A pair of features reporters and The Gazette's features staff were honored Tuesday in a journalism contest covering North America.
Seth Boster, now in his second year with the media company, won first place for general feature in the 29th annual Excellence in Features Journalism contest sponsored by the Society for Features Journalism. Boster's award-winning piece, "The Cost of Being King," was a story about Jim Bishop, the legendary builder of Bishop Castle in the mountains southwest of Pueblo.
"A beautiful profile of a Colorado character," one judge commented. "What keeps crazy Jim Bishop working on his castle up in the mountains? Boster keeps you reading until the end to find out."
Stephanie Earls, who's worked at The Gazette since 2012, earned second place in the short feature (fewer than 1,000 words) category. Earls' amusing tale, "Weed or Wildflower," documented her own experience with a "flower" growing on her property.
"How is it possible to write a funny, compelling piece about a weed? Earls is a master at it - combining a first-person technique with humor and solid reporting in a story that has a lesson for us all: Know your plants!" one judge noted.
For the second time in four years, The Gazette's Life sections and GO! entertainment tab were named among the top three in North America in the under 90,000 circulation category of newspapers, based on presentation and writing, "sense of place and reflection of community," and service to readers.
"This publication has beautiful design and highly enjoyable stories that fit the community's love of the outdoors," judges wrote about The Gazette. "We particularly enjoyed 'The Stanley Hotel' feature (by Earls), which was a great mix of fun and travel."
More than 700 entries were judged in the contest, which honors the craft of feature storytelling and people who do it for a living.
"I'm fortunate to work with such a quality group of dedicated journalists," features editor Nathan Van Dyne said. "Their dogged devotion to finding and telling powerful stories is an asset to this community."