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NINA 2011 AWARD WINNERS
Announced Oct. 20, 2011, at NIU-DeKalb
Links go to photos of first-place entries when available.
2011 INDIVIDUAL AWARDS
3rd place: Evanston RoundTable
3rd place: Staff, Kane County Chronicle
2. Informational Graphic
3rd: Andrew Brunner, The Galena Gazette, “Wildcat Stats”
2nd: Tom Beck, Lake County Journal, “Wisconsin Democrats”
1st: Sharon Boehlefeld, The Observer, “Rockford Diocesan Boundaries Ready …”
Judge’s comments: The Observer’s use of screen captures of webpages helps bridge the gap between the internet and print publications. The instructions for readers to find parishes was clear and can provide assistance to older print readers who may not be familiar with the internet. Took a topic (Catholic parishes) and gave precise instructions to find locales on the web. Very creative tool for senior readership.
3rd place: Julie Stroebel, The Times, “By the numbers: What has the Red Cross done for you?”
2nd place: Lindsay Hocker, Kermit Stevenson, The Dispatch, “How to Recycle Just About Anything in the Quad-Cities”
1st place: Dave Lemery, Eric Olson, Northwest Herald, “Covering the Ice”
3. Headline Writing
3rd place: Victoria Scott, Evanston RoundTable
2nd place: Shawn Jones, Evanston RoundTable
Judge’s comments: Fun wordplay without being overly “punny.”
3rd place: Valerie Katzenstein, Northwest Herald
4. Special Section
3rd Place: Staff, The Observer, Rockford sends a Shepherd to Lafayette
2nd Place: John Etheredge, Candy Johnson, Lyle R. Rolfe, Roger Matile, Ledger-Sentinel, Celebrating 50 years of education
1st Place: Staff, Lake County Journal, ForeFronts
Judge’s Comment: People love reading about their neighbors, and this piece pulled together a collection of terrific, well illustrated stories about some amazing people. Entertaining writing, effective layouts, great topics.
3rd Place: Sports Staff, Daily Journal, Football Preview
2nd Place: Jay Schwab, Kevin Druley, Nick Gerts, Kane County Chronicle, 2010 Football Preview
1st Place: Marc Nesseler and staff, The Dispatch, ASA Nationals
Judge’s Comment: This was actually a week’s worth of special sections, any of which would have been a contender for top honors on its own. Great photography, nice concise game coverage and an impressive array of feature stories that provided a real feel for the color and spectacle of this event.
5. General Feature Story
2nd: Matt Schury, Ledger-Sentinel, “Reunited 50 years after”
1st: Stephanie Lehman, Lake County Journal, “Soldier returns home”
Judge’s comment: Short and sweet are the perfect words to describe this story about a solider returning home and surprising his son in his kindergarten classroom. The topic is moving in and of itself, but the story is written in such a way that puts the reader in the moment. Not one word is wasted, and many emotions are touched.
3rd: Brandy Donaldson, The Dispatch, “Brown: Civil unions”
2nd: Katie Anderson. The Courier News, “A tale of treasures”
Judge’s comments: Never self-indulgent, this first-person piece allows the reader to feel emotion and also understand the complexities of a medical condition. It takes considerable skill to pull this off. The story is a pitch-perfect medical tale that is vivid, informative, and moving.
