2010 NINA contest winners


1. Design


3rd place: Staff, The Hinsdalean
2nd place: Staff, The Galena Gazette
1st place: Staff, Lake County Journal

Judge’s comments:
The Lake County Journal could serve as a template for well-designed tabloid format newspapers.  Besides having the best printing quality of this year’s entrants, every page features clear, consistent, readable typography, carefully considered photo sizes and dominance, effective use of color, modular pages without exception, and – perhaps best of all – a blend of these elements that respects white space, isn’t cluttered, and doesn’t tire the eye.


3rd place: Staff, Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus
2nd place: Staff, Lake County News-Sun
1st place: Staff, Daily Chronicle (DeKalb)

Judge’s comments:
Excellent entries this year, but the Daily Chronicle’s updated design has paid off.  All of the expected elements of good design are there – sensible grid, good color and printing, readable, current typography, adherence to modularity.  However, the Chronicle’s growing (but not exclusive) use of poster/magazine front pages was really nice.  Very visual and readable at the same time.


2. Informational Graphic


3rd: John Macsai, Evanston RoundTable, “The Palladio window: renderings”

2nd: Jim Slonoff, The Hinsdalean, “2009 levy”

1st: Natalie Wainwright, Evanston RoundTable, “‘Kick-Ass’: The Review.”

Judge’s comment:
Wonderfully creative twist on a review of a comic-based movie.


3rd place: Evan Hill, The Daily Journal, “Throwing some darts.”

2nd place: Evan Hill, The Daily Journal, “Sweet and sour summer.”

1st place: Kim Carpenter, The Daily Journal, “Fatal Inexperience: Accident Profiles.”

Judge’s comments:  A chillingly effective way to catalog fatal car crashes involving teens. Efficient use of visuals along with database info for each victim. This looks and reads like an online Flash graphic in print.


3. Headline Writing


3rd place: Charles Wilkinson, Evanston RoundTable

2nd place: Ken Karrson, The Reporter

1st place: Jason Maholy, The Reporter: ‘Brothers’ grim; That smell …; Raimi serves slice of heaven with ‘Hell’

Judge’s comments: Good mix of witty headlines. All help move the reader quickly into the stories, rather than simply drawing attention to themselves.



3rd place: Walter Belback, Lake County News-Sun

2nd place: Julia Doyle, The Courier-News

1st place: Chris Cashman, Lake County News-Sun: H1NO; Soot Suit; It’s Rocket Science

Judge’s comments: Clever wordplay in display headlines that integrates well with the photos and overall design.  Each of these headlines makes the story enticing.


4. Special Section


3rd Place:  The Reporter, “A Half Century as Your Community Newspaper (1960-2010)”

2nd Place:  The Galena Gazette “The Galenian”

1st Place:  (Ledger-Sentinel) Record Newspapers 2010 Baseball / Softball Preview

Judge’s Comment:  Literally “Everything You Wanted to Know About Area Prep Baseball and Softball” (on six schools and 12 teams), more details, information, depth, and better presentation than some daily (sports) section contest entries this summer.  Complete team rosters and schedules with starting times perfect for families and fans—along with “equal” coverage for both area boys and girls programs.  Good “establishing” features on pages 2-3, followed by top-notch preview stories, always interesting league projections, and readable agate tidbits and minutiae (that all true sports fans /readers inhale).  Cover needed a little graphics fix and better design below the fold.  Bonus Points:  Enjoyed “All-Access: Q & A section, the insights into the prep student-athlete, and humorous responses to lunch period.  Overall, the complete package.



3rd Place:  Lake County News-Sun, 150th Anniversary Edition (1960-2010)

2nd Place:  Kankakee Daily Journal, Cook Book

1st Place:  Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus, Fastpitch Extra

Judge’s Comment:  Unique, well-executed and well-planned wrap-around section.  Who says entrepreneurial print journalism is dead?  Ultimate epitome of commitment to community involvement and local coverage (in addition to regular daily sports section).  Outstanding, detailed event previews, features, columns, and daily coverage of international and national week-long softball tournaments—all supported by good photo coverage, strong basic layout, box scores, line scores, updated brackets and daily agate schedules.  Great daily keepsakes and souvenirs for participants, their families and friends, plus Quad-City locals.  Bonus Points:  Perspective from national softball expert John Thompson, Hall of Fame coverage, future of softball column by Daniel Makarewicz, and personal notes by Marc Nesseler who reminisced about $2 tip as batboy in his late 1950s youth (“…40 packs of baseball cards!…)”  Sustained, superior section overall.


