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Posted on Oct 31, 2017

Post-Register wins 16 awards in newspaper contest

The staff at The Quincy Valley Post-Register recently won 16 awards at the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association’s 2017 Better Newspaper Contest, with seven won by sports editor Sebastian Moraga.
“It’s gratifying to be recognized by our peers in the newspaper industry, but these awards are particularly special because they recognize the work of each and every member of our staff,” said Joe Pitt, publisher of the Post-Register. “Producing the newspaper each week is truly a team effort, and these honors validate that group effort.”
The awards were announced at WNPA’s 130th annual conference, which was held in Olympia on Oct. 13.
Moraga, who covers sports and schools as well as writes on a variety of topics throughout the year in Quincy Valley, added to his reputation as a storyteller, winning first place in the Post-Register’s group for two of his articles and a collection of columns.
• Best Health or Medical Story: “You can pause but never stop,” about a pregnant bodybuilder. “She had no airs about her and was as convinced as can be that anyone can do what she does and change their lives,” Moraga said.
• Best Personality Profile, Long: “Requiem for a good sport,” about Arnie Ybarra, a longtime para-pro and coach in Quincy. “The Ybarra family was incredibly gracious and welcoming to me during the days after the death of Coach Ybarra. I know I was the one who pushed the keys on my laptop, but they created the article every bit as much as I did. All I had to do was listen to them go from joy to sadness and back to joy again,” Moraga said.
• Best General Interest Column or Blog: Shine columns. Moraga said, “This one is special. I got out of college in 2002 with dreams of being the next Dave Barry, so to win an award for my columns feels awesome!”
He also took a first place for a sports photo, one he took as soccer player Axel Medina scored.
“I owe this one to Coach Bill Alexander,” Moraga said. “I was brand-new to Quincy, and I covered a Jacks boys soccer game from the back of one of the goals, sitting next to him in the golf-cart-like vehicle he sometimes drove. The memory of taking that photo is him leaning way back so I could get a clear shot.”
Moraga won second place in the Best Business Feature Story category with “Longtime barber tries on a different kind of grooming.” About that article, Moraga said, “Fernando Avalos and Brian Main were very kind to me and my constant questions. Two of my uncles are barbers, so being in their shop brought back a lot of cool memories.”
Moraga won a second place for Best Personality Profile, Short, with “Wenatchee’s Pybus Market a Hangout Spot, and he took third place in Best General Feature Story, Short, with “Dry Falls redefines awesome.”
How does he feel about winning so many awards? “It’s a nice feeling to be able to win awards this many years apart. I also won seven in one night in 2009.”
Asked if he had a certain approach for his award-winning stories, Moraga said: “Not really. I am a curious sort to begin with, so I just let my curiosity be my guide, try to find out ways to empathize with the folks I interview, and try to answer the questions I would like to have answered if I were the reader. I have learned over the years that everyone, unfailingly, everyone has a good story to tell, so the challenge is to find it.”
Graphic designer Jessica Blancas won a first place in the category of Single Ad for a Single Advertiser – Cave B, and she took second place for Most Original Idea for an ad for the Quincy Animal Shelter.
“One of my favorite things about my job is being able to work with clients that allow me to run with an idea and just have fun with it, and then to have my work recognized just makes me want to work harder on the next project,” Blancas said.
Editor Dave Burgess took second place in the Best News Story, Short, category for “Intermodal facility eyed for waste shipments.”
“This was one of my early stories in Quincy – a great topic with lots of interesting aspects,” Burgess said.
He won third place for Best Health or Medical Story with “Plan emerges for medical center,” and he took third place in the Best Editorial category with “District makes a point with parents.”
The staff, including Sunshine Didra, ad manager, and Jill FitzSimmons, the former editor, won first place in Special Events/Festivals Special Sections for the 2016 George Crier and third place in the Tourism/Community Guide Special Sections category for the Visitors Guide, 2016-2017.
The staff also took first place with the 2017 Bridal Guide in the Lifestyle/Culture Special Sections category and took second place in the same category with the 2017 Spring Home and Garden section. Freelance writer Jeannie Moraga wrote many of the stories in these two sections.
Burgess said he is proud of the Post-Register team for working together.
“Everyone pitches in,” he said, including Janet Lybbert, the bookkeeper.
“It was great attending the WNPA conference and hearing our names called out so many times, for stories and projects like the Bridal Guide that we all worked on,” Burgess said.
“With a small staff, we are producing quality work, and these WNPA awards are icing on the cake.”

By Post-Register Staff

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