6. Personality Profile
3rd place: Amanda Hudson, The Observer, “Winnebago Woman Reflects on Her Final Profession”
2nd place: Vincent Newton, Galena Gazette, “A Tribute to Father’s Day”
3rd place: Matt Hanley, the Beacon-News, “A Career of Fighting Crime”
2nd place: Dennis Yohnka, The Daily Journal, “Funeral for a Friend”
1st place: Stephen Elliott, the Dispatch, “Hanging Up the Gloves”
Judge’s comments: Although Hollywood has produced plenty of movies about boxers, maybe there’s room for one more. Stephen Elliott’s present tense look into the life of Teddy Muller is all the script any director will need. Muller chased a career in the ring, found his place in that world and then just didn't quite make it all the way. Muller’s pursuit left him “the lumps, the bruises, the broken bones” ... yet with no regrets and the need to find something new. Elliott, whose words sparkle like a novelist’s, deftly tells readers that “the theme of Muller's life has been starting over, from the time he was a boy.” Appropriately, most of the story is in the present tense and full of Elliott's colorful descriptions of “a shock absorber of a neck still thick from years of exercises” and “a large scar (that) slices across his left eyebrow” and “eyelids (that) slant from scar tissue.” Elliott is with Muller as the never-was-champ works selling cars -- and cries over the death of his mother. He's with him as he coaches other boxers. He’s with him as he “pushes the glasses up on his broad nose, regains his composure with a deep breath.” Best of all, the quotes are so genuine: “I do remember, um, I mean, it’s just ...” and “She told me she was proud of me, you know?” This expertly written feature leaves just two questions unanswered: When can I buy the book? When can I see the movie?
7. Religion Story – Owen Phelps Award
3rd place: Margaret Tarr, Evanston Round Table, “The sermon”
2nd place: Bob Jaderberg, The Reporter, “Pastor Dan to retire from St. Paul”
1st place: Mary Helt Gavin, Evanston Round Table, “Alderman says churches stall economic development”
Judge’s comments: What a great piece of reporting. This kind of community-based reportage makes for a practical, engaging story that gives readers a close-up view of what leaders are thinking, how they think and how that thinking affects a vital contingent of the community – as well as the community at large. A well-sourced story on religion that also touches local government and business is hard to find. Ms.Gavin supplies it here.
3rd place: Dennis Yohnka, The Daily Journal, “Christian gift shop more ministry than business”
2nd place: Jonathan Bilyk, Kane County Chronicle, “Chaplains help stabilize bad situation”
1st place: Leon Lagerstam, The Dispatch, “Learning to forgive”
Judge’s comments: This article took a universal but intangible theme – the need to forgive those who have wronged us – and made it personal and compelling. The writing (leads can still make the story) and the poignant quotes kept this piece tight and very readable.
8. Business / Financial / Consumer Story
3rd place: Lisa Welz, Ledger Sentinel, “Becoming your own boss”
2nd place: Lisa Welz, Ledger-Sentinel, “Do you own a piece of Plano Molding?”
1st place: Ellen Galland, Evanston Round Table, “New Local Organization Will Help Build Community And Lessen Landfill Loads”
Judge’s comments: Well-written, concise, covering a subject with wide local appeal and good-to-know information.
2nd place: Jonathan Bilyk, Kane County Chronicle, “Home builders adopting new strategies”
1st place: Matt Hanley, The Beacon-News, “Foreclosure process in limbo”
Judge’s comments: Easy to read, very informative, almost a call to action. Supported by well presented data chart.
9. Technology / Medical Story
3rd place: Victoria Scott, Evanston Round Table, “A cloud in the forecast, economic development predicted to follow”
2nd place: Matt Schury, Ledger-Sentinel, “Peanuts off the menus in local schools”
1st place: Bob Jaderberg, The Reporter, “GPS helps surgeons navigate way through patients’ lungs”
Judge’s comments: The strength of this article lay in its clear explanation of the technology covered. It needed more sources, for sure, but Mr. Jaderberg did an excellent job of detailing the need for this technology, how it is used and realistic hopes for it in the future.
3rd place: Jonathan Bilyk, Kane County Chronicle, “Technology is a hyperlink in the real world”
2nd place: Dennis Yohnka, The Daily Journal, “Bourbonnais man isn’t afraid to talk about cancer”
Judge’s comments: Ms. Surges did remarkable legwork and explanation in this piece – the type of community impact story that papers do less and less of, even though it is in fact their mandate. Her sharp skills as a reporter (especially her sourcing) and as a writer showed through here.
10. Feature Section
2nd place: Staff, Ledger-Sentinel
1st place: Katharine Ade and staff, Evanston RoundTable
Judge’s comments: It seems a little apples-and-oranges to compare the quarterly, full-color, magazine-stock Evanston Round Table to weekly publications produced on newsprint, but the magazine offers so much that it’s impossible not to give it the top prize. Not only does the Round Table include listings of what to do, where to shop and other features sections standards, but it sports an eye-catching design and boasts well-written and timely stories of Evanston people and Evanston history.
