"The diversity of topics and ability to reach a broad audience and offer something for practically everyone are what makes this newspaper stand out." This is what the judges for the Catholic Press Association had to say about the Diocese of Buffalo's own Western New York Catholic. The paper won first place in the category of Newspaper of the Year for non-weekly diocesan newspaper with a circulation of 25,001 or more.
"I am very proud of the entire Western New York Catholic staff," said managing editor Patrick McPartland. "We all worked hard to find the stories that tell the story of the Diocese of Buffalo."
In June, the staff of the monthly paper learned they had won not one, but three awards from the CPA. They were awarded third place for Best Redesign and the judges commented on the paper's new modern look.
"It is very gratifying to win the Newspaper of the Year and place third throughout the U.S. and Canada in the redesign category," said Carolyn Luick, graphic designer. "Our small, but dedicated, staff works diligently to maintain high standards at all times and to improve whenever necessary. Such team-driven awards tell us we are not only doing things well in each of our own specialties, but we are excelling as a collaborative unit to bring Catholic news to Western New York in an efficient manner."
Reporter Patrick J. Buechi, currently the paper's only reporter, has written stories on a wide range of topics in the almost 21 years he has worked for the Western New York Catholic. His article bringing together the Catholic Lenten tradition of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday and the secular community bike-riding group, Slow Roll, for a "Holy Roll," was given an honorable mention as Best News Writing on a Local or Regional Event. The judges said Buechi's coverage of an unusual cycling event was "refreshing." The paper's managing editor agreed.
"Pat's story is exactly the kind of human interest stories we wanted to cover," McPartland said. "It was off-the-wall and different. Pat took that and made a fantastic story out it."
"I like the fact that story shows how the Catholic Church fits into everyday life, even secular life. Church isn't just for Mass on a Sunday," Buechi said. "It can be appreciated for its beauty and history, as well as its meaning. I think Father Jud (Weiksnar, OFM) and all the organizers of the Holy Roll did a great job showing that."
The Western New York Catholic is no stranger to CPA awards. They have won awards for photography, layout, advertising design, stories and overall quality. As far as newspapers go, the staff is small. In addition to McPartland, Buechi, and Luick, there are online content coordinator Mark Ciemcioch, advertising coordinator Darryl Tills, photographer Dan Cappellazzo and business manager Roy Laciura.
The Catholic Press Association, which announced the winners during their annual June media conference, has nearly 250 publication members and 600 individual members.