Virginia Press Association

Virginia Press Association Announces Sweepstakes and Best in Show Awards

The Virginia Press Association held its 2023 VPA Conference & Awards Banquet at the Short Pump Hilton on May 6.

The Virginia Press Association announced its Best in Show and Sweepstakes awards during the VPA News & Advertising Conference held at the Short Pump Hilton on Saturday, May 6. The following awards (judges’ comments have been included when provided) were presented at the awards banquet.


Grand Sweepstakes:

Daily: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Non-Daily 1: Smith Mountain Eagle

Non-Daily 2: The Tidewater News

Non-Daily 3: Fauquier Times

Non-Daily 4: Suffolk News-Herald

Specialty: Richmond Magazine


News Sweepstakes:

Daily 1: Northern Virginia Daily

Daily 2: The Free Lance-Star

Daily 3: Richmond Times-Dispatch

(Tie) Non-Daily 1: Amherst New Era-Progress

(Tie) Non-Daily 1: Nelson County Times

Non-Daily 2: Rappahannock News

Non-Daily 3: Fauquier Times

Non-Daily 4: InsideNoVa/Prince William

Online: The Harrisonburg Citizen

Specialty: Richmond Magazine


Advertising Sweepstakes:

Daily: Richmond Times-Dispatch

(Tie) Non-Daily 1: Smith Mountain Eagle

(Tie) Non-Daily 1: The Charlotte Gazette

Non-Daily 2: The Tidewater News

Non-Daily 3: Fauquier Times

Non-Daily 4: Suffolk News Herald

Specialty: Richmond Magazine


Best in Show

Digital Category

Daily Digital:  Eva Russo – Richmond Times Dispatch

“Great use of high-quality video interviews and proper insertion of photos

Non-Daily Digital: Luke Christopher, Roger Piantadosi, Robert Stevens, Julia Shanahan, Bob Hurley – Rappahannock News

Good photo slideshow & high-quality video”

Online Digital: Zia Faqiri – The Harrisonburg Citizen

“Fantastic videos and photos”

Graphics, Illustration and Art Category

Daily Graphics, Illustration and Art: Kira Rider – Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Good variety. I especially like the idea of using an ascending graph to illustrate elevations.”

Non-Daily Graphics, Illustration and Art: Jen Jaqua – The Smithfield Times

“Eye-catching font with creative design that doesn’t sacrifice the information presented in the story.”

Specialty Graphics, Illustration and Art: Doug Fuchs – Virginia Business Magazine

“Lots of information, easily understood with the somewhat unexpected Sim City-like graphics.”


Photography Category

Daily Photography: Shaban Athuman – Richmond Times-Dispatch

“The choice between first and second was agonizing. A beautiful moment, enhanced by the simplicity of the image.”

Non-Daily Photography: Luke Christopher – Rappahannock News

“Selecting a best of show in this category came down to two images: A Total Loss by Luke Christopher of Rappahannock News and Firefighters douse car fire by John Calhoun of The Prince William Times. Both are well composed images and while this judge loves the use of available lighting without the reflection off the firefighters’ turnout gear in the Calhoun’s image, it was the pull of the heartstrings of the little girl seemingly looking for affirmation in Christopher’s photo that pulled it into the lead.”

Online Photography: Mike Tripp – The Harrisonburg Citizen

“Nice contest with great web content. A fun story that really uncovered quite an interesting subculture.”

Specialty Photography: Zaid Hamid – Richmond Magazine

“Comic Traveler by Zaid Hamid of Richmond Magazine is this judge’s selection for Best in Show. This image of Lonnie Liston Smith has great colors and wonderful use of dramatic lighting. Hamid does an excellent job of framing the subject with the piano. The photo draws me in, and I want to sit and listen to Smith play a few jazz tunes.”


Writing Category

Daily Writing:  Joyce Chu – The Progress-Index

“A fascinating series of articles on the financial exploitation of the disadvantaged. I felt anger, sadness, and empathy for the plight of these individuals. Our job as reporters is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable, and Joyce Chu has provided a voice to the voiceless via a compelling narrative of interviews, as well as a dogged pursuit of the facts.”

Non-Daily Writing:  Cher Muzyk – The Prince William Times

“Great straight-news coverage of use of Virginia’s red flag law, providing readers insight into its purpose and use. Well written and unbiased reporting of many facets of a controversial topic. A good example of how news should be reported – balanced and factual.”

Online Writing:  Megan Schnabel and Markus Schmidt – Cardinal News

With this collection of work, your promo speaks for itself: “We will follow this story long after other media move on. You can, too.” Talk about delivering on a promise! Too often, local journalism flocks to the news event and marks its calendar for the anniversary. It was clear that much more time and effort went into these stories than the hours spent in front of a computer. It’s evident that access was rooted in trust and relationship building with the victims, and the sensory details included in the feature pieces might have slipped past the average reporter. I felt like I was there throughout this collection of work. But more than that, I had a clear picture of where the story could go. What I mean is these stories were more than just reporting what happened. They were a forward-thinking blend of news and features that illustrated tragedy, offered solutions, and held people accountable. Fantastic job sticking with the story!”

Specialty Writing:  Scott Bass – Richmond Magazine

This entry is well-written, deeply researched, and boldly presented. It covers a local issue that has national importance. The quotes from various sources are its greatest strength and those quotes are woven together skillfully with the kind of interpretation that allows readers to confidently reach their own conclusions about the issue.


Advertising Category

Daily Advertising: Kim Kelley – Bristol Herald Courier

“Nice execution good use of color, clean and uncluttered.”

Non-Daily Advertising: Rachel Nanney and Amanda Meadows – The Star Tribune

“The graphics and headline were eye catching and pretty darn creative! Loved the ad from top to bottom! Not your normal real estate ad with a bunch of listing and/or clutter. I would call them for my real estate needs!”

Specialty Advertising: Sarah Barton – Richmond Magazine

“Spectacular use of art. Clean and simple but eye catching.”

Presentation Category

Non-Daily Design and Presentation: Staff – InsideNoVa/Prince William

“Well executed election edition worked with the paper size. Packaging of content for readers ease was well done. Editions flowed and put content in place rather than cramming.

Tennessee Press Association judged the entries. For more information about the contest results, visit


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