The Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel staff received a number of top honors Saturday as part of the annual Maine Press Association ceremony, including being named the second-best news website in the state and other individual awards such as a staff photographer winning the “Best in Show.”

In all, the Central Maine newspapers had 35 awards across a variety of categories for Maine’s newspapers as part of the 2022 Better Newspaper Contest for reporters, photographers, editors, designers, production, advertising and circulation.

The Maine Press Association held its annual awards ceremony Saturday at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center in Bar Harbor, the first time the event has been in-person during the past two years of the pandemic.

Morning Sentinel photographer Michael G. Seamans took the “Best in Show” photography award for his photo of a canoe floating on the Kennebec River below the Lockwood Dam in Waterville on June 6, 2021. The image also won first place in the category of scenic photo. Seamans also won the “Best in Show” award at the 2020 contest as well.

Among staff at the central Maine newspapers, first-place winners in individual categories for the state’s daily newspapers were Travis Lazarczyk, who received first place for a sports news story, “Six Colby College female athletic coaches allege pay inequalities with male counterparts”; Drew Bonifant, who received first place for a sports profile, “New Winslow High baseball coach Beth LaFountain breaking barriers”; and Ben Bragdon, whose two editorials, “Some wisdom for an angry country: Don’t be ‘that guy’” and “Only response to drug crisis is to save as many lives as possible,” both received first place in the editorial category.

Lazarczyk also received first place among the state’s daily newspaper sports columnists. In addition, editor Bill Stewart and staff received first place for a sports section among daily newspapers; and first place for a sports headline, “Mountain of a Man,” for a story about Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale football lineman Jake Umberhind. The central Maine universal news desk also received first place for a news headline, “Winging It,” for a story about local restaurants making tough choices as prices soared for chicken wings.


In advertising categories, the Morning Sentinel received first place for best revenue idea, “GHM 120th Anniversary special section”; and first place for a supplement/special Section, “Summer Guide.”

In general excellence categories, the Maine Sunday Telegram was named the best weekend newspaper in Maine. The Bangor Daily News was named the top paper in the daily newspaper category, with the Portland Press Herald getting second place and the Morning Sentinel in third place.

The website of the Portland Press Herald took first place in general excellence-digital for daily newspapers, followed by the Kennebec Journal’s and Morning Sentinel’s in second place, and the Sun Journal in third place.

In general excellence for advertising, the Portland Press Herald took first place, followed by the Kennebec Journal in second place and the Morning Sentinel in third place.

Sun Journal reporter Steve Collins was named “Journalist of the Year” while reporter Sawyer Loftus of the Bangor Daily News received the “Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award.”

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