From left Haliburton Echo and Minden Times publisher David Zilstra managing editor Jenn Watt this year's OCNA president and London Publishing owner Ray Stanton reporter Angela Long and Stacie Stanton hold awards after the OCNA Better Newspapers Competition in Toronto on April 7 2017.

Haliburton Echo wins general excellence seven other awards

Published April 11 2017

The Haliburton Echo took first place in its circulation category for general excellence at the Better Newspapers Competition this year.

First second and third place winners were announced on Friday April 7 at the Ontario Community Newspaper Association conference in Toronto.

“The H aliburton County Echo is obviously a total team effort on every page” the judges wrote in their decision “I believe this is about as perfect as you can get for a community newspaper. Don’t change anything you’re doing!”

Echo and Minden Times publisher David Zilstra was honoured with a Silver Quill Award for his longstanding career in newspapers. Zilstra’s career began in 1989 at the Napanee Guide where he started as sales rep moving to advertising manager and then general manager.

In 2005 he moved to Haliburton to head up the Echo Minden Times and other sister papers before going to Barrie to become publisher of the Barrie Examiner . Zilstra returned to the Echo Times Bancroft This Week and County Life in 2014.

During the presentation his dedication to the community was also noted. Zilstra is involved with the Highlands Summer Festival Haliburton Rotary Club Business Improvement Area Highlands Little Theatre Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation and was heavily involved in the community in Barrie and Napanee as well.

The Echo’s editorial on library funding model inequalities written by Jenn Watt took second place in the best editorial category.

In the featuring writing category Angela Long’s story on Canadian artist Robert Bateman’s connection to the family cottage – which was sold last summer – was awarded second place. The judge called Long’s writing “absolutely exceptional” and the photos “excellent.”

A piece on beech bark disease in Haliburton County was awarded a second place in the Environment Ontario contest. The story written by Jenn Watt was “a superior piece about [the disease’s] origins effects and implications” the judge wrote.

A story on post traumatic stress disorder in emergency responders also netted a second place for the paper at the awards. Written by Angelica Ingram this piece was “a well-organized and at times haunting look at a topic that is becoming increasingly more prevalent and worrisome.”

The Echo’s story on the fire at the Harcourt Community Centre was an “efficient yet detailed spot news piece” by Angelica Ingram that offered a “solid all-around package of journalism” on the devastating event.

The Echo also took home a second place for best use of process colour in an advertisement. The ad for Country Pickin's was designed by Andrea Hillo. "The use of the bright colour immediately attracts the reader's eye" the judge wrote. "The offer is front and centre and the layout draws the reader through the entire story easily. The overall effect is bright bold and attractive."

The Echo’s sister paper the Minden Times placed second in general excellence for its circulation category. Its regular columnist Jim Poling Sr. received the Columnist of the Year award.