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Inland Press Association announces winners in the 2016 Newsroom Contests

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Des Plaines, Ill.-Inland Press Association announced the winners and runners up of its annual Newsroom Contests at the awards breakfast during its Annual Meeting in Chicago Tuesday, Oct. 25.

Each of the contests was co-sponsored and judged by a university school of journalism.

Here are the results of the 2016 Inland Newsroom and Digital Journalism Contests:

Community Leadership Award

Sponsored and judged by the Missouri School of Journalism at Missouri University

The Inland Press Association Community Leadership Award was created to encourage newspapers to use their resources of news coverage, editorial support and staff involvement to make their communities better places in which to live and work.

(All circulations categories combined)

1st: The Villages (Fla.) Daily Sun, "Redefining Justice"

In amazing graphics and words, the Daily Sun carefully examined Florida's chaotic death penalty. Thorough reporting of nearly 500 case files showed that sentencing guidelines vary throughout the state, meaning that most on death row would not be there if tried in another part of the state. The series is packed with excellent research-some files were so large that they required a handcart-and compelling story telling. The Daily Sun's work is raising questions and concern among legislators and judges, and has the potential to create a standard sentencing protocol in Florida.

2nd: The Tulsa World, "Measuring Up"

Great journalism requires great story selection, research and story telling. In this series, produced with the help of World editors and readers, the newspaper takes on the question of why Oklahoma is not competitive in a variety of important areas. In healthcare, for example, Oklahoma is behind because it hasn't thought as creatively as one of its neighbors, Arkansas. The same is true in education and the justice system. The series is focused on outcomes and how to change the state in the next decade, and represents community service at its best.

3rd: Victoria (Texas) Advocate, "Minds that Matter"

A conference on the challenges of mental illness led the Victoria Advocate to put together a community forum on the issue. And ideas from the forum led to a series of stories on a subject that the Advocate had not covered in-depth in its history. The ongoing series is spreading light on the challenges and deep suffering that's present in a sometimes invisible way. Such work does much good in creating empathy, understanding and treatment.  More important, the stories remove the stigma that many have faced and creates an atmosphere where kindness can rule.

Digital Journalism Contest 

Digital Journalism-General Excellence A

(Circulation under 50,000)

1st: Beaver County (Pa.) Times

Judge's comments: Nice clean layout and a good mix of stories. I'm impressed there is a ballet review.

2nd: Petoskey (Mich.) News-Review

3rd: Wyoming Tribune Eagle

HM: The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana

Digital Journalism-General Excellence B

(Circulation over 50,000)

1st: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Judge's Comments: A good mix of online graphics and photos. The crime by neighborhood entry was nicely done.

2nd: Roanoke (Va.) Times

3rd: None awarded

Best Online Innovation

(All circulation sizes)

1st: The News-Gazette, Champaign-Urbana, Ill.
Judge's comments: Herculean effort to instill video as a storytelling fundamental across the enterprise -- and in the minds of consumers and advertisers. While something of a "toss spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks" endeavor, some of it indeed stuck, drawing large audiences.

2nd: The Sacramento Bee
Judge's comments: Kudos to reporter Phillip Reese for assembling an incredible stockpile of interesting and impactful local data and, importantly, helpful visuals about that data as well as synthesis and context. In judging, it would have been a bonus to see how the data was used on a macro story level in daily presentation.

3rd: The Times, Munster Ind.
Judge's comments: A local media company at its core has a fundamental role in chronicling and preserving its area's history and this extensive, creative, multi-platform effort from the Times to chronicle Indiana's 200 years should be applauded for assembling a trove of knowledge-and maybe more importantly, local enthusiasm, interest and education-that will be a resource for generations to come. And it was a financial success!

Creative Use of Multimedia

(All circulation sizes)

1st: The Sacramento Bee, "No safe place"
Judge's comments: The Sacramento Bee makes full use of multimedia through a thoughtfully designed site with easy navigation complemented by engaging coverage in video, photos, Q &A and social media giving a strong interactive dimension to a complex, detailed and thoughtful narrative. This piece stood out in a strong group of multimedia entries for its well-crafted and compelling story production. 

2nd: Tulsa World, "Tulsa's 1921 race riot"

3rd: Victoria (Texas) Advocate, "Minds that matter"

HM: Beaver County (Pa.) Times, "Chernobyl"

Front Page

Sponsored and judged by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University

(Circulation Under 10,000)

1st: Daily Astorian, Astoria, Ore.

