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Rodriguez, Smith, Russell top award winners for DSN in annual state-wide contest

WENATCHEE - The trio of Vanessa Rodriguez, Rod Smith and Corey Russell claimed seven of the 12 awards bestowed on the Daily Sun News of Sunnyside last Friday night at the annual Washington Newspaper Publishers Association convention.

Rodriguez, a graphic design specialist for the DSN, was a three-time award winner in the 2010 Better Newspaper Contest.

The "Happy holidays from Les Schwab Tires" advertisement she created was deemed second best in the category of best use of processed color in an ad smaller than a full page. The contest judges complimented Rodriguez on the use of the photo that fit nicely with the theme of the ad.

Rodriguez also snared a pair of third-place awards for ads she designed. The first one was for the Flicks & Games store in Sunnyside in the category of conveying an image. The other third-place award came in the category of best self-promotion of a newspaper for her "We spell it out for you" ad, which the contest judges described as a "...fun ad idea, eye-catching and sends a very clear message."

Smith, the DSN's digital technican/photographer, walked away from the convention with two awards.

In the best color photo page category he won top honors for a pictorial essay on the Oak Creek feeding station. The contest judges commented that Smith's work was "...a nice collection of photos, especially the dominant photo of the elk sparring."

Smith, too, claimed a second-place prize in the category of best color pictorial photo (floral/scenery/abstract graphic appeal). The contest judges described Smith's photo of a bird among fallen autumn leaves as a "great shot" with amazing colors. They also commended Smith for having the patience to wait for a bird to land, and for his skill in properly cropping the photo.

Russell, one of four reporters on the DSN staff, won a pair of awards in the annual Better Newspaper Contest, both coming in the category of opinion page editorials.

Russell's editorial about a Sunnyside coffee shop and its scantily clad baristas, entitled "Giggidy, Giggidy," was deemed the best opinion piece. The contest judges were impressed with the humorous nature of the editorial, and noted that "...the fact that it was on a local issue was a plus."

Another opinion page editorial that Russell wrote, entitled "Is Sarah Palin retarded?," was awarded second-place honors. "Again, the humor was a great way to sell the ideas," commented the judges. "Most editorial pages don't have much humor, or if they do the satire is kind of pompous. In this case, he turned tables and scored a direct hit," the judges added.

The contest judges went on to say that Russell's columns were "by far the best editorials in this circulation group" and that all three of his editorials were "fun reads."

The Daily Sun News also won three photographic awards, one each by reporters Lynda Jo Gross, Jennie McGhan and John Fannin.

A photo by Gross of a boy playing near the Yakima River during the evening hours was deemed the top shot in the category of best color scenic or pictorial photo. The judges complimented Gross on the composition of the photograph, the nice colors and shadows. "A great photo among a category of great photos," commented the judges.

McGhan's photo of a house fire won second-place honors in the category of best spot news color photographs. The contest judges noted the strong series of photos that McGhan secured at the blaze.

Fannin was the third-place winner in the category of best sports color photograph for a shot he took at the Grandview rodeo of a mutton bustin' competitor. "Nice job capturing the boy's reaction," commented the judges.

Also bringing home awards from Wenatchee were advertising layout specialist Aaron Rider and DSN production department manager Kim Taylor Morris.

Rider designed an ad entitled "It's gonna be a great year for family health care," and it was deemed the best in the category of best youth oriented advertisement. The contest judges commented that "...whenever you put a cute baby as the focus of an ad, it draws your attention, but once your attention is drawn, the information tied it all together."

Morris earned second-place honors in the category of most original idea for an ad she designed that was entitled "When I grow up." The judges said they liked the conveyance of the message that the business was a great place to work, and commended her for choosing a unique block border around the ad.

Contest judges also provided each of the newspapers in the state a general critique of their pages. The newspapers were judged in five areas, with scores of 1 to 10 awarded in each area.

The Daily Sun News scored highest in the area of providing local news and community events, receiving a score of 9.

In the areas of photos/graphics and page design, the DSN received identical scores of 7.

The judges awarded scores of 5 in the areas of advertising and opinion pages.

Combined, the Sunnyside Daily Sun News totaled 33 points from a possible perfect score of 50.

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