5. General Feature Story


3rd: Amanda Hudson, The Observer, “Surgeon to the Saints”

2nd: Jason Maholy, The Reporter, “Up to the challenge”

1st: Earleen Hinton, Ogle County Newspapers, “Nostalgia reigns at Sinnissippi”

Judge’s comment: In “Nostalgia reigns at Sinnissippi,” Earleen Hinton gifts her readers with an eyewitness account of the final minutes of 62 years of business at the local Christmas tree farm. Hinton’s story offers the hard details – business has declined the last few years, and the longtime manager is retiring – but also drops us in the middle of the action through her keen observations. The sound of sleet falling on the canopy. The saws being put away. The counting of the day’s receipts. Tying the last Christmas tree to a car. Locking the gate. Distributing the final paychecks. Her quotes, drawn not only from interviews but from conversations to which she was an eavesdropper, illustrate how dear the business is to employees and customers. Her imagery is colored with the manager’s red flannel jacket, the fragrance of freshly baked cinnamon-cider doughnuts and the chilly air that requires warming hands near the fireplace. She provides some deft foreshadowing through the ticking off the clock, which reminds us early on of the importance of time in this story but returns in the final graf to neatly wrap up this Christmas story with a bow. This is not only the kind of slice-of-disappearing-America story that Bob Greene built his name on but is written in a way that would make Greene proud.



3rd: Bill Byrns, The Daily Journal, “Don’t look to the stars for gift ideas”

2nd: Brenda Schory, Kane County Chronicle, “Sometimes there is no place for these cats to go”

1st: Stephanie Szuda, The Times, “Checking her list”

Judge’s comments: A moving narrative that paints a vivid portrait of the spirit, and sense of adventure, that still flares in the heart of a dying woman. This piece captures the richness of life as the days grow short.


6. Personality Profile

3rd place: “Lop Chin/60 Seconds” – Christine Cuthbert, The Hinsdalean

2nd place: “Couple Hears God’s Call” – Pamela Lannon, The Hinsdalean

1st place: “Playing Ball With a Legend” – Andrew Brunner, The Galena Gazette

Judge’s comments: Brunner’s story is an interesting tale about a Galena resident who once was bat boy for a semi-pro team that included Mickey Mantle among its ranks. Of course, the article would be of interest to sports fans. But Brunner includes details, such as the man still carrying a picture of the team around with him, that make the story transcend sports. It becomes about a surprising brush with greatness and the difficulty of holding on to what once was.


3rd place: “It’s Lonely Waiting To Die” – Dennis Yohnka, The Daily Journal

2nd place: “Marie, Full of Grace” – Andre Salles, Beacon-News

1st place: “Life, 10 Years Later” – Burt Constable, The Daily Herald

Judge’s comments: This profile, written on the 10th anniversary of a devastating injury that turned a high school football player into a quadriplegic, is moving in a number of ways. Constable describes the daily challenges of the young man in extraordinary detail. But most affecting is the way he renders the emotional impact that the injury has had on the young man’s family, from his late father who never spent time alone with him after the accident to his mother, who cares for him daily and will most likely watch him die. Constable does all of this without ever making the story feel maudlin. At heart, it’s a beautiful account of an individual’s basic will to live.

7. Religion Story – Owen Phelps Award


3rd place: Courtney Crowder, Lake County Journal, “Teens talk religion”

2nd place: Pamela Lannom, The Hinsdalean, “Journey brings meaning of Christmas home”

1st place: Charles Wilkinson, Evanston RoundTable, “Crisis in Rome”

Judge’s comments: This piece offered a fresh angle on the pedophilia scandal rocking the Catholic Church: the education of young Catholic clergy. Written with the voice of experience, this article sheds some badly needed light on the inner workings of a system that produced the priests who created the crisis. Straightforward, laden with telling details, this piece does a great job of helping the reader understand a highly misunderstood institution.