2nd place: Wendy Fox Weber and Staff, the Beacon-News
1st place: Scott Helmchen and Staff, Northwest Herald
Judge’s comments: The Northwest Herald’s “Sidetracks” starts with a bang: spectacular cover art played big. Inside, Sidetracks has a eye-catching page of “top 10 picks for stuff to do this weekend in McHenry County.” It also boasts an exhaustive amount of calendar listings as well as a “pick of the week” in each category. While the “McHenry County Neighbors” isn’t as impressive in design, it is nonetheless packed with useful local content.
11. Attracting Young Readers
3rd place: Sharon Boehlefeld, The Observer, “Young Observer”
2nd place: Laura Fraembs and staff, The Dispatch, “South of 20” section
Judge’s comments: Julie Stroebel’s column succeeds not just because it intelligently tackles a wide range of 20-somethings topics, but because it appeals to any reader, sparking conversations between generations as well as among young adults and teens. She bridges generation gaps even when discussing phenomena that widen those gaps.
12. Sports Story
3rd place – Kristin Sharp, Ledger-Sentinel, “Golden Girl,”
2nd place – Kristin Sharp, Ledger-Sentinel, “Forward Thinking: House Bill 200 to Raise Awareness for Brain Injuries”
1st place – Matt Daniels, Kendall County Record, “Swiping Their Way to a Title”
Judge’s comments: No story in either category captured the moment as well as Matt Daniels did in writing about an historic moment in local sports history. That no team in school or Kendall County history had captured a boys’ basketball state championship is an obvious story lead, but Daniels wrote how the Newark High School team and its fans didn’t want that moment to end. This was a wonderful story, clearly written for its local readers, and, like the team, it was a winner.
3rd place – Jeremy Werner, Daily Chronicle, “NIU’s Kill Candid about Health Situation”
2nd place – Kevin Druley, Kane County Chronicle, “Remaining on Course”
1st place – John Sahly, Daily Chronicle, “The State of Recruiting”
Judge’s comments: This is a fascinating piece of journalism, written with a wealth of well documented sources. I normally do not like question headlines, but the headline on Part II is answered thoroughly to sway my opinion. As a high school journalism teacher, I was intrigued by the documentation of the “off the record” controversy in Part II. Clearly, the writer followed the proper course of action, and, more significantly, he wrote about it in detail. This is a great lesson in how to deal with sources. This story towered about the other entries with its attention to detail and compelling answers to questions about the men’s basketball program at NIU.
13. Sports Columnist
2nd place – Matt Daniels, Kendall County Record
Judge’s comments: Tim Froehlig has an ability to capture local stories in his column, and he does it in a way that makes me confident he is appreciated by his readers. By using the first person in two of his entries, he is able to use his inner voice to relate it to the topics. By using a conversational-like, easy-to-read tone, he tells the stories with a minimum of self-intrusion.
3rd place – Tim Ahrens, The Daily Journal
2nd place – John Sahly, Daily Chronicle
Judge’s comments: It’s one thing to offer your opinion as a sports columnist; it’s another to take a voice that might not be a popular one in a small community. That’s what J.T. Pedelty may have done in his columns, especially about a local soccer league’s rules to now allow a team to score once it has a five-goal lead. Pedelty’s voice is clearly spoken here, and, while I don’t know how well it was received, I know that dealing with positive and negative aspects of life are part of growing up. Interestingly, another columnist in this category wrote about how a local high school team dealt with a tough playoff loss.
14. Sports Section
2nd place: Kristin Sharp, Matt Daniels and staff, Ledger-Sentinel
1st place: Andrew Brunner and staff, The Galena Gazette
Judge’s comments: Fresh writing, multiple, creative story angles on team/game stories, great design, intense focus on local news, and multiple special projects earned top honors for The Galena Gazette this year.
