Kennebec Journal staff photographers Joe Phelan and Andy Molloy, and Morning Sentinel staff photographer Michael G. Seamans, were among first-place winners in the Maine Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest.

Also, Michael Shepherd, a staff writer for the Kennebec Journal, was the winner of the annual Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award. The award recognizes the most promising new reporter in the state.

Phelan took first place for best news photo and Molloy for best feature photo.

Seamans took home first place for best picture story, for a series of photos about a fire in Waterville and its victims.

Additionally, Carla McGuire and Amanda Everatt of the Kennebec Journal’s advertising department won a first-place award for best new idea with their “Autumn drive” campaign.

The winners were announced Saturday night during the MPA’s annual Fall Conference at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel and Conference Center in Bar Harbor. The daylong conference drew more than 240 people.

Staff at the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel in Waterville received 16 awards at the conference.

The Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram have been named the daily and weekend Newspapers of the Year, respectively, in the Maine Press Association’s 2013 Better Newspaper Contest. Their websites were named best websites for daily and weekend publications.

The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram won 48 awards, including 18 first-place honors.

Thirty newspapers entered the contest, submitting a total of 1,443 entries in 57 categories.

The Sun Journal was the winner of the Freedom of Information Award for daily and weekend papers, and Jennifer Feals and Laura Dolce of the York County Coast Star won the award for weeklies.

The Best Website award in the competition for weekly papers went to The Ellsworth American.

At a luncheon Saturday, the association also inducted three new members into its Hall of Fame: Don Hansen, Scott Haskell and Emery “Legs” Labbe.

Over the course of 30 years, Hansen was a reporter, editor, political columnist, editorial writer and editorial page director for the Press Herald and Telegram and the Portland Evening Express.

Haskell was a photographer and photo editor with the Bangor Daily News before retiring in 2011 after a 33-year career.

Labbe, a well-known figure in Aroostook County’s St. John Valley, was a sportswriter for the St. John Valley Times for more than 30 years and publisher of the paper for a decade.

The Hall of Fame, begun in 1998, honors people with Maine ties who have made outstanding contributions to the newspaper profession.

Lindsay Tice, a longtime staff writer for the Sun Journal, was named Journalist of the Year by the association.  And the association’s first Unsung Hero Award went to Nancy Larsen of The Ellsworth American.

For the second year in a row, the Mount Desert Islander of Bar Harbor was named Newspaper of the Year in the competition for weeklies with a circulation of 4,000 or more, and the York County Coast Star of Kennebunk won the award in the competition for smaller papers.

All of the journalism work that was cited in the contest was published between April 1, 2012, and March 31, 2013.

Complete results from the Better Newspaper Contest will be posted Sunday on the Maine Press Association’s website, at

The Kennebec Journal’s awards are listed at; the Morning Sentinel’s awards, at, and the Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram awards at

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