3rd place: Katie Anderson, The Courier-News, “Respect, faith behind woman’s decision to cover”

2nd place: Dennis Yohnka, The Daily Journal, “Life resurrected”

1st place: Andre Salles, Beacon News, “Redeeming Grace”

Judge’s comments: This feature tackled a familiar and thorny issue – a religious leader struggling to overcome past failures — with good writing and good reportage.  Without mucking up the story with he-said-she-said gossip, Salles takes the time to delve into the backlog that makes this story interesting and compelling. It’s good to see a religion story that balances the positive facets of faith and the not-so-pretty details of a leader’s life with intelligence and panache. Great piece.


8. Business / Financial / Consumer Story

3rd place: Roger Matile, Ledger-Sentinel, “A new trend in Kendall County farming”

2nd place: Mary Helt Gavin, Evanston Round Table, “Easing the panes of storefront vacancies”

1st place: Kevin Olsen, The Regional News, “‘Move your money’ helps community banks

Judge’s comments: A national movement goes local; the information is well-presented and useful to anyone in the community.

3rd place— Jonathan Bilyk, Kane County Chronicle, “Water use is a double-edged sword”

2nd place—  Jerrilyn Zavada, The Times, “Shaky ground”

1st place—  Jonathan Bilyk, Kane County Chronicle, “What happens when your bank fails?”


Judge’s comments: Timely story clearly explains the events following local banks’ failures. The story offers excellent data.


9. Technology / Medical Story


3rd place: Victoria Scott, Evanston Roundtable, “Pulling together for recovery on water”

2nd place: Tony Scott, Ledger-Sentinel, “Book tells of treatment for a lifetime of ‘Shakes’

1st place: P. Carter Newton, The Galena Gazette, “The Flu”

Judge’s comments: This story did a unique historic look at the flu pandemic of 1918 in Galena. The story telling is unique with snippets from historical documents and ties in those in the present day who have been affected by something that occurred so long ago. It was published during the H1N1 pandemic which makes it timely. It is very rare you find a story with an historical angle that is well written and interesting.


3rd place:  Andre Salles, The Beacon-News, “H1N1 Heartbreak”

2nd place: Stephanie Szuda, Jerrilyn Zavada, The Times, 3-part series on breast cancer

1st place: Robert McCoppin, Daily Herald, H1N1 series

Judge’s comments: This story takes a serious subject and explains it to the reader. It goes beyond simply explaining H1N1 and its effects and looks in-depth at the after effects of H1N1. It utilizes photos in a very pleasing way and leaves the reader with a better understanding of H1N1 and some possibilities of what could happen if the state is not preared for a pandemic such as H1N1. The story is well written and focused on the community and the effects of H1N1 on the community.


10. Feature Section

3rd place: Elburn Herald

2nd place: Evanston RoundTable

1st place: The Galena Gazette

Judge’s comments: The Galena Gazette stands out because of the smart, multi-faced way it covers the community. It consistently offers interesting takes on subjects. The paper covers current crimes, but one story also looks back to an unsolved robbery that occurred the year before. Similarly, while the paper details what’s now going-on in the town, one cover story asks about “The Future of Galena.” Both of these perspectives are interesting and impressive. Other notable features include a report from Afghanistan by a local embedded reporter, and a “Can You Identify This Photo?” story, where readers are asked if they know anyone in an old, faded picture submitted by a former resident. It’s likely that some readers were thrilled to see him or herself or someone they knew in the picture. It’s a small inclusion in the larger paper, but it speaks deeply and intimately about the Gazette’s relevancy to and understanding of the community. Overall, it seems that The Galena Gazette is doing exactly what the best local papers should be doing.