3rd place: Jay Schwab and staff, Kane County Chronicle
2nd place: Andy Tavegia and staff, The Times
1st place: Marc Nesseler and staff, The Dispatch
Judge’s comments: A tightly packed field of great sports sections, but The Dispatch did an exceptional job of weaving local/amateur sports with professional sports (satisfying interest in both) with great photos, interesting columns, and coverage of nontraditional sports.
3rd place: Amanda Hudson, The Observer
2nd place: P. Carter Newton, The Galena Gazette
Judge’s comments: Moore’s columns concisely focus on local issues with a twinge of sarcasm that drives the point across and is fun to read.
3rd place: Bill Bird, Naperville Sun
2nd place: Roger Ruthhart, The Dispatch
1st place: Denise Crosby, The Beacon News [ 1 ... 2 ... 3 ]
3rd place: Jack Murray, The Regional News, “A terrible loss”
2nd place: Jerry Moore, Downers Grove Reporter, “New life-safety plan slaps D-58 taxpayers in the face”
1st place: Kathy Farren, Kendall County Record, “Time to call a halt to birthday treats at school”
3rd place: “Fitts’ lesson,” staff, The Daily Journal
2nd place: Kenda Burrows, The Dispatch, “Geneseo: Open doors; do public business in public”
1st place: Staff, The Daily Journal, “Time to hang him”
Judge’s comments: This delightful read tells us a lot about Illinois history – including plenty we wish we didn’t know
17. Editorial Page(s)
3rd place: Candy Johnson, John Etheredge, Roger Matile, Ledger-Sentinel.
3rd place: Staff, The Daily Journal.
18. Spot News Photo
3rd: Jane Rickard, Welles Park Bulldog, “Cappleman celebration.”
3rd place: Steve Stout, The Times, “Streator tornado.”
19. Feature Photo
2nd place: Candace H. Johnson, Lake County Journal, “Doughnut Man”
1st place: Mark VanOsdol, The Galena Gazette, “Mica’s Mantra: Family First”
Judge’s comments: Perfect timing and coordination between the family and the photographer to get this shot. Mr. VanOsdol did an excellent job of planning the set-up and directing of this family jumping for joy with the manner of lighting used and location chosen. The high noon shadows and everyone in sync make this fun and amusing shot a curiosity to readers.
2nd place: Rob Winner, Daily Chronicle, DeKalb, “Slide”
1st place: Beck Diefenbach, Daily Chronicle, DeKalb, “Sparks”
20. Sports Photo
3rd place: Steve Stearns, Welles Park Bulldog, “Fury vs. Hell’s Belles.”
3rd place: Rob Winner, Daily Chronicle, “Touchdown.”
21. Online Photo Gallery / Slideshow
3rd place: Jane Rickard, Welles Park Bulldog, Chicago, “Pet Blessing at All Saints Episcopal”
Judge’s comments: Very thorough coverage start-to-finish for this event. Nice, crisp and colorful images. Interplay and integrating shots of band members brings a sense of continuity between the acting and musical score. Good composition and exposure control in varying lighting situations.
3rd place: Brian Powers, Beacon News, Aurora, “From Africa to Aurora”
2nd place: Staff, The Daily Journal, Kankakee, “2010 Summer Little League”
3rd place: Elliott Burlingham, Evanston RoundTable, “Grandmother Park”.
2nd place: Elliott Burlingham, Evanston RoundTable, “Relay for Life”
1st place: Bill Burlingham, Evanston RoundTable, “Bach in Evanston”
Judge’s comment: This piece was beautifully shot and well-edited. It had a good audio mix to accompany a well-constructed story. This was a delight to watch and to listen to.
3rd place: Todd Mizener, The Dispatch, “Ridin’ with Zack: Tricks, Flips and More”
2nd place: Brian Powers, The Beacon News, “When the Gloves Come Off”
1st place: Matt Veto, The Dispatch, “Overcoming the Silence”
Judge’s comments: Very interesting, with a very well shot interview, good additional footage. It also had a compelling story. The subtitles and silence helped me understand the main character.
3rd place: Evanston Roundtable
2nd place: Elburn Herald
1st place: Lake County Journal
Judge’s comments: Nicely designed, well organized website that offers good local coverage. Simple, easy to navigate, with a wealth of content.
