Two of them

It’s nice to sometimes be recognized for the work you do.

On Wednesday, I was informed that my newspaper’s website, YourSewickley.com, received two Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Newspaper Excellence in Cyberspace Awards. Overall, our company took seven first-place awards. The list of winners can be found here.

My newspaper received first-place awards for “Best Application of Social Networking Tools” and “Timeliness.” It was the second consecutive year we received the top spot for the social networking award.

The “Timeliness” award came from our coverage of the death of a wastewater treatment plant worker and other examples of how we utilize our website for breaking news coverage. In the instance of the fatality at the wastewater treatment plant, Kristina Serafini and myself were the first two reporters on scene, filing updates to Twitter from my iPhone. Those tweets quickly became a breaking news story for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, meaning we were the first news outlet in the region to offer coverage from the scene.

Because of how quickly we were able to get to the scene, Kristina and I had a viewpoint no other media outlet had.

Similarly, when an explosion occurred in December at a facility in a nearby town, we were the first on the scene and were offering updates no other outlet had.

Something to note from these two awards — the Sewickley Herald’s site was nominated in the 75,000 and over circulation division, meaning we were competing with large, daily newspapers. In 2010, The Patriot-News in Harrisburg received first place in the “Timeliness” category. Last year, the awards were not divided by any circulation figures.

I love what I do professionally. My dream of being a reporter came true when I accepted this job four years ago this month. Since then, it’s taken an entirely different path than what I expected.

I knew the Internet would play a big role in my life as a reporter, but I never imagined just how important that role would be.

I’m extremely passionate about my work and the product we deliver to residents of our coverage area. Am I the greatest writer ever? Hell no. But I’m able to understand our readers and provide them with news content they’re looking for. And I’m always striving to do a better job.

Everybody at work keeps congratulating me on the awards, but it’s really a team effort that goes well beyond my ability to arrive on the scene of a story and offer an update from my iPhone. None of this would be possible without an editor, managing editor and Web staff who saw a greater vision.

I like to tell people that we’re a daily community news organization who publishes a printed edition once a week.

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