Mallard takes off

A photograph of a mallard taking off in flight, shot by Glendale News-Press photographer and part-time birder Raul Roa, won second place in the art/nature category of the newspaper contest. (May 7, 2012)

The Burbank Leader collected three first-place and two second-place awards in its weekly newspaper category on Saturday in the California Newspaper Publishers Assn.'s annual Better Newspaper Contest. The awards, presented in San Jose during a meeting of the nonprofit trade association, were among 16 collected on behalf of Times Community North by Editor Dan Evans.

The paper earned a first-place award for its coverage of local government with articles written by former staff writer Gretchen Meier. Her reporting put the spotlight on bonuses paid to city employees at a time of tight budget constraints, and the refusal of the city to hand over documents related to those bonuses.

Meier's work on the Burbank city bonus issue was also awarded the top prize under the First Amendment/Freedom of Information Act category.

Also capturing first-place was the Burbank Leader's website. The entire Leader staff shares in the award as all are responsible for helping to keep the site current.

Leader staffers Matthew Wilkes and Mike Swanson share the honors for the paper's second-place award for best page layout and design, for the print version of the newspaper.

And the sports department team came up with a second-place win for its overall efforts in sports coverage.