El Defensor Chieftain was recognized for general excellence by the New Mexico Press Association Saturday.

Chieftain staffers picked up 13 awards in this year’s Better Newspaper contest, sweeping first and second place in three categories—environmental or agricultural writing, business writing and education writing.

“Oldest and best weekly newspaper! The diversity of news, local focus and great high school sports coverage bring it home,” wrote the judges.

The contest was judged by members of the Wyoming Press Association.

In six of the last seven years, Socorro County’s hometown paper, El Defensor Chieftain, has been honored as the General Excellence winner in the small newspaper division of the New Mexico Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest.

“To be honored again as the state’s best small weekly newspaper is not an easy feat,” said Wanda Moeller, Vice-President of Advertising at The Albuquerque Journal. “Thanks to the outstanding journalism efforts of Editor Cathy Cook and Senior Staff Writer John Larson, as well as Office Manager Denise Ortega and Advertising Manager Stephanie McFadden, El Defensor Chieftain remains a vital part of the communities we serve. I’m extremely proud of the staff and their efforts to keep our readers informed. Their work comes from the relationships they have built with the local communities and readers who trust them with their stories.”

The newspaper staff was awarded first place for best magazine for the 2022 edition of The Source.

“Attractive layout and design make this magazine enjoyable to read. Nice mix of editorial content to guide visitors. Good use of photos. Attractive ads,” wrote the judges.

Larson and Cook won second place for best ongoing/continuing coverage for their coverage of the Eagle Picher superfund site. Cook won second place in best general news photo for a photo of soil testing done at the Eagle Picher site.

Cook took first place for environmental or agricultural writing with a story on a cannabis research farm.

“Clear and concise with an awareness that the reader will be interested in the impacts and meaning this research will have,” wrote the judges.

Larson took second place in agricultural or environmental coverage for his story on efforts to help ranchers impacted by the Black Fire.

Larson won second place for best review with his review of the children’s book Roving Cactus – Coming to Socorro.

Cook won first and second place for business writing with stories on some sweet local businesses, an ice cream truck and a candy shop. She also took first and second place in education writing for coverage of vandalism at Sarracino Middle School and Langmuir Laboratory’s lightning research. She won second place for feature writing.

In the advertising categories, Nancy Chavez won second place for classified advertising section.

Chieftain Staff Report