West Virginia Press Convention, WVPA Convention

West Virginia Press Association presents Convention 2020

It’s online: Enjoy convention at your convenience

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Welcome to the West Virginia Press Association’s 2020 Convention.

The largest annual gathering of newspaper professionals in the state is online this year. Acting on the Coronavirus information and advice featured in our newspapers in 2020, the West Virginia Press Association has moved the 2020 Convention online with video, virtual and print presentations. It’s a change that reflects life during this pandemic.

Convention actually exists within this article. You will find the information, links, videos and a new way to honor and celebrate the achievements of our industry in 2020.

Your hosts are Don Smith and Betsy Miles, the executive director and assistant executive director of the West Virginia Press Association.

THE OPENING TO CONVENTION 2020: Please click the video.

It only makes sense the Coronavirus, which has changed almost every aspect of life this year, would dramatically impact the WVPA’s annual celebration. This convention will be different. It’s written and presented in the hope of being personable, with first-person dialogue and in a news style. It features a mix of videos, articles, awards, photos, comments, quotes, and chances to participate and have some fun.

We can’t be together, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun, celebrate and enjoy convention. We are presenting the 2020 Convention for viewing at your convenience and comfort. You can enjoy it socially distancing with co-workers at your office, on a zoom call, or online at home with family and friends. Do convention on your schedule and in your own style.

Convention would not be possible without support of our sponsors and work of our partners. WV Press thanks sponsors AARP West Virginia, WVU University Relations, West Virginia Press Association Foundation and partners Everywhere Local and HepCatz Design.

Despite the changes in 2020, the staff at WV Press, which includes office manager and contest coordinator Dalton Walker and graphic designer Brenda Pinnell, want to make convention as much fun as possible.

SPEAKING OF FUN: There will also be a ZOOM Social Hour at 7 p.m. tonight — Friday, Oct. 2. It’s chance to say hello, congratulate the winners and see some familiar faces. The link will be emailed to all publishers, editors and ad directors. If you don’t have it on later today, email Don Smith at [email protected].

DID YOU NOTICE?: Assistant Executive Director Betsy DeBord is now Betsy Miles. In June, Betsy married Wayne Miles, a captain with the South Charleston Fire Department.

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: Regardless of whether you are experiencing convention with coworkers, with friends or alone — and in the spirit of the many ZOOM Happy Hours in 2020 —  if you have a beverage, take a sip when you see or hear the 2020 Convention Beverage Word: “Press.” So enjoy yourself from WV Press. (Yes, that is two examples of “Press” so take two sips!) LOL, enjoy the videos.

NATIONAL NEWSPAPER WEEK: Please click the video.

The 80th annual National Newspaper Week — a recognition of the service of newspapers and their employees across North America — is set for next week: Oct. 4-10.

The Newspaper Association Managers (NAM) group sponsors National Newspaper Week. WV Press is a member of NAM.

NAM provides a content kit with promotional ads, editorials and editorial cartoons; all available for download at no charge to daily and non-daily newspapers across North America.

“America/Canada Needs Journalists” is this year’s theme. The Iowa City ‘Daily Iowan’ developed the concept.

This WV Press convention — and the announcement of our awards — are occurring just before the start of National Newspaper Week.

We hope you will publish the press release emailed on WV Press awards and follow that announcement with material from National Newspaper Week — https://www.nationalnewspaperweek.com/ — which is linked to this article and was recently shared by WV Press.

It’s time to promote our state and national newspaper industry. Share the story and use the material.

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: How many of you canceled celebrations, activities, trips or vacations this year? Give a shout out or a show of hands.

The West Virginia Press Association Board of Directors welcomes you to convention. The board includes:

— Sandy Buzzerd, Morgan Messenger, president

— Jim Spanner, Parkersburg News and Sentinel, immediate past president

— Hannah Heishman, Moorefield Examiner, vice president of Weeklies

— Randy Mooney, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, vice president of Dailies

— Jim McGoldrick, St. Marys Oracle

— Jim Heady, Charleston Gazette-Mail

— Dave Hedges, Times Record and Roane County Reporter

— Perry Nardo, The Intelligencer & Wheeling News-Register

A TRIBUTE TO PAST PRESIDENTS: Please click the video.

Here is a West Virginian who supports a free press:



The WVPA Foundation awarded four internship/scholarships in 2020.

While the Coronavirus forced many organizations to cancel internships in 2020, our Foundation was able to award, schedule and monitor its four internship/scholarships.

But it wasn’t easy. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice closed all schools on March 13, declared a State of Emergency on March 16, and issued a Stay-At-Home order on March 23.

With student safety the primary issue and facing travel restricted, the Foundation focused on getting the interns placed at their local newspaper. Even then, the 2020 interns did most of their work from home. There were very few trips to the newspaper or in-person assignments. While it wasn’t the best situation for the interns, they all said it was workable and a great benefit.

