Allan B. Rogers Editorial Award winner:
New Hampshire Union Leader: To our readers (William Loeb)
The Allan B. Rogers Editorial Award goes to the New Hampshire Union Leader for its front-page editorial confronting — and condemning — the shameful history of child sexual abuse by former publisher William Loeb. The editorial, part of a powerful Page One package, came after Loeb’s stepdaughter came forward in May 2022 to say that Loeb sexually molested her repeatedly when she was 7 years old. The editorial acknowledged that Loeb had an outsized role in the political history of New Hampshire, and at the newspaper, but got right to the point: “We know now that William Loeb is not a man to be celebrated.” Explaining that the Union Leader has removed Loeb’s name from the masthead, the editorial ended with the moral clarity that has defined a free press since the founding of the country: “This newspaper will continue to hold the powerful accountable, whoever they may be. That is our duty to this state and to our readers.”

New England First Amendment Award Winner:
Sun Journal, Lewiston, ME: Steven Downs Trial
The Sun-Journal’s relentless, lengthy pursuit of public information and public access to a criminal trial occurring thousands of miles away from its Maine location is awarded this year’s New England First Amendment Award.

The Sun Journal’s reporting on a Fairbanks, Alaska, trial involving a local man charged with murder demonstrated a strong commitment to providing necessary information to its readers on a matter of public interest, persistence in pleading a case for full access to the trial and to crucial information, creating partnerships among news operations to gather and present information about the trial, and a financial commitment well outside normal newsroom operating circumstances.

The entry charts a rigorous, persistent, well-argued case for full remote access to trial proceedings and information about jury selection, while also arguing for and making proper use of– new technological means of reporting on a criminal trial. The effort to improve the nature and quality of remote access to the Alaskan courts likely will linger for many years.

As news organizations nationwide seek to rebuild public trust and confidence in good journalism, there is no better approach to that effort than doing the work well, in a manner that both informs the audience and educates it about the value to them of an independent and free press.

Use of Alaska’s own laws regarding trial coverage and audio-visual courtroom provisions, locating and working with a lawyer in Alaska, crafting direct letters and the filing of motions with the court, and gavel-to-gavel coverage of a trial of great local interest, are hallmarks of journalism that both serves readers and goes beyond daily reporting to include protection of the public’s rights to a fair and open system of justice.

Bob Wallack Community Journalism Award Winner:
Steve Collins, Sun Journal, Lewiston, ME
In her heartfelt nomination letter, Lewiston Sun Journal executive editor Judith Meyers introduces staff writer Steve Collins as a principled journalist willing to quit his previous newspaper job – on Christmas Eve, no less – to protest an ethical lapse by its owner. And while it is certainly true the bizarre circumstances surrounding his abrupt departure from the Bristol Press (and subsequent relocation to Maine eight months later) remains a tawdry chapter in New England journalism, it would be a disservice to define Collins solely by his response to this episode – no matter how noble or just.

More compelling in terms of his selection as the recipient of this year’s Bob Wallack Community Journalism Award is the remarkable breadth and scope of Collins’ work over a career spanning more than three decades.

Although each of the 2022 nominees was a deserving candidate, it would be hard to find a journalist more valuable to a newspaper franchise – or more impactful to Sun Journal readers throughout Androscoggin County – than Collins.

Simply put, his remarkable productivity has been surpassed only by a versatility all but gone from the newspaper industry. Mature and seasoned, Collins has proven himself adept at both straight and enterprise reporting during his years on the political and legislative beats. He also is a skilled researcher, adept at unearthing public documents and other data to connect the dots and enlighten readers, as well as an accomplished historian. Better still, he is a stylistic writer with a keen eye for detail, who is able to keep readers engaged through sophisticated, extended narratives.

While reading Collins’ delightful work on the Sun Journal’s recent 175th-anniversary edition, it became hard to ignore the obvious parallels with his forebears at the newspaper. A throwback in many ways, he continues the proud lineage of Dartmouth College graduate Nelson Dingley Jr., who purchased the (former) Lewiston Falls Daily Journal in September 1857 and found himself, not only sole proprietor, and editor, but also reporter, foreman, and bookkeeper. Collins probably hasn’t been asked to keep the Sun Journal’s balance sheets – yet. But one senses that he would gladly pitch in if needed.

