Most people are surprised to learn that I have a day job. I work for newspaper. My primary responsibility is getting a newspaper out each day. That includes finding stories, assigning them to reporters and editing the finished copy. It also involves laying out the pages.
Writing columns is something I do in my spare time, although it has brought me a following across Pennsylvania in the past couple of years.
While I appreciate the recognition I've received for my columns, I'm especially proud of the job the staff of The Mercury does producing a newspaper seven days a week, 365-days-a-year.
Here's some news well-deserved recognition for the staff of The Mercury:
The Mercury coverage of Schuylkill River flooding last summer recently garnered two news coverage awards, honoring staff writers for their comprehensive reporting of water damage and cleanup in the area.
Staff writers Evan Brandt, Sarah Fleener, Carl Hessler Jr., Michelle Karas and Brandie Kessler and intern Lindsay Moyer won a first-place Keystone Press Award for ongoing news coverage.
The Keystone awards are the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association's annual contest for newspapers throughout the state.
The same group of writers also won a third place for flood stories in the enterprise reporting category of the Keystone Society of Professional Journalists Spotlight contest.
The staff previously won a Suburban Newspaper Association award for the same group of stories.
The flood coverage awards were for news stories printed June 28 to July 7 detailing the damage, water rescues, and community cleanup effort that followed the flooding of the river, which crested at 21 feet, the highest level since Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
Mercury sports editor Don Seeley also won a first-place Keystone Press Award in the category of sports beat reporting. Seeley won for his extensive coverage of high school football in 2006.
Included in the entry were game stories, previews, player features and the year-end package of statistics compiled by Seeley.
In the SPJ Spotlight contest, Charles H. Pitchford won a third-place award for page design. Pitchford, who is The Mercury's Sunday editor, won for a Sunday Entertainment page design, “Finding Gold.”
City editor Tony Phyrillas also won a third-place award in the Spotlight contest for commentary in a daily newspaper. The entry included three columns written by Phyrillas for The Mercury's Opinion page during 2006.
This was the third time Phyrillas was recognized for column writing in the past year. He received a first-place award from Suburban Newspapers of America and a second-place citation from the Society of Professional Journalists, Greater Philadelphia Chapter.
The awards for the Keystone and Spotlight contests will be presented May 19 at ceremonies in Harrisburg.