SOUTH JORDAN—The Sanpete Messenger was named the best small newspaper in Utah for the third year in a row at a Utah Press Association Better Newspaper Contest awards dinner.
In the 21 years the newspaper has been under the present ownership, the Messenger has submitted a full entry in 18 years. The paper has taken the General Excellence Award, the top prize, 13 times.
Publisher Suzanne Dean said this year’s competition, based on work published in 2021, showed there are different routes to the top prize.
In the past, the Messenger has frequently placed first in journalism categories, such as best news story, best feature story, best editorial and best front page.
This year, the Messenger took first place in just five categories, fewer than in the past. But it placed in first, second or third place 19 of the 26 categories in the contest.
The paper received points for each of those places. Those points were enough to put it at the top of the 17 newspapers with circulations of 2,000 or less.
“We’re always grateful for any positive recognition; grateful to staff, contributors and advertisers who make the newspaper possible; and grateful to our readers and supporters out in the county,” Dean said.
The newspaper staff took first place for news coverage based on the variety of topics covered in three issues randomly selected by judges.
Sean Hales, former associate editor, who has been freelancing for the paper for more than a decade, took first in “infographics” for charts showing how Sanpete County came out in the U.S. Census.
The Messenger also won for its website, which was redesigned in 2020 by reporter Ben Lasseter, and updated through 2021 by a University of Utah intern, Shoshanah Deschine.
Dean took first-place in editorial writing for an editorial on water scarcity in Sanpete County, a column about unsafe mobile home parks; and a column about her personal experience getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Some of the second-place awards were best news series for stories by Dean on the new forest plan for the Manti-LaSal National Forest; best business story for an article by former managing editor Robert Stevens on Savage Trucking of Price taking over the coal hauling contract for SUFCO Mine; and best special section for the Messsenger’s post-COVID Home & Garden issue with the theme “Life is bustin’ out all over.”
Still other second places were best staff-produced ad for an ad designed by Lloyd Call, associated publisher and advertising director, for Original Garage of Ephraim; best sports photograph, for a Snow College football photo by Kyle Parry; and best in-house self promotion for having Boy Scouts pass out free copies of the Christmas issue at grocery stores. Takers could put a donation in a box for the Scouts, which raised about $250 in two hours.