Judge's comments: This entry delivered a great mix of good writing, tight headlines, and a visual approach that is aiming for setting the bar higher.

2nd: Sheridan (Wyo.) Press

Judge's comments: This entry's writing and reporting was solid, and it was a good effort. Its design and callouts for digital could be stronger.

3rd: Carroll (Iowa) Times Herald

Judge's comments: Good news writing and reporting. The headlines could be tighter, and I'd like to see more integration with digital.

HM: Buffalo (Wyo.) Bulletin  Judge's comments: A decent entry in the news front.

(Circulation 10,000 to 49,999)

Judge's overall comments: This was a tough category. Many of these papers showed great reporting, but many entries did not make the cut, because reporting alone won't bring in new readers and support longtime subscribers. I selected winners who brought in strong visual designs and who capitalized on making the printed newspaper an object that works in tandem with its equal counterpart, digital.

1st: The Villages (Fla.) Daily Sun  

Judge's comments: This entry gets a 9 for marrying great story selection and reporting with innovative layouts that outpace all other entries. These layouts include graphics, charts and callouts that deliver information to the reader better than all other entries. What is missing are stronger tie-ins to digital (social, Instagram, the newspaper's site).

2nd: Santa Fe New Mexican

Judge's comments: Wonderful lead story on the home page on the Boy Scouts ordeal. I like the use of photos and materials in the layout. The usefulness of the masthead and top of the page is noted, but the design is very busy and requires too much reading on the part of the reader, because of the hammer heds and decks. It's really nice to see so many inches being devoted to reporting, and I commend this entry on that. This entry could use better callouts to digital (social, Instagram, reporters' Twitter accounts).


3rd: Scranton (Pa.) Times Tribune


Judge's comments: Good use of online callouts. A solid entry that is very news-oriented and has found great ways to get the local angle on stories.

HM: The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Judge's comments: Solid entry with good stories, but also very good headlines. It could use some better integration with the digital product and with social.

(Circulation 50,000 to 99,999)

1st: The State, Columbia, S.C.

Judge's comments: Bold, big photos; sense of authority and confidence in the typography. Crisp, clean overall design. Some fronts have a very web page feel to them.

2nd: LNP Media Group 

Judge's comments: Clean, crisp, consistent and intuitive design; generally well- chosen and -executed centerpieces; good mix of interesting, almost always staff and local, stories.

3rd: St Louis American

Judge's comments: Among the most face- and people-focused, visually, of the competitors and if the story choice of the three submissions is representative, clearest and most consistent in telegraphing its news mission and objectives.

(Circulation 100,000 and above)

1st: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Judge's comments: Easily the most colorful, bold, visually confident and, at times, striking, of the entries. A creative and effective blend of headlines, drop heads, story chunks, promos, images and illustrations and other gewgaws trumping up what is to be found on the pages to follow. Looks like an effective, well-planned and well-executed web front.

2nd: The Sacramento Bee

Judge's comments: Fairly traditional and conservative, but clean, clear and consistent. Occasionally steps on the visual gas when it's got the goods, particularly with beefy centerpiece treatments. Effective use of expanded subhead decks.

3rd: None selected

Editorial Excellence

Sponsored and judged by the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Kansas

(Circulation Under 10,000)

1st: Wilson (N.C.) Daily Times

Judges' Comments: For five well-written editorials by Corey Friedman, all using sound arguments with pertinent details and connecting with the community on a myriad of local, state and national topics, the Wilson Daily Times takes first place.

2nd: Sierra Vista (Ariz.) Herald   

Judges' comments: The quality of writing in the Sierra Vista Herald's series of editorials was very good, as was breadth of topics and connection to the community is also very good. Particularly interesting was the editorial on a newspaper's role in publishing public notices, especially the reaction of the people who owed money for sanitation services.

3rd: Las Vegas Optic

Judges' comments: The Las Vegas Optic's series of editorials shows an excellent cross-section of topics. The board is not afraid to champion opinions that may not be agreeable to many readers, and they do so with convincing arguments.

Honorable Mention: Sheridan (Wyo.) Press

Judges' comments: A series of editorials that show a wide range of topics of interest and concern to the community. Support through well-chosen facts enhances and strengthens the arguments.

