The Highlander has been short-listed for eight awards by the Ontario Community Newspaper Association (OCNA).

The OCNA named the top-three finalists in all categories Feb. 14.

The paper is in the running for general excellence in the 6,500 to 12,499 circulation size. We are pitted against the Glanbrook Gazette and Niagara This Week/Fort Erie Post. The Highlander has been named best paper of its size in Ontario in six of the past seven years.

We are also being recognized for the online special initiative category. This is for the local election podcast that we launched late last summer and into the fall. We focused on issue, and candidate, interviews and were able to provide excellent context to listeners and voters.

Co-owner and former publisher, Simon Payn, told the judges, “the community received our work very well. We have frequently received comments about the excellence of our coverage. We’ve heard of readers who have changed their minds over who to vote for based on listening to the audio of our candidate interviews. We are enormously proud of our work on this project.”

Editor Lisa Gervais has been given a nod in the reporter of the year category. Payn told the OCNA, “she has consistently written accurate, interesting, community-minded stories.” He put forth Is it time to discuss County governance?, County convoy about hope, and Devastating call inspired better policing as samples of her work.

Former reporter Sam Gillett received three nominations, for arts and entertainment reporting (Left for Dead revived, Minden man’s punk history remembered), best news story (Couple seeks answers after dogs killed) and sports and recreation (This reporter was hurtin’ in Haliburton).

Assistant editor Mike Baker is up for the best health and wellness coverage. His story, ‘Celebrating another chance at life’ was about a woman successfully battling Lyme Disease.

Tania Moher, head of production, and sales team members Laurie Johnson and Dawn Poissant, are up for the local retail layout advertising award, for an ad they did for London Trading Post.

Winners will be announced at an awards gala in April.

“We know we do good work, but it is always nice to be recognized on a provincial stage,” publisher Heather Kennedy said. “Although we are a small team, we stand up against the best when it comes to editorial and advertising. But, of course, we couldn’t do that without our dedicated readers and advertisers.”