For the third time in six years, the Daily Messenger has been honored as the best newspaper of its size in New York state. The Messenger was named the Newspaper of Distinction by the New York State Associated Press Association at a banquet held Wednesday night.

For the third time in six years, the Daily Messenger has been honored as the best newspaper of its size in the state. The Messenger was named the Newspaper of Distinction by the New York State Associated Press Association at a banquet held Wednesday night in Syracuse.

The paper also received the honor in 2004 and 2006. All awards were for papers with circulations under 25,000.

“To be so consistently recognized by our peers as among the best newspapers in the state is a testimony to the effort put in by not only the newsroom, but everyone who works at Messenger Post Media — day in and day out,” said interim Publisher Kathy Hammond.

Judges cited the paper’s commitment to watchdog journalism and staying close to the communities it covers. “They’re doing everything a good small newspaper should be doing — online and in print,” said Howard Goldberg, the AP’s New York bureau chief.

Winners in other circulation categories were Gazette Newspapers of Schenectady, the Post-Standard of Syracuse and the Buffalo News.

In addition, the Messenger received 10 writing, photography and online content awards last night. The awards ceremony, which took place at The Genesee Grande Hotel, is held each year to honor the best work produced by newspapers throughout the state.

The Daily Messenger staff took first-place in the new online content category for publications under 25,000 for a package of Web videos, photos, stories and first-hand accounts of the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The package, called “Road to the inauguration” and overseen by Managing Editor Allison Cooper, was generated by reporters who accompanied local residents to the Washington, D.C. inauguration.

Photographer Vasiliy Baziuk and sports reporter Jon Wordingham shared first-place in the multimedia packages category for a submission that included photos and a story detailing how Baziuk captures his photo illustrations for local high school athletes.

Several staffers shared a first-place award in the continuing coverage category for a series of reports on the Valentine’s Day murders of a Canandaigua couple and the community’s reaction. The award was shared by editors Margaret Poe and Jessica Pierce, reporters Mike Maslanik, Julie Sherwood and Kathryn Rybczak, and former reporter Alex Bauer.

A first-place award went to Managing Editor Kevin Frisch in the editorial writing category for a series of pieces on town politics and policies. Frisch also received an honorable mention award in the brightest headline category.

Pierce received a second-place award for depth reporting for a two-day series that detailed troubles in the Canandaigua police department and efforts to rectify them. Maslanik and Bauer shared a second-place award for spot news reporting for a story about a man who drowned in a freezing pond in Manchester after freeing his two sons from their submerged car.

Sports editor Mike Cutillo took third place in the sports columns category for a collection of his “For the Record” pieces.

Photographer Jack Haley took second place in the sports photo category for an image that shows a Canandaigua tennis player. Baziuk received third place in the photo illustrations category for an image of a Pal-Mac wrestler.

The AP contest is one of the oldest and most competitive journalistic competitions for daily newspapers in the state. This year's contest was judged by panels of journalists from out of state.

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