The Chinook Observer won first place for general excellence in the 2021 Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Better Newspaper competition. General Excellence is the highest award presented to Washington newspapers, representing the best of the industry. This is the Observer’s second outright win in a row and its third in recent years.
Patrick Webb led the Observer’s many other statewide awards. He was named the state’s Feature Writer of the Year. In addition, he won first place for covid coverage for a sensitive account of his mother’s death; first place for a lifestyle profile of the Long Beach Peninsula Friends of Facebook and its popular moderator; third place for an animal feature about a rabbit rescue; first place for his arts story about a Bay Center painter; and first place for a sports personality feature about the Naselle football coach’s career and retirement.
• Luke Whittaker, second place for a feature story about gold-mining hobbyists; second place for a short feature story about blueberry picking; third place for comprehensive coverage of the Naselle salmon hatchery; second place for a photo essay about the peninsula’s 2020 July 4 celebration (shared with Ashley Nerbovig); third place for a photo essay about local people dealing with the pandemic (shared with Hailey Hoffman); third place for a color portrait of a little girl picking blueberries; third place (shared with Emily Lindblom and Edward Stratton) for Coast River Business Journal
• Brandon Cline, first place for government reporting for a story about local election security; third place for a business story about Cottage Bakery
• Ashley Nerbovig, second place for government reporting for a story about an official making an inappropriate sexual advance; third place for social issue coverage of a Black Lives Matter protest; second place for a photo essay about the peninsula’s 2020 July 4 celebration (shared with Luke Whittaker)
• Jeff Clemens, second place for comprehensive coverage of a dangerous highway curve that resulted in corrective measures; third place in crime and court coverage for a story about an Ilwaco bear feeder
• Randy Wrighthouse, first place for feature page design
• Matt Winters, third place for an editorial calling for a local landmark’s name to be changed from that of a slave plantation-owning Confederate
In addition to those named above, 2020-21 winning team members — staff, columnists, freelance contributors and designers — included Marlene Quillin, Kristin Inskeep, Alyssa Evans, Aaron Mead, Don Jenkins, Cate Gable, Cory McKeown, Joyce Lang, Nick Nikkila, David Campiche, Wayne Downing, Leisa Jennings, Madeline Kalbach, Susan Stauffer, Sydney Stevens, Nancy Lloyd, Jane Webb, Bonnie Cozby, Matthew Vann, Andrew Renwick, John Bruijn, Kevin Weidow and all of our advertisers, letter writers and readers.
This year’s contest — covering April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021 — was judged by members of the Kentucky Press Association.
The Chinook Observer is part of EO Media Group, an Oregon-based family-run business. A total of 121 awards were presented to EO Media Group papers this year, including general excellence to the Bend Bulletin, first among Oregon’s largest newspapers; The Astorian, first in its circulation category; Capital Press, second; and Pendleton’s East Oregonian and the La Grande Observer, third.