By Mike Baker
The Haliburton County Echo scooped five first-place finishes, two second-place finishes and three third-place finishes at the Ontario Community Newspaper Association’s 2020 Better Newspaper Competition.
During a virtual ceremony held on Friday afternoon [April 23], the Echo was recognized for its work across several categories.
Reporter Sue Tiffin took first in the Environment Writing category for her feature story on At Last Forest Schools, which opened a facility at Abbey Gardens last spring, just prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former editor Jenn Watt was recognized for her work on a story shining a light on some of the issues Ontario’s teachers’ associations had with the provincial government during last year’s school strikes, securing the top award in the Education Writing category.
Watt also took first-place in the Heritage category, writing about a pair of local women who developed a strong bond and long-lasting friendship having worked together on the Family Roots pilot project run by SIRCH Community Services.
Having long forged a reputation as one of the best photo journalists in Ontario over a career that has spanned almost two decades, Darren Lum was officially recognized as the OCNA’s 2020 Photographer of the Year. Lum also took first-place for Best Sports Photo for a perfectly-timed shot while covering the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Red Hawks senior basketball team last spring.
The Echo took second-place in the Best Sports Section category, for a story and collection of photos covering the Red Hawks’ basketball team, while Watt took second in the Health and Wellness category for her piece on a PSW shortage in Haliburton last year that left a local man near helpless, without the care he needed to get by day-to-day.
An entertaining piece by Lum on a local artist’s daily account of the COVID-19 pandemic through a series of self-portraits secured third-place in the Arts and Entertainment category, while Watt was similarly recognized for her creativity in Headline Writing.
The Echo was then honoured with the third-place award in General Excellence in its circulation category.
Sister publication the Minden Times also had quite the haul this year, taking home three prizes. Popular writer Jim Poling was recognized as Ontario’s Columnist of the Year, while the publication also received a second-place award in Education Writing, written by Sue Tiffin, and a third-place award for Best News Story, written by Chad Ingram.