The Reminder cleaned up at Manitoba's community newspaper awards this week, taking four first places and a whopping 11 podium finishes.The paper received four first-place finishes, three second-places and four third-places in the 2021 Manitoba Community Newspapers Association (MCNA) Better Newspapers Awards, released June 24. The awards, delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, covered work published in newspapers in 2020.
The Reminder finished first in its circulation class for the General Excellence Best in Class award, picking up the award for the sixth time in the past seven years. The paper has now won the category each year since 2015, with the exception of 2017.Reporter Eric Westhaver finished first in three categories. Westhaver received the Reporter of the Year honour for the first time since joining the paper in 2016. Westhaver also won the award for Columnist of the Year for the second time in as many years, submitting a column about three former teachers who had made an impact on him (Sandy Kowal, Monique Rainville and his mother, Susanne) and a column detailing the ingredients, technology and approvals behind COVID-19 vaccines in layman's terms.In the Best Feature Story category, Westhaver won for the third consecutive time, receiving a perfect score of 50 points out of 50. The story, "Finding an answer and purpose through MAID", was a chronicle of the final months of beloved Flin Flon teacher and MLA Clarence Pettersen, who chose medical assistance in dying (MAID) following a cancer diagnosis in 2018, as well as a discussion about the grief and healing that followed the diagnosis and death for Judy Pettersen, Clarence's widow.The Reminder's three second-place finishes came in the Best Front Page category (in the paper's circulation class) and for two individual honours for Westhaver - in the Best Spot News Photo category for a photo of the May 22, 2020 fire near the Co-op gas storage facility near Timber Lane and in the Photographer of the Year category.In the second category, Westhaver's honoured photos included a shot of Flin Flon Bomber Troy Quinn and Greg Pruden having a playful fight during the Bombers' Winter Classic game Feb. 23, the aforementioned gas fire photo, a photo of Teddy Trout and Flinty wearing masks (incorrectly) during the Trout Festival Canada Day parade, a photo of drag performer Miss Bijoux waving from a Canada Day parade float and a photo of softball player Alex Quaal hitting a ball during a slo-pitch game at Centoba Park.The third-place honours for the paper came in the Best All-Around Paper category and Best Editorial Page for the paper's circulation class, with Westhaver coming third for the Best Photo Essay category and Best Better Communities Story. The latter two were received for a photo gallery of events during the 2020 edition of Flin Flon Pride and for "Drive-in dodges legal tie-up, opens up for summer", a story in the June 10, 2020 issue about the opening - after legal wrangling regarding COVID-19 public health orders - of the Big Island Drive-In.For work done during 2020, The Reminder received a total of two first-place wins and six podium finishes in the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspaper Association (SWNA) Better Newspapers Competition Awards, which were announced in May 2021.During the time period, The Reminder was staffed by publishers Nancy Johnson and Gord Brewerton, reporters Cassidy Dankochik and Westhaver, sales representative Sharon Kirkup, office manager Shannon Thompson and layout technician Tracy Trydal. Johnson and Dankochik have since moved on from the paper, with Johnson now the publisher and director of advertising with Driftwood Gulf Islands Media in British Columbia and Dankochik now the sports editor of the Carillon, the local newspaper for Steinbach, Manitoba.
The 11 podium finishes are the highest number The Reminder has received in a provincial newspaper competition - the paper's previous record was nine, achieved in the 2019 MCNA awards.The Reminder and its staff thanks the MCNA and the competition’s judges for their consideration, congratulates other MCNA members and award winners for their work and, as always, thanks its readers and community for their continued support.