The Andover Townsman was named Newspaper of the Year among non-dailies in the annual Best of Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.’s editorial competition, it was announced Tuesday.
Townsman reporter Bill Kirk won Reporter of the Year for the CNHI competition, also in the non-dailies category.
A judging panel of editors and journalists gave kudos to The Townsman staff for its thorough coverage of the community’s small and large news stories, including the compassionate coverage of the murder of beloved 24-year-old teacher Colleen Ritzer, who lived in town and taught math at Danvers High School.
Editor Sonya Vartabedian said she was honored that the paper won the Newspaper of the Year award.
“In my first year as editor of The Townsman, I have learned a great deal about the community of Andover and the wonderful people who live here,” she said. “The tragedy of the Colleen Ritzer murder was a difficult story to tell, but showed the resilience and support of a strong community and the people who live in it.”
Publisher Karen Andreas, who oversees The Townsman’s parent North of Boston Media Group, congratulated the staff on the award.
“I could not be more happy for Sonya and her staff, who are so deserving of this prestigious award,” Andreas said. “They have immersed themselves in the town of Andover, and work very hard to write stories that are reflective of the community.”
Vartabedian praised the work of reporters Kirk, Dustin Luca, Judy Wakefield and sports writer Dave Willis for their tireless and comprehensive reporting that helped the Townsman win Newspaper of the Year honors in its division.
Veteran journalist Kirk, also in his first year covering Andover, said that working at The Townsman has been a great experience.
“After 25 years in the community newspaper industry, I find it amazing that a relatively small and sleepy town like Andover can have so many great and interesting stories,” he said. “It is a dynamic and fascinating place to work.”