Staff at The Astorian, Chinook Observer and Seaside Signal newspapers have been honored for their work by the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Astorian earned three first-place awards and three runner-up certificates in the annual Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest.

The newspaper competes against medium-sized newspapers in Oregon, Washington state, Alaska, Idaho and Montana with newsrooms of between eight and 16 staff.

Sports reporter Gary Henley earned the first-place award for sports writing for his coverage of Seaside High School’s boys repeat state basketball championship. Coincidentally, the award was announced Monday on the 20th anniversary of his hire date on the newspaper’s staff.

Photographer Colin Murphey earned the first-place award in the general photography category for a photo of volunteers releasing young common murres into the surf near Haystack Rock. His photo essay of fire devastation in Paradise, California, was the runner-up in that category. He was also runner-up in the sports photo category for a shot of a pole vaulter.

The Astorian’s editorial board earned first place in the editorial and commentary division for a portfolio of three editorials about former Clatsop County Manager Cameron Moore, the endorsement of Tiffiny Mitchell for the state House of Representatives and the problem of student homelessness.

The Chinook Observer in Long Beach, Washington, competing against all small-sized publications in the five states, was the runner-up in the general excellence category.

Reporter Luke Whittaker, who writes for the Observer and the Columbia River Business Journal, earned four awards. A collection of his photographs earned first place for best portfolio. His photo of a woman clutching a dog at a Long Beach apartment fire earned first place in the spot news photography category. He was the runner-up in spot news reporting for his story about the fire. He was also the runner-up in the general news photography category for his “shop with a cop” photo.

R.J. Marx, editor of the Seaside Signal, was the runner-up in the column writing category for Southern Exposure.

All three newspapers are part of EO Media Group, a family-owned regional company based in Salem.

“Our journalists strive every day to cover the communities they serve,” said Jim Van Nostrand, editor of The Astorian. “I could not be more proud of their work.”