Columbian reporter wins regional award

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The Columbian has won a second-place award in the prestigious Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association’s annual C.B. Blethen Memorial Awards contest.

Reporter Laura McVicker won the award in the distinguished enterprise reporting category for her April story titled, “A Life Interrupted.” The story chronicled the 1993 wrongful conviction of Alan Northrop and his life after being released from prison last year.

“This was a touching story that pulled at my heart-strings and made me feel sorry for the man who was wrongfully accused of raping and kidnapping a woman,” the judge said in his comments on the story.

McVicker won in the under-50,000 circulation category. Newspapers in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Alaska and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia were eligible to enter the contest.

The awards were established in 1977 in honor of C.B. Blethen, publisher of The Seattle Times from 1915 to 1941. Frank Blethen, publisher and chief executive officer of The Seattle Times, presented this year’s awards at the annual meeting of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association (PNNA) in Tacoma last week.

The last time The Columbian has won a Blethen award, according to archives, was 2007, when former sports reporter Brian Hendrickson won first-place for distinguished feature writing.