3rd place: The Daily Journal

2nd place: Daily Chronicle

1st place: Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus

Judge’s comments: This section is impressive because of its range of nicely written stories and its clean, beautifully designed look. There is a skillful mix of stories of regional and wider interest, including a Q&A with national country artist Miranda Lambert. The “Creature Feature” front story about pets dressed for Halloween is fun and surprisingly moving with the inclusion of special needs and shelter animals. And the “Neighbors” section, not only offers interesting profiles of locals, but also importantly involves the paper’s audience by printing user-submitted photos. The feature section is consistently well-executed all-around.


11. Attracting Young Readers


2nd place: Staff, Evanston Round Table, “Young Evanston”

1st place: Staff, Lake County Journal, “Student Spotlight”
(second page view)

Judge’s comments: The Journal presents a strong mix of content to attract a wide range of young readers. That content also speaks to a wide variety of interests – art, sports, recreation, etc. The Journal has obviously committed itself to illuminating aspects of young life, as evidenced by the varied mix of content type – photos, feature stories, and even some user submitted content – that show off things “regular” news sections might never cover.
Some of these young people will be readers and advertisers of The Journal someday, thanks in no small part to the paper’s dedication to showcasing their life and interests now.



3rd place: Zach Wadley, The Daily Journal, high school sports columns

2nd place: Staff, The Times, “Fright Write Contest”

1st place: Laura Fraembs and staff, Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus, “South of 20”
(second page view)

Judge’s comments: The Dispatch’s effort to attract a younger audience is obviously a priority. Devoting a weekly section to content not only for, but about young area readers shows dedication to that audience. While other sections may not have a place for reader-submitted photos, that section gives high schoolers the impression that the section is really geared toward them. Certain issues showcased content for a variety of ages (Aug. 8), while some seemed to alienate an older crowd (May 16). This is an overall good effort to draw readers early who may be reading the main sections of The Dispatch in a few years.


12. Sports Story


3rd place – Steve MacAuliff, The Galena Gazette, “Heart and soul”

2nd place – Janet G. Messenger, Evanston RoundTable, “March Madness started here in 1939”

1st place – Christine Cuthbert, The Hinsdalean, “50 years of tennis, trophies”

Judge’s comments:

Christine Cuthbert’s story on the long-time boys’ tennis coach at Hinsdale Central High School was a wonderful tribute to Jay Kramer, telling of his 50 years as a mentor and teacher. She used quotes and sources effectively to tell how this respected coach adapted to the times and was still able to produce champions, winning programs and outstanding young men.


3rd place – Dave Masterson, Lake County News-Sun, “That’s boxing”

2nd place – Jim Owczarski, The Beacon-News, “Born to run”

1st place – Jamie Sotonoff, Kerry Lester, John Radtke, The Daily Herald, “Magic in the end zone”


Judge’s comments:

“Magic in the End Zone” was the best story I read in the entire competition, and one of the best sports stories I have read this year. What could have been an overlooked play in a junior varsity football game was turned into a well crafted piece about perseverance and trust. This story brought tears to my eyes.


13. Sports Columnist


2nd place – Matt Daniels, Kendall County Record

1st place – none


3rd place – Eric Jacobsen, The Courier-News

2nd place – Jay Schwab, Kane County Chronicle

1st place – Marc Nesseler, Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus

Judge’s comments:

Marc Nesseler’s personable writing style is demonstrated in his entries, which is assuredly well known to his readers. Columnists need to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, and Marc has done that, especially, in the “First in the cat division, and 17 months and younger.” His personal experience also adds relevance to his column on the world’s fast-pitch softball tournament. Readers in the Quad Cities are fortunate to have him to enjoy on a regular basis.


14. Sports Section

3rd place: The Hinsdalean

2nd place: The Reporter

1st place: Ledger-Sentinel

Judge’s comments: The Ledger-Sentinel sports section displayed excellent in-depth coverage of sports in the area. There were many interesting stories with thoughtful analysis. The fact that a non-daily can do such a thorough job is most impressive!


3rd place: Daily Chronicle

2nd place: Kane County Chronicle

1st place: Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus

Judge’s comments: In an extremely competitive category, The Dispatch won out with well-written, thoughtful, and in-depth coverage of local sports. The graphics and layout of the section are also excellent.


15. Columnist


2nd place: Christie Cuthbert, The Hinsdalean

1st place: Penny Wiegert, The Observer.

