Tribune-Review named state's best daily in statewide competition

| Saturday, April 26, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Tribune-Review won the top award in an annual competition sponsored by the state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which also chose it as Pennsylvania's best daily newspaper.

Trib Total Media staffers won five first-place awards and several other honors in a separate competition sponsored by the Pennsylvania Women's Press Association.

The SPJ Spotlight Award, announced on Friday, went to “Donor dilemma,” an investigation by Trib reporters Luis Fábregas and Andrew Conte that revealed the multi-million dollar profits and questionable behind-the-scenes practices in the national organ donation system. The prize, which the organization calls its most prestigious award, goes to an investigative story or series that scooped other media and placed the public's right to know in the public spotlight.

“Donor Dilemma” also won first-place awards in the business-labor and health-medical categories in competition among daily newspapers. Judges in the business competition said it was “a classic example of the kind of public watchdog reporting that this country needs more of as newspapers struggle to compete in the new digitally driven marketplace. Bravo!”

Judges in the SPJ contest named the Tribune-Review the best daily newspaper in the state, calling it “a substantial, well-rounded print edition with many features relevant and important to the community.” They cited a “sophisticated and reader friendly” layout and a “great, engaging” sports section.

Trib staffers placed first and second in four SPJ categories: spot news reporting, sports reporting, photo story and web use.

Tribune-Review winners in the SPJ contest competition for dailies:

Spot news story: Tribune-Review Staff, first place for “Baffling behavior,” about former Pittsburgh police chief Nate Harper being indicted and announcing his resignation, and second place for “Flash floods wash out region.”

Sports reporting: John Harris, first place for “Declining diversity,” about the falling number of African Americans in Major League Baseball; Ralph N. Paulk, second place for “ ‘Fiscal cliff' deal steers big breaks to NASCAR.”

Photo story: Stephanie Strasburg, first place, “End of a record-setting streak,” about the Clairton High School football team losing a game for the first time since September 2009; Sean Stipp, second place, “Bridge Day.”

Web use: Stephanie Strasburg, first place, “End of the streak,” about the Clairton High School football team losing for the first time in four years; Melanie Wass, David Conti and Lisa Fuqua, second place for “The news jolted you where?” about the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination.

Tabloid page design: Melanie Wass, second place, “And Now There Are 2,” a sports section cover before the NCAA basketball championship game. Wass received an honorable mention for “82,” a sports cover about the Pirates clinching a winning season.

Editorial writing: Alan Wallace, second place for a collection of work.

Three photographers at the Valley News Dispatch of Tarentum, one of Trib Total Media's other daily newspapers, were honored for their work. Jason Bridge won first place in feature photography among all dailies for “A higher calling.” Erica Hilliard Dietz won third place in feature photography for “Fun in the sun” and third place in sports photography for “Showdown set.” Eric Felack won third place in news photography for “Tragedy averted.”

In competition among non-daily newspapers, SPJ awards went to these Trib Total Media staffers:

Environmental reporting: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Murrysville Star, first place, “15 spills over 3 months.”

Feature photography: Kristina Serafini of the Sewickley Herald, first place, “Back to school.”

Enterprise reporting: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Murrysville Star, second place for “Holding their breath.”

News photography: Lillian DeDomenic, second place for “CANorah Lighting” in the Times Express of Monroeville and third place for “Game face” in the Murrysville Star.

Photo story, non-daily: Lillian DeDomenic and Alisa Jacobson, second place for “Gladiator Rock 'n Run” in the Murrysville Star; and Kristina Serafini of the Sewickley Herald, third place for “Success already.”

Best overall non-daily: Times Express, third place.

Spot news story: Daveen Rae Kurutz, Murrysville Star, third place for “After complaints, district stifles a ‘Howl.' ”

PWPA awards

PWPA awards went to Tribune-Review staffers in these categories:

Sports: Karen Price, first place for “Wounded vets overcome more than mere obstacles on grueling course.”

Interview/Profile: Salena Zito, first place for “Party Lines invisible to Sen. Manchin of West Virginia;” Karen Price, second place for “Message in a Battle.”

News/Feature photos: Stephanie Strasburg, first place.

Religion: Megan Harris, first place, “If it's right you'll know;” Debra Erdley, honorable mention, “Churches reach disconnected through webcasts.”

Enterprise/Investigative: Betsy Hiel, second place for “Unchecked looting guts Egypt's heritage with one site 70 percent gone.”

Health/Science: Rossilynne Skena, second place for “Threat of violence constant;” Debra Erdley, third place for “Fat studies.”

Sports photos: Stephanie Strasburg, second place; Karen Price, third place.

General News: Betsy Hiel, second place, “Egypt army deposes Morsy;” Debra Erdley, honorable mention for “Dollar Bank begins foreclosure against August Wilson Center.”

Columns: Nafari Vanaski, third place for a collection of work.

Education: Kari Andren, third place for “Parents take stand against standardized tests.”

Business/Consumer: Tory N. Parrish, third place for “Corporations go back to school;” Kim Leonard, honorable mention for “A Center for Ideas.”

Lifestyles: Freelance writer Sandra Fischione Donovan, honorable mention for “Owner overcomes tragic past to find spirit in South Side's Apsara Café.”

PWPA awards to other Trib Total Media staffers:

Sports photos: Kristina Serafini, Sewickley Herald, first place.

News/Feature photos: Kristina Serafini, Sewickley Herald, third place.

General news: Daveen Kurutz, Murrysville Star, honorable mention for “After complaints, district stifles a ‘Howl.' ”

In the student competition, Emily Balser of Point Park News Service won first place for a collection of work, including “Bob's Garage not just about the decorations,” which was published in the Trib. Megan Guza, a reporter for Trib Total Media's Bridgeville Area News and The Signal-Item and a graduate student at Point Park University, won second place for a series about rural domestic violence. She wrote the articles for Point Park News Service.

Awards in both contests will be presented next month in State College.

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