Cascadia Daily News earned 34 awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association 2023 Better Newspaper Contest, including the prestigious general excellence and community service awards.
CDN staff entered materials largely created during its first year of publication. The contest evaluated content published in print between April 1, 2022, and March 31, 2023, organizing the awards into four groups based on a publication’s circulation.
Categories ranged from design to news and sports and opinion coverage to photography, and this year, submissions were judged by the Montana Newspaper Association.
“It’s a great honor to see the daily hard work of CDN’s journalists be recognized by our peers,” CDN Executive Editor Ron Judd said. “As a startup media organization, we’ve endeavored since our founding to provide award-winning, independent local journalism to readers in Northwest Washington. This feels like a strong step in that direction.”
CDN earned the first-place community service award for its 2022 Citizens Agenda process, in which election coverage was powered by reader involvement. CDN’s editorial board interviewed candidates in six local, state and federal races, posing reader-submitted questions to each and choosing a candidate to endorse. Submitted materials included editorial columns, explanatory pieces, and the publication’s 2022 Voter Guide. Citizens Agenda has been expanded and repeated by CDN for the 2023 election season.
In the general excellence category, judges review three submitted print papers from a publication, two from arbitrary dates chosen by the WNPA and one chosen by the publication’s staff. Judges considered the quality of writing, breadth of coverage, page design, headlines, photo quality, the strength of opinion pages, ad quality and placement and organization when deciding the category winners. In contest comments, judges wrote that CDN was a “clear winner.”
“The general excellence and community service awards are particularly gratifying because they strike at the heart of the public-service mission that motivates our staff every day,” Judd said.
Individual awards were spearheaded by visual journalist Hailey Hoffman’s second-place win for photographer of the year, and environmental reporter Julia Lerner placed second for news writer of the year.
Social issue story — “Child care challenges plague Whatcom parents, providers” by assistant editor Audra Anderson
Education story — “Sumas Elementary reunites in new building” by Hoffman
Investigative reporting — “Records: Sehome coach knew of hazing, didn’t report” by Anderson and sports editor Connor J. Benintendi
Comprehensive coverage, single writer — “Off Target: A legacy of neglect at county rifle range” by Lerner
Sports news story — “Graham Morin Memorial tournament returns” by Benintendi
Sports feature story — “Courage on the court” by former sports editor Hailey Palmer
Arts feature or story — “Becoming Betty Desire: It’s not an act, it’s activism” by A&E editor Amy Kepferle
Breaking news photo — “Officials monitor the water for oil sheen at derailment site” by Hoffman
General news photo — “Democrats lead in district house legislative races” by Hoffman
Sports action photo — “WWU’s Raven Borsey throws the ball back” by visual journalist Andy Bronson
Front page design — “All hell broke loose” by digital editor Jaya Flanary
Editorial pages — “Citizens Agenda questions 2022” by Judd and Flanary
Newspaper website — Cascadia Daily News by Flanary
Breaking news story — “Cyclocross racer dies during Sunday’s Ski to Sea race” by Anderson and Lerner
Health or medical story — “Whatcom schools grapple with student mental health” by Hoffman
Environmental story — “Neighbors of Swift Creek displaced by asbestos” by Lerner
Social issue story — “Divine deviation: How the landscape of religion is shifting” by Anderson
Comprehensive coverage, multiple writers — “Beyond Bars: The future of justice in Whatcom County” by government reporter Ralph Schwartz, former intern Jenelle Baumbach and Hoffman
Sports feature story — “Whatcom Preps’ Tyler Anderson is county’s stat junkie” by news producer Eric Trent
Breaking news photo — “Kayaker comforted after learning of in-law’s death” by Hoffman
Feature photo — “A group of peppermints offstage” by Hoffman
Sports action photo — “WWU redshirt freshman BJ Kolly chases a loose ball” by visual journalist Finn Wendt
Sports page design — “A legacy of hoops success” by Flanary
Health or medical story — “Reproductive rights uncertain after Roe’s demise, even in Whatcom” by Schwartz and Anderson
Crimes and court story — “Sedro-Woolley officer returns to force after killing motorist; lawsuit looms” by Schwartz
Election story — “Children’s levy vote reveals urban-rural divide” by Schwartz
Sports feature story — “Sehome freshman is Bellingham’s jiu-jitsu wunderkind” by Benintendi
General feature story, long — “The leveling chair: Barbershop and salon owner brings values, culture to craft” by Anderson
Sports action photo — “Mya VanderYacht leaps into the air in celebration” by Trent
Sports feature photo — “Dustin Hawkins studies the slalom course” by Hoffman
Other regional publications also fared well in the Better Newspaper Contest, with Blaine newspaper The Northern Light taking home 27 advertising awards, five special sections awards, and 22 awards for news and photography. The Northern Light also earned third place in general excellence.
In advertising, the Lynden Tribune earned two awards and the Ferndale Record earned one. The La Conner Weekly News earned three advertising awards, and 25 awards for news, sports, features and photography.
“As journalists rooting for other journalists in what often feels like an uphill battle, we were also pleased to see quality work by many of our neighboring publications be held up for recognition,” Judd said. “Unlike many other areas of the country, news consumers in our region are fortunate to have choices for quality journalism about local matters that directly impact their lives.”