The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram won several first-place awards in a national contest sponsored by the Society for Features Journalism. The paper claimed top honors in its class for best section, best series, best integrated storytelling and best niche product.

In addition, staff writers Matt Byrne and Eric Russell won individual writing awards.

The newspaper won first place among newspapers with a circulation under 90,000 for best series or project for the “The Challenge of Our Age,” an ongoing series about Maine’s aging population. The judges called it “a wonderful series that uses almost every element at our disposal – video, interactivity, graphics and, most of all, fine writing. Stunning work.”

The series also won first place for best integrated storytelling for its use of online capabilities and social media outlets. It was recognized earlier this year with the 2013 Scripps Howard Award for Community Journalism.

The Press Herald’s Thursday entertainment planner took first place for best niche product. Judges cited the publication’s “energy, style and clarity,” along with informative calendars and full-length features highlighting the region’s music, food, film and culture.

The paper tied for first place for best overall features sections, which include Audience, Food and the Thursday entertainment planner.

“Traditional in its approach to feature sections, the Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram reaches beyond the predictable to cover art, travel and music,” the judges said.

Byrne won a second-place award for his story about a teenager shot by a state police trooper in West Paris. Russell took third place in narrative writing for “The Long Goodbye,” a story about a man who spent 19 years caring for his wife after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.