The New Mexico Press Association’s 112th annual Better Newspaper Contest Awards Ceremony was cancelled due to Covid, but the results were streamed virtually via Zoom, with The Independent winning 13 awards in the annual contest.

This year the journalism contest had over 1,100 entries from newspapers around New Mexico, divided into large and small daily and weekly categories.

The Independent’s editor Leota Harriman won first place in seven categories, including best obituary page, best classified advertising section, best web advertisement, obituary news, general news photo, news writing, and design and typography.

In addition, Harriman was elected to her second term as president of the Press Association at its annual meeting.

Harriman and James Reader won second place against all weeklies in the best website category; and along with with reporter Felecia Pohl second place in the photo series category for coverage of the Black Lives Matter protest in Edgewood.

The Independent got both first and second place in the environmental and agricultural writing category, with Tamara Bicknell-Lombardi winning first for coverage of hemp in Torrance County, and Jim Taulman for his Wild Things feature, which highlights local wildlife.

“I just enjoy going out and observing wildlife, so any kind of recognition for that is terrific,” Taulman said.

Lombardi said that while it’s not really a goal of hers to win an award, it is cool to add to the award to her repertoire. “I will say that [environmental and agricultural category] was the one category that I was hoping I would do well in,” she said. “I got a nice placement in the category that I was super hoping for so for me that was a highlight.”

Sports reporter Ger Demarest won second place in sports writing, and The Independent staff placed second in the ongoing or continuing coverage category.

To keep up with The Independent’s coverage, visit, or look for the blue box at locations around the East Mountains and Estancia Valleya.