Sandy Battin, who retired as editor of the Valencia County News-Bulletin in 2009, was inducted into the New Mexico Press Association Hall of Fame on Saturday at the organization’s annual convention.
Battin worked for her hometown newspaper twice — the first time while a student at Belen High School under the direction of former VCNB owner and publisher Carter Waid, and from 1990 to 2009.
While pursuing her journalism degree at the University of New Mexico, Battin worked for the university’s student newspaper, the Daily Lobo. She was the first reporter to ever cover a women’s sporting event.
Even before graduating, she began working for the Albuquerque Journal, eventually covering the state district courts. When Sandy’s husband, Buck Battin, took a job as news director at a Minnesota television station, she made the move with him, taking a position at the Duluth News-Tribune, where she progressed from a courts and police reporter onto the education beat and finally worked as a feature writer for the paper.
After eight years, Battin moved home to Belen, and was hired by the News-Bulletin in 1990 as a reporter. In 1995, she was asked to take over as editor.
“It was quite an unexpected honor,” Battin said of her induction into the NMPA Hall of Fame. “I am very touched and surprised.
“I’ve always loved newspapers — and actually learned to read sitting with my mother with the News-Bulletin opened before us, tracing the letters.”
During her time with the News-Bulletin, Battin won many state and national press association awards, including General Excellence in 1996 and 1999.
For many of the young — and older — reporters who worked for and with Battin at the News-Bulletin, they left with a world of knowledge and understanding of the profession. She taught them what it means to be a fair and ethical journalist.
“I tried my best to give our readers the most engaging and worthwhile newspaper I could,” she said.
VCNB staff wins awards
The staff at the Valencia County News-Bulletin received numerous awards in the New Mexico Press Association’s 2023 Better Newspaper Contest.
The News-Bulletin competes in the Weekly Class 1 Division. NMPA members entered their best editorial content and ads published between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023. This year’s contest was judged by the Arizona Press Association.
VCNB Editor and Publisher Clara Garcia won first place in the Obituary News category for her story on the late N.M. Rep. Kandy Cordova.
“I liked the content but especially the two different headlines, one on each page,” the judge wrote. “It drew be back into the story.”
Garcia won her first graphic design award — second place — in the House Advertisement category for a Pet Project campaign.
VCNB Assistant Editor Julia M. Dendinger also won first place in the Columns category for a People & Places column she penned about community journalism.
“I usually give columns about the struggles of the newspaper business and the value of community journalism a wide berth, simply because I live it, and I’m tired of hearing my own complaints,” the judge wrote. “This one, though, entertained me. It was snarky, funny and informative.”
Dendinger and Garcia won second place in the Best Ongoing/ Continuing Coverage category on the Rio Communities zoning issue.
“Smart, steadfast coverage of a heated zoning issue that brought competing visions for the city of Rio Communities into stark relief.”
- Zone change request concerns RC residents
- Rezoning request in Rio Communities spurs more opposition
- P&Z board recommends denial of Yates’ zone change
- Yates withdraws application for RC zone change
- Rio Communities to consider banning heavy industrial zoning
Mike Powers, the News-Bulletin’s sports writer, also won first place in the Sports Writing category for a feature story on former BHS track coach Joanne Romero.
“A riveting look at the history of the coach who pioneered women’s sports in New Mexico, and the legacy she left,” the judge wrote.
Dendinger and Felina Martinez, another News-Bulletin staff writer, took home second place in the News Writing category for their story on a sinkhole near the Los Lunas river bridge.
“Great story that kept my interest,” the judge wrote. “What could have been a run-of-the-mill press release story about a minor accident was made interesting by the journalists by interviewing the son.
The duo also won in the Breaking News-Digital category for the same story.
Martinez also won second place in the Education Writing category for a story about Los Lunas High School Student Eaowyn Rodriguez, a drama student who is blind.
She won another second-place award in the Online Photo Gallery category for her array of pictures of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Balloon Rallye.
“Nice job offering the readers a lot of different angles from varied distances,” the judge wrote.
The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.