(Copyright 2001. The Bristol Press. All rights reserved.)

Friday, May 25, 2001


The Tattoo wins big from SPJ

NORTH HAVEN – The Bristol Press and its teen journalism group, The Tattoo, collected 17 awards Thursday from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists.

The first place winners for the Press were business reporter Jackie Majerus, who won in two categories, veteran sportswriter Jack Lautier, photographer Brian Totin, Plymouth reporter Olivia Lawrence and City Hall reporter Steve Collins.

The Tattoo captured first place honors in the arts and entertainment category and for its feature series called an Insider’s Guide to High School. Eleven students, 10 of them from Bristol, shared the awards.

One of the awards dinner hosts, Joanne Nesti, a co-anchor on NBC’s Channel 30, told the crowd of media professionals at the La Mirage restaurant that “it is particularly impressive that the Bristol high schoolers who work on The Tattoo, published by The Bristol Press, consistently win awards, year after year, in competition with professional journalists.”

For the eighth year in a row, Majerus won in the business writing category, for her story about a city slip-up that allowed construction of a massive flagpole off Farmington Avenue that doubles as a wireless telephone antenna.

The judges, who hailed from New Jersey, Washington, Kentucky, Utah and Idaho, said it was “a good story that holds city planning accountable for giving a cell tower special consideration. This is the kind of story that always works because it outrages readers.”

Majerus also got the nod for second place in the business category for her story on ESPN’s decision to pull out of the downtown mall project last year.

Majerus and Collins shared top honors in the general reporting series category for stories last summer that raised questions about the drowning of a young boy at Lake Compounce. Majerus also got an honorable mention in the investigative category for a story that laid out the boy’s father’s version of what happened at the park.

“The reporting of Majerus and Collins was outstanding throughout. Excellent analysis pieces,” the judges wrote. “Particularly impressive was the follow through two months later when the father was interviewed.”

Lautier won for a sports column titled ‘Closet yields baseball treasure.’ The judges said that Lautier’s closet excavation was “the kind of domestic adventure even non sport fans can identify with. Ah, the history!”

Lawrence nabbed first place in the investigative category for a story about leaking oil tanks called “Environmental problems continue to plague Plymouth residents.”

Totin grabbed the top spot for a sports photo called ‘Rollover.’ The judges said it showed “great soccer action.”

For the fourth year in a row, The Tattoo captured first place in the contest’s Arts and Entertainment category.

Writer Joe Wilbur, who just finished his freshman year at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, won the arts category for his review of a Canadian band called The Tragically Hip.

In the feature series category, a host of student journalists collected first place honors for their work on the lengthy Insider’s Guide to High School that ran on four consecutive Mondays in August and September.

The judges called it “a top notch series, well conceived and well executed. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, we suggested to our own youth page editor that her teen writers might tackle the same idea. Nicely done!”

The winners were Danielle Letourneau, Franco Garzone, Hila Yosafi, Jen Rajotte, Wilbur, Katie Jordan, Mike Nguyen, Natalie Minor, Noel Fahden, Sam Yosafi and Sarah Jordan.

Chief photographer Mike Orazzi nabbed four awards, including three second place finishes and an honorable mention. He claimed a second place in the sports category for a photograph called ‘Backstroke.’ He also got second place in the news photo section for his ‘Hanging out’ and collected a second place and an honorable mention for his feature photos ‘Lawn work’ and ‘Stuffing a bug.’

Honorable mentions also went to Collins in the general reporting category for two stories, one about a nun forced to sue the hospital that employed her and the other about the dilemma faced by the library when patrons access pornography on the Internet. He also got an honorable mention in the investigative category for a story about police cars decaying in the city lot.

Majerus claimed a second place in spot news for her story on Cerro picketers confronting replacement workers.

The Press competes in the under 25,000-circulation daily newspaper category of the contest.

Also of note at the dinner, the sports editor of the Press, Mike Blais, got a first place award for non-page one layout for work he did at the Torrington Register-Citizen before coming to Bristol.

Mike Chaiken captured two awards for The Thomaston Express, which is affiliated with the Press. His piece ‘Victim of Hate’ won for general reporting, series for a community non-daily and he got a second place nod for an in-depth series about Thomaston’s schools.

A former Tattoo writer, Amanda Lehmert, collected a $1,500 scholarship from the SPJ Foundation at the dinner. In her application asking for the cash, the Emerson College junior described herself as “aggressive, nosy, blessed with an inability to keep a secret and unwilling to take ‘no’ for an answer” when she joined The Tattoo as a 15-year-old more than five years ago.

She went on to win recognition as the 1999 Connecticut High School Journalist of the Year and racked up a handful of SPJ awards for her writing in The Tattoo, along with numerous scholastic journalism honors.

In collecting her scholarship Thursday, Lehmert urged journalists attending the dinner to “mentor a young writer” the way Press reporters Majerus and Collins helped her learn the craft while she was still at Bristol Central High School.

Lehmert called The Tattoo “a wonderful opportunity” and told the crowd, “I probably learned more there than I will ever learn in college.” She is currently a correspondent for The Bristol Press.

“I don’t want to be just a reporter. I want to be a great reporter,” Lehmert told the assembled journalists.

All of The Tattoo’s work since 1996 is available online at its web site: www.ReadTheTattoo.com.

Click here to read Joe Wilbur's Tragically Hip review

Click here for The Tattoo's Insider's Guide to High School