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Awards help validate months of hustle BEHIND THE BYLINES Christopher J. Hughes

Police reports.

Jumping out of bed at 6 a.m. when the fire engines roar by the house.

Criminal court dockets.

Court hearings.

Dear Lord, the transcription.

Phone calls, both returned and unanswered.

This week, the workload faded away for a bit as we got a chance to pat ourselves on the back.

After six months in existence, Go Lackawanna earned six 2011 Keystone Press Awards from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.

We learned of the awards – a sampling of the 30 earned across our publishing company – on Friday, and it served not only as a pick-me-up as we quickly approached deadline for today’s issue. It also validated the work of our photographers, writers and designers since issue No. 1 hit newsstands on June 27, 2010.

Like a proud papa, I boasted of the paper’s recognitions – first place in ongoing news and in an online special project for correspondent Stephanie Longo; first place and honorable mention for photo stories from Jason Miller on the sixth annual Scranton Jazz Festival and Bill Tarutis on the St. Joseph’s festival, respectively; and honorable mention for page design and Rich Howells’ interviews with musicians ranging from Megadeth to Chubby Checker.

Not to remain complacent, I’ve already set sights on some important news awards in Category V for the 2012 awards.

That’s because I think the work we do each day to prepare for Sunday is valuable.

Friday’s news helped confirm that for me.

It also brought word of six first place, four second place, and five honorable mention awards for The Times Leader; one first place and honorable mention award each for the Sunday Dispatch in Pittston; and four first place, one second place, and two honorable mentions for The Abington Journal in Clarks Summit– the paper that gave me my first shot almost six years ago while I was still in college.

It shows that some things can still be improved here, a conversation that has been ongoing since I arrived.

An award per month, by my math, is tough to do. The Times Leader succeeded that mark this year. I hope that we can match it when the 2012 announcements come out.

By my estimation, we’re off to a pretty amazing start.

Some dismiss the importance of awards, but they serve to recognize work completed well during a predetermined period of time.

It’s great to pat a co-worker on the back for an outstanding effort. It’s another thing to have a statewide agency recognize you and inspire you to keep up the good fight.

I intend to.

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