(Circulation 10,000 to 49,999)

1st: The Santa Fe New Mexican

Judges' comments: These editorials focused on a politician's plea deal, taxes and budget cutbacks and Senate reform. The editorials were well supported by facts and offered clear direction for those who could solve the problems that were highlighted.

2nd: Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Judge's comments: The Cheyenne paper's series of editorials looked at the spending of local taxpayer money and the future of the cities in state. The format that clearly states the problem followed by the newspaper's stand makes the Tribune's editorial page reader-friendly and a powerful statement. Readers are clear on where the Tribune stands.

3rd: The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind.,

Judges' comments: The Journal Gazette took on tough issues for the state as a whole-abortion, intolerance, school choice and open government-and was unafraid to disagree with many readers. Clear, to-the-point writing, backed by research, made these editorials strong contenders.

HM: The Meriden (Conn.) Record-Journal

Judges' comments:  A group of editorials with a conversational style that should appeal to anyone.

(Circulation 50,000 to 99,999)

1st: LNP Media, Lancaster County, Pa.

Judges' comments: These editorials are characterized by consistent good writing, clear points and even, when appropriate, humor. Strongly looking out for the community, the publication's editorials took on a range of topics, from national politics to local fiscal and environmental issues. The particularly engaging writing and practical approach to solutions earn LNP first place.

2nd: The State, Columbia, S.C.

Judge's comments: Clearly written, timely editorials on a range of state and local topics, putting common-sense solutions and the greater public good above political expediency.

3rd: The Times, Munster, Ind.

Judge's comments: Editorials on a broad mix of national, state and local topics, all of which stayed focused on the public interest. The writing was solid and the calls to action were clear.

HM: Tulsa World

Judge's comments: Tulsa World's editorials kept a sharp eye on bigger-picture state issues and mostly focused on taxes, fees and good use of public money, always a good way to look out for the interests of the community.

(Circulation 100,000 and above)

1st: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Judges' comments: When a newspaper not only connects with its community but advocates for that community, it can really make a difference. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has continued, since the upheaval in Ferguson, to be a strong advocate for St. Louis. This year's editorials focus on health care, school funding, jobs and a broken court system-and the Post-Dispatch's original platform, defined by Joseph Pulitzer. The paper is not trying to distance itself from its past, but rather continue to live up to the timeless, bedrock ideals laid out by its founder. "We make no excuses for the challenges this modern business environment poses," the paper wrote. "We also will make no compromises on the basic tenets laid out by Joseph Pulitzer more than a century ago." The Post-Dispatch editorials directly address problems affecting St. Louis and its residents-ALL of its residents-and outline thoughtful, practical solutions through engaging writing.

2nd: Omaha World-Herald

Judges' comments: A newspaper doesn't have to constantly shine light on problems to be an advocate for its readership; it can also highlight things that are working well. The Omaha World-Herald submitted a wide-ranging mix of editorials, praising the state's practical-and largely successful-approaches to governance and education, and criticizing problems with health care, campaign finance and spending by the tourism bureau.

3rd: Daily Herald, Arlington Hts., Ill.

Judges' comments: Well-written editorials that offer sensible solutions without being sanctimonious.

Sweepstakes Winner

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

This was a tough call between St. Louis and LNP, but really, how can you compete with the mission of Joseph Pulitzer? The Post-Dispatch has tirelessly called to improve St. Louis while offering doable, if not always easy, solutions, while also addressing the "hearts and minds" aspect of the tougher problems St. Louis faces. When a community can't imagine what it would be like without the paper, you know you're making a difference, and it seems that St. Louis feels this way about the Post-Dispatch.

Local News Writing

Sponsored and judged by the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky

Investigative Reporting

(Circulation Under 10,000)

1st: Havre (Mont.) Daily News, Four-part series: "Sunrise Financial: Mysterious company buying tax liens and acquiring property in Havre and around the state," Reporter Paul Dragu

2nd: Las Vegas Optic, "Working the System: Former PED bureau chief, now Mora super, faked credentials," Reporters Martin Salazar and Mercy Lopez

3rd: Daily Astorian, Astoria, Ore., "Elder abuse: It could be your mom, dad, friend," Reporter Kyle Spurr

(Circulation 10,000 to 49,999)

1st: Santa Fe New Mexican, "Suspect Care: A Crisis in Inmate Health Services," Reporters Phaedra Haywood and Justin Horwath

