In September, more than 100 newspaper publishers, journalists and photographers gathered in the Yakima Red Lion convention hall for the 125th Washington Newspaper Publishers Association’s awards ceremony — the Better Newspaper Contest. The Chinook Observer took second place for General Excellence in its group; its Our Coast visitors magazine won first place in the state and individual staff members were honored for their work.

The Chinook Observer entries were judged among newspapers with 2,751-5,000 circulation.

Damian Mulinix

Damian Mulinix

Photojournalist Damian Mulinix came away with the most citations of any photographer in Washington state and was awarded both Best Photographer of the Year and the Miles Turnbull Photo of the Year award for his dramatic image of the Dale Ostrander surf rescue.

Damian won numerous other photographic awards including Best Blog (; first and third places for Best Feature Page Design; Best Black and White Photo Essay; both first and second place awards for Best Color Sports Photo — Feature; first and second places for Best General News Photo, Black and White; and Best Color Sports Photo — Action.

Other Observer staff were also honored. In the Best Breaking News Story category, Amanda Frink took third place for “Truly a Miracle,” the story that accompanied the Dale Ostrander rescue photo (Aug. 9, 2011). Editor and publisher Matt Winters won second place for his editorial “High-danger Highways,” a commentary of the British ITO World data aggregating vehicle fatalities by location (Nov 30, 2011); and freelancer Cate Gable received a first place award in the Best Environmental Story category for “The Moth Man of Bay Center” about Dick Wilson’s capture and taxonomic record of local moth varieties (July 19, 2011).

In the category of Best Tourism and Community Guide, Advertising Sales Rep Andrew Renwick, Production Manager John Brujin and former Coast Weekend Editor Kathleen Strecker won first place for the publication “Our Coast.”

The entries were judged by the New York Press Association.