The Lake Report has been nominated for 14 provincial awards in recognition of the newspaper's journalism, advertising and community service.
The finalists for the Ontario Community Newspapers Association 2021 Better Newspaper Competition were announced Monday and The Lake Report received 11 top three finalist nominations and three honorable mentions – more awards than any other newspaper in the province.
First, second and third place winners will be unveiled in a virtual ceremony on April 29.
The competition attracted entries from community publications of all sizes from across the GTA and as far afield as Fort Frances, New Liskeard and Cornwall.
Two other NOTL publications are among the finalists. The NOTL Local garnered two nominations and the Advance received one.
"It's a real honour to be recognized and honoured by your peers in the industry," said Richard Harley, founder and editor-in-chief of The Lake Report.
"With only two full-time journalists, one part-timer and an army of community correspondents and freelance contributors, we are proud of what we have accomplished in the past four years."
Most of The Lake Report's nominations were in "open" categories, meaning the paper was competing against publications of all sizes, many with much larger staffs and more resources, Harley noted.
The newspaper's Pandemic Heroes campaign, a 15-week project that highlighted the hard work of individuals and groups in the community amid the COVID pandemic, was recognized with three awards, including the association's prestigious Community Service honour.
The June 3, 2021, four-page wrap for Pandemic Heroes, highlighting the full four-month campaign and how the community pulled together during COVID, is a finalist for Best Feature Pages and In-House Promotion. The front page featured a photo mosaic comprised of hundreds of other photos and depicting the Queen Street clock tower.
The Lake Report also received an honorable mention for Best Creative Ad, for Marion Minhorst's "Rent My Husband" handyman spot.
Harley credited the newspaper's small but creative advertising staff of Megan Vanderlee, Rob Lamond and Lisa Jeffrey for their hard work and helping local advertisers get their messages out to the community.
The Lake Report is one of three finalists in the overall General Excellence category (6,500 to 12,499 circulation), along with the Haliburton Highlander and Fort Erie Post.
In the Premier Awards category, the paper was nominated as a top three finalist in the following categories:
*Best Rural Story (circulation under 9,999), for Jill Troyer's Oct. 15, 2020, story and Don Reynolds' photos of the annual grape harvest.
*Best Headline Writing, nominees Richard Harley and Kevin MacLean.
*Best Photo Layout, for "Top Chefs Asparagus Tips," Richard Harley photos and Jill Troyer story, published May 27, 2021.
*Best News Photo, Richard Harley, for a photo from Niagara District Airport depicting people using a special helicopter service to shuttle over the U.S. border, published Jan. 21, 2021.
*Most Creative Grip and Grin Photo, Jessica Maxwell, for a photo of artist Filomena Pisano and her artwork being sold to support women's programs, published Aug. 5, 2021.
*Photographer of the Year, Richard Harley, for a portfolio of four photographs in the Community, Feature, News and Sports categories.
*Community Service, the Pandemic Heroes campaign, February to June 2021.
*Best Front Page (under 9,999 circulation): A conceptual design for Canada Day, with a flag at half-mast and 1,140 orange stars representing the lives of Indignenous children lost to the residential school system to that date.
*Best Feature Pages, Pandemic Heroes four-page wrap with mosaic cover of the clock tower on Queen Street, published June 3, 2021.
*Best In-House Promotion, Richard Harley and Kevin MacLean, Pandemic Heroes, four-page wrap with mosaic cover of the clock tower on Queen Street, published June 3, 2021.
Honorable Mention awards:
*Best Feature or News Series (circulation under 9,999), for a series of four stories on the historic Rand Estate, (nominees Richard Harley, Elizabeth Masson and Evan Saunders).
*Best Creative Ad, "Rent My Husband."
*Online Breaking News Coverage, Richard Harley, for early coverage of a multi-million dollar fire on Townline Road, Feb. 9, 2021. Late on a freezing cold night, with all access roads closed, Harley had to trek through farm fields to get close enough to photograph the scene.