Start The Presses: A rewarding day

This is a big day for us.

On Saturday, the California Newspaper Publishers Association awarded the Burbank Leader three first-place prizes. This included the grand prize for “General Excellence,” an honor that recognizes the entirety of the paper: from its news coverage to its sports coverage; from its columnists to its opinion pages; from its layout to its photography.

The Leader was also honored with separate first-place awards for its design and its website. I want to particularly thank Matt Wilkes for his continually award-winning work on the design side. And though the website is a staff effort, I would be remiss if I did not thank former Web Editor Jamie Wetherbe for her vision for the site, and current online maven Katie Landan for her work building on that solid foundation.

In addition to the awards won by the Leader, Megan O'Neil received first-place honors for her coverage of the mudslides in the Foothills for our sister paper, the La Cañada Valley Sun. O'Neil currently covers education for the Leader and Glendale News-Press.

Keep in mind, this is on top of the dozen or so honorable mentions the Leader and News-Press received for, among other categories, sports reporting, photography and editorial page writing. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Still, I am particularly proud of the general excellence award, as it highlights the team effort. The Leader won the award in our category, weeklies with a circulation of between 11,001 and 25,000. It's a bit heady when you look at some of the other winners: the San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco Examiner, Santa Cruz Sentinel and The Desert Sun.

I'll stop bragging on this in a moment, but I'd like to share a comment from the Blue Ribbon Panel — the group that made the final decision on the award:

“Comprehensive local coverage: front pages reflect a good mix of stories with government, crimes, sports and business. Wide range of columns cover aspects of community. Paper is well-organized, good local editorial cartoons and local sports coverage, and photos are nicely displayed. Great job!”

Following the CNPA ceremony, I had the opportunity to stop by the arts festival going on this weekend in downtown Burbank. It continues through today, so you still have time.

San Fernando Boulevard between Olive Avenue and Magnolia Boulevard will be closed off between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, featuring art from both professionals and students. Wandering through the street Saturday, I was impressed by both the variety of wares being showcased as well as their quality.

Events like this help give Burbank its identity, and I urge you to check it out. And, if you do, please be sure to drop by the Leadership Burbank booth. As I've mentioned before, I'm part of the 2011 class, and we're planting 100 trees to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the city's incorporation.

The project is a fundraiser with two-levels of support: a $200 tree-level sponsorship and a $1,000 grove-level sponsorship. We are limiting the number of sponsorships to 100, in keeping to with the centennial, and we're about halfway to that goal. Time is running out for us, however, as we have to have everything in place by April 30.

If you're interested, please come by or contact my classmate Rozan Mardozian at (818) 394-4225 or

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