WV Press Virtual Convention set for Aug. 27
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Newspaper staff members across the state are reviewing their individual awards this week after the West Virginia Press Association shared the names of editorial and advertising staff winners in the annual newspaper contest.
The individual awards come in advance of the Aug. 27 public announcements of the newspaper industry’s Newspaper of the Year, General Excellence Award winners, Photo of the Year, Advertisement of the Year, and Adam R. Kelly Award.
The WVPA has shared the list of each newspaper’s individual winners with newspapers. The industry’s newspaper contest recognized top performances in more than 20 editorial and advertising categories for work completed in 2020.
On Aug. 27, as part of a virtual convention, the WVPA will publicly announce the top award winners and share the list of individual winners. This year’s convention will focus on the media’s role as a watchdog against the abuse of power and for the public’s well-being.
WVPA Executive Director Don Smith said 2020 was an unprecedented year for the news industry and the awards reflect the times.
“Our newspapers did outstanding work in 2020. The COVID-19 coverage was the most impressive effort, with multiple newspapers winning a 1st place award in news or advertising,” Smith said.
“Keeping our communities informed of the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation was an overwhelming challenge for the newspapers in this state. Every segment of society and life was impacted. The guidance and restrictions changed daily, if not hourly,” Smith said. “The workload for our newspapers was relentless. Residents needed to know about masking and vaccinations, but they also needed to know about shortages at the local grocery store and gas station, if their kids were going to school, if they could attend church to pray, and who in their community had died.”
“COVID has been with us for nearly a year and a half, and we have become somewhat accustomed to its impact, but we should never forget it is a life and death situation. Newspaper staff members put their lives on the line to ensure members of their communities could stay informed. They worked from the newspaper office, from home and by Zoom. Each day, they put their lives and the lives of their families at risk.”
“The newspaper industry paid a very high price for that dedication to this profession. Many got sick, several are still suffering, and some were lost,” Smith said. “We remember those lost and support those who soldier on in this battle. Personally, I still can’t really comprehend that my colleague and friend, Mike Myer, editor in Wheeling and president of the WVPA Foundation, died of COVID.”
Smith said it is out of respect and concern for safety that the WVPA awards will again be presented virtually as the association’s annual convention will not be held in-person.
“Our board of directors agreed in January to again hold 2021 convention virtually, as we did in 2020; however, as the situation improved during the spring and summer, we held off any announcement in hopes of an in-person event,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, with the Delta variant of COVID spreading so rapidly, we are going to keep this year as a virtual event. At this point, we think there is too much risk involved for an in-person event. As one editor said, ‘We are supposed to report the news, not create it.’”
Smith said the board does hope to have an increased schedule of events in 2022. “We expect to have several smaller regional events that will assist with editorial, advertising or circulation improvements. We also hope to have our Convention and our legislative events in person.”
This year, the newspaper awards will be announced Aug. 27. The General Excellence awards – in advertising and editorial content — go to newspapers with the highest point totals in each of four circulation divisions. The Newspaper of the Year award goes to the individual newspaper with the highest total of combined advertising and editorial points.
More information on awards and announcements will be coming later this month. The general membership meeting, Hall of Fame announcement and other events will come later this year.