Community News Group reportetrs, photographers earn awards

June 18th, 2015 10:27 am

First Posted: 3/20/2015

The Times Leader Community News Group had several wins in the 2015 Keystone Press Awards Contest that included sports coverage, investigative reporting, news features and photography.

Winners were announced March 19 by the Pennsylvania News Media Association as it honored work from reporters and photographers from the 2014 year.

The Community News Group consists of three weekly papers including the Abington Journal which covers the Abingtons area; the Sunday Dispatch, covering the Greater Pittston area, and the Dallas Post, covering the Back Mountain. The three papers are considered sister papers to the Times Leader.

The Abington Journal’s Rob Tomkavage earned a second-place award under the “News Feature Story” for his story “Locals dance for the kids” that details an annual dance marathon to raise money for fundraising at Penn State University.

Reporter Elizabeth Baumeister took a first-place award under the category for “Photo Story/Essay” for “Santa makes his rounds” which captures the Abington Lions Club chauffeuring a volunteer dressed as Santa Claus to the homes of children to give them early Christmas presents.

She also earned a first-place award for the category “Feature Photo” for a photo “Community opens heart to ailing girl” which accompanied a story detailing the struggles of a Clarks Summit youth undergoing a third heart surgery before her third birthday and how the community raised funds to help the family with medical expenses.

For the Sunday Dispatch, sports reporter Nick Wagner took a first-place award for the category of “Sports Beat Reporting” with his weekly feature called “The Next Level” which focuses on Greater Pittston graduates who have made an impact with their respective college athletic programs.

Freelance photographer Bill Tarutis took a first-place award in the “Sports Photo” category for a photo entitled “Win Fall,” which captured students of Pittston Area High School celebrating after its boys basketball team won a District 2 Class AAA semifinals game.

Sports correspondent Tom Robinson took two awards in the “Sports Event Coverage” category, winning a first-place award for his story “Locals supported by a million spectators at Boston Marathon” which focused on Back Mountain area residents competing in the 2014 Boston Marathon. Robinson also won a second-place award for his story “Rome, DeLuca dominate once more” on two Back Mountain student-athletes who continue to find success in their cross country and track and field careers at the college level.

Also for the Dallas Post, Baumeister earned a second-place award for her story “Residents worried about gas pipeline,” which focuses on Back Mountain residents’ concerns of a pipeline running underneath community streets.

Freelance photographer Charlotte Bartizek took a second-place award in the “Feature Photo” category for her “Spring” photo and for “Sports Photo” for “Dallas-Lehman lacrosse.”

“I could not be more proud of the work our team has done in the past year,” said Times Leader Community News Group Editor Dotty Martin. “We have worked hard to bring together the staffs of three different geographic areas (the Back Mountain, Greater Pittston and the Abingtons) to work as one cohesive unit. I’m thrilled that the work they are producing is being recognized at the state level. We will continue to provide our readers with the quality journalism they have come to expect from us.”​

The Keystone Press Awards reinforce excellence by individuals in the newspaper profession, by recognizing journalism that consistently provides relevance, integrity and initiative in serving readers, and faithfully fulfills its First Amendment rights/responsibilities, according to the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.

Additionally, the awards stimulate journalists to improve their craft and ultimately improve their community, the PNA says.

Award winners will be honored at the Keystone Press Awards Banquet during the Pennsylvania Press Conference on Saturday, May 30 at The Wyndham in Gettysburg.