Buzzerd earns top state press honor, Messenger stories, photos win awards

Morgan Messenger Managing Editor and Publisher Sandy Buzzerd earned the West Virginia Press Association’s top honor at the group’s annual convention and awards ceremony on Saturday, August 3.

Buzzerd received The Adam R. Kelly Award for her outstanding dedication to the newspaper industry, the West Virginia Press Association (WVPA) and her local community.

WVPA Executive Director Don Smith, in announcing the award to the gathering

Sandy Buzzerd.

of the state’s journalists and publishers, said Buzzerd has been a strong voice for weekly newspapers and for women in the state’s media industry.

He said Buzzerd, who has been involved in the statewide news industry association for decades, has worked hard to ensure the stability and visibility of the industry during challenging times.

Buzzerd has been selected as president of the West Virginia Press Association and will serve two years in that capacity.

Messenger editorial awards

Morgan Messenger staff and contributors brought home several editorial awards from this year’s annual West Virginia Press Association Better Newspaper Contest. The awards were announced during the association’s award ceremony at Lakeview Resort near Morgantown.

Editors and journalists of the New Jersey Press Association judged entries from West Virginia newspapers in this year’s contest.

Newspapers across the state compete in four circulation groups, two each for daily and weekly newspapers. The contest has 29 categories, ranging from Coverage of Government Affairs to Reporting Generated from Public Notices and Best Editorial Page.

In 2019, 32 newspapers submitted nearly 1,451 entries.

Morgan Messenger and Hancock News reporter Geoff Fox won first place for

Geoff Fox.

Best News Photo in the largest category of weekly newspapers.

Fox’s photo of a mid-air toss by a gymnastics group during the Apple Butter Festival parade captured the top prize in the competitive category. Judges commented on the photo – “Nice moment, well composed.”

Editor Kate Shunney won first place in Best Coverage of Breaking News for her news story and photos of the fire that gutted the Berkeley Club building last year.

Reporter Trish Rudder won, along with Shunney, a first place in

Trish Rudder.

Kate Shunney.

Reporting Generated from Public Notice – a category that recognizes journalism that grows out of the public notices required from governmental agencies about policy or projects.

Their submission included news stories and an editorial about public meetings surrounding the proposed U.S. 522 bypass, the effect of public comments on the highway plans and need for more public involvement in the project. Judges noted they also appreciated that reporting and editorials generated letters to the newspaper on the topic.


Wade Shambaugh.

Outdoor columnist Wade Shambaugh won third place as Best Lifestyle Columnist for a collection of three of his “Everyday Outdoors” columns about hunting and West Virginia outdoor traditions.

A single editorial by Shunney on state highway priorities won third place for Best Editorial. Judges said, “The editorial builds a good case for fixing the existing roads which have been neglected for too long. Clearly written and succinct.”

“Our annual newspaper competition always brings out the best of our state’s newspapers and journalists have to offer,” said Don Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Press Association.

“From the largest daily newspaper to the smallest weekly newspaper, West Virginia residents benefit from the outstanding and dedicated work of journalists throughout the state. Community journalism remains the centerpiece of the newspaper industry in the Mountain State. The West Virginia Press Association is proud to recognize and honor the excellent work produced by West Virginia’s terrific newspapers and journalists.”

With the top point total in both editorial and advertising of newspapers in West Virginia, The Charleston Gazette-Mail earned the Newspaper of the Year honors.

For General Excellence, the West Virginia Press Association recognized three places in each division. The newspapers recognized for General Excellence in editorial coverage in 2019 were as follows:

Division I (Dailies over 16,000 circulations):

First Place: Charleston Gazette-Mail

Second Place: Beckley Register-Herald

Third Place: Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Division II (Dailies 16,000 and under):

First Place: Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Second Place: The Exponent Telegram

Third Place: The Inter-Mountain

Division III (Weeklies over 4,000):

First Place: Hampshire Review

Second Place: The Times Record and Roane County Reporter

Third Place: The Spirit of Jefferson

Division IV (Weeklies 4,000 and under):

First Place: Moorefield Examiner

Second Place: The Record Delta

Third Place: Grant County Press.