The interns include:

1 – Mikayla Hamrick of Martinsburg and a student at Shepherd University interned with The Journal of Martinsburg;

2 – Daniel Wood of Morgantown and a student at West Virginia University interned with The Dominion Post of Morgantown;

3 – Seth Mitchell of Milton and a student at West Virginia University interned with The Herald Dispatch of Huntington;

4 – Jena Cordle of Charleston and a student at Marshall University interned with the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Mikayla Hamrick
Daniel Woods
Jena Cordle
Seth Mitchell

The 2020 Interns received a $3,000 stipend for the internship and a $1,000 scholarship for the fall semester.

West Virginia Press Association Foundation leadership includes:

— Mike Myer, Ogden Newspapers, president

— Ed Given, Braxton County News, trustee

— Jim Buzzerd, Morgan Messenger, trustee

— Frank Wood, Beckley Register-Herald, retired, trustee

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION:: Remember, if you are reading and watching this with a beverage, take a sip when you see or hear the beverage word: “Press.” Still with us?

WV PRESS ADVERTISING AWARDS: Please click the video.

Congratulations to the winners!

Click here for a list of the individual advertising award winners.

Mike Mallow of the Moorefield Examiner won the Advertisement of the Year with this entry.

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: With a show of hands, do you reference to the pandemic as CORONAVIRUS … COVID-19 … or that social media favorite THE ‘RONA?

WV PRESS EDITORIAL AWARDS: Please click the video.

Congratulations to the winners!

Click here for a list of the individual editorial award winners

Photo of the Year went to Jim Cooper of the Times Record and Roane County Reporter of Spencer for this entry.

ADAM R. KELLY AWARDS: Please click the video.

The Adam R. Kelly Award was established in 1991 in memory of the late Adam R. Kelly, legendary “Country Editor” columnist and former owner and editor of the Tyler Star News in Sistersville.

Adam R. Kelly

Kelly was known nationally for his outstanding service to newspapers.

The award is the highest individual honor bestowed by the West Virginia Press Association. It’s given each year in recognition of an individual’s service to the newspapers in the state, the West Virginia Press Association and to the individual’s community.

The Coronavirus has forced many of us to talk online through Zoom or Facetime. Starting this year, the West Virginia Press Association will record its Adam R. Kelly Award presentation and place the video on its website and social media platforms allowing more people to meet the winner.

This year, the West Virginia Press Association is doing two presentations, our 2019 award winner, due to a family illness, was not able to attend the convention last year. We will meet both the 2019 and 2020 award winners.

2019 – SANDY BUZZERD: Please click the video.

An interview with Sandy Buzzerd will be available by Oct. 5, 2020

Sandy Buzzerd is the 2019 Adam R. Kelly Award winner.

Currently the president of the West Virginia Press Association, Sandy Buzzerd is one of just a few to ever serve twice as the association’s president. Such service to WV Press is a reflection of Sandy’s commitment to the state’s newspaper industry.

Asked to describe her career, Sandy said, “Not much to say about me other than a hard-working Morgan County girl.”

Actually, there is a lot more to say.

Don Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Press Association, said Buzzerd is a leader in the association and one of strongest voices for the state’s weekly newspapers:

“Sandy has a tremendous understanding of a local newspaper’s value to a community. She represents the tradition of a family-owned community newspaper, but she is also a strong woman in an industry historically dominated by men. When she puts her opinions on the table, everyone pays attention. Having Sandy Buzzerd on our board over the years has benefitted the state’s newspapers in numerous ways. From the community, to convention, to the Capitol, Sandy has worked for the newspaper industry and the WVPA.”

Sandy was born in 1957 to Tom and Ann Riggleman, the third of four children. She graduated Berkeley Springs High School in 1975 and graduated from West Virginia Career College in Morgantown in 1976 with business degree.

She married Jim Buzzerd in December 1976. The Buzzerd family has operated the Morgan Messenger for generations.

Sandy said her two greatest accomplishments are easy to identify: Shelly Buzzerd, who was born in 1980 and graduated from WVU in 2002 with a Marketing Degree, and Cassandra Buzzerd, who was born in 1984 and graduated from Fairmont State University in 2006 with a Consumer Science Degree with a specialization in Interior Design.

As for her newspaper accomplishments:

 “I started working part-time for The Morgan Messenger and Hancock News Jan. 2, 1983, to help the family have a better understanding of the computers. Two weeks later I had a full-time schedule. Did I ever dream that one day I would be running a newspaper? No. Knowing what I know now, would I have planned for a career in the newspaper business? No.  But I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I have spent 37 years learning the newspaper business and I will continue to do so because it is always changing. The one consistent thing is our continuing desire to print the truth,” Buzzerd said.

