Times Observer staff wins two Keystone Press Awards

A week-long series of stories looking at the drug problem in Warren County published last April has been awarded a Keystone Press Award by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.

The first-place honor recognized the work of every member of the Times Observer news staff.

The PNA also recognized a cover illustration for last year’s Fall Sports special edition with an honorable mention for photo/illustration.

“This award for our series “The Evil Among Us: Drugs in Warren County” is particularly gratifying,” said Times Observer Publisher Bob Patchen. “The series was judged first among those done by many other newspapers that are more than twice our size.” There are 46 daily newspapers in Pennsylvania with under 20,000 paid circulation, the largest circulation category in the Keystone Professional Award judging. The judging was done by editors outside of Pennsylvania.

“The Keystone Press Awards reinforce excellence by individuals in the newspaper profession, by recognizing journalism that consistently provides relevance, integrity and initiative in serving readers, and faithfully fulfills its First Amendment rights/responsibilities,” according to the PNA’s mission statement.

The series looked at the raw numbers of drug cases, trends in local drug abuse, the treatment of drug users and prosecution of offenders, as well as the profile of a former drug abuser from the county who is now counseling drug users in Chautauqua County, N.Y.

Those who produced the series were staff writers Brian Ferry, Josh Cotton, Ben Klein, Jacob Perryman, former staff writer Colin Kyler, Community Life Editor Diana Paddock, City Editor Tom Schultz and Managing Editor Eric Paddock.

Receiving the honorable mention for a cover illustration in which Eisenhower senior running back Johnny Pascuzzi and Youngsville senior running back Rocco Gatta, cross-county rivals, were depicted together under one helmet were Sports Editor Jon Sitler, who hatched the idea and took the original photos, and Creative Services Artist Julie Miller, who did the magic.

The honors bring to 22 the number of state-wide awards for editorial excellence presented to the Times Observer from the PNA and the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors over the past five years.