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The Manchester Journal was honored twice in the New England Newspaper & Press Association’s 2020 Better Newspaper Competition Awards including a first-place win for editorial writing by Greg Sukiennik.

Editor Darren Marcy took third place for obituary writing for a feature about Barbara Riley following the local philanthropist’s death last summer.

The awards were given in the category for weekly newspapers with a circulation of more than 5,000 copies and came against the largest weekly newspapers in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Sukiennik’s submission consisted of three editorials, including: “Learning to live with uncertainty” and “Crisis proves the importance of community,” both of which were about dealing with COVID-19; and “The wrong place and the wrong time,” which was about former state Rep. Cynthia Browning’s action in Montpelier requiring an in-person vote in the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Journal is owned by New England Newspapers, Inc., which also includes the Bennington Banner, Brattleboro Reformer and the company flagship Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Executive Editor Kevin Moran, over oversees the newsrooms at all four papers.

“Greg’s editorials are always engaging, thoughtful and enlightening — like any good editorial should be,” Moran said. “’Learning to live with uncertainty,’ was written when we were still coming to grips with the throes of the pandemic and the chaotic disruption to what had been the relative peace of our everyday lives.”

Moran noted the following passage from that editorial, “As humans, and as a nation, we’re accustomed to controlling as much of our destiny as possible — sometimes, even inflicting that destiny on others. So learning to live with a loss of control after years of presuming that we’re the masters of the universe can be overwhelming.”

“That was a profound statement and an authoritative one,” Moran said. “Sometimes life just needs explanations, not answers, to its most vexing problems. And here, Greg did just that in the Journal. And I’m thrilled the contest judges saw his editorials worthy of first place for editorial writing.”

Moran also commented on the Riley story.

“Darren’s obituary on the late Barbara Riley commemorated a person whose generosity and caring has positively impacted the arts and culture of the entire Manchester and mountains region,” Moran said. “And it’s a fitting tribute to Ms. Riley that her life would be chronicled in an award-winning obituary.”

Sukiennik is the Journal’s former editor whose role has changed several times. He is now covering state government for the Journal, Banner and Reformer, but still finds time to pen an editorial now and then. Sukiennik previously worked for the Associated Press and ESPN.

The Reformer captured seven awards including first place for Feature Video by photographer Kris Radder.

The Eagle won 27 awards in editorial and advertising categories including nine first-place wins and a third in General Excellence.

The Journal carries the food page from the Eagle, which was honored with two awards.

NENI’s “UpCountry Magazine” capture three awards including a first for Niche Publication and third in General Excellence in Specialty Publication.

The awards were announced April 8-9 at NENPA’s annual 2021 New England Newspaper Convention, which was held online and featured two days of professional development through seminars, workshops and discussions.


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