C & G staff members win MPA awards

By: Maria Allard | Metro | Published April 20, 2021

METRO DETROIT — Several C & G Newspapers staff members earned awards from the Michigan Press Association in the 2020 MPA Better Newspaper Contest for work published between Aug. 1, 2019, and July 31, 2020.

The announcement was made March 25. Through email interviews, C & G staff reflected on the contest.

In the Weekly/News Media A — Best Page or Pages Design category, page designer Jason Clancy won second place for “Photos of the Year” in the Macomb Chronicle and third place for “Still roaring” in the West Bloomfield Beacon.

“It’s nice to earn awards because it means others also thought my designs were creative and did their job to draw in readers,” Clancy said. “My approach to designing a page is to match the look to the type of story and make sure it’s interesting but not overcomplicated. Even though my job is always the same, laying out stories and photos, I still like the challenge of presenting a page in a new way.”

Grosse Pointe Times Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran picked up two awards: first place for “South Pole workers recount memories both chilling and humorous” in the Weekly/News Media A — Feature Story category, and third place for “Grosse Pointe Shores retirees outraged over spike in costs for health care benefits” in the Weekly/News Media A — Government/Education News category.

Moran interviewed South Pole worker Paul Daniels a few years earlier about a documentary he made about his time working in Antarctica. When he hosted a reunion with fellow “Polies,” it was time for a follow-up article.

“They had the most remarkable stories from a place almost none of us will ever visit, much less live and work in,” Moran said.

Moran has followed the health care issue for almost one year.

“Grosse Pointe Shores and its retirees have had conflicts regarding a change the Shores City Council made last May that is now costing the retirees more for their health care benefits,” Moran said. “This was the first in a series of stories I’ve written about this ongoing issue. I was trying to put a human face on what could have been a strictly data-driven story. The retirees were happy to start getting their story, and their concerns, out to residents.

“It’s always nice to be recognized for your work,” Moran said. “I’ve learned so much about so many different topics over the years. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet and talk to some truly fascinating people I would have never encountered if I had a different job. It’s a pleasure and an honor being able to share their stories.”

In the Weekly/News Media A — News Enterprise Reporting category, Staff Writer Alex Szwarc won second place for “The intricacies of dual positions” in the Macomb Chronicle.

“When I first looked through the news release with the list of winners, I was pleasantly surprised that my work was recognized,” Szwarc said. “It’s always exciting to have your work noticed, especially for a statewide contest. To God be the glory.”

Szwarc’s piece focused on “the saga of Macomb Township’s human resources director and legal counsel, two positions held by one person, which played out for a couple of years.” Szwarc wrote several stories on the topic knowing the situation was important to local government officials and the community.

“When I initially began covering this topic, a couple residents reached out to me, expressing interest in what was happening and providing examples of their interaction with the now former human resources director and legal counsel. In some cases, I was able to incorporate their feedback into future articles,” said Szwarc, who has worked at C & G Newspapers for 2 1/2 years. “I’ve come to appreciate the family atmosphere that is created among the workforce. The best part of being a staff writer is being able to meet some incredible people and sharing their stories with the public.”

In the Weekly/News Media A — Spot News Story category, Staff Writer Nick Mordowanec received second place for “Clinton Township man guilty of first-degree murder in deaths of sister, her boyfriend” and third place for “Two murders, four years, a case gone cold in Clinton Township” in the Weekly/News Media A — Feature Story. Both stories were published in the Fraser-Clinton Township Chronicle.

“It’s always nice to have others think highly of your work, especially when you put time and effort into it. One award was for a murder trial I covered, so it was timely and within my coverage area,” Mordowanec said. “The other cold case was a story I initially wrote about years earlier, and one day I randomly thought of the story and the victims and their families and how nobody had ever been arrested and charged. It made me want to revisit the homicides and discover any reasons as to why nobody was ever caught, who may have committed the acts, and how family members continue to live without some semblance of closure.”

For Mordowanec, the most rewarding aspect of writing is “covering essentially every subject area aside from sports. It allows for diversity in coverage and keeps things interesting.”

In the Weekly/News Media A — Feature Story, Staff Writers Maria Allard and Tiffany Esshaki earned an honorable mention for “When metro Detroit went dry” in the Grosse Pointe Times. The story marked the 100-year anniversary of Prohibition.

“It was such a great surprise to hear I had won. I know the caliber of talent usually recognized by the MPA, so I was really honored to be counted in that lot,” Esshaki said. “The Prohibition story came from a pitch discussed during a team meeting, and I knew immediately I wanted to be a part of that. Detroit has a fascinating history, so getting to explore that — perhaps with a cocktail in hand — sounded too good to pass up.”

“It was a very interesting topic to research. I definitely felt like I was in a time warp,” said Allard, who has been to several of the locations mentioned in the story. “I learned a lot about the time period from those I interviewed. It’s one of those stories that stays with you. Thank you to the MPA for the recognition.”