The Mail Tribune captured eight first-place awards and 19 awards overall in the annual Better Newspaper Contest sponsored by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. The awards were announced Thursday and Friday at the association's annual convention, held this year near Bend.

Mail Tribune first-place winners were:

Best Editorial Page, Opinion Page Editor Gary E. Nelson. Best Editorial, Associate Editor Bob Hunter, for an editorial on the historical society funding crisis, "We shouldn't turn our back on history." Best Educational Coverage, Teresa Thomas, for a story on the lack of school-based health care in the Rogue River School District, "Rural reality." Best Column, Kris Henry, for an assortment of columns including "North's basketball star Schireman thrives on track."  Best Sports Story, Tim Trower, for a story on the discovery of long-lost Olympic medals earned by golfer Chandler Egan, "A true medalist." Best News Photo, Jamie Lusch, for his shot of a man visiting an Eagle Point National Cemetery grave site on Memorial Day, "Honoring the fallen." Best Overall Website, Online Editor Ryan Pfeil. Best Web Design, Online Editor Ryan Pfeil.

Competing in the circulation category of 10,001 to 25,000, the Mail Tribune earned second place in the General Excellence category.

Tribune staffers also earned second-place awards:

Best Editorial, Opinion Page Editor Gary E. Nelson, for editorials "The Whitsetts' cynical back-room deal." "Theatergoers say Bah! Humbug! to Hope Village" and "Oil train roulette in the Columbia Gorge" Best Lifestyle Coverage, Nick Morgan for a story about participants in Jackson County's Drug Court program, "A new life." Best Local Column, Mark Freeman, for an assortment of outdoor columns including "Don't believe what you read on seafood menus." Best Sports Story, Kris Henry, for his profile on retiring South Medford basketball coach Dennis Murphy, "Last Hurrah." Best Government Coverage, Nick Morgan, for a story on inmate-on-inmate violence at the Jackson County Jail, "Violence Within."

Staffers were awarded the following third place awards:

Best Coverage of Business and Economic issues, Hannah Golden, for a story looking at varying costs for medical procedures between hospitals, "Weighing the costs." Best Feature Story: General, Mark Freeman, for a story about how biologists use Pacific fishers to determine impacts from logging in the Ashland watershed, "Fisher Queen." Best Spot News Coverage, Nick Morgan, for a story about an Eagle Point rancher's unusual bike thief citizen's arrest, "Horseback Hero." Best Writing, Mark Freeman, for a series of outdoor columns including "Don't believe what you read on seafood menus" and "Salmon fly hatch fills sky with bugs" Best Feature Photo, Denise Baratta, also for "Horseback Hero." Best Multimedia Element, Ryan Pfeil, for his video, "Woman shares her story of self-injury." Best Online Coverage of Breaking News, Hannah Golden, for "Happy ending: Missing runner Ashley Laird found on third day after outpouring of support."

Joe Zavala, a sports and news reporter for the Mail Tribune's sister paper, the Ashland Daily Tidings, earned first place awards for Best Column and Best Sports Story and a second place for Best Feature Story. The Tidings competes in the 10,000-and-under circulation category.