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Osoyoos Times wins two golds at Ma Murray B.C. newspaper awards
A group of industry professionals has voted the Osoyoos Times as the finest newspaper in the province for a town the size of Osoyoos.
The Osoyoos Times claimed the gold award in the General Excellence Category for newspapers with a circulation of between 2,501 and 5,000 at the 2014 Ma Murray Community Newspaper Awards, which were sponsored by the British Columbia and Yukon Newspaper Association (BCYNA) Annual Awards ceremony this past Saturday evening at the River Rock Casino and Resort in Vancouver.
The Osoyoos Times won handily over the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle, which finished second in voting from a panel of judges spread across the province. The Invermere Valley Echo placed third.
Osoyoos Times reporter-photographer Richard McGuire was awarded a gold award for Best Spot News Photo for circulation under 25,000 for his colourful front-page photo that appeared in the August 21 edition of the Osoyoos Times of a fire that broke out near Spotted Lake.
McGuire’s photo captures a provincial fire bomber dropping huge amounts of fire retardant from the sky on to the fire down below.
Comments from the judges were very favourable in both categories.
“The Times’ local feature content is rich and in-depth, the photography is wonderful and the type makes it easy to read. A strong, inviting paper. Nice job!”
Similar accolades were given in relating to McGuire’s award-winning photograph.
“Great composition and exposure. I get a real sense of the size of the blaze.”
Editor Keith Lacey said there may not be a large staff at the Osoyoos Times, but all staff members are committed to excellence.
“It’s a pleasure to come to work every day at a newspaper that employs people who care about their job and care about their community,” said Lacey, who has worked in community journalism for most of his 31 years in the business. “Everyone in our office is a dedicated professional and they work hard at their jobs to ensure we put out a product that everyone in the community will be proud of and will want to read each and every week.”
It takes a big team effort to put out a quality newspaper and the Osoyoos Times is fortunate to have hard-working and dedicated people on the payroll, said Lacey.
From an editorial standpoint, working in the Town of Osoyoos is an editor’s dream as there is an endless list of interesting stories and colourful people who live in this community, he said.
“It’s a small town, but it’s a busy town, and there’s always something interesting going on,” he said. “It’s also a town filled with interesting people and it’s a lot of fun getting to know these people and tell their stories. It’s also a town that doubles and triples in size when the tourists come pouring in and that means there are a lot of events going on and news to report on.”
Winning the General Excellence gold award against some stiff competition is very rewarding, said Lacey.
“There are a lot of great journalists working in community newspapers across B.C. and the Yukon and to come out on top in the general excellence category is something everyone who works at our paper should be very proud of,” he said. “We hope to continue providing excellent customer service and award-winning journalism for our advertisers and readers for many years to come.”
General manager Steve Ceron agreed that teamwork and commitment to excellence from all members of the staff are why the Osoyoos Times has captured this award.
“In terms of success, the biggest reason is that every single person in our building wants to work hard and put out a great product,” said Ceron. “When somebody is busy, a co-worker is ready to jump in and help. We also did a redesign last year and we received a lot of positive response.
“Our success all starts with the customer and advertiser that walks through the front door. We want them to enjoy what we have to offer and that dedication to professional service is reflective in the final product in the paper.”
Ceron said office administrator Jocelyn Merit, sales manager Ken Baker, graphic artist Ronda Jahn and circulation manager Sherry Anderson share in the general excellence award with Lacey and McGuire as it takes a committed team to publish a quality newspaper week after week.
McGuire said he took his award-winning photograph after noticing smoke rising from the mountains a couple of minutes after leaving the Osoyoos Times office on Main Street in the late afternoon last August 19.
“I thought this does not look right and I had better go and check it out, so I drove up near Spotted Lake and could see the fire spreading rapidly,” he said. “A number of cars were parked and people were checking things out and I knew this was a fairly big fire in a hurry because aircraft were coming in shortly after I arrived.”
The key to getting a great photograph in a situation like this is having all of your camera settings in place and “being prepared in advance.”
It also involves a bit of luck, he said.
“I think it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time,” said McGuire, who was hired by the Osoyoos Times in late 2012, but has spent almost 20 years in community journalism during his career. “Sometimes you only have a fraction of a second to get the right shot and everything worked out that day.”
McGuire took several hundred photos of the fire over a couple of hours and said the one that captured the award was clearly the best.
You never know how you’re going to do in a subjective competition like the Ma Murray Awards, but it’s nice to be recognized and honoured, said McGuire.
Ceron said McGuire is one of the best photographers he’s worked with in his many years in the newspaper industry and wasn’t surprised one of his photos captured a major award.
The staff at the Osoyoos Times will continue to work hard and hopefully be nominated for many more awards in the future, said Ceron.
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES