The PQB News has picked up a trio of national awards.
Longtime reporter Michael Briones earned a pair of accolades, as the Canadian Community Newspaper Awards announced their 2023 list of winners.
Briones lapped the field, capturing both first- and second-place honours in the Best News Feature Photo category (circulation 10,000 and higher).
The paper also won a silver medal for best front page in its circulation category.
“It’s not surprising that our dedicated staff has won national honours,” said publisher Teresa Bird. “But I’m always more proud of the effort and service they provide to our communities, our readers and our advertisers throughout the year. They are certainly deserving of this recognition.”
The gold-medal shot was ‘It’s a Ruff Life’, a photo of Moto the dog racing down a hill with Bayleigh Edwards during a snow day at Parksville Community Park.
The judges gave it exceptional marks.
“Covering a rare snow day in Parksville, the photographer could have done the usual and focused on sliding motorists crashing at intersections or off on the side of the highway (no snow tires),” they said. “Instead, this action photo of snow sledding, with the dog adding to the composition. 99/100 near perfection.”
“It’s nice to be honoured,” said Briones, a journalist for more than 40 years who rejoined the PQB News in 2017 after having a previous stint in 1997. “The photo was taken after the region experienced a heavy snowfall overnight. I was at the right time at the right place. I was just focusing on the girl sledding down when the dog came into my viewer and I quickly snapped the photo. It is a fun and happy picture.”
The runner-up shot was a well-timed photo of an eagle being released back into the wild after a stay at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre.
“The look of the bird of prey escaping captivity after being released from the handler is priceless,” said the judges. “’Taking flight’ says the eagle, now healthy, as the photographer took the image from a nice perspective.”
“That was taken on top of Little Mountain,” said Briones. ” I was careful to choose a spot as there was a cliff a couple of steps away from the release area. I knew I had only seconds to capture the eagle being released and I was right. Just as staff from the recovery centre opened the cage, the eagle took off immediately. I was able to snap three successive shots before the bird was gone.”
Reporter Kevin Forsyth and editor Philip Wolf were also named along with Briones for their contributions to the consistent overall excellence of the Black Press publication’s front page.
The prestigious annual awards program features 27 unique categories honouring outstanding editorial, photography, multimedia and overall excellence in community newspaper publishing. The 2023 winners were selected from 798 entries for work published in 2022.