Free Press wins VPA awards

4/13/2017, 7:45 p.m.
The Richmond Free Press continues its award-winning tradition. The newspaper was recognized with six awards at the annual Virginia Press ...

The Richmond Free Press continues its award-winning tradition.

The newspaper was recognized with six awards at the annual Virginia Press Association competition in writing, photography, news presentation and advertising.

The contest for work published in 2016 was judged by members of the New Jersey Press Association. Winners were announced April 8 during the VPA’s annual awards banquet at a Henrico County hotel.

Jeremy M. Lazarus, Free Press vice president for news enhancement, won first place for large, non-daily newspapers in Virginia in the personal service category for a trio of stories providing advice, information or instruction that helps readers improve the quality of their lives.

The stories were “Ignoring call to duty: Failure to sign up for Selective Service hurts thousands,” about the consequences endured by a 35-year-old Richmond man who failed to register for the military draft by age 26 as the law requires.

Also, “Paydazed in RVA: High-fee payday loan traps Henrico man,” about the difficulty a senior citizen on fixed income had in paying off a payday loan. The $100 loan ultimately cost him $320 in fees.

And “Va. Tech scientist to Richmonders: Use water filters for protection,” about advice from a Virginia Tech environmental scientist who won hero status for proving people in Flint, Mich., were being poisoned by their drinking water.

On the “Ignoring call to duty” story, the judges wrote, “This story has a strong and compelling lead.”

Free Press staff photographer Sandra Sellars won awards in three categories — breaking news photography, photo illustration and picture story or essay.

Her photos “Honoring slain trooper,” showing the floral tributes left on the car of slain Virginia State Police Trooper Chad P. Dermyer at State Police headquarters in Chesterfield County, and “Storm damage,” showing the impact of a severe June 16 storm that hammered Richmond and Henrico County, received second- and third-place honors, respectively, in the breaking news category.

“Red berries in Downtown,” a photo by Ms. Sellars published on the Free Press editorial page, won second place in the photo illustration category.

Ms. Sellars also won another second place award in the picture story or essay category for “Hometown welcome,” for photographs accompanying the story about Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine returning to Richmond to the cheers of thousands of supporters.

“Great emotion,” the judges wrote about Ms. Sellars’ picture story entry.

Free Press Managing Editor Bonnie V. Winston won second place for headline writing, and April Coleman, vice president of production, won a third place award in the professional-technology services category for advertising.

The Loudoun Times-Mirror in Northern Virginia won the Sweepstakes Award in the large, non-daily newspaper category.