Judge’s comment: The columnist’s entries covered a lot of territory. Personal memories of Haiti sparked by the earthquake there, but done so without being maudlin; a piece that tackles the touchy issue of intra-faith quarreling, without being preachy; and a sentimental trip through her grandparents’ house that effortlessly turns into a lesson on making one’s mark in the world. Each is well-written and personal enough to be of interest, while still packing a message. An impressive body of work.



3rd place: Lonny Cain, The Times.

2nd place: Denise Crosby, The Beacon News

1st place: Julia Doyle, The Courier News

Judge’s comments: Doyle has a flair for the columnist’s art of helping a reader find a new perspective on an issue by filtering it through the lens of her own experience. Her pieces were illustrated with terrific vignettes from her life (grippingly so in her column about drunk drivers). Each column was carefully crafted and drew the reader in.


16. Editorial


3rd place: Kathy Farren, Kendall County Record, “PADS Program Needed Now in Kendall County”

2nd place: Mary Helt Gavin, Evanston RoundTable, “Something Has to be Done about Truancy”

1st place: Larry Gavin, Evanston RoundTable, “School District Should Set Higher Expectations for Eighth Graders”

Judge’s comments: This entry strikes a productive balance between abstraction and particularity, raising questions regarding our nation’s educational ambitions while discussing in detail the challenges of managing Illinois 8th graders. Of special note is the author’s ability to raise this argument above the predictable—and all-too-easily dismissed—claim of “schools were better back in my day!” The author offers an accessible yet extensive and thorough explication of a critical issue and devotes substantive space to forecasting a potential solution. The thesis is well supported with empirical evidence, and expressed in a compelling style.



3rd place: Chris Cashman, Lake County News-Sun, “The Wrong Message”

2nd place: Chris Cashman, Lake County News-Sun, “Without Pay”

1st place: Scott T. Holland, The Times, “Can D.C. Clean up Springfield’s Mess?”

Judge’s comments: This entry effectively localizes the national financial crisis, relating budgetary concerns to working families. The author subtly and compellingly invites the reader to consider the difficult process of prioritization in which lawmakers weigh the costs and benefits of community security and employment. Furthermore, this editorial turns attention to a subject that is largely ignored by the press and popular media, viz., the American prison complex. The piece is well-articulated and crisply written. The author points to issues beyond his/her immediate topic, and unlike many critics, s/he explicates a desirable course of action for the state of Illinois.


17. Editorial Page(s)


3rd place: Staff, The Hinsdalean

2nd place: John Etheredge,  Ledger-Sentinel

1st place: P. Carter Newton, The Galena Gazette

Judge’s comments: Publisher P. Carter Newton works into normally two daily tabloid pages a personal editorial‑page commentary, with a medley of reprints of editorials from newspapers around the state ‑‑ mainly supporting his position – or a gauntlet of letters, or guest columns, both interesting and often lengthy.



3rd place: Lonny Cain, The Times

2nd place: Kenda Burrows, Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus

1st place: Phil Angelo, The Daily Journal

Judge’s comments: Editor Phil Angelo gives his daily broadsheet editorial page a strong dose of local citizen support. One day it was that “residents want bikeways, adult fitness facilities, and a dog park,” with eight specific illustrated mini‑proposals. On Memorial Day, it was seven places of interest, fully detailed, surround an editorial titled “A Day to Remember.”


18. Spot News Photo


3rd place:, Lynne Conner, The Observer, “(Through Pain…) I regret”

2nd place: Chris Johnson, Ogle County Newspapers, “Firefighter Randy Travis Prepares to Fight the Blaze”

1st place: Jim Slonoff, The Hinsdalean, “Driver Escapes Without Injuries”

Judge’s comments: The photographer has put himself in the perfect position with his composition of this photo. Showing the damage to the vehicle dead center, the converging lines of the train track rails,  the overpass framing, makes it a first place photo. He has used all the elements available for this shot to have everything beautifully balanced and draw the reader into the seriousness of this accident.