2nd: The Villages (Fla.) Daily Sun, "Redefining Justice," Reporters Katie Sartoris and Curt Hills

3rd: Meriden (Conn.) Record-Journal, "Problems in Meriden's emergency dispatch center widespread, according to emails," Reporter Andrew Ragali

(Circulation 50,000 to 99,999)

1st: Roanoke (Va.) Times, "A sour sweet deal," Reporter Jeff Sturgeon

2nd: LNP Media Group, "Exposing a School Board's Secrets: An LNP Investigation," Reporters Susan Baldrige and Kara Newhouse

3rd: Roanoke (Va.) Times, "Quarantining lawsuits," Reporter Laurence Hammack

(Circulation over 100,000)

1st: The Sacramento Bee, "UC Davis chancellor investigation," Reporters Diana Lambert and Sam Stanton

2nd: Daily Herald, Arlington Hts., Ill., "Tax Watchdog," Reporter Jake Griffin

3rd: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Absentee ballot issues," Reporters Stephen Deere and Doug Moore

Personality Profile

(Circulation under 10,000)

1st: Carroll (Iowa) Times Herald, "A shadow of harvest," Reporter Jared Strong

2nd: Carroll (Iowa) Times Herald, "Searching for Shannon," Reporter Jared Strong

3rd: Buffalo (Wyo.) Bulletin, "A heartfelt goodbye," Reporter Emma Kennedy

(Circulation 10,000 to 49,999)

1st: Beaver (Pa.) County Times, "Born without lower legs, Congolese soccer player finds a home at Blackhawk," Reporter Lauren Kirschman

2nd: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, "Local child, 8, launches homeless nonprofit," Reporter Kristine Galloway

3rd: Roswell (N.M.) Daily Record, "Always an American," Reporter Timothy Howsare

(Circulation 50,000 to 99,999)

1st: Tulsa World, "Star qualities," Reporter Michael Smith

2nd: The Times, Munster, Ind., "Not your average rail baron," Reporter Keith Benman

3rd: Tulsa World, "World War II veterans remember:

A Battle Star, Army nurse Virginia Steele was at Okinawa," Reporter Tim Stanley 

(Circulation over 100,000)

1st: The Sacramento Bee, "Genny's World-Homeless in Sacramento: A death on the streets," Reporter Cynthia Hubert

2nd: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Listen to me, kid," Reporter Dan O'Neill

3rd: Richmond Times-Dispatch, "12,017 days. Untold loss." Reporter Frank Green

Explanatory Reporting

(Circulation under 10,000

1st: Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic, Four-part series: "Meth: A constant battle, a 'huge problem,'" Reporters Caitlynn Peetz, Sara Bertsch, Evan Hendershot, Luke Hagen, Jake Shama and Matt Gade

2nd: Carroll (Iowa) Times Herald, "'Two people died that night,'" Reporter Jared Strong

3rd: Sierra Vista (Ariz.) Herald, "The Perception Problem," Reporter Derek Jordan

(Circulation 10,000 to 49,999)

1st: Scranton (Pa.) Times-Tribune, "Outlook 2016: Vital Signs

Charting Northeast Pennsylvania's health care operations," (40-page section with about 50 stories), Times-Tribune staff

2nd: The Villages (Fla.) Daily Sun, "Beyond 100: Special report on living better, longer," Daily Sun staff

3rd: Victoria (Texas) Advocate, "Minds That Matter: Mental Health," Reporter Jessica Prie

(Circulation 50,000 to 99,999)

1st: Tulsa World, "Measuring up: A look at five areas where Oklahoma falls short," Reporters Wayne Greene and Julie DelCour

2nd: LNP Media Group, "Erased: Racism, poverty & the failure of urban renewal in Lancaster," Reporter Jeff Hawkes

3rd: The Times, Munster, Ind., "Power struggle: Industry challenges utility on electric rates," Reporter Keith Benman

HM: Tulsa World, "Low pay challenges Oklahoma teachers, schools," Reporter Andrea Eger

(Circulation over 100,000)

1st: Daily Herald, Arlington Hts., Ill., "The Two Faces of Lt. Gliniewicz," Reporters Burt Constable, Lee Filas and Tim Broderick

2nd: The Sacramento Bee, "The Silas Project," Reporter Peter Hecht

3rd: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Crisis Within," Reporter Nancy Cambria

