The Berkshire Eagle has been named the 2018 Newspaper of the Year for both its weekday and Sunday editions in the New England Newspaper & Press Association's New England Newspaper of the Year Competition.

The awards were announced at the New England Newspaper Awards Luncheon held Thursday at the Crowne Plaza hotel and conference center in Natick.

The Newspaper of the Year honors recognize "the region's highest quality newspapers based on experts' and readers' impression of the quality of their reporting and writing, use of photos, design and presentation, online offering, and overall utility and value."

Unlike other newspaper competitions nationally, this one is judged by a jury of newspaper readers, according to The New England Newspaper & Press Association.

"For the last 2 1/2 years, we have been dedicated to restoring the quality that was associated with The Eagle for generations," said Fredric D. Rutberg, The Eagle's publisher, president and co-owner. "The owners made serious investments to back up this commitment, and the entire staff responded enthusiastically to the mission.

"While I am particularly pleased that our newsroom was singled out for recognition it deserves, credit must go to each and every one at The Eagle."

The Eagle competed in the Weekday Newspapers division among other weekday papers with circulations of 14,000 to 25,000, and in the Sunday Newspapers category against newspapers with Sunday circulation of 18,000 to 30,000.

The Eagle was the only newspaper in New England this year, regardless of size, to take the top honor for its weekday and Sunday editions, according to Kevin Moran, executive editor of The Eagle.

"These recognitions reflect the tireless efforts of the news staff and our colleagues in all departments here who support this mission, as well as the commitment of our local ownership to improving the quality and expanding the breadth of journalism at The Eagle," Moran said. "I am proud to say that the Berkshires has an excellent, vibrant newspaper nowadays — one of the best, as a matter of fact — that folks can call their own.

"Not every part of the country can say they have a newspaper this good or even a newspaper to call their own these days," he continued. "But the Berkshires does, thank goodness. And we are grateful to our readers who support us."

The runners-up in the Weekday Newspapers division included The Day of New London, Conn., and the Sun Journal of Lewiston, Maine. The runners-up in the Sunday Newspapers category included The Eagle-Tribune of North Andover and the Sun Journal of Lewiston, Maine.

In the Specialty Publications division, UpCountry Magazine was honored with distinguished status among magazines, etc. UpCountry is the glossy, bimonthly magazine produced by The Eagle and its sister publications in New England Newspapers Inc. The Providence Business News of Rhode Island took home this year's top honor among specialty publications.

In 2017, The Eagle was named a Distinguished Newspaper in its circulation class, as well as being selected as a Distinguished Newspaper in its Sunday category. The Distinguished Newspaper designation is runner-up to the top honor of Newspaper of the Year.

The New England Newspaper & Press Association is the professional trade organization for newspapers in New England and represents more than 450 daily, weekly and specialty newspapers.