Today’s editorial will focus on two words: Thank you. On Friday, it was announced that West Life won the honor of being named 2020 Newspaper of the Year by the Ohio News Media Association in its annual Hooper Awards. That definitive statewide honor came as a result of tallying nine first-place awards, eight second-place awards and four third-place honors. It was the second time in three years that West Life has earned that moniker.

This is the part where we thank everyone who made the wins possible. We are sincere. Some of the names are recognizable from bylines or columns: Alex Kamczyc, Brian Love, Chris Voloschuk, Molly Callahan and Susan Condon Love. Others are the vital talent behind the scenes: John Kuehner, Molly (again) and the very talented graphic artist and writer Maureen Bole. We are also blessed by talented photographers Nadine Forthofer Bluemel, David Cleveland, Sean Faska and Marty Hout. Bluemel won two awards last year and repeated that number this year. Hout is an extremely talented and fearless photographer who chronicles the brave actions of the Westshore’s police and fire departments.

There was a new category this year: Coronavirus coverage. We won first place in that category, thanks to the talents of Michele Murphy, who has since left the newspaper, the rest of the staff still in place and the informational graphics created by Bole.

Many of the ideas for our enterprise news stories came thanks to the news judgment of former Plain Dealer reporter and editor John Kuehner, who has spent many years in the background spotting news stories other reporters have missed. That judgment, and his copy editing abilities, have given West Life an edge for which we are extremely grateful.

Our sports coverage also received recognition, both for the work of current Sports Editor Chris Voloschuk and former editor Jack Kopanski.

The award-winning stories include:

Communities see rash of catalytic converter thefts

Construction site blaze under investigation

Building that police lease cited for safety violations

Is the former Century Tavern haunted? You be the judge

In the gym and the classroom, Jim Strang is an Avon legend

Editorial: Justice may be blind, but she likes football

Tyler Danburg: Broadcasting Fairview’s best

Winter Spotlight: State champion Pirro has eyes on national glory

We also won first place for our sports coverage and designer Bole pushed our paper to the No. 2 spot for newspaper design and garnered a first place for an informational graphic as part of our Black Lives Matter coverage. Award-winning headlines included: Seatbelts not clicking for students (Brian Love); and Ohio: Closed for foreseeable future (Maureen Bole).

Finally — are we starting to sound like an acceptance speech at the Oscars? — we want to thank our faithful and new advertisers, and you, our readers. Without all of this support, West Life would cease to exist.

Thank you. And here’s to a phenomenal 2021!

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