NLJ wins top awards in national contest

Amy Menerey, NLJ Reporter

Barker's winning photo from 2022. 

The photo, which ran in the July 28, 2022, edition, featured Thomas Curley, Becca Curley, Don Taylor and Jozee Lawler hefting a large pig through the mud with looks of sheer determination on their faces. 

Wyoming newspapers dominate competition for third straight year


The News Letter Journal has again earned awards for excellence, advertising, photography, writing and social media, this time in the National Newspaper Association Foundation’s 2023 Better Newspaper Contest and Better Newspaper Advertising Contest.


NLJ’s 15 awards include second place overall for General Excellence, naming Weston County’s largest newspaper one of the top newspapers in the country, in the non-daily, under 3,000 circulation division. 


“The News Letter Journal informs readers of county and county-seat government, school, and community activity and also includes a round-up of news from across the state in its well-written and well-designed paper,” the judges commented. “Photos and graphics throughout add interest, provide visual information, and draw readers to the written text. Editorial commentary both raises questions and concerns and also acknowledges when those concerns are addressed. Reader feedback is encouraged not just through letters but also through quickly — and anonymously — answered polls. Worth noting is the creative masthead with its subtle reminder each week of the Who-What-Where-When-Why of good journalism.”


“I have done a lot of judging through the years and especially this year and I have to say the competitors in the General Excellence category were especially inspiring in their overall quality,” said judge Julie Lane, Shelter Island Reporter, Mattituck, New York. “It was a real pleasure to read through these remarkable issues filled with excellent reporting and writing, great use of graphics and overall choice of stories.”


Additionally, NLJ’s sports editor, Sonja Karp, was awarded first place in the Best Sports Story division for her piece “Total Domination” about the Newcastle High School ladies’ basketball team’s winning streak. The judge wrote, “Got me excited in the first words. Well written.”


Alexis Barker, NLJ’s news editor, earned first place in the national contest as well, for her image from the Newcastle Area Chamber of Commerce’s Pig Wrestling event titled “The power of persuasion.” The photo, which ran in the July 28, 2022, edition, featured Thomas Curley, Becca Curley, Don Taylor and Jozee Lawler hefting a large pig through the mud with looks of sheer determination on their faces. 


“This image stood out among all of the other entries. For one, it was a solid feature photo (not a news photo, not a photo essay, not a portrait). Nice tight image with great emotion and well composed. Also just a funny slice of life that illustrates the region’s culture,” the judge commented.


Kim Dean, NLJ’s managing editor, praised the NLJ team and the community. 


“It’s been another great year for NLJ, and I really appreciate our team and the community that supports us. Every person on our staff deserves credit for their efforts, day in and day out, and I appreciate everything they do to create a newspaper worthy of these awards, while telling the story of Weston County,” she said.


“Knowing that one of the best newspapers in the whole country is produced in Newcastle, Wyoming, is a source of pride for our staff, and something we are committed to doing year-in and year-out,” News Letter Journal Publisher Bob Bonnar said. “I am constantly amazed at the work they do out of that little office on Main Street, and thrilled that they’ve been recognized again as being among the best-of-the-best this country has to offer.”



According to a press release from NNA, there were 1,312 entries in the editorial contest and 195 entries in the advertising contest, with 602 awards won by 92 newspapers in 33 states. 


The Wyoming Press Association — of which NLJ is a member — was awarded the fourth-annual “Best of NNA” Award for its 83 winning entries, beating out California, with 53 wins, and New Mexico, with 48 wins. It is WPA’s third award for excellence in editorial and advertising.


Judging was performed primarily by active community newspaper editors and publishers, as well as retired university journalism professors and retired or former newspaper professionals.


Established in 1885, the National Newspaper Association is the voice of America’s community newspapers and is one of the largest newspaper associations in the country. The NNA Foundation is the educational arm of the NNA. Its mission is to promote news literacy, protect the First Amendment and enhance the quality, role and capabilities of community newspapers and community journalists.


Winners will be recognized at an awards ceremony Sept. 30, during NNAFs 137th Annual Convention and Trade Show in Washington, D.C.


See the full list of NLJ’s awards on Page 8 of this newspaper.

News Letter Journal

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