Gazette reporter Rebecca Everett wins award for coverage in Easthampton

Last modified: Thursday, October 25, 2012

NORTHAMPTON — A reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette will receive a top honor from the New England newspaper industry today for her coverage of a sexual harassment case in Easthampton.

Rebecca Everett will join Laurie Loisel, the Gazette’s managing editor for print, at a Natick ceremony hosted by the New England Newspaper and Press Association.

A New England Newspaper Awards contest jury selected Everett’s reporting on alleged sexual harassment by an official with the Easthampton library as worthy of a Publick Occurrences award. The prize is given to a select group of reporters to recognize the best journalism in New England.

Everett’s reporting led to the resignation of Donald Cykowski from the library’s executive board, amid allegations that he subjected a former library director to sexual harassment.

“Becky worked hard and well on this story with close support from her editors,” said Larry Parnass, the Gazette’s editor. “She needed to gain the trust of people who were initially afraid to describe what they witnessed. She proved herself worthy of that trust. This award is a welcome recognition of Becky’s devotion to covering all aspects of life in Easthampton.”

The Publick Occurrences award also recognizes the newspaper’s editorial position on Cykowski’s conduct at the library, as well as a racist remark he made at a City Council meeting. The paper made space available on its Opinion page for more than a dozen guest columns and letters on the subject. The paper was also recognized for challenging a move by the City Council to meet in private session about Cykowski’s behavior.

“This coverage is a good example of why newspapers still matter,” Loisel wrote in her nomination letter for the contest. “Everett interviewed every member of the library board who would consent to talk to her, current and former library employees, the victim of the harassment and the city councilor accused. ... What resulted was a story that sparked more outrage — and substantial action.”

The association awards up to 16 Publick Occurrences honors to member newspapers each year. The prize takes its name from the first newspaper in America, which appeared in 1690 and was suppressed, four days after its debut, by order of the royal governor.

“This award recognizes the very best work that New England newspapers produce each year,” the association said in a description of the prize.

NEAPNEA honors

This summer, Gazette photographers, writers and a designer were among those recognized by judges in this year’s New England Associated Press News Executives Association contest. The Gazette competes in a category that includes papers of up to 40,000 circulation.

Gazette winners included Carol Lollis, photo editor; Kevin Gutting and Jerrey Roberts, photographers; and writer Steve Pfarrer. Freelance writer Bruce Watson, a former Gazette features writer, also won honors for a story that appeared in Hampshire Life.

Gazette editorial department designer Lucy Pickett won a first place award for her work on a business section cover used in a February special section.


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