The Loudoun Now team took home 11 Virginia Press Association awards for reporting, photography, page and advertising design, column and editorial writing. The awards ceremony was Saturday at Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa.
Photographer Douglas Graham alone won six awards, including Best in Show for his photo of horses leaping over a jump in the Oatlands Point to Point races.
Of the photo, taken from the base of the jump, a VPA judge wrote, “Perfect timing. Horses create a shape and energy moving the eye into the photo as the dramatic sky creates movement and more energy in the frame.”
Graham also won a first place award in the Online Slideshow category for his shots of Morven Park’s Polo in the Park event and a first place in the Personality or Portrait category for his photo of an Aldie man who helped save Pebbles the pig from a house fire. He won three second place awards: for a Waterford farmhouse in the Pictorial Photo category, for his Polo in the Park photo in the Sports Feature category, and for his feature story on Leesburg marine and transgender woman Connie Rice.
Graham shares that last second place award for the story on Rice with reporter Jan Mercker. The two spent a year getting to know Rice and her family, with the intention of lifting the curtain on what it’s like and what it means to live as a transgender person.
The newspaper took two of the top three prizes for investigative or in-depth journalism among Virginia’s large-ciruction weekly newspapers.
Danielle Nadler, Loudoun Now managing editor, took second place in the Investigative Reporting category for her coverage of the alleged misconduct of a Dominion High School band teacher that ultimately resulted in the suspension of Dominion Principal John Brewer. As community debate over the actions of one of the county’s most beloved principals ensued, Nadler’s reporting shined a light on how Loudoun County Public Schools handles touchy personnel situations.
Patrick Szabo Szabo won third place in the category for his year-long reporting on the series of management investigations, and the cost that has followed, in Purcellville’s town government.
Publisher and Editor Norman K. Styer took second place for his editorial writing. His winning entry addressed the need for the School Board to take more responsibility over personnel actions, the unproductive and divisive nature of the Trump-era political climate, and dysfuctional management style of the Purcellville Town Council.
Nadler won second place in the Health, Science and Environmental Writing category. Her entry included reporting on how Loudoun’s public schools are navigating the rise in food allergies, how a new psychiatric program for teens is saving lives, and how a partnership local farmers, chefs, and a food pantry provided low-income families with fresh produce and nutrition classes to address childhood obesity.
Columnist and licensed professional counselor Neil McNerney won second place for his column “Parenting with Purpose.” His winning columns were titled: “Telling Your Kids to ‘Toughen Up’ Doesn’t Work;” “Talking with Your Children About Tragic Events;” and “Kids These Days — Are Amazing.”
Advertising Manager Susan Styer and designer Lauren Fleming took home a second place award in the Home & Garden advertising category for their River’s Edge Landscape ad. Fleming and advertising sales representative Tonya Harding also won a second place in the Fashion & Personal Care category for their Blue Ridge Hospice ad.
The Loudoun Now team won second place for page design. Each week, the newspaper works with Leesburg company Electronic Ink for its page and advertising design.
Reporter Renss Greene secured a third place award in the Health, Science and Environmental Writing category. Greene’s winning entry included an article on an indoor farm in Sterling; how volunteers work to keep Loudoun water clean; and how Loudoun HOAs are working to repair the environment.
This was the second year Loudoun Now was eligible for VPA awards. The publication was started in November 2015, thanks to the outpouring of community members, experienced journalists, sales representatives and designers, many of whom had worked at Leesburg Today. Its first printed edition was Nov. 12, one week after the closure of Leesburg Today.