The Daily Tidings won 18 Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association awards in its 2008 Better Newspaper Contest, five taking first place honors.

Sports Editor Joe Zavala won a first place best sports story for "Blazing paddles," second for "For Grizzlies, it's back to work," third place for "Two overtimes, two wins" and a first place honor for best sports page for his "Man on a mission" piece.

Zavala's clean sweep of the sports writing category is the first time in the history of the Tidings such a feat has been achieved.

Designer Scott Steussy, now a designer with the Peninsula Daily News in Washington, received first place for best page one design for "Plight of the bumble bee." Steussy also won a second place award in the best section front or inside page design for "Tradewinds: Skeleton Coast" and a second place award, which he shares with reporter Julie French, for best graphics in "Social Networking: Use only as directed" and third place best graphics award for "Einstein flunks out."

Photo Editor Orville Hector received a first place award in the best news photo for his photo of a boy holding a sign in front of the closed Ashland library. The sign read, "Once again the government fails education." Hector also received a third place award for best feature photo for "Rogue art."

Reporter Michele Mihalovich received first place for best feature in the general category for her "Season's greetings from beyond" story.

The awards were announced Friday during the association's annual summer publishers' convention in Gleneden Beach, Ore. The Tidings competes against other Oregon newspapers in the 10,000 and under category.

Other awards included:

The Daily Tidings staff won second place for best special section or issue for its Shakespeare supplement.

Reporter Julie French took a second place award for best educational coverage for "SOU touts Internet strategy" and a third place best educational coverage award for "Schools seeking men at the head of the class." She also took a second place award for best feature story in the personality category for "The house that Stanley built."

Reporter Vickie Aldous tied for third place with The Observer in La Grande, for best lifestyle coverage for "Wireless 'piggy-backers' snare free Internet" and won a second place award for best religion coverage for "Where all your answers are questioned."

Content Editor Mike Green won second place for best editorial pieces for "9/11: The elephant that will not leave," "Wake-up call for the council" and "Advancement comes in the stall of progress."