The Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel staff received a number of top honors Saturday as part of the annual Maine Press Association ceremony, including a first place award for investigative reporting on homelessness in the region and a staff photographer winning the “Best in Show.”

In all, the central Maine newspapers had 32 awards across a variety of categories for Maine’s newspapers as part of the 2023 Better Newspaper Contest for reporters, photographers, editors, designers, production, advertising and circulation.

The Maine Press Association held its annual awards ceremony Saturday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Portland. The keynote address was given by Ross McDuffie, the chief portfolio officer for the National Trust for Local News, which recently purchased the Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel, Portland Press Herald, Sun Journal and other papers. The new company of those newspaper properties is called the Maine Trust for Local News. In addition, James McCarthy and Ken Waltz were inducted into the press association’s Hall of Fame.

“Homeless in Maine,” a joint news project by the Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel and Sun Journal, took first place in the investigative report category among all daily newspapers.

Morning Sentinel photographer Rich Abrahamson took the “Best in Show” photography award for his photo “Crossing guard.” Abrahamson’s photo “Urban skier,”  received first place in the feature photo category.

Crossing guard Scott Cayouette pets a golden retriever, Governor, outside Albert S. Hall School in Waterville on Thursday. The dog belongs to fifth grader Dylan Bulmer and her mother, Kathy Bulmer. About 200 fourth and fifth graders attend the school at 27 Pleasant St., according to school Principal Erin Madore. This photo won the “Best in Show” award at the 2023 Maine Press Association awards ceremony. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Among staff at the central Maine newspapers, first-place winners in individual categories for the state’s daily newspapers were first place for analysis, “Active shooter hoax calls at Maine schools were ‘very real’ to those involved,” by Emily Duggan and Zara Norman; first place for arts-lifestyle feature, “Waterville woman collaborates with Santa to bring thoughtful responses to children’s letters,” by Norman; first place for a sports game story, “Wrestling: Maddie Ripley of Oceanside makes history at Class B championships,” by Dave Dyer; first place for a news photo, “Homeless flooding,” by Michael G. Seamans; and first place for picture story, “Greaney turkey farm,” by Seamans.

In advertising categories, the Morning Sentinel received first place for best revenue idea, “Central Maine Athlete of the Week,” by Michael Blanchet.

Press Herald Staff Writer John Terhune won the Bob Drake Young Writer Award recognizing the best young journalist in Maine, and Press Herald advertising representative Peter Filippelli was named advertising person of the year.

The Press Herald was named the best daily and Sunday newspaper in the state, and took the top prize for its website. received third place for the state’s best news website, and Central Maine Sunday received third place for best weekend paper. In the daily general excellence category for print, the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal received third and second places, respectively, behind the Press Herald’s top honor.

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