Fire burns playground

The Hermiston Herald took home an Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association prize for reporting on the fire at Funland Playground on May 10, 2019.

The Hermiston Herald took home the top prize for newspapers in its size category in the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association’s annual Better Newspapers Contest.

Contest results for 2020 were announced Sept. 29, including the Herald's first place General Excellence award. Entries were from the 2019 calendar year.

The Herald placed first over newspapers in size category D, while the Hood River News came in second and the Newport News-Times came in third. The East Oregonian also took home the General Excellence award for its size category, placing first for the ninth time in 10 years.

Andrew Cutler, managing editor of the East Oregonian and publisher for several of EO Media Group's newspapers, said having both the Herald and the EO win General Excellence in the same year is "quite an achievement."

“The newsrooms in Hermiston and Pendleton — and the entire EO/HH staff — work tirelessly to bring Umatilla and Morrow counties accurate and timely information," he said. "The Oregon Newspapers Publishers Association allows our reporters the opportunity to compete for the top awards in the state. They’ve done phenomenal work over the last 12 months. I couldn’t be more proud of our institution."

In addition to General Excellence, the Hermiston Herald and East Oregonian also won several individual awards in the contest, which covered the 2019 calendar year and saw 976 entries in 33 categories from 31 Oregon newspapers and was judged by a panel of editors and publishers from newspapers around the country.

For the Herald, editor Jade McDowell's article "What's the Holdup?" about local businesses that saw long delays for construction projects won second place for Best Coverage of Business and Economic News. "From the Ashes," McDowell's article about the fire that burned down Funland Playground, placed third for Best Spot News.

Former Herald reporter Jayati Ramakrishnan's feature "Recovery takes priority at Hermiston facility" about Power House Treatment Center in Hermiston won second place for Best Spot News.

The East Oregonian staff won first place for Best Special Section, Best Enterprise Reporting and Best Spot News Coverage. Staff also took home second place prizes for Best Editorial Page, Best Feature Photo, Best Sports Photo, Best Government Coverage and Best Sports Story, and third place for Best Feature Photo.

“Our company is honored to be recognized for the quality of our newspapers by our peers in the newspaper industry," owner Kathryn Brown said. "Our editors and reporters work hard to shine a light on our communities and keep our readers well informed, and I’m grateful to work with such talented and dedicated journalists.”

For details about the East Oregonian's awards, see

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