The Rio Rancho Observer has won 10 awards in the 2021 New Mexico Press Association’s Best Newspaper competition.
The NMPA Awards Banquet took place on Saturday night at the El Dorado Hotel and Spa in Santa Fe. Contestants are divided into Daily and Weekly Divisions, then into Classes based on broadcast numbers.
Sports editor Gary Herron won first place for overall sports coverage among Class 1 weekly newspapers.
“Gary Herron works hard to provide comprehensive sports coverage to readers,” the judge wrote.
Additionally, Herron won first place in obituaries for his obituary on Albuquerque Isotopes VP of Corporate Development Nick LoBue, who died of complications from COVID-19 on November 27, 2020.
“Excellent story, reconciling professional and private life,” wrote the judge. “Funny photo, nice layout, strong title. The quotes over the years were interesting and informative. I felt a loss for the community.
Herron also won first place in the Weekly Class 1 Sports Columns for his opinion piece on a Mike Trout baseball card sold for $ 3.9 million.
“One thing that stood out to me and loved about this column is that… it was a topic that doesn’t come up very often and can be important to uneducated readers,” wrote the judge.
Herron’s also got second place in sports photos, for a photo of a high school wrestling game and in sports writing, for his article on a former Albuquerque Dukes baseball player who had quadruple bypass heart surgery.
The Observer swept the class 1 weekly editorial category, with an editorial by editor-in-chief Argen Marie Duncan taking first place and a joint effort by Duncan and then-writer Amy Byres taking second square.
Duncan’s solo editorial expressed support for the development of affordable housing in Rio Rancho.
“Nice reminder for many communities facing this same problem,” wrote the judge.
The co-authored op-ed concerned a dispute with the city government over a commercial article. Byres has since become the program and marketing specialist for Sandoval Economic Alliance.
Duncan also won first place for Best Continuous / Continuous Coverage for a group of articles about the release of the student who attempted to commit a school shooting at Cleveland High School in 2019.
“Very good coverage,” commented the judge.
Current Observer staff writer Matt Hollinshead arrived just a week before the contest period ended, so he didn’t have Observer entries for this year’s contest.
However, her former Farmington Daily Times colleagues wrote her sports story about Navajo prep school basketball player Laila Charley, who is recovering from a brain injury she suffered in an ATV accident. This piece took second place in the Daily Class 2 sports writing category.
Finally, Byres’ series on the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses and how they were trying to adapt won second place in the Weekly Class 1 series competition.
The Utah Press Association judged the New Mexico nominations this year.