3rd place: Doug Larson, The Times, “No Place Like Home”

2nd place: Beck Diefenbach, Daily Chronicle, “Watson Fire”

1st place: Ryan Pagelow, Lake County News-Sun, “For Samantha”

Judge’s comments: This photo emits a quiet, tender moment between the child and her father. It is easily recognized for what the message is about with their shaven heads. The tight cropping accentuates Samantha’s cherubic face, soft lighting is effective, cutline information is concise and to the point.


19. Feature Photo


3rd place: Amanda Hudson, The Observer, “Poor Clares”

2nd place: Jim Slonoff, The Hinsdalean, “A little help from her friends”

1st place: Joanne Pleskovich, Ledger-Sentinel, “A Swinging Time at the Fest”

Judge’s comments: This photo screams summertime fun. The expression captured, print quality, timing of the shot and well balanced framing/crop makes this shot a first place winner.



3rd place: Joe Grace, Kane County Chronicle, “Still the Big Ticket”

2nd place: Thomas Delany Jr., Lake County News-Sun, “Ouch!”

1st place: Ryan Pagelow, Lake County News-Sun, “Chipmunk Caper”

Judge’s comments: This shot was chosen as the best feature photo for several reasons. The subject matter is all so perfectly balanced. The lighting on the Simon figurine, the angle this shot was taken from, and the use of a wide angle lens makes the character pop out in 3D. The human subjects look so natural. Excellent colors, lighting, and framing. Excellent job!


20. Sports Photo


3rd place: Eric Miller, Kendall County Record, “Push for the finish.”

2nd place: Jim Slonoff, The Hinsdalean, “For everything there is a season.”

1st place: Candace H. Johnson, Lake County Journal, “Football player consoled by teammate.”

Judge’s comments: A great example of looking beyond the obvious game action and finding the memorable, emotional moment.



HM: Beck Diefenbach, Daily Chronicle, “Browns fumble.”

3rd place: Bev Horne, Daily Herald, “Joy and pain.”

2nd place: Sandy Bressner, Kane County Chronicle, “A busy afternoon.”

1st place: Rob Winner, Daily Chronicle, “NIU leap.”

Judge’s comments: The best in an outstanding field of entries. This one wins because of its drama, highlighted by the photographer’s perfect composition in a split second.


21. Online Slideshow


2nd place: Ben Draper, Elburn Herald, “Kaneland vs. Burlington Central”

1st place: Ben Draper, Elburn Herald, “Kaneland at the United Center”

Judge’s comments: While this slideshow could be stronger with some photos left out and more close up shots could be had, the overall coverage of this game is documented well.  The extreme wide angles under the basket are some of the best in this group of work. Good exposures and various shooting levels, especially from low are impressive. Viewers are able to share the photos on various websites making keepsakes that they probably appreciate greatly.


3rd place: Todd Mizener, Paul Colletti, Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus, “Moving Day”

2nd place: Beck Diefenbach, Daily Chronicle, “A Six-Letter Word: Cancer”

1st place:  Mike Voss, Michelle Gannon, Nicholas Holstein, Scott Anderson, Colleen Zarecki, Lisa Pesavento The Daily Journal, “Memorial Day ’09”


Judge’s comments: This team of photographers did an excellent job in covering several different towns events held on Memorial Day 2009. The cohesive set of photos draw you in as if you were there. Nuances such as the bullet casings caught in air, the “Giants’ water tower, the twin shadows of the ladies placing the flags add a lot to the images. Facial expressions capture the true emotions of participants.
This slideshow has clean and concise cut lines for all photos, just the right amount of photos included, framing of subject matter, perfect exposures, selective focus used well. Everything is specific and to the point.


22. Video


3rd place: William Burlingham, Evanston RoundTable, “Blue Spruce Leaves Maple for Church”

2nd place: Elliot Burlingham, Evanston RoundTable, “Wall of Struggle and Dreams”

1st place: William Burlingham, Evanston RoundTable, “Speaking Out at Jan Schakowsky’s Town Meeting on Health Care Reform”

Judge’s comment: Very well shot and edited. Balanced representation of perspectives. An impressive effort for a complicated issue. All interviews were well-lit, well-composed and carefully edited.



