The California Newspaper Publishers Association's Better Newspapers Contest has five circulation categories for daily newspapers and four for weekly newspapers, which means nine papers can claim they're the best paper of their size in the state.
As a result, the Chronicle won the general excellence award for papers with a circulation of 200,000 and over while the Merc came up second in that category. They beat out the LA Times, Orange County Register, Sacramento Bee and San Diego Union Tribune, all in the 200+ category.
In the 75,001 to 200,000 category, The Press Enterprise in Riverside got a first place general excellence award and the Contra Costa Times was second.
In the 25,001 to 75,000, the Marin IJ was tops and the neighboring Santa Rosa Press Democrat was second.
A Northern California paper, the Daily Republic in Fairfield, was No. 1 in the 10,001-25,000 category, followed by Merced Sun-Star.
Among papers with a circ 10,000 and under, The Davis Enterprise was first and the Auburn Journal was second.
Moving on to weeklies, the Palo Alto Weekly won for general excellence for papers with 25,000 or more circulation. The Palo Alto Weekly stood out because of the number of first-place awards it got: best website, local news coverage, editorial comment, sports coverage, page layout & design and feature photo. Second for general excellence among the big weeklies was The Acorn in Agoura Hills in Southern California.
In the 11,001-25,000 weekly category, The San Francisco Business Times was first and The Almanac in Menlo Park was second.
In the 4,301-11,000 category, the Petaluma Argus-Courier was first and the Half Moon Bay Review was second.
Finally, in the 4,300 and less category, the first-place winner was the Los Banos Enterprise followed by the Santa Ynez Valley News in Solvang.
Here's a link to all of the winners. The statewide group handed out 480 awards at its annual meeting Friday night in Monterey.