The Provincetown Independent won 14 awards for journalism, design, and photography in the annual Better Newspaper competition of the New England Newspaper and Press Association, announced in Boston last week.
Competing against all other New England weeklies, the Independent took first prize in health reporting for its series on childbirth on the Outer Cape: “Childbirth on the Edge” by Susannah Elisabeth Fulcher, “Outer Cape Health to Bring Midwife Back” by Sophie Ruehr, and “Giving Birth During Crisis Adds to Risks” by Susannah Elisabeth Fulcher; first prize in science/technology reporting went to Sophie Ruehr for “Culling Seals Is Wrong Answer to Shark Threat, Scientists Say“; and first prize for sports stories went to Ryan Fitzgerald for “Cape League Baseball Is Called Out.”
In competition with other under-5,000-circulation weeklies, the Independent won first prize in environmental reporting for Paul Benson’s “Buildings Are Raised Against Future Floods.” The newspaper’s designers, Chris Kelly and Susan Abbott, won first prize for overall design and presentation.
Second-place awards went to the Independent’s K.C. Myers and Ryan Fitzgerald for investigative-enterprise reporting for a series of six articles on Willy’s Gym (“Long History of Ills Led to Willy’s Closing,” “Willy’s Makes Progress, But Snags Remain,” “Willy’s Gym Owner Is Accused of Identity Fraud,” “Friends of Willy’s Coach Press Niggel to Pay His Widow,” “Willy’s Owner Fined $101,000 for Wage Law Violations,” and “Willy’s Owner Appeals Restitution Order“; to Howard Karren and Saskia Maxwell Keller for the paper’s Arts & Minds section; to Marnie Crawford Samuelson for her photographic portrait of Everett Austin; and to the staff for headline writing (“Surf Shops Suffer Effects of Shark Tales,” “To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turnip,” “Funicular Going Up,” “Six People, 12 Jobs, One Bathroom,” and “Marching Fourth”) and for last June’s special section on high school graduation, “A Graduation in Quarantine” and “The Outer Cape’s Class of 2020.”
Third-place prizes also went to Paul Benson in health reporting for “Medical Weed May Not Reach Outer Cape,” to Edward Miller for editorial writing (“Fishing on My Side,” “A Culture of Secrecy and the Public’s Right to Know,” and “Casualties of War“) and for his obituary of Wellfleet’s Bruce Drucker, and to the staff for the paper’s editorial/commentary pages.
This was the paper’s first year of eligibility for the Better Newspaper Awards. The year covered by the competition started Aug. 1, 2019 and ended July 31, 2020. The Independent’s first regular weekly edition was published on Oct. 10, 2019.
Only four other weekly newspapers won more awards this year than the Independent: the Vineyard Gazette on Martha’s Vineyard, Vermont’s Seven Days, the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror, and the Ellsworth American in Maine.
“Big congratulations to you and your team!” wrote Linda Conway, executive director of the press association, to the editors. “Quite impressive!”
Links to all of the Independent’s award-winning articles are in the online version of this story. —Edward Miller