3rd place: Todd Mizener, Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus, “Big Mama’s House Comes Down”

2nd place: Paul Colletti, Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus, “Road to Recovery”

1st place: Mark Welsh, Daily Herald, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”


Judge’s comments: Very well-constructed and appropriately paced for its content. …Interview was well-framed and well-lit and audio was well-recorded. Appropriate use of still images over some of the interviews. Overall, this piece was well-produced, very interesting and most importantly, the subject matter was handled respectfully.


23. Website


3rd place: Elburn Herald – http://elburnherald.com

2nd place: Evanston RoundTable – www.evanstonroundtable.com

1st place: Lake County Journal – www.lakecountyjournal.com

Judge’s comments: The website for the Lake County Journal employs a content management system that delivers web pages that are organized, accessible, and easy to use. Stories are organized under clearly marked content categories, which not only maintain a clean and structured layout but provide readers with direct access to information with a single click of the mouse. The Journal makes efficient use of screen space, clearly separating sponsored links and advertising from its news stories, skillfully employs graphical and multimedia enhancements to support the presentation of news content, and facilitates limited user involvement through reader submission of photographs.

Although none of this year’s non-daily entries performed particularly well on mobile devices, the Lake County Journal’s structured and economically designed pages made the transition to the small screen with the least amount of difficulty.



3rd place: Daily Chronicle, DeKalb – www.daily-chronicle.com

2nd place: Daily Herald – www.dailyherald.com

1st place: Kane County Chronicle – www.kcchronicle.com

Judge’s comments: Well organized, easy to navigate, and an efficient use of screen real estate make the Kane County Chronicle stand out from the competition. The paper’s main page is composed of a nice mix of text, graphics, and multimedia elements. The use of content categories for organizing stories is intuitive, accessible, and avoids cluttering up the browser window with long lists of headlines. The advertising is contained, clearly separated from news content, and unobtrusive. And the site incorporates aspects of web 2.0 by facilitating some user-generated content and contributions. On mobile platforms, the Chronicle appropriately modifies its page layout to accommodate the smaller screen. The main navigational bar situated at the top of the page provides users with an organized, simple, and direct method of access to content. Most importantly users can read stories on mobile devices and smart phones without a lot of unnecessary scrolling or zooming.


24. Spot News Story


3rd place:  Penny Wiegert, The Observer, “Local church, charities respond to Haitian disaster”

2nd place: Kevin Olsen, The Regional News, “Jewel-Osco wants Heights to fund expansion”

1st place: John Etheredge and Tony Scott, Ledger-Sentinel, “Hearing pending for arson, murder suspect”

Judge’s comments: Intelligent, finely crafted piece that clearly addresses the legal proceedings of a man charged with serious crimes, not wasting a word in the telling.



3rd place: Kristen Zambo, The Daily Journal, “He saved her life”

2nd place: Staff, Daily Herald, “Robert Maday escape”

1st place: Anthony Watt, Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus, “Geneseo standoff ends safely”

Judge’s comments: Dramatic narrative, richly detailed, of a violent outburst in a small town. Gives a feel of the fright.


25. In-Depth News Story


3rd place: Lynne Conner, The Observer, “Gathering highlights Catholic social concerns”

2nd place:  Pamela Lannom, The Hinsdalean, “How do District 181’s finances compare?”

1st place: Matt Schury, Ledger-Sentinel, “Organization tracks homeless children”

Judge’s comments: A provoking, sometimes heartbreaking account of dire struggle at a tender age.



3rd place: Brandy Donaldson, Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus, “Mapmaking headache”

2nd place: Emily Zulz, The Daily Journal, “Who are you going to call?”

1st place: Carrie Frillman, Daily Chronicle, “How environmentally safe are landfills?”

Judge’s comments: An enlightening exploration of a journey of trash. A well-told tale of what happens to stuff when we’re done with it.


26. News Story Series


3rd place: Kathy Gresey, Lake County Journal, “Tri-County Pregnancy & Parenting Services.”

2nd place: Pamela Lannom, Christine Cuthbert, The Hinsdalean, Special Needs / Gifted Program / Differentiation.

