Malheur Enterprise cited for Oregon’s “Best Story of the Year”

VALE – The Malheur Enterprise was cited for “pure journalistic excellence” when a report on Anthony Montwheeler was named the state’s “Best Story of the Year” by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association.

The investigative report – “Deadly Decisions” – revealed Montwheeler’s history as a man treated for 20 years as criminally insane but released by state officials after he asserted he had been faking his mental illness. Montwheeler was subsequently charged with the murders of Annita Harmon and David Bates and assault of Jessica Bates in January 2017.

The state award “recognizes one story as the most outstanding,” according to judging criteria. The Oregonian was second in competition open to all Oregon newspapers and the Klamath Falls Herald and News was third.

The Enterprise picked up 20 awards in various journalism categories for work published in 2017.

“Our entire team works hard week in and week out to deliver important news to Malheur County while adhering to the highest professional standards,” said Publisher Les Zaitz. “These honors demonstrate we are bringing journalistic excellence to the county and to our readers.”

Besides the best story category, the Enterprise was awarded five other first-place awards, including best personality feature and best lifestyle coverage for stories by reporter Pat Caldwell, best business coverage for work by Mitchell Willetts, a reporting intern last year, and best enterprise reporting and best local column for work by Zaitz.

The Enterprise swept the category of lifestyle coverage in its division, with Caldwell taking second and Willetts taking third.

The newspaper was awarded second place for best enterprise reporting, best sports story, best page 1 design and best feature photo. The Enterprise finished third in best sports story, best special section, best general feature story, best spots news coverage, and best educational coverage.

ONPA also awarded the Enterprise second place for general excellence, an assessment of the newspaper’s overall quality. The Enterprise was a finalist for the Baker Family Public Service Award, an honor won by The Oregonian.

The Keizertimes, sister paper also owned by the Zaitz family, received 13 awards, including first-place honors in four categories.

The Argus Observer of Ontario was awarded first place for best page 1 design and third place for spot news coverage.