The Laker/Lutz News received 27 awards in the 2021 Florida Press Association Weekly Newspaper Contest, and won first place, overall, in its division.
The top honor resulted from a team effort — with awards received for news and feature stories, page design and photography.
Newspaper staffers Kevin Weiss, B.C. Manion and Matt Mistretta each played an important role in securing the recognition. But so did special contributors Joey Johnston, Kathy Steele, Christine Holtzman, Fred Bellet, Doug Sanders, Lillian Cucuzza and Steve Vinik.
Behind-the-scenes work by Mary Rathman, editorial assistant, and Stefanie Burlingame, graphic designer, also played critical roles in the newspaper’s success.
Points received from each of the winning entries are tallied to determine which newspaper will be declared the first-place winner. The Laker/Lutz News won that distinction in Division A, for weekly newspapers of 15,000 or more — the largest circulation division in the competition.
Entries from The Laker/Lutz News received seven first-place, 12 second-place and eight third-place awards.
The newspaper won top honors for coverage of the impact that a retiring coach had on his players, both on and off the court; the threat posed by a possible ‘twindemic;’ and, the mighty Wurlitzer playing on at Tampa Theatre, despite the pandemic.
Other first-place awards came for stories that detailed a panel discussion on social issues and race relations; a local javelin standout ready for a bigger stage; and, the flurry of construction projects underway in Pasco County Schools.
A shot of the Neowise Comet, when it was closest to earth, won first place in the reader-generated photo category.
The honors were presented during a July 16 luncheon at the Florida Media Conference, held at the Westin Sarasota, in Sarasota.
The contest drew 1,167 entries, from a total of 51 newspapers across Florida. The contest was judged by experienced editors and publishers from Arizona, California, Colorado, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Washington.
The Laker/Lutz News, locally owned by Diane Kortus, covers the communities of Odessa, Land O’ Lakes, Lutz, New Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, Dade City, San Antonio and St. Leo.
Here is the complete list of The Laker/Lutz News winning entries:
Front Page Makeup: Matt Mistretta, second place
Page Design: Matt Mistretta, third place
Sports Spot News Story: Kevin Weiss, first place
Sports Feature Story: Kevin Weiss, first place; Joey Johnston, third place
Portfolio Photography: Christine Holtzman, second place
Photo Series in One Issue: Christine Holtzman, second place; Fred Bellet, third place
Reader-Generated Photo: Lillian Cucuzza, first place; Steve Vinik, third place
Feature Photo: Christine Holtzman, second place
Spot News Photo: Christine Holtzman, third place
Community History: Doug Sanders, third place
Outdoor & Recreation: Kevin Weiss, second place
Local Government Reporting: Kevin Weiss, third place
Roads and Transportation: Kathy Steele, second place
Faith and Family: B.C. Manion, second place
Arts Entertainment & Review Reporting: B.C. Manion, first place; Joey Johnston, second place
Health, Medical & Science Reporting: Joey Johnston, first place; Kevin Weiss, second place
Education Feature: Christine Holtzman, second place
Education News: B.C. Manion, first place
Feature Story, Profile: Kathy Steele, second place; Joey Johnston, third place
General News Story: Kevin Weiss, first place
COVID-19: Feature Story: B.C. Manion, second place
Published July 21, 2021