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LEWISTOWN — The Montana Standard won two first place statewide awards at the 132nd annual convention of the Montana Newspaper Association in Lewistown Saturday night.

Reporters Renata Birkenbuel and Hunter Pauli won first place for best education coverage for a story about a cheating scandal at Montana Tech. Susan Dunlap and Hunter Pauli also won the best enterprise journalism award for a story on the Solvay plant west of Butte. The headline was "The waste site that time forgot: Phosphorus plant's fate uncertain."

Susan Dunlap took second in the column writing category. Editor David McCumber placed second and third in the best editorial category, and copy editor Sandra Mellott placed second in the headline writing category. Missy Robertson and Corey Gransbery took second in the sponsor page advertising category.

Reporter Renata Birkenbuel took second place for column writing and third in sports column writing, photographer Walter Hinick took third in the feature photo category, and the Standard took third for use of social media category. The Standard’s advertising staff also took third in the niche publication category.

Other results follow:

The Billings Gazette

The Billings Gazette was honored as the best daily.

It also won the general excellence award as journalists from across the state gathered for an awards ceremony marking top performance in both editorial and advertising categories. Montana’s submissions were judged by members of the North Dakota Newspaper Association. Papers were divided into five categories based on size and publication schedule, and awards were given for each category.

The Gazette’s awards included the Mel Ruder Photograph of the Year Award, won by Larry Mayer for a photo of a coyote versus a pronghorn. Mayer also won the best feature photo category, and fellow photographer Bob Zellar took second for the lifestyle photo category.

Reporters Jordon Niedermeier won for best news story about a citizen patrol's attempt to counter a lack of law enforcement in Pryor, and Zach Benoit took second for best feature story about custom contact lenses that helped a woman work through a brutal attack.

Editor Darrell Ehrlick took first place in the column writing category, and opinion page editor Pat Bellinghausen won for best editorial. Sports editor Jeff Welsch took both first and second place for the best sports column.

The Gazette copy desk also took home several first place awards, including those for the headline writing category. The Gazette also took third in that category. The Gazette also won the page layout and design category.

The Gazette advertising staff took first place and third place for best combination print and online advertising as well as first for best sponsor page category. The advertising staff also swept the best black-and-white image-building ad category as well as the best black-and-white ad to sell or promote merchandise and the best black-and-white ad to sell or promote services. The ad staff also took second place in the special section category.

The Gazette won first place and took third in the best color ad to sell or promote merchandise.

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The Gazette also won for best website. The paper took second place in best use of social media. Reporter Matt Hudson took second place for best continuing news coverage, Brett French took second in the Mark Henckel Outdoor Writing award, reporter Susan Olp took second for best enterprise, and photographer Hannah Potes took second place in the best news photo category.

Third-place awards included Kyle Hansen in the sports feature story category and the advertising staff for image-building ad.

Missoulian/Ravalli Republic/Missoula Independent

Sports reporter A.J. Mazzolini won best sports story, and reporter Perry Backus took first place in two divisions for best continuing news coverage.

A.J. Mazzolini also took second place in the sports feature category. Photographer Kurt Wilson took second for feature photos.

Taking third place was Perry Backus for breaking news, Chelsea Davis for education coverage, and Holly Michels for best news story.

The Missoula Independent’s Kate Whittle won for best enterprise journalism. The Indy's Alex Sakariassen took second in the Mark Henckel Outdoors writing category. Erika Fredrickson took second for best feature story and third for lifestyle story. Reporter Derek Brouwer took third place in the enterprise writing category.

Helena Independent Record

The Helena Independent Record won for best use of social media.

Sports reporter Ryan Collingwood won best sports feature, and the sports staff won for best sports page layout and design.

The IR took also took second place in the category for best color ad to sell or promote merchandise and won third in the category for best newspaper promotional advertisement.

Placing second in the best sports photo category was Gary Marshall. The IR advertising staff also took second place in the combination print and online advertisement category and color ad to sell or promote merchandise.

Copy editor Leah Gilman took third place in column writing, and the IR copy desk took third place in the front page category.

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