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From the Editor’s Desk: Herald journalists win 14 Keystones


It’s always a pleasure and a privilege to talk about the fine journalists who write the stories, take the photographs and design the pages you see week in and week out in the Bucks County Herald newspaper.

They are true professionals and they do this work, not for awards, but because they know it matters to the readers and communities they serve.

But once in a while, these folks bring home the hardware and I get an excuse to publicly recognize them and thank them for all they do.

The Bucks County Herald in June took 14 Keystone Media Awards in the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association’s annual journalism contest, which recognizes the best work in various categories during the prior year.

We compete with other “weekly general news publications with a circulation of greater than 6,000.”

In the “Investigative Reporting” category, first prize went to reporter Andy Holtzman who, in an in-depth report, answered the question “Why are thieves stealing Bucks restaurants’ used cooking oil?”. His reporting brought light to well-organized networks of thieves that have tapped into a growing black market for used cooking oil that can be reconstituted as biodiesel, an in-demand alternative to petroleum-based fuels.

Reporter Joe Ferry’s engaging 2023 coverage of Pennridge School District’s contract with curriculum consultant Vermilion, which later became part of the narrative district Democrats used to win control of the school board from Republicans, took the top prize in the “Ongoing News Coverage” category. Ferry also received a second place award in the “News Feature” category for “Young Marine’s letter found at Quakertown thrift store makes its way home.”

Sportswriter Don Leypoldt won first place in the “Sports Feature” category for “Out of Kabul’s darkness, Fatima shines,” his emotional piece about Solebury School soccer player Fatima Daryabi who, leaving her family behind, fled Afghanistan to escape the Taliban in 2021. Leypoldt also placed second in the “Sports Breaking News/Event Coverage” category for “A night to unite: Hoops take a back seat at CR North game.”

Photographer Michael Apice won first place in not one, but two categories. For “Sports Action Photo,” he was awarded the top prize for his photo from the Archbishop Wood baseball team’s opening round win in the PIAA Class 4A tournament last June. His “Play Ball: Historic baseball game held in Lambertville,” which takes us out to a (vintage) ballgame from circa 1866 won in the “Photo Story/Essay” category.

Bucks Family Magazine, helmed by Herald Publishing Executive Director Ann Meredith, Art Director Ron Dacanay and Special Publications Manager Felicia Zegler, won first place in the “Special Section” category. It’s the second straight first place win in this category by the trio at Bucks Family Magazine.

The reporting team of Andy Holtzman and Brett Duffey was awarded second place in the “Enterprise Reporting” category for fine work on the Herald’s “Trading Up” project, a three-week series on the popularity of vocational and technical training in Bucks County, which was funded by a Foundation Fellows Grant from the PA NewsMedia Association.

“Placing Flowers,” Photographer Sara Pinkus’ powerful image from the last July’s vigil to mourn the seven victims of a flash flood in Upper Makefield received a second prize award in the “News Event Photo” category.

Editor Regina Young earned a second place award in the “Sports Page Design” category for her entry, entitled “Schools Sports Health & Fitness Series.”

Herald Founding Editor Bridget Wingert’s “Happy to be Here” column, which runs every other Thursday, received an Honorable Mention in the “Column” category.

Writer Michael Elkin got an Honorable Mention in the “Personality Profile” category for “Preserving the legacy of giants, Leopold holds the line.”

Designer Michael Naylor, who lays out the weekly C1 photo feature, took an Honorable Mention for a six-page submission in the “Feature Page Design” category. The photos were from last year’s “Saree Run,” “Upper Bucks Celtic Festival,” “PrideFest,” “Play Ball,” “YMCA Kids Triathlon” and “Pennsylvania Derby at Parx.”

I’m tremendously proud of all the writers, editors and photographers who contributed to the Bucks County Herald in 2023 and who’ve continued to produce high-quality work through the first six months of 2024.

I can’t wait to see what this award-winning team does in the last six.

John Anastasi is Editor-in-Chief of the Bucks County Herald and can be reached at

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