Six Columbian staffers honored in regional reporting contest

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Six staff writers at The Columbian have won honors in the C.B. Blethen Memorial Awards for Distinguished Newspaper Reporting. Awards were presented Thursday in Seattle.

Erik Hidle, Stephanie Rice and Stevie Mathieu received a first place award in deadline reporting among newspapers with circulation of 50,000 or less for their May 2 coverage of the surprise hiring of Sen. Don Benton by Clark County commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke. The stories were: "County shocker: Benton tapped for top environmental job," by Hidle, with a contribution by Mathieu, and "Benton appears not to meet minimum job requirements," by Rice.

Aaron Corvin and Eric Florip received a first place award in enterprise reporting among newspapers with circulation of 50,000 or less for their three-story package titled “The Big Divide” that ran from April 14-17 and examined the impacts of controversy over the Columbia River Crossing project. The stories were: “CRC Fallout, Competing Political Wills Block the Way,” by Corvin, April 14; “How Clark County really feels about the CRC,” by Florip, April 15; and “Growth Prospects Promising, with or without the Columbia River Crossing,” by Corvin, April 17.

In a competition open to newspapers of all circulation size, Marissa Harshman won a second place in the Debby Lowman Award for Distinguished Reporting of Consumer Affairs for six stories she wrote as part of The Columbian’s Live Well section. The stories were: “Operation protect your skin,” May 20, 2013; “Eating well — affordably,” April 29; “Is food making you sick?” Jan. 28; “Where’s the sodium?” Oct. 15, 2012; “Power of protein” Aug. 13, 2012; and “Sugarhigh,” June 18, 2012.

Newspapers in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Alaska and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia were eligible to enter the contest.

The Blethen awards were established in 1977 in honor of C.B. Blethen, publisher of The Seattle Times from 1915 to 1941. The special Debby Lowman Award for Distinguished Reporting of Consumer Affairs honors Debby Lowman, a Seattle Times consumer reporter who died of cancer in 1978.