Click here to visit the Morgan Messenger website

Like most successful community newspaper publishers, Buzzerd is active in her community. Over the years she has volunteered with various organizations in Morgan County: chamber of commerce, high school athletic boosters, church and, in 2012, was named to the Apple Butter Hall of Fame for her many years of service to the community festival.

Click here to see Sandy Buzzerd photos

2020 – JOHN BOLT: Please click the video.

John Bolt is the 2020 Adam R. Kelly Award Winner

Recently retired as senior executive director of University News for West Virginia University, John Bolt spent a career directly and indirectly improving and assisting newspapers, including more than two decades in West Virginia.

When he arrived at work in West Virginia in the 1990s, John said it was the first time he wasn’t wondering about his next job. “It just felt right.”

For the West Virginia Press Association, having John in the state has always been right and beneficial.

The most recent example of John’s benefit to WV Press came at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. John directed the sharing of information and data that experts at WVU were generating on the Coronavirus. John and his team at WVU Today — all working from home during the pandemic — provided daily updates and regularly shared information with the state media. Many newspapers featured those WVU updates and/or based their reporting on the data being generating at the university.

To review a portion of that work, visit https://wvutoday.wvu.edu/stories?tags=Health

While his job was helping re-energize and stabilize WVU’s University Relations/News operation, John said working with the state’s media, including its newspapers, was a key to succeeding at WVU.

During his time at the university, John also developed and directed WVU’s Academic Media Day, when members of the state’s media spend a day learning from and talking with WVU’s experts and administrators.  

John, who first came to West Virginia as Chief of Bureau for The Associated Press in Charleston, also conceived of and started the annual “AP Legislative Lookahead,” bringing together political and government leaders with print and broadcast reporters in advance of the legislative session. That project is now directed by WV Press.

Both Academic Media Day and the Legislative Lookahead continue to generate front-page and prime broadcast time stories.

Among his mentors in the newspaper industry, John includes Mac McConnell, a former editorial page editor at a Greenville, S.C., newspaper, who helped him with his first newspaper internship, and Ogden Nutting of Ogden Newspapers in Wheeling, who offered advice and support during John’s time in West Virginia.  

John has been active in other roles, serving as a member of the Visiting Committee for the then P.I. Reed School of Journalism, a member of the Freedom of Information Committee for the WVPA, and a member of the Diversity Council with The Associated Press.  He has also been active with the Presbytery of West Virginia and the Presbyterian Church.

Now retired, John and his wife, Margaret, plan to remain in West Virginia.

Click here to see John Bolt photos:

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: How many of you are sharing ‘RONA memes during the pandemic? How many of your memes are only shareable with family and friends? See some of our favorite “appropriate” and cute memes here.

Maybe laughter can be the best medicine: Click this link to view our memes.


The WVPA General Excellence Awards recognize the cumulative point total of individual newspapers. The awards are presented in both the Editorial and Advertising Divisions and in each circulation division.


Winners are as follows:

Division IV:

First – The Moorefield Examiner

Second – The Doddridge Independent – tie

Second – Grant County Press – tie

Third – Wayne County News

Division III:

First – The Hampshire Review

Second – The Times Record and Roane County Reporter

Third – The Spirit of Jefferson

Division II:

First – Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Second – The Journal of Martinsburg

Third – The Inter-Mountain of Elkins

Division I:

First – Charleston Gazette-Mail

Second – Beckley Register-Herald

Third – The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington

Here is another West Virginian who supports a free press.



Winners are as follows:

Division IV:

First – The Princeton Times

Second – The Moorefield Examiner

Third – The Fayette Tribune

Division III:

First – The Times Record & Roane County Reporter

Second – The Spirit of Jefferson

Third – The Daily Athenaeum

Division II:

First – Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Second – The Journal of Martinsburg

Third – The Inter-Mountain of Elkins

Division II:

First – Charleston Gazette-Mail

Second – Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Third – The Herald Dispatch of Huntington

The fight to keep public notice accessible to the all members of the public and in community newspapers continues. Thanks for your support!


Each year, the WVPA recognizes a Newspaper of the Year, which honors the newspaper with the highest combined total of points in the Editorial and Advertising awards division.

THE WINNER: Please click the video.

The 2020 Newspaper of the Year is the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

West Virginia Press Association Executive Director Don Smith, middle left, presents the Newspaper of the Year award to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. From left, Advertising Director Terri Hale, Publisher Randy Mooney and Editor Samantha Perry accept the award on behalf of the employees of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. BTD photo by Jessica Nuzzo

Congratulations to Publisher Randy Mooney and his team in Bluefield.

Thank you for attending the West Virginia Press Association 2020 Convention. Stay safe and hope to see you in 2021.

“Safety is not an intellectual exercise designed to keep us in work. It is a matter of life or death. It is the sum of our contributions to safety management that determines whether the people we work with live or die.”                                   Sir Brian Appleton

Click here to see and share these and other West Virginia Press Association videos.

Thanks again to our sponsors and partners!

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