The Vineyard Gazette’s coverage of the Menemsha fire earned the newspaper a Publick Occurrences Award this week from the New England Newspaper and Press Association.
The award, which honors outstanding journalism, was announced Thursday at NENPA’s fall conference in Natick. About 150 publishers, editors and reporters from throughout New England attended the awards ceremony. Gazette publisher Jane Seagrave accepted the award on behalf of the Gazette’s news staff.
The Menemsha fire broke out on July 12, 2010, a Monday afternoon. The village of Menemsha was evacuated and every firefighter and emergency responder was called to the scene. The blaze completely destroyed a historic boathouse owned by the United States Coast Guard and then worked its way down an old dock whose creosote-soaked timbers added fuel to the fire. Miraculously there were no injuries save one firefighter who was injured during the cleanup later.
The Gazette produced a full account of the fire in its Tuesday edition and published follow-up coverage that continues today.
“This was the kind of story that tests the mettle of every newspaper large or small — breaking news in an isolated place with limited access and no cell phone service,” said Gazette editor Julia Wells. “Every member of the Gazette newsroom staff pitched in to help cover the story that day; it was truly a team effort and I’m proud of them all for their work under pressure to deliver great coverage of the fire and its aftermath.”
In 2010, the Gazette was named Newspaper of the Year by NENPA, an honor it has received eight times since 1990. This year’s award in the Gazette’s circulation category went to the Ellsworth American of Ellsworth, Me.
The Cape Cod Times and the Inquirer and Mirror of Nantucket both took home Newspaper of the Year Awards in their circulation categories.