Members of the Record-Journal newsroom received awards this week from the state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
"It's always good to recognize great work, but it's even more important during a time when many public figures seek to discredit the journalists tasked with holding them accountable,” said Mike Savino, president of the Connecticut SPJ chapter and Record-Journal local and state news editor.
“Thursday's ceremony is just another example of how journalists at outlets throughout Connecticut, big or small, serve the communities around them,” he said.
The chapter held its Excellence in Journalism dinner at Grassy Hills Country Club in Orange Thursday night. During the event, Record-Journal reporters and columnists received a combined eight awards.
Categories were judged by other SPJ chapters across the country.
Meriden reporter Leigh Tauss placed first in the “continuing coverage” category for her reporting on the termination of former City Manager Guy Scaife and the tensions within City Hall that led to his ouster. The SPJ judges called the coverage “excellent accountability reporting … drawing on sources and Freedom of Information Act requests.”
Tauss was also awarded first place in the “investigative category” for her look at a dangerous police chase in Meriden last December, during which officers violated a series of rules meant to protect citizens.
Southington and Cheshire reporter Jesse Buchanan received first-place, along with Savino, in the “reporting series” category for their four-part series exploring the community impact of the 2007 Cheshire home invasion, marking the tragedy’s 10 year anniversary.
General assignment reporter Bailey Wright placed third in the “diversity coverage” category for her account of a local teen with Treacher Collins Syndrome who shared his story with middle school students, urging them to treat others with kindness.
Sports Editor Bryant Carpenter took second-place in the “sports column” category for his take in “PAPI & CIRCUMSTANCE: State’s final football poll should stand on principle.”
Savino and Managing Editor Eric Cotton placed third in “audio storytelling” for an episode of the Morning Record podcast in which both reflected on how they approached reporting on state Rep. Liz Linehan's account of sexual assault in the workplace.
Savino also placed first in “courts/crime” for his story about the hope college level classes give inmates in a Cheshire prison.
Digital Content Manager Richie Rathsack placed second in “video storytelling,” along with former Record-Journal digital producer Pete Paguaga, for a video celebrating 150 years at the Record-Journal.
“It's wonderful whenever the Record-Journal staff's outstanding work is recognized,” Cotton said. “This year's awards are especially gratifying in that they reflect the newspaper's continued commitment to in-depth and investigative journalism along with our transformation as a digital media company.”
During the event Thursday, Savino was reelected to the CT SPJ board of directors as immediate past president. He had been president for two one-year terms, reaching the chapter’s limit.