SMG rooftop

Syracuse, NY — and The Post-Standard won top honors in this year’s state Associated Press awards competition among newspapers of a similar size, while breaking news reporter Julie McMahon was awarded young journalist of the year.

The Post-Standard was named 2014’s “Newspaper of Distinction” in the 45,000 to 125,000 circulation category based on overall excellence.

“It is no exaggeration to say every staffer deserves a piece of this award,” said Stephen Cvengros, vice president of content for Syracuse Media Group, moments after the award was announced. “Reporters, photographers, designers, editors, digital and newspaper staffers are dedicated to delivering excellent journalism at every deadline. It is the highest honor to receive this from our peers and the Associated Press.”

Syracuse Media Group won more New York State Associated Press Association awards than any news operation of any size in the state, with 28 awards for writing, photography and graphics.

The awards banquet was held this evening at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs.

Also announced tonight was an award for McMahon, who was named the Mike Hendricks Young Journalist Of The Year. That’s given each year to the state’s top journalist with up to three years of experience.

McMahon, 25, also won a first place award for beat reporting and another first-place honor for features.

“The Post-Standard and have offered me an opportunity to learn a lot and to cut my teeth as a journalist,” McMahon said afterwards. “I’ve had the opportunity to have great role models, including my fantastic editor, Mike Grogan.”

McMahon, who grew up near the Catskill Mountains, graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School for Public Communications. She previously worked for a legal weekly in Massachusetts.

McMahon was hired as a breaking news reporter in January 2014 and quickly established herself with a story about a shooting victim who built a new life with a new face. That story won the features category in this year’s competition.

This is the second year a Syracuse Media Group reporter won the young journalist award. Former reporter Jeff Stein won 2013’s award for his work as a breaking news reporter.

The awards

Spot News Reporting: The staff took second and third place in this category. Second place went to “26 hurt in crash on Interstate 81” and third place went to “Deadly tornado rips through Central New York.”

Features: Julie McMahon took first place for “Shooting victim builds new life with new face” and Marnie Eisenstadt took third place for “In the wreckage of a tornado-tossed house, a hard-working man’s life is revealed.”

Sports: Post-Standard reporters took first and second place for Syracuse University basketball coverage. Chris Carlson, Nate Mink and John O’Brien won first place for their coverage of the “NCAA Investigation of Syracuse University.” The staff also won second place for gameday coverage of the first Syracuse-Duke game at the Carrier Dome.

Sports column: Bud Poliquin won second place for his series of columns.

Business/finance: Tim Knauss won first place for his stories about the “tiny houses” movement and James Mulder won third place for a series fo stories about the disciplinary action against Dr. Michael T. Clarke and its financial impact.

Editorials: Marie Morelli won second place for editorials.

Depth reporting: Douglass Dowty won first place for “The secret prison for New York’s worst sex offenders,” a story about the secretive punishment of civil confinement. Michelle Breidenbach and Tim Knauss won third place for their work to expose leaders’ secret plan to build a replacement for the Carrier Dome.

Continuing coverage: John O’Brien won first place for “The mysterious death of Heidi Allen.”

Beat reporting: Two reporters won awards. Julie McMahon won first place for her crime and safety reporting and Glenn Coin won second place for his weather coverage.

Brightest headline: Mark Libbon won first place for “He sticks out his tongue, Guinness book says ‘Ah!'” Sonja Duntley won second place for “How stopping for a stranger gave my family a welcome lift.”

Online Content: The staff won second place for its fun and authoritative reviews of every State Fair food vendor. Elizabeth Doran, Dennis Nett and Ellen Blalock won third place for “The bionic groom, .” the story of a paralyzed man who walked at his wedding.

Arts/entertainment writing: Chris Baker took first for “Dancing with Marge, Syracuse’s biggest music fan.” Baker and Katrina Tulloch won second place for “Inside the troubles at the Landmark Theatre.”

Digital journalist: Matthew Fairburn and Katrina Tulloch won awards in this category. Fairburn won first place for his coverage of the Buffalo Bills. Tulloch won second place for her work.

Photo essay/gallery or series: Michelle Gabel won first place for “Camillus woman, shot five years ago, builds new life with new face.” Ellen Blalock and Lauren Long won third place for “Storm kills four, destroys homes in Madison County.”

Informational graphics: Marc Dovi won third place for “A view from the box.”

News presentation-non-spot: Tom Schmitt won second place for “Carrier Dome record.” Mark Libbon and Sue Santola won third place for “Trust and temptation.”