Spotlight nabs five Press Association Awards

The Spotlight took home five New York Press Association Better Newspaper awards at this year's Better Newspaper contest and conference.

The awards, celebrating newspaper excellence in stories, photos and advertising that was published in 2009, were given out March 26 and 27 at the Gideon Putnam in Saratoga Springs.

Reporter Charles Wiff placed first in the News or Feature Series category for his stories about the special election held for New York's 20th Congressional District. Wiff, who covered Saratoga County for The Spotlight before moving to the Town of Bethlehem beat, wrote a series of 20 stories over the course of three months on the contentious election.

Wiff said his work is indicative of the importance of weekly newspapers.

One of the challenging things about writing for a weekly newspaper is making the news relevant to the reader well after a story has broken. So we have to consistently provide quality, in-depth coverage on an issue that our readers aren't going to get anywhere else. I thought I was able do that well with the special-election coverage.

The judges thought so, too. They noted Wiff's "fluid writing that examines many aspects of this intense race" and said Wiff "demonstrates thorough, reliable understanding of [the] race and its importance to the community."

Reporter Dan Sabbatino placed second in the same category for a series of stories on the Town of New Scotland's wrestling with the issue of big-box development in its commercial zone.

The judges said the story was a "well researched and well reported story of a community's opposition to large-scale development."

Sabbatino said covering the issue was a valuable experience.

"I'm glad to have had the opportunity to have covered such a controversial issue, and one that is prevalent in so many other towns across the nation," Sabbatino said.

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