Perhaps most noteworthy has been Collins’ impassioned work with young journalists, both at the Sun Journal and also through Youth Journalism International – an educational charity founded in 1994 by Steve and his wife, Jackie Majerus-Collins, to mentor aspiring journalists around the globe on issues of writing, ethics, and media literacy. Not surprisingly, Collins cited his ongoing work with the non-profit as a decisive factor in his 2015 decision to quit the Bristol Press.

Thank you, Steve, for continuing to fight the good fight and reminding us “old fogeys” (and young ones, too) why we were drawn to this business in the first place – and also for reminding us that, for all its well-documented shortcomings, journalism remains a worthy and necessary calling, more now than ever.

Sevellon Brown Journalist of the Year Award Winner:
Jill Harmacinski, Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, MA
When the news broke that an arrest was finally made, after 34 years, in the murder of an 11-year-old girl in Lawrence, Mass., reporter Jill Harmacinski was all over it. Marvin McClendon, 74, who formerly lived in Massachusetts, was charged on April 30 with the first-degree murder of Melissa Ann Tremblay, who was stabbed and left on the railroad tracks to be run over by a train in 1988. 

After reporting the initial arrest, Harmacinski quickly requested that her editor send her to Bremen, Alabama, where McClendon now lived. Editor Tracey Rauh brought the request to the publisher and Harmacinski was on a plane within three hours. Early the next morning, she made a long trek from her hotel to the family compound where McClendon resided. His sister and brother-in-law were at his house cleaning out the refrigerator. After Jill identified herself as a reporter, the sister shouted “we don’t know any more than they’ve written in the newspapers,” and went inside. Harmacinski did convince the brother-in-law to open up. She also located other family members, one of whom called McClendon a “mean old man.” After perusing the area and speaking to more people who wouldn’t go on the record, she headed to the courthouse in the rural community that is not an actual incorporated town. At the courthouse she requested the town clerk allow her to look through all public records related to McClendon. She read his two divorce decrees (one handwritten), and his criminal record which involved only numerous seat belt violations (“I guess he didn’t like to wear his seatbelt,” the friendly clerk said when handing over the file). And after finishing at the courthouse, Harmacinski headed into town to find people who knew him and would talk. That evening she made the hour’s drive back to her hotel – the closest place to Bremen she could find to stay – and began writing a powerful narrative looking deeply into the life of the man accused of this heinous crime. She worked with Rauh the following day and a story was produced for the Sunday paper and website. Harmacinski continued to report on the story and found more family members in nearby New Hampshire. McClendon was extradited to Massachusetts, arraigned and indicted, and is in jail awaiting trial.


Specialty Publication:
Distinguished: New Boston Beacon, Worcester Magazine
Newspaper of the Year: Providence Business News

Weekly newspapers, circulation of less than 5,000
Distinguished: Mt. Desert Islander, Martha’s Vineyard Times
Newspaper of the Year: Vermont Standard

Weekly newspapers, circulation of more than 5,000
Distinguished:  Seven Days, Inquirer and Mirror
Newspaper of the Year: Provincetown Independent

Daily newspapers, circulation of less than 10,000
Distinguished:  Brattleboro Reformer, Gloucester Daily Times, Patriot Ledger
Newspaper of the Year: Keene Sentinel

Daily newspapers, circulation between 10,000 – 20,000
Distinguished: Berkshire Eagle, Daily Hampshire Gazette, The Day
Newspaper of the Year:  Record-Journal

Daily newspapers, circulation of more than 20,000
Distinguished: The Republican, The Providence Journal
Newspaper of the Year:  Republican-American

Sunday newspapers, circulation of less than 25,000
Distinguished: Eagle-Tribune, Record-Journal, The Day
Newspaper of the Year: Berkshire Eagle

Sunday newspapers, circulation of more than 25,000
Distinguished: The Providence Journal, Telegram & Gazette
Newspaper of the Year:  The Republican, Springfield