3rd place: The Times
2nd place: QC Online, The Dispatch and Argus
1st place: Kane County Chronicle
Judge’s comments: Nicely designed website that offers a good daily offering of local news. Heavy video emphasis makes the site, in effect, both a newspaper and TV news for your circulation area.
24. Spot News Story
3rd place: Bob Jaderberg, The Reporter, “Bystander pulls baby from wreck in Worth”
1st Place: Kathy Farren, John Ethredge, Matt Schurry, Ledger-Sentinel, “Blizzard strands over 100 motorists”
3rd place: Kristen Zambo, Daily Journal, “Rescue Team Saves Farmer”
2nd place: Kevin Craver, Brett Rowland, Sarah Sutschek, Northwest Herald, “Embattled Metra Chief Kills Himself”
1st place: Anthony Watt, The Dispatch, “Clearly, I have failed”
25. In-Depth News Story
3rd place: - Patrick Boylan, Welles Park Bulldog, “City Budget to Drain Millions from Western Norther TIF”
2nd place: Jay Dickerson, The Galena Gazette, “Bush Faces Suspension”
1st place: Bob Jaderberg, The Reporter, “God Put Me There”
Judge’s comments: Great details gleaned from thorough interviews made for an engaging narrative. This story went beyond a police accident report to really tell what happened and how others reacted. Nice to see a follow up from an accident that likely made some headlines.
3rd place: Lee Provost, Jan Krenek and Susy Schultz, The Daily Journal, “Burger King Murders”
2nd place: Elena Grimm, The Daily Chronicle, “The Give and Take of TIF”
Judge’s comments: Great, in-depth look at a murky issue. Story does an excellent public service with a deep community connection. The quality of reporting, writing and presentation on what can be a confusing topic is excellent and impressive. Great overall presentation with the sidebars and graphics. The range of interviews offered an objective, fair and clear look at the topic.
26. News Story Series
3rd place: Patrick Boylan, Welles Park Bulldog, “Circulators who are not residents are playing a big role in the 2011 election”
2nd place: Tony Scott, Ledger-Sentinel, “Emotion-filled testimony at Vasquez trial”
Judge’s comments: This deeply researched and engagingly written series reaches beyond borders and explains complicated world issues with a fluency that educates and moves readers.
3rd place: Stephen Elliott, The Dispatch, “Shadows of war”
2nd place: Denise Crosby, Katie Anderson, Matt Hanley, The Beacon-News, “Age-old question”
1st place: Brandy Donaldson, The Dispatch, “Here, life is better”
Judge’s comments: This series, at turns poetic and analytical, turns a light on the lives of those who have been relegated to the shadows, and evokes the humanity of the strangers next door.
27. Education Reporting
3rd place: Larry Gavin, Evanston RoundTable
2nd place: Kathy Farren, Kendall County Record
1st place: Lyle R. Rolfe, Ledger Sentinel [ 1 ... 2 ... 3 ]
3rd place: Nicole Lauer, The Dispatch
2nd Place: Melissa Garzanelli, The Times
1st place: Ashley Rhodebeck, Kane County Chronicle [ 1 ... 2 ... 3 ]
28. Community Service
1st: Evanston RoundTable
Judge’s comments: The Community Service category recognizes reporting effort that helps make a community a better place to live. The Evanston Roundtable series is distinguishable for how it convinced School District 65 to add an additional performance matrix to its evaluation system. Asking an independent, third-party to perform an exhaustive analysis is a simple idea that can be replicated elsewhere. Even though the analysis was not surprising and the series too long by half, the newspaper and the reporter deserve credit for creating the momentum needed to convince elected officials to change a stubborn and short-sighted policy. The series helped make Evanston a better place to live.
1st: The Disptach, “Mayor Test helps ranks city, county websites”
Judge’s comments: The Dispatch took a common frustration and acted upon it. In the true sense of show-me-don’t-tell-me journalism, the newspaper evaluated government websites and scored them on their ease of use. Some entities made changes to the website as a result. An excellent example that can be replicated elsewhere and likely with similar results.
Non-dailies: Donald R. Grubb Trophy
Dailies: James Copley Trophy