SOUTH PORTLAND — Portland Press Herald Staff Writer Eric Russell was named Journalist of the Year and the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram won 32 awards at the Maine Press Association’s annual fall conference this weekend.

Reporter Eric Russell is the Maine Press Association’s 2019 Journalist of the Year. Staff photo by Steve Greenlee

The Press Herald was named daily newspaper of the year and the Sunday Telegram weekend newspaper of the year.

The Press Herald’s advertising department won first place for general excellence.

Russell has been a general assignment reporter at the paper since 2012, and lives in Brunswick with his wife and two daughters.

In recent years, he was the lead writer on the Press Herald series “Lost,” which revealed hidden stories in Maine’s opioid epidemic. His reporting also has brought to light dysfunction in statewide child protection services and care for intellectually disabled adults, exposed profit-seeking in an erstwhile nonprofit organization, and chronicled a man’s eviction over medical marijuana used for seizures.

The Freedom of Information award also went to the Press Herald for, among other work, the revelations by Staff Writers Kevin Miller and Scott Thistle that taxpayers funded rooms at Trump hotels for staff members of former Gov. Paul LePage.

Hannah LaClaire of The Times Record in Brunswick won the Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award. Drake, who died in 2007 at age 92, was a former editor and assistant general manager of the Morning Sentinel of Waterville. He also served as executive secretary of the Maine Press Association.

The awards were announced Saturday night at the 2019 Maine Press Association awards banquet, which took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in South Portland.

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