SALEM — The Hermiston Herald and East Oregonian took home 24 Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association awards at a virtual ceremony on Friday, Sept. 10.

Judged by members of the Arizona Newspapers Association and considered against other Oregon newspapers of similar size, the EO and Herald collectively took home five first place prizes in the Better Newspaper Contest. Along with the rest of the field, the East Oregonian and Hermiston Herald were judged for their work in 2020, which included the historic Umatilla River floods and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think that the number of awards is a testament to the work that the East Oregonian and Hermiston Herald did in 2020,” said Andrew Cutler, the publisher of the Herald and EO.

Jade McDowell, the former editor of the Herald, had a banner 2020, her last full year with the company before departing. She won first place prizes in the editorial column, personality feature and business or economic issue categories, the latter also producing a third place award for McDowell. McDowell and community reporter Tammy Malgesini placed two and three in the best local column category, while McDowell also won a third place award for enterprise reporting for her work in the East Oregonian.

The East Oregonian ended its run of general excellence awards, taking third place behind The News-Review in Roseburg and the Grants Pass Daily Courier. Prior to 2021, the EO won first place in general excellence nine out of the past 10 years.

Cutler said not continuing the East Oregonian’s streak was disappointing but did act as a motivator to recapture the title next year.

It also was another strong year for reporter Kathy Aney, who took home first place in the personality feature category, second place in best local column and two third place prizes for educational coverage and lifestyle coverage. She shared a third place award for best spot news coverage with reporter Antonio Sierra.

Individually, Sierra won two awards: second place in coverage of a business or economic issue and third place for general feature story. Photographer Ben Lonergan was one of the EO’s other first place winners, garnering the top prize for best news photo. He also earned second place in feature photo, second place in sports photo and third place in the photo essay category.

The EO wasn’t recognized only for its reporting. Cutler won third place for best headline writing, and page designer Andy Nicolais got a third place award for best page design. Overall, it was a good award year for the EO Media Group, the company that owns the East Oregonian and Hermiston Herald. In addition to the dozens of awards won by EOMG papers, The Bulletin in Bend and The Daily Astorian won first place in the general excellence category in their respective groups.

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