It was a big night May 10 for The Oxford Leader during the Michigan Press Association’s (MPA) Annual Convention and Gala in East Lansing.
The weekly community newspaper that’s been around since 1898 and owned by the Sherman family since 1955 came in third for the Newspaper of the Year Award in Weekly Circulation Class D.
In addition, Leader Editor C.J. Carnacchio, 42, received seven awards in his circulation class in the MPA’s 2017 Better Newspaper Contest (BNC).
“As always, I want to thank my wife, Connie, for her continued love, never-ending support and saint-like patience,” he said. “I must also thank the entire Sherman family for always having my back, for giving me the creative space to flourish and most importantly, giving me my first and only post-college job.
“And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank the communities of Oxford and Addison because every word I write and every photo I take is all about you. Thank you for making me part of your lives.”
A total of 2,967 entries were submitted to the BNC by 100 Michigan newspapers and individual MPA members. They were judged by members of the Missouri Press Association.
Carnacchio, who celebrated his 19th anniversary with the Leader on May 10, took first place in the Best Column category for “Booting OCTV out of meeting doesn’t look very good.”
The May 10, 2017 column took issue with an Oxford Community Television cameraperson being directed by officials to stop filming a meeting regarding the Iron Belle Trail held at the Orion Township Hall.
“Issues that journalists need to confront too often,” the judges wrote. “You did a great job of describing what happened at this meeting and why it shouldn’t (have). My absolute favorite line from all 30 entries in this category, ‘Meetings should be messy at times because life is messy and only robots and idiots agree on everything.’ Good job!”
Another first place award was garnered by Carnacchio in the Best Editorial category for an Oct. 26, 2016 opinion piece entitled, “Hate the tax, but support our schools.”
The editorial advocated ‘yes’ votes on two non-homestead millage proposals for Oxford Schools.
“A well-written and interesting take on what it means to support a tax increase,” the judges wrote. “This editorial does a good job of reminding readers that (it’s) the kids who stand to lose if a school district is not funded appropriately and encouraging those readers to take a stand for what’s right, even if it hurts the pocketbook.”
In the Feature Story category, Carnacchio won first place for his June 14, 2017 piece “Supervisor celebrates 70 with 14,000-foot plunge.”
The article was about Oxford Twp. Supervisor Bill Dunn marking his 70th birthday by going skydiving for the first time in his life.
Carnacchio also received an honorable mention in the Feature Story category for his Feb. 8, 2017 piece entitled, “Budding soap mogul doesn’t let anything stop him – not even Asperger’s.”
It told the story of Spencer Kelly, a 15-year-old Oxford Virtual Academy student who is the founder, owner and operator of The Expedition Soap Co. He successfully balances school, the business world and Asperger’s syndrome.
Carnacchio was also honored for his photography skills.
He placed second in the Sports Photo category for an April 26, 2017 photo entitled, “Sandblasted!” The photo depicted Oxford High School student Antonia Vackaro landing in the sand during the long jump event at the 55th Annual Elmer Ball Track and Field Invitational.
In the Feature Photo category, Carnacchio placed third for his Nov. 16, 2016 image “Generations of respect.”
The photo depicted Leonard Elementary fifth-grader Banyan Hueter and U.S. Army veteran Bob Pasike showing respect during the playing of the National Anthem at a Veterans Day celebration.
“Heartfelt photo. Captured the emotion perfectly,” the judges wrote.
Carnacchio’s final award was in the Photo Story category. He took third place for a March 15, 2017 photo page entitled, “Spring was in the fair!”
The page featured a selection of photos from the annual spring fair conducted by Daniel Axford and Oxford elementaries.
“Love . . . how the photos are laid out – it really takes your eyes from photo to photo,” the judges wrote. “Very clever headline, too!”
Since joining the Leader after graduating from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Carnacchio has earned a total of 100 awards for writing and photography from the MPA, the Detroit Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Newspaper Association.