Four Buffalo News writers won first-place awards in the New York State Associated Press Association 1998-99 contest, three for a series on sports business and one for editorials on managed care.
The News, which competes in the over-125,000 circulation category, also won second place honors for spot coverage with the local staff's work on the murder of physician Barnett Slepian in his Amherst home.
Sports reporter Mark Gaughan, business reporter David Robinson and local reporter John F. Bonfatti won the business writing award for their series "Bottom Line Sports, which ran in March.
The series examined the cost and effects of state and local aid to the Buffalo Bills, Sabres and Bisons, determined for the first time in a comprehensive way what that had cost local and state taxpayers, and discussed what the region got for its money.
Gaughan, 37, covers the Bills, and joined The News in 1984. Robinson, 35, covers public corporations, and has worked at The News for 14 years, while Bonfatti, 44, a former Associated Press staff member in Albany, Buffalo and Philadelphia, joined The News in 1998.
Rod Watson, a member of The News' editorial board and a columnist, won the editorial-writing competition for a series of editorials on health maintenance organizations. Watson, 45, has been at The News for 16 years and has been a member of the board for 11 years.
Watson's editorials argued that while there are abuses in the system, it works well overall.
Also in The News' competitive category were the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the New York Post and Newsday.
Winning second place in the spot news category for their coverage of the Slepian slaying were reporters Gene Warner, Dan Herbeck, Jerry Zremski, Lou Michel, Phil Fairbanks, Henry L. Davis, Patrick Lakamp and Susan Schulman. The Daily News won first-place honors in the spot-coverage category for its reporting on the crash of Swissair Flight 111, and third place in the category went to the Times for coverage of Amadou Diallo's funeral.
News reporter Charity Vogel won second place in the features category for an article in First Sunday, The News' magazine, called "The Voice." It dealt with an 11-year-old girl whose life goal was to make it as a star.
Honorable mention in the depth-reporting category went to reporters Niki Cervantes, Dick Dawson and Schulman for their series "Burning Money on the practices of the region's volunteer fire departments.
In the graphic illustration category for over-50,000 circulation papers, artists Daniel Zakroczemski and Terry Lew won second place for their work on "Sale of the Century.
In the non-spot news presentation category, page designer Vincent J. Chiaramonte and photographer Robert Kirkham won second place for the Stanley Cup Preview.
The News also was honored for the work of four photographers.
In feature photography, Sharon Cantillon won third place for "Puppy Love, a picture of a boy and a girl laughing at each other through a fence.
James P. McCoy and Charles R. Lewis won honorable mentions in the category for McCoy's "Fire Drill," a study of shadows cast by students outside on a fire drill, and Lewis for "Sunflower Sniffer," showing a woman and child relishing a sunflower.
In sports feature photography, Lewis took third for "Celebration Time," a picture of college basketball fans reacting to a play. In the same category, Harry Scull Jr. received honorable mention for "Airborne," showing a high school wrestler thrown on his head.
The awards were presented Wednesday night at the New York State Associated Press Association annual meeting in Syracuse.