Seven Days, Vermont’s free, independent newsweekly, won 14 first-place awards in this year’s New England Better Newspaper Competition, including top honors for its reporting and writing, website, headline writing, design and presentation, and video journalism. The paper also won nine second-place awards and four third-place awards — 27 total. The contest is organized by the New England Newspaper & Press Association. Winners were announced at NENPA’s annual convention Saturday night in Boston.
NENPA members submitted more than 3,000 entries, distributed among five categories: daily newspapers with circulation up to 30,000; daily newspapers with circulation more than 30,000; weekly newspapers with circulation up to 6,000; weekly newspapers with circulation more than 6,000; and specialty publications. Seven Days — which distributes 36,000 copies every week — competed against numerous other large New England weeklies.
Seven Days’ 14 first-place awards included:
- Three for “Stuck in Vermont” senior multimedia producer Eva Sollberger in the video categories. “A high-quality production with top-notch sound and graphics. A+!” wrote one contest judge. The winners were:
o Feature Video, “Stuck in Vermont 471: Muslim Girls Making Change”
o News Video, “Stuck in Vermont 487: Spring Amphibian Migration”
o Entertainment Video, “Stuck in Vermont 460: River of Light: Harvest Moon Winooski Paddle”
- Overall Website, for Seven Days staff. “An enticing front page that manages to elevate both news and culture,” a judge opined about sevendaysvt.com.
- Headline Writing, for story-toppers that, a judge wrote, “invite readers in.” The five headlines that made up the entry included this one: “Surrender Dorothy? Vermont may rename its children’s book award because of Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s ties to the eugenics movement.”
- Overall Design and Presentation, for the Seven Days design team. “Tops in presentation,” noted one judge.
- Crime and Courts Reporting for Mark Davis, for his “Death by Drugs” package that recounted fatal opiate overdoses in Vermont. A judge cited the “masterly article” that “brings home the opioid crisis by profiling 14 victims.”
- Local Personality Profile, also for Davis, for his story about former Vermont judge Ed Cashman, who was attacked for his handling of a sex offender’s case. “Details are rich and the pacing is excellent,” a judge wrote. “It is a solid, engaging and informative read.”
- Commentary, for political editor Paul Heintz, for “Rutland First: Vermont's Homegrown Opposition to Syrian Resettlement.” A judge concluded, “This examination of one group’s resistance to immigration was even-handed and made its points most effectively.”
- Arts & Entertainment reporting, for Dan Bolles, for “From Phish Shows to Breweries, Builder Russ Bennett Makes Magic.” Gushed a judge, “Storytelling devices he used created a smart and engaging piece packed with character and detail.”
- Human Interest Feature Story, for Sasha Goldstein. His “Lucky Bums” piece about Vermont’s pioneering skiing enthusiasts included “well-told profiles of the interesting characters whose lifelines made the region what it is,” a judge commented.
- Racial or Ethnic Issue Coverage, for Kymelya Sari, for her story, “Deaths Prompt Review of Safety, Swimming Programs for New Americans.” A judge called it a “well-written and enlightening report” that “brings together relevant voices and insights.”
- Reporting on Religious Issues, also for Sari, for her story “With Imam Leaving, Colchester Mosque at a Crossroads.”
- Illustration, for Harry Bliss, for a Seven Days cover illustration depicting President Trump, inspired by the classic Attack of the 50 Foot Woman film poster.
In second-place finishes, Heintz had four awards, and reporters Alicia Freese and Molly Walsh each earned one. A news photograph by James Buck and a sports video by Sollberger also both claimed second-place slots. And Seven Days won second place for general excellence; a judge noted not only the paper’s appealing design but also its “strong enterprise reporting.”
Da Capo Publishing Inc, dba Seven Days, was founded by Pamela Polston and Paula Routly in 1995, and is now owned by Polston and Routly, as well as deputy publisher Cathy Resmer and associate publishers Don Eggert and Colby Roberts. In addition to its seven free publications, the Burlington-based company also produces several annual events, the Stuck in Vermont video series, and hosts a ticketing website, job board and dating service. Its staff has been recognized by the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, the Parenting Media Association, the New England Newspaper and Press Association and the Vermont Press Association.
Seven Days has been named Business of the Year by both the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Burlington Business Association. In 2013, Editor & Publisher selected Seven Days for inclusion in its annual feature, “10 Newspapers That Do It Right.” In 2015, Polston and Routly were inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame. The same honor was bestowed on Seven Days’ consulting editor, Candace Page, in 2017.