Our year: Hook awash in VPA awards

You're holding a winner in your hands.

Judges for this year's Virginia Press Association competition awarded the Hook 15 prizes, a tally that ranks the three-year-old publication third in the state in the "specialty" category– ahead of such powerhouse publications as Virginia Living and Tidewater's Portfolio. The awards, announced March 5 at the VPA convention in Norfolk, cap a year in which the Hook was also named a finalist in the VPA's prestigious Community Service competition.

Charles Bowles, publisher of the Culpeper Citizen, cites the Hook's "pithy" reporting and willingness to tackle "serious issues" as reasons for the paper's "well deserved sweep."

"I read the Hook every week," he says. "It's a very well-written publication– and it's funny."

The 15 awards honor the Hook's achievement in education, government, and health/science writing as well as its features stories and investigative reports.

Art and layout are obvious Hook strengths, as reflected in art director Chris Conklin's capture of first prize in the Overall Design and Presentation category. "The care taken to wed typeface, design elements, and breakouts is evident," judges wrote. "Type becomes art in many of the standing items."

One Hook story, an expose of a law that lets buyers and sellers of multi-million-dollar properties escape paying recordation taxes, took third prize in the Special Projects category and earned praise as a "strong look at a loophole." The November story by Hook reporter Lisa Provence prompted State Delegate Mitch Van Yahres to sponsor a bill to close the loophole. That bill passed both houses of the General Assembly, and goes to the Governor's desk for likely signature March 29.

Another Hook special project story penned by Provence on the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board earned kudos for "exquisite interviews."

And the paper's design team of photographer Jen Fariello and Conklin was praised in that effort for their "great choice of pictures from past and present." The judges wrote, "Evocative interviews helped portray the tension in the air– one could almost imagine being on the scene some fifty years ago."

Provence led the Hook contingent with four individual prizes and three joint awards. Longtime senior editor Courteney Stuart earned three individual and two joint prizes.

This year's 15 awards bring the Hook's two-year tally to 24. Its only in-town, in-category competition, the C-ville Weekly, has earned three awards during the same period.

The other Charlottesville papers to win awards this year were the Daily Progress, with 13, and the Cavalier Daily, with seven.



Lisa Provence (4): Government writing, 2nd place: Fluvanna search, CityLink computer controversy, Immigrant deportation snafu; Government writing, 3rd place: New laws coming at ya, Photographer's film confiscation, Funeral strands riders; Education writing, 3rd place: No more a la carte, No child left at Clark, Gay couples protest policy; In-depth reporting, 3rd place: They break for Jesus.

Courteney Stuart (3): Feature series, 2nd place: Kappa Sigma– headquarters for controversy; Health, science, environmental writing, 3rd place: Reeve's death preventable, Segway arrest, Lousia nukes; Feature story, 3rd place: Home grown–the gift that keeps on living

 Hawes Spencer (2): Headline writing, 1st place: Time of the signs, Hujavision, Dino Might, Crusted stuff, Shorting the C&O; Continuing story, 1st place: Shorting the C&O

 Chris Conklin (1): Design and presentation, 1st place

Stephen Boykewich (1): Critical writing, 3rd place: performance previews and reviews


Lisa Provence, Jen Fariello, Chris Conklin (2): Special projects, 2nd place: 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board; Special projects, 3rd place: Dodgeball– a true real estate story

Courteney Stuart, Jen Fariello, Chris Conklin (1): Special editions, 2nd place: Getting hitched– the wedding issue

Courteney Stuart, Hawes Spencer, Lisa Provence, Rosalind Warfield-Brown, Chris Conklin, Jen Fariello (1): Convergence, 2nd place: The Annual Manual/DiscoverCharlottesville.com