CommonWealth wins six awards from New England newspaper association

Four first-place honors across a range of coverage areas among the winning entries

COMMONWEALTH WON SIX AWARDS, including four first-place designations, from the New England Newspaper & Press Association in its Better Newspaper Competition. The awards were for articles written between August 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021. The awards were announced over the weekend at the association’s annual convention in Boston. 

CommonWealth competed in the category of “news services and online news sites.” Here are the awards, the judges’ comments, and links to the stories:

Arts and Entertainment: First place, Michael Jonas, “Fitchburg pinning revival hopes on arts and culture.From the exceptional lede through this deep dive analysis on tapping arts and culture as a primary means of economic development – the writer delivers an engaging and highly informative feature that provides a great service to the community as well as all CommonWealth readers.

Health: First place, Shira Schoenberg, “For pediatric mental health patients, days stuck in the ER.” This well written story offered a compassionate exploration of the pediatric mental health care crisis, and how the pandemic has worsened the wait times to receive treatment.

Government: First place, Sarah Betancourt, “2017 birth control provision fell through the cracks. A probing report that revealed how a state law intended to provide access to birth control fell victim to a lack of an implementation plan. Strong reporting by Sarah Betancourt in shining a light on a timely health issue.

Environment: First place, Bruce Mohl, Somerset struggles amid slow rollout of offshore wind.” A terrific story about unintended consequences — a wind-power company bought property contaminated by a coal plant while promising a green future, only to turn to unpopular activities such as trucking in scrap metal and road salt after the Trump administration put a hold on offshore wind. The reporter does an excellent job of explaining how this complex issue played out, with town officials and activists at loggerheads over environmental concerns versus unrealized tax revenues.

Local community profile: Second place, Shira Schoenberg. “Sen. John Velis faces alcoholism one day at a time” Schoenberg shows journalistic excellence in bringing us the story of Sen. John Velis’ battle with alcoholism. We get an in-depth and honest look at all the emotions and struggles Velis went through during his many years of ignoring and later dealing with the destruction that alcoholism creates in someone’s life. Congratulations to Shira for gaining enough trust from Sen. Velis to help him open up with frank honesty about his struggles and his efforts to put his life back together with the help of his friends.

Local election coverage: Third place, Bruce Mohl. “The bureaucrat vs. the GOP star” A look at the testy race that unfolded for the low-profile post of Worcester County register of probate that pitted a longtime employee of the office against his one-time boss.