InsideNoVa’s weekly newspaper in Prince William County has received the Virginia Press Association’s top journalism award.
The newspaper, InsideNoVa/Prince William, on Thursday was named the winner of the VPA’s Award for Journalistic Integrity and Community Service for its coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on Northern Virginia.
The newspaper and website also won 21 journalism and advertising awards in the press association’s annual contest. The awards were presented virtually.
InsideNoVa’s coverage of the pandemic included daily online updates, in-depth data-based reporting on the impact on nursing homes and assisted-living facilities as well as on minority communities, and features and profiles about people and organizations that stepped up to help. InsideNoVa also held three virtual town halls last spring focused on issues around the pandemic, including the mental health impacts.
“There are so many remarkable and outstanding aspects of the coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic by [this paper] that it is actually difficult to know where to begin,” the judge wrote
The judge cited the fact that many advertisers canceled scheduled ads in March and April as pandemic-related shutdowns began, which hurt the newspaper’s business. “But somehow they found a way forward.”
The judge also praised the overall quality of the newspaper. “It is, frankly, the best weekly newspaper I have seen in a long time – perhaps ever.”
The InsideNoVa/Prince William newspaper, based in Woodbridge, was started in January 2013 and is owned by Rappahannock Media LLC, a local company. The newspaper reaches about 25,000 households every week in Prince William County, with some additional deliveries in southern Fairfax County. Online, InsideNoVa.com, which began in 2003, has about 800,000 unique visitors a month, over 100,000 Facebook fans, and 80,000 e-mail newsletter subscribers. The website covers news across Northern Virginia.
“This is an incredible recognition for all the hard work our team has put in over the past year,” said Bruce Potter, publisher of InsideNoVa. “Our primary goal was to inform the community and spotlight those who were helping all of us get through the pandemic, not to win awards, so we’re humbled by this honor.”
InsideNoVa also received four first-place awards, 11 second-place awards, and six third-place awards in individual categories of the contest. In those categories, InsideNoVa competes against the state’s largest non-daily newspapers. InsideNoVa’s winners were as follows:
- Automotive: Connie Fields, Creative Staff -- Top Shine Car Wash and Detail Center
- Member Self-Promotion: Nicky Marshok -- Best of Prince William Promo
- Slideshow or Gallery: Bill Kamenjar -- Osbourn Park/Colgan girls basketball
- Sports Column Writing: David Fawcett -- Cara Vollmer, Travon McMillian, AJ Shepard
- Food and Drug: Rick Bockes, Creative Staff -- Effingham Winery
- Special Sections: Advertising Staff, Creative Staff -- Best of Prince William 2020
- Informational Graphics: Dolly Johnson -- Spaghetti Bowl
- General Make-Up: Editorial Staff, Creative Staff -- Oct. 22, Oct. 29, Nov. 12
- Special Sections or Special Editions: Editorial Staff, Creative Staff -- Prince William Community Guide
- Sports Pages: Dolly Johnson, David Fawcett (selection of pages)
- Column Writing: Al Alborn -- Around Prince William columns (selection of columns)
- Feature Series or Continuing Story: Emily Sides, Jared Foretek, Kari Pugh, Dave Fawcett -- Faces of a Crisis
- Government Writing: Emily Sides -- County pay raises, Colonial Downs permit, Skateboard park
- Health, Science and Environmental Writing: Jared Foretek -- Pandemic fatigue, GMU research, Election night party
- Sports Writing Portfolio: David Fawcett -- Decision Time, Tom Worstell, high school basketball starts
- Slideshow or Gallery: Bill Kamenjar -- Jake Payne XFL home debut
- Informational Graphics: Dolly Johnson -- Presidential election results
- General News Photo: Paul Lara -- Candlelight Vigil
- Sports News Photo: Bill Kamenjar-- Wrestling Championship
- Editorial Writing: Bruce Potter (selection of editorials)
- In-depth or Investigative Reporting: Jared Foretek, Bruce Potter -- COVID Outbreaks at Nursing Homes
One of InsideNoVa’s sister publications, the Rappahannock News, a weekly newspaper published in Rappahannock County, won the news sweepstakes award and the grand sweepstakes award among the state’s smallest group of non-daily papers. The sweepstakes awards are determined using a points system for awards in the individual categories. The Rappahannock News also won the Best in Show award for graphics and illustrations among non-daily newspapers.