1st place: P. Carter Newton, The Galena Gazette, 1918 Flu Pandemic

Judge’s comments: An exhaustively researched series on the 1918 flue pandemic (which took as many as 100 million lives) and how it hit home in Galena. Four years in the making, the series was timely in light of the H1N1 flue that made headlines last year. The stories provided a fascinating glimpse into medical and societal issues nearly a century ago and forced the reader to contemplate the question of, “What if it happened today?”



3rd place: Cindy Wojdyla Cain, Brian Stanley, Tony Graf, Roy Bernard, The Herald News, “Stop the Violence.”

2nd place: Staff, The Daily Journal, “Fatal Inexperience.”

1st place: Andre Salles, Christine S. Moyer, Rowena Vergara, The Beacon News, State Budget Series.

Judge’s comments: A team of reports from the Beacon News demonstrated that community journalism isn’t dead. They did so by turning the state budget crisis – a story almost too big to understand – and brought it down to human terms by focusing on the impact it has had in their home community. Solid budgetary reporting was complimented by heart-breaking first-person accounts of exactly what it means when agencies that serve the most vulnerable members of society have to make do with half as much money. A terrific column wrapped up the series. The best in a very tough category.


27. Education Reporting


3rd place: Larry Gavin, Evanston RoundTable

2nd place: Stephanie N. Lehman, Lake County Journal

1st place: Pamela Lannom, The Hinsdalean

Judge’s comments: This entry demonstrated a good development of the beat, with stories that were well written and provided readers with a range of useful information, from a comparison of district finances to a thorough look at the impact of budget cuts and a story on special needs programs.  The district finance comparison no doubt answered one of the instinctual, but less often explored questions that many readers have as their districts faced financial hardships, “Are we the only ones facing these problems?”  It’s nice to see when reporters expand this kind of reporting beyond the board meeting.


3rd place: Lee Provost and Kristen Zambo, The Daily Journal

2nd Place: Ashley Rhodebeck, Kane County Chronicle

1st place: Melissa Garzanelli, The Times

Judge’s comments: This entry shows a nice range of community education reporting, with good packaging of stories, a writing style that makes reading the articles enjoyable and helpful text boxes.  From a story detailing the challenges and triumphs of first year teachers, to a thoroughly covered teachers’ strike and a detailed look at the demand for preschool and its benefits, this reporter demonstrates a knowledge of her beat, and how to deliver those stories to the community in a way that provides not only the information readers need, but a roadmap going forward on the issues.


28. Community Service


3rd: Martha Quetsch, Elburn Herald, “Fearing for the Future”

2nd: Larry Gavin, Evanston RoundTable, Park School series

1st: Staff, The Hinsdalean, “Making a Difference”
(second page view)

Judge’s comments: The Hinsdalean’s year-long campaign highlights the importance of the local community foundation in supporting a variety of non-profit organizations that meet critical needs in the area. The series, written in partnership with the foundation, reflects a breadth of interests and effectively deomonstrates the importance of philanthropy, volunteerism and sound management of non-profits.



3rd: Staff, The Daily Journal, “Welcoming our Troops” series

2nd: Joseph Ryan, Marni Pyke, staff, The Daily Herald, “Seeing Red”

1st: Staff, The Times, Teachers Strike
(second page view)

Judge’s comments: Solid and informative coverage of a divisive local school strike. The coverage promoted resolution of the strike, community understanding of the issues and healing. Sensitive and careful treatment of the apparently unrelated suicide of a school administrator during the same time period. Breaking news, strong editorial positions, and inclusion of impact stories (such as high-school sports programs) resulted in a balanced series serving community interests. Great use of writing and photos in print, web and video formats.


2010 Sweepstakes Winners

(for overall excellence – based on cumulative points from individual categories)

Non-dailies: Donald R. Grubb Trophy
3rd place (tie): Ledger-Sentinel, Galena Gazette
2nd place: The Hinsdalean
1st place: Evanston RoundTable
Dailies: James Copley Trophy
3rd place: The Times (Ottawa)
2nd place: Daily Journal (Kankakee)
1st place: Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus