The Daily Messenger was awarded Newspaper of the Year by its parent company, GateHouse Media, on Wednesday. One of the Daily Messenger reporters was also recognized as a second-place winner in the News Writer of the Year category.

The Daily Messenger was awarded Newspaper of the Year by its parent company, GateHouse Media, on Wednesday. One of the Daily Messenger reporters was also recognized as a second-place winner in the News Writer of the Year category.

GateHouse Media acquired Messenger Post Media, which includes the Daily Messenger, in 2006. It is one of the largest publishers of hyperlocal and community newspapers across the country. GateHouse publications reach more than 23 million people each week with its 144 daily newspapers, 341 community publications and more than 569 local market websites in 38 states. GateHouse broke the publications down to four divisions for the awards due to market size.

GateHouse Media stated that many of its newsrooms have outperformed industry standards in both print and digital products.

“Most of all, so many of our newsrooms spent the year focused on what makes us leaders in this industry: We #DoJournalismWithImpact with passion and ferocity.”

After announcing the annual awards, GateHouse Media tweeted out, “Division C Newspaper of the Year @messengerpost discovered clever approaches to test government responsiveness with a letter-sending project and consistently engages with its local community by offering readers a window into editorial board meetings.”

GateHouse Media is referring to a Daily Messenger Editorial Board decision to call out local, state and national representatives after learning about an eighth-grade social studies project that died on the desks of representatives. The students were assigned to write their representative of choice a rhetorical-type letter about one of their concerns or passions. The utter lack of response to these students drove the Editorial Board to launch a constituent version of the same assignment, using a real community member with his own personal concerns about the health of the Finger Lakes. He too, received the same type of attention: A 22 percent response rate from a combined 18 elected officials.

Daily Messenger senior reporter Julie Sherwood wrote the story and was recognized on Wednesday by GateHouse Media as a Division C second-place winner for News Writer of the Year.

The civic journalism experiment caused many of the representatives to stumble and backtrack after Sherwood contacted each and every elected leader for an explanation.

The Daily Messenger’s Editorial Board community member at the time, John Strachan, of Canandaigua, took part in the social experiment and wrote the 18 letters to his representatives. The Canandaigua resident said he felt let down, perhaps just like the eighth-grade students who received nothing.

“To me, it’s just another indication that our representatives ... are woefully out of touch with us,” Strachan said. “They don’t seem to understand that a simple gesture like responding to a letter like this can bring them so much goodwill and future support — even a one- or two-sentence auto-signed form letter written by a staff member.”

Please click here for Daily Messenger's story “How responsive are our elected leaders?” .

The Newspaper of the Year award comes on the heels of three awards presented last week to the Daily Messenger from the Associated Press for Spot News coverage, Public Service and sports photography.

#DoJournalismWithImpact