The Sarnia Journal has been recognized as one of the best weekly newspapers in the province by the Ontario Community Newspaper Association.
Sarnia’s local independent newspaper was the first place winner in the General Excellence category, OCNA’s highest honour, at an awards gala in Richmond Hill on April 20.
General Excellence awards are presented for overall outstanding achievement by a community newspaper, which includes the quality of its news reporting and photos, layout and advertising.
The Journal had been nominated one of three finalists in February in the 22,500-to-45,000 circulation class.
“The Sarnia Journal is more than deserving of a first-place finish, standing head and shoulders above the competition,” the judges said.
“The Journal included 100% localized, community content in all areas of coverage – from news, to opinion, to sports – while also finding ways to localize regional and national stories to make them relevant and engaging to the Sarnia readership, and creating strong local strong features in addition to news.”
The overall award wasn’t the only honour bestowed.
The Journal also had a second place finish in the Best Special Section category (over 10,000 circulation). Sarnia 1867: A Special Canada Day Feature, envisioned what the community looked like at the time of Canadian Confederation.
Journal photographer Glenn Ogilvie, the most decorated photojournalist in city history, was runner-up in the heavily contested Best Spot News Photo category. His image captured city councillor Cindy Scholten silently holding an anti-bullying sign during a tense confrontation at a City Hall rally in support of Mayor Mike Bradley.
Photographer Bruce Smith earned another second-place finish for Best Sports Photo for his dramatic shot of Northern Collegiate hurdler Avery Smiley striding for gold at the Ontario Track and Field Championships.
“Being recognized as the best newspaper in the province in its class reinforces what I’ve always known, that we simply have an incredible group of people producing this paper,” said editor George Mathewson.
The Journal also earned an honourable mention for Best Editorial written in 2017.
The OCNA gala was held at the Sheraton Parkway Hotel in Richmond Hill.