Vermont Business Magazine For his hard-hitting political reporting and successful efforts to pass a media shield law in Vermont, Seven Days political editor Paul Heintz has been selected as the AP New England Journalist of the Year. The New England Newspaper and Press Association honored Heintz at its fall conference Thursday in Natick, Mass. “He’s not just a dogged reporter and eloquent writer,” the judges said of Heintz, 33, of Hinesburg; “he’s a leader in the field.”
Heintz and Seven Days also received the 2017 Morley L Piper First Amendment Award, which is presented “to a New England newspaper that shows leadership on First Amendment issues, either by the exceptional quality of its reporting or commentary, or for the way it overcame legal challenges.
“The Burlington, Vermont, weekly, Seven Days, did both,” the judges noted.
Morley Piper, a D-Day veteran and former NENPA executive director, detailed how Seven Days fought back when three of its reporters and editors were subpoenaed in the high-profile, sexual-assault prosecution against Norm McAllister, then a Vermont state senator. “The paper didn’t stop there,” Piper continued, quoting the judges. “The newspaper went on to help create a coalition that took steps to ensure that other Vermont reporters are unlikely to find themselves in such a position ever again, by advocating for a state shield law that ended up being enacted by the state House and Senate by overwhelming majorities.”
Heintz led that legislative lobbying effort as a board member of the Vermont Press Association. When he wasn’t in the Statehouse, the writer and editor produced “timely, bold, impactful and important journalism” for Seven Days, as the judges put it. Heintz traveled the country covering the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders. In the wake of the June 2016 Orlando nightclub massacre, he bought an AR-15 rifle — a weapon very similar to what the shooter used — in a Five Guys parking lot with $500 cash and no ID. He chronicled the experience in a first-person piece, “The Gun,” which showed the laxity of Vermont’s gun laws.
In presenting the prestigious New England Journalist of the Year award to Heintz, VPA executive director and former Burlington Free Press reporter Mike Donoghue noted the young journalist is the descendent of another brave Vermont newspaperman: His great-great-great-great grandfather, who founded and published Vermont’s first newspaper, the Bennington-based Vermont Gazette, was jailed for sedition in 1799 for using his paper to criticize President John Adams. Heintz found time to write that story for Seven Days, too, on March 8, 2017.
The judges concluded, “Paul has had a very impressive and impactful year.”
“They didn’t even mention the fact that he also got married and had a baby,” Seven Days publisher and coeditor Paula Routly said of Heintz, who has been an integral part of the independent weekly’s news team since 2012. Four-month-old Sebastian accompanied his dad to the awards ceremony outside Boston.
In May, the University of Michigan’s Wallace House named Heintz a finalist for its national Livingston Awards for Young Journalists.
Routly also accepted a “Publick Occurrences” award for Seven Days, one of 18 New England media outlets cited for outstanding journalism in 2017. The judges singled out the “powerful … unforgettable read” by Mark Davis, “Death by Drugs,” about the human toll of Vermont’s opiate crisis. Calling it a “well-researched, well-reported and well-presented package,” they wrote: “This story did a good job of explaining the facts of the crisis as it is playing out in Vermont, but it also moved beyond that, straight to the heart, by providing accounts from family members and friends about their final interactions and conversations with the loved ones they lost.”
Davis won two of the 10 first-place awards — for crimes and courts reporting and human-interest feature story — Seven Days took home earlier this year in NENPA’s New England Better Newspaper Competition. Vermont’s independent newsweekly also won top honors for general excellence, best website, video journalism, design and Rookie of the Year in the February contest.
About Seven Days:
Da Capo Publishing Inc., dba Seven Days, was founded by Pamela Polston and Paula Routly in 1995, and is now owned by Polston and Routly, as well as associate publishers Don Eggert, Cathy Resmer and Colby Roberts. In addition to its seven free publications, the Burlington-based company also produces several annual events, the Stuck in Vermont video series and hosts a ticketing website, job board and dating service. Its editorial staff has received numerous journalism awards from entities including the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, the Parenting Media Association, the Vermont Press Association and the New England Newspaper and Press Association. In 2015, Polston and Routly were inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame. The same honor was bestowed on Seven Days’ consulting editor, Candace Page, in 2017.
Source: October 13, 2017 - Burlington, Vt. – Seven Days