The Easton Courier has received 16 regional awards for “Excellence in Journalism” from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) for its 2021 news coverage. The SPJ is the oldest organization representing professional journalists in the United States with over 300 regional chapters.
According to its mission statement, the SPJ is the “nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior.” To ensure impartiality and avoid conflicts of interest, Connecticut publications were evaluated by SPJ contest judges outside of Connecticut.
Nancy Doniger received first-place awards in the diversity coverage, in-depth reporting and local reporting categories, and Jane Paley received first-place awards for her “Conversations with the Irrepressible Dolly Curtis” and her Passover reflections “In Search of Grace.” Bruce Nelson — who shared a first-place award last year with fellow historian Elizabeth Boyce — received another nod for his column on the “Great Silverware Caper of 1908.” Rick Falco was recognized with eight awards for his photojournalism and shared a video storytelling award with Tomas Koeck. Ann Marie Somma was recognized with three awards for excellence in the continuing coverage, education, and government categories in collaboration with Doniger and Kelly Wendt, and Dr. Richard Lechtenberg received an award for a column focusing on climate change.
The 16 awards for 2021 add to the four the Courier received in its inaugural year. “If someone had told me that the Courier would be recognized with 20 SPJ awards in its first two years of publication, I would have said they were being overly ambitious to say the least,” said the Courier’s news director, Jim Castonguay. “It is a testament to the dedication and expertise of our editors and writers who continue to devote countless hours to making this community journalism project a success.
“The Courier team is especially grateful to our readers and contributors from Easton who have made this community journalism project such a successful partnership,” Castonguay said. “The fact that we were recognized for our coverage in areas like diversity, education, arts and entertainment, religion, government, in-depth news, local reporting, photojournalism and multimedia — and a broad range of column topics that includes humor, the environment, and nature — is a testament to the breadth and depth of the Courier’s coverage.”
All SPJ award winners were recognized at a reception on June 25 at the Ansonia Nature Center pavilion. The complete list of awards is included below:
- Diversity coverage, first place: Superintendent Harrison details difficult decision to leave ER9 schools; Nancy Doniger, Richard Falco
- Humorous column, first place: The great silverware caper of 1908; Bruce Nelson
- In-depth, first place: Superintendent Harrison details difficult decision to leave ER9 schools; Nancy Doniger, Richard Falco
- Leisure, first place: Sunday nature walk: Summer’s end; Tomas Koeck
- Local reporting, first place: Still seeking justice for family lost on 9/11; Nancy Doniger
- Arts & Entertainment, first place: Conversations with the irrepressible Dolly Curtis; Jane Paley, Richard Falco
- Photo essay, first place: The Easton Fireman’s Carnival is in town!; Richard Falco
- Religion, first place: In search of grace; Jane Paley
- Video storytelling, first place: ‘Modified and totally not normal’ Barlow Palooza; Nancy Doniger, Richard Falco, Tomas Koeck
- Feature photo, second place: Children enjoying ride at Easton Fireman’s Carnival; Richard Falco
- General column, second place: Winter weather report: Hot with a chance of boiling over; Richard Lechtenberg
- Government, second place: Easton to increase security at the polls following breach; Nancy Doniger, Ann Marie Somma
- News photo, second place: Girl with flag at Memorial Day Parade; Richard Falco
- Photo essay, second place: Easton celebrates Memorial Day; Richard Falco, Kelly Wendt
- Continuing coverage, third place: Coverage of controversy over proposed chicken slaughterhouse approved in residential neighborhood; Ann Marie Somma, Kelly Wendt
- Education, third place: ER9 boards of education approve DEI surveys; Ann Marie Somma, Nancy Doniger