-page design, Kathleen Reynolds received a first place in design for "Meet the beetle," appearing in the Baltimore Messenger. Second place was awarded to Kim Butler for "To have and to hold," in the Catonsville Times. Reynolds also got a second-place award in the feature page design category for "A snowballs chance."
•Copy editor John Scheinman's Towson Times headline, "Biography serves Julia Child sunny side up," won first place in the headline category. And Keith Meisel, of Catonsville Times, won first place for his "Getting out is in" headline.
•The non-profile feature story, "Guided missal," by freelance writer Nelson Coffin, won second place for Towson Times.
The Baltimore Sun was named News Organization of the Year among daily papers with circulations above 75,000. Sun staff won 31 first-place awards with 17 winners named Best in Show. The Sun also won the association's annual James S. Keat Freedom of Information Award for "using public records to give readers answers about the death of Freddie Gray." The West Baltimore man died last year after suffering injuries in police custody.