Every year, the California Newspaper Publishers Association conducts a contest to determine the best of the best in the state's newspapers.

This year, Gazette Newspapers, specifically the Grunion Gazette (the paper with the highest circulation must be submitted), is bringing home six first or second place plaques — the most in the paper's history. The Grunion competes in the weeklies with circulation of more than 25,000 — the largest category in the contest in terms of entries.

"This is just incredible," Publisher Simon Grieve said. "We don't know whether they're first or second, but either one is great. This is a testament to the hard work our journalists do each and every day."

As has been the case for the last several years, the Gazettes.com website is being awarded for online general excellence. The website is designed by digital creative specialist Jesse Lopez, with content controlled by staff writer Emily Thornton.

Gazette sports coverage also has been honored frequently, and this year a story about Long Beach Unified School District's sports facilities as seen by the students was chosen as best sports feature story. Sport editors JJ Fiddler and Mike Guardabascio had a co-byline for that story.

Fiddler, Guardabascio and sports staffer Paul Slater combined to win the special sports section for the 2016 High School Football Preview. The Gazette also will be awarded for general special section for it preview of the Longines Masters horse jumping competition in Long Beach.

"We've won almost every year for our special sections," Grieve said. "It's something we take particular pride in."

Lopez and Thornton, the pair most responsible for the Gazette website, also won individual awards. Thornton is a winner in the non-profile feature story for her look at "Long Beach Families Get On The Bus, Visit Mom Behind Bars." Lopez, who produces most of the Gazette videos, worked for months on his "Discovered History: Jergins Tunnel" video and will be honored for that work.

Announcements of whether the awards are first or second place, as well as general excellence awards, will be made at the CNPA annual convention, set this year for May 20 in Santa Monica.

—Harry Saltzgaver

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Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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