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Inside NCR

NCR claims top spot in press association awards

The Catholic Press Association, at its annual meeting in Baltimore in late May, proclaimed National Catholic Reporter the best national Catholic newspaper in the country. Among a plethora of other awards was a first to John Allen for “best personality profile” and another first to the NCR staff for “best seasonal issue.”

“Very impressive,” wrote the judges in adjudicating NCR No. 1 national Catholic newspaper. “A complete publication, perfect in its graphic realization. Articles are well written and competently reported with superior depth and context. Commentaries, opinions and editorials are all first rank, a real strength of the paper. More letters published than any competitor entries. Headlines to the point. Big plusses for not turning away from controversy. Authoritative writers that understand all sides of controversies they cover. Absolutely top drawer art and strong photography.”

The other awards are too numerous to detail them all. We had successes in the “best front page” category, in “best analysis/background writing,” “best regular column (several placements),” “best photo story originating with the newspaper,” “best headline,” “most effective circulation promotion,” and more.

Of Allen’s first-place “[Andrew] Greeley: Still Telling Stories,” the judges wrote: “An interesting and engaging story that manages to maintain a high reader interest level throughout a long article about a well-known figure. Although most people may think they know Andrew Greeley, the skillful writing kept us reading. Allen crafts what Greeley himself praises -- a good story, well worth reading.”

The “seasonal” issue already mentioned was that of Christmas: “The Jesus 2000 competition and subsequent insert is the most creative and original contribution to the usually tired seasonal contributions. A perfect blending of Christmas and millennium. The insert is superbly designed and produced.”

The “superb design” is the achievement of Art Director and Layout Editor Toni-Ann Ortiz, who makes the paper look better each week, and who won yet another award for “best use of syndicated or wire-service art or graphics,” of which the experts said, “a well designed illustration treatment/technique and headline style that illustrates clearly the story’s message.”

Proofreader-poetry editor Gill Donovan has been the inspiring leader of the poetry renaissance hereabouts, ably abetted by Patty McCarty, while I was the rather inept third culprit on the poetry team.

I was reminded just how inept this past week when we seers sat down to consider the rich vein of verse vying for viewing. One short one, a haiku to be exact, ended with the word pony -- since it’s short I suggest you now turn to POETRY and read it.

I confess the pony reference was lost on me until McCarty explained about the allegedly well-known story of the boy who wanted a pony for Christmas. To his great delight he received a very big box under what must have been a very big tree. He opened it eagerly, flinging wrappings left and right. He was immediately confronted by a large amount of pony poop, which he also flung left and right, searching ever deeper into the box. But each pony chip merely uncovered more pony chips. The kid, however, grew all the more excited. Asked why, he gave the obvious answer: Under all this pony stuff there has to be a pony.

National Catholic Reporter, June 16, 2000