PBN takes two first-place awards in R.I. Press annual contest

PBN STAFF WRITER Eli Sherman, second from right, earned first place honors in the Rhode Island Press Association's annual journalism contest in the Investigative/Analytical News Story category ahead of the Providence Journal's Amanda Milkovits, left, Katherine Gregg and representing Katie Mulvaney on the far right, Journal Executive Editor Alan Rosenberg. / COURTESY PAUL J. SPETRINI PHOTOGRAPHY
PBN STAFF WRITER Eli Sherman, second from right, earned first place honors in the Rhode Island Press Association's annual journalism contest in the Investigative/Analytical News Story category ahead of the Providence Journal's Amanda Milkovits, left, Katherine Gregg and representing Katie Mulvaney on the far right, Journal Executive Editor Alan Rosenberg. / COURTESY PAUL J. SPETRINI PHOTOGRAPHY

NORTH KINGSTOWN – Providence Business News’ stories took first-place honors in two categories in the annual Rhode Island Press Association journalism contest, based on work done in 2017. In addition, with four second-place awards as well as one honorable mention, PBN earned recognition for six stories and one design effort in RIPA’s annual effort to recognize the best journalism produced by publications in the region. The awards dinner and Rhode Island Journalism Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place Friday at the Quonset O Club.

Eli Sherman earned PBN’s two first-place showings, one in the Investigative/Analytical News Story category for “Are we dealing with reality on pensions?” a story that looks at the continuing challenges faced by the state worker pension funds even after the landmark 2011 pension reform effort.

Sherman also took home top honors in the Reporting on the Environment category for his examination of the real effects of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, titled “RGGI: Flawed or national model?” The story explains just what RGGI is and whether it has had the intended effect of lowering air pollution in the states that have taken part in the program (hint: emissions have fallen but it’s unclear if RGGI is the reason).

Three PBN staffers earned second-place honors: Anne Ewing, Emily Gowdey-Backus and Sherman. Ewing earned second place in the Best Newspaper Front Page category thanks to her Sept. 1, 2017, PBN front page, “Can free service awaken R.I. commuter rail?”

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PBN'S FRONT PAGE from Sept. 1, 2017, took second-place honors in the annual Rhode Island Press Association journalism contest. PBN Production Director Anne Ewing designed the page.
PBN’S FRONT PAGE from Sept. 1, 2017, took second-place honors in the annual Rhode Island Press Association journalism contest. PBN Production Director Anne Ewing designed the page.

Gowdey-Backus was runner-up in the Unique/Most Unexpected Story category for her feature on the multitude of historical societies in Rhode Island, “The price of preserving local history.”

Sherman added two second-place awards to his two firsts for “Don’t tell me we’re dead,” which was honored in the News Story – in-depth category and “Are the ‘stars aligned’ for marine tech?” which took home second place in the Science/Health Care Story grouping.

The final PBN award, an honorable mention, went to Editor Mark S. Murphy in the Editorial Writer category for a selection of pieces in the course of the year, “Mattiello not showing leadership,” “Get over it, PawSox stadium deal is not a repeat of 38 Studios,” and “For R.I.’s economic health, it’s time for pension reform, part II.”

Rhode Island Monthly won the most first-place awards, with 14, an increase from the four it earned a year ago. The Providence Journal, the big winner last year with 19 first-place awards, took home 11 this year. The Independent earned three first places, while East Side Monthly, Mercury and the Valley Breeze tied with PBN with two first-place awards. Providence Monthly, South County Life and the Westerly Sun each garnered a single first-place award in the RIPA contest.

Four journalists were inducted into the Rhode Island Journalism Hall of Fame: Joe Baker, retired reporter for the Newport Daily News: the late Peter Connell, a sports writer and editor for Observer Publications and the Valley Breeze Observer; Katherine Gregg, longtime Statehouse reporter for the Journal; and the late Bob Thayer, a photographer for the Journal.

James Bessette, researcher at Providence Business News, was re-elected president of RIPA. Michael McDermott of The Providence Journal will remain as vice president. Sarah Francis of Rhode Island Monthly will remain as treasurer. And Linda Lotridge Levin, University of Rhode Island, emeritus, will remain as secretary.

Sherman previously had received first-place honors from the New England Newspaper and Press Association for “Don’t tell me we’re dead,” which looked at the financial fortunes of local newspapers in the region, while Gowdey-Backus took home first-place honors for “The price of preserving local history.” Sherman and PBN staff writer Mary MacDonald shared first-place honors for their two-part series on the need to rebuild the 6-10 Connector and the Providence neighborhood that it disturbed when it was built originally.