The Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram have been named the daily and weekend Newspapers of the Year, respectively, in the Maine Press Association’s 2013 Better Newspaper Contest.

The newspapers also won the award for Best Website in the competition for dailies and weekend papers.

In addition, the staff of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram won 48 awards, including 18 first-place honors.

The Maine Sunday Telegram was named weekend Newspaper of the Year for the third time in four years. With the win for the Press Herald, the Portland papers swept the Newspaper of the Year awards for the first time since 2000.

The last paper to win the daily and weekend awards in the same year was the Sun Journal of Lewiston, in 2009.

Lindsay Tice, a longtime staff writer for the Sun Journal, was named Journalist of the Year by the association. Michael Shepherd, a reporter for the Kennebec Journal, was the winner of the annual Bob Drake Young Writer’s Award. And the association’s first Unsung Hero Award went to Nancy Larsen of The Ellsworth American.

For the second year in a row, the Mount Desert Islander of Bar Harbor was named Newspaper of the Year in the competition for weeklies with a circulation of 4,000 or more, and the York County Coast Star of Kennebunk won the award in the competition for smaller papers.

The winners were announced Saturday night during the MPA’s annual Fall Conference at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel and Conference Center in Bar Harbor. The daylong conference drew more than 240 people.

Staff at the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville also received 16 awards at the conference.

All of the journalism work that was cited in the contest was published between April 1, 2012, and March 31, 2013.

Among the first-place awards, the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram won for categories ranging from illustration, page design and video to photography, feature writing, investigative journalism and editorials.

Highlights included a first-place Arts/Lifestyle feature award to staff writer Tom Bell, whose “People of the Forest” chronicled his family’s trip to a remote region of Russia.

Another first-place honor went to staff writers David Hench, Tux Turkel and Kelley Bouchard for an investigative series titled “Deadly Force.” The series examined police use of deadly force when responding to situations that involved mentally ill people.

The investigation, involving hundreds of interviews and thousands of pages of documents, revealed that Maine and the rest of the country have failed to employ methods or invest in training that could defuse life-threatening situations.

Individual first-place awards went to Bill Nemitz, for local columnist; Michael Fisher for illustration; Brian Robitaille for front page design; the staff for best editorial page; the staff for best business section; Dave Epstein for news blogging; Meredith Goad for features blogging; and Gabe Souza for news video.

Other first-place winners included: John Richardson and staff for a spot news story; Edward D. Murphy for analysis; Bob Keyes, Critics Award; Nate Thompson, for a news/sports headline; Greg Kesich for an opinion column; Glenn Jordan for a sports story; Steve Craig for a sports feature; and Kevin Thomas for a sports column.

First-place winners from the Kennebec Journal included photographers Joe Phelan for best news photo and Andy Molloy for best feature photo.

At the Morning Sentinel, photographer Michael G. Seamans took home first place for “best picture story,” for a series of photos about a fire in Waterville and its victims.

Thirty newspapers entered the contest, submitting a total of 1,443 entries in 57 categories.

The Sun Journal was the winner of the Freedom of Information Award for daily and weekend papers, and Jennifer Feals and Laura Dolce of the York County Coast Star won the award for weeklies.

The Best Website award in the competition for weekly papers went to The Ellsworth American.

At a luncheon Saturday, the association also inducted three new members into its Hall of Fame: Don Hansen, Scott Haskell and Emery “Legs” Labbe.

Over the course of 30 years, Hansen was a reporter, editor, political columnist, editorial writer and editorial page director for the Press Herald and Telegram and the Portland Evening Express.

Haskell was a photographer and photo editor with the Bangor Daily News before retiring in 2011 after a 33-year career.

Labbe, a well-known figure in Aroostook County’s St. John Valley, was a sportswriter for the St. John Valley Times for more than 30 years and publisher of the paper for a decade.

The Hall of Fame, begun in 1998, honors people with Maine ties who have made outstanding contributions to the newspaper profession.

Complete results from the Better Newspaper Contest will be posted Sunday on the Maine Press Association’s website, at

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