News Picture

Sponsored and judged by The Media School at Indiana University

Class A: Photography

News Picture-Photography-News

1st: Jonathan Miano, The Times, Munster, Ind., "Protests for Laquan"

2nd: Paul Kitagaki Jr., The Sacramento Bee, "After the inferno"

3rd: Blaine McCartney, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Cheyenne, "Summer storm aftermath"

HM: Erica Yoon, The Roanoke (Va.) Times, "Eric Yoon's scenes of pain and polls"

Judges' comments: "This category was very strong this year, but these four images stood out for their powerful content and their strong composition. Miano's shot of the Chicago police officers required bravery and skill. The slow shutter speed lends a sense of furry to the intense expression and formidable directional movement of the subjects."

News Picture-Photography-Sports

1st: Matt Gade, Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic, "Diving touchdown"

2nd: Jessie Wardarski, Tulsa World, "State soccer title celebration"

3rd: Michael Johnson, The Villages (Fla.) Daily Sun, "Villages soccer club"

HM: Bill Mitchell, The Villages (Fla.) Daily Sun, "Sunset"

HM: Blaine McCartney, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, "Lassoed by the lens"

HM: Ian Maule, Tulsa World,  "Safe at home"

Judges' comments: "This category had a lot of compelling sports images-from peak of action shots to celebrations to scene-setters. First place demonstrates quick reaction to developing action. Matt was able to switch to his wide angle and focus precisely as the player dives over the goal line."

News Picture-Photography-Feature

1st:    Rick West, Daily Herald, Arlington Hts., Ill., "Who's chicken?"

2nd:   Jessie Wardarski, Tulsa World, "High dive"

3rd:    Jonathan Miano, The Times, Munster, Ind., "Tractor pull at Lake County fair"

HM:  Jonathan Miano, The Times, Munster, Ind., "Taking a dip"

HM:  Matt Gade, , Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic, "Window work"

Judges' comments: "Overall the category was not as strong as news and sports, but still included five solid stories about everyday life. West's captured a delightful expression with good contributing background."

News Picture-Photography-Portrait

1st:    Sarah Hoffman, Omaha World-Herald, "No sweat"

2nd:   Briana Scroggins, Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, "Football chalk"

3rd:    Amy J. Correnti, The Villages (Fla.) Daily Sun, "Man cave"

HM:  Jessie Wardarski, Tulsa World, "Queen Amidala"

HM:  Chris Machian, Omaha World-Herald, "Agent Orange"

Judges' comments: "The category contained a lot of lighted portraits where natural light might have worked better. Hoffman's winner is a great example of how attention to the light on the scene and to the subject's emotions can lead to an insightful examination of character." 

News Picture-Photography-Picture Story

1st:    Renée C. Byer, The Sacramento Bee, "No Safe Place,"

2nd:   Benjamin Zack, Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, "Doug 'Boyscout' Harding,"

3rd: Sarah Hoffman, Omaha World-Herald,  "Fathers love"

HM: Ryan Soderlin, Omaha World-Herald, "Fetal alcohol syndrome"

HM: Rachel Von, The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind., "Band of brothers"  

Judges' comments: "There were really good stories this year, but this story about this Afghan refugee family is surely one of the very best published this year. Byer continues to tell incredibly intimate stories about those on the margins of society. This story brims with compassion and care. Using the impressive access she obtained, she takes the reader deep into a world that is largely hidden and, perhaps shamefully, ignored by an America that is unconcerned about those who suffer the ill effects of serving our military in foreign wars. I am ashamed that this has happened to these people. This is what Mr. Dooley meant when he said, 'The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted.' Pray that readers see, believe and act. Words alone could not explain this so well."

Class B Picture Use

News

1st:    The Villages (Fla.) Daily Sun, "A Day for Patriots"

2nd:   Tulsa World, "OSU Tragedy"

3rd:    The Villages (Fla.) Daily Sun, "Hate will not define us, hate will not defeat us"

Feature

1st:    The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind., "Delivering holiday joy"

2nd:   The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind., "Treehouses worth a climb"

3rd:    Tulsa World, "For me, it's all about the party"

Sports

1st:  Tulsa World, "Golden Zebras"

2nd: The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Ind., "SAC crown within Saints' grasp"

3rd: None awarded

Multiple Pages

1st:    Beaver County (Pa.) Times, "The ultimate test of strength"

2ndNone awarded

3rd: None awarded