Erika Norton, reporter at The West Milford Messenger and other Straus News weeklies, was awarded second place for Rookie Reporter of the Year at the New York Press Association’s annual convention last weekend. After looking over multiple pieces of her work, judges commented that Norton’s “thorough reporting hits all the bases of her subjects. Tells the story fully and objectively and presents complex issues clearly.”

And that she does. With less than 18 months on the job, Norton has covered a range of stories, including the opioid/heroin epidemic; major economic and housing developments, such as Legoland New York and Kiryas Joel; and school issues, from lead testing to bullying to a lawsuit against a local school brought by an organization with ties to the Trump administration. She's also covered fires, swatting, and murders, including a quadruple homicide in Chester, N.Y., along with creepy clowns and Pokemon Go.

“We can always count on Erika to tackle really complicated issues — whether she’s researching and analyzing hard data, or out in the field conducting interviews,” said Jeanne Straus, publisher of Straus News. “Our readers really count on her to bring them the stories that matter to their communities.”

Earlier this year, Norton won first place for the New Jersey Press Association Rookie Reporter of the Year.

Straus News also took home first place for Best Graphic Illustration and second place for Best Front Page Design, both of which were awarded to Page Design Coordinator Christina Scotti.

Straus News publishes 17 local weekly newspapers and associated websites in contiguous towns in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The circulation area covers Manhattan and Orange County in New York, Sussex and Passaic Counties in New Jersey and Pike County in Pennsylvania. Straus News also publishes Dirt, a magazine covering the Tri-State area’s local green scene.