2011 NINA contest winners

01. Design


3rd place: Evanston RoundTable
2nd place: The Galena Gazette
1st place: Elburn Herald

Judge’s comments: All design entries were impressive this year, but the Elburn Herald captures first prize with very clean and modular layouts, excellent use of white space and columnar structure, and good use of photography and graphics.



3rd place: Staff, Kane County Chronicle
2nd place: Staff, The Dispatch
1st place: Staff, Daily Chronicle

Judge’s comments: The design competition for dailies is becoming more difficult, as ALL papers in this category are starting to look very sharp. The Daily Chronicle wins because of very clean and readable typography, excellent modularity and columnar structure, really good photos used wisely, and very helpful glance/refer boxes.


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”

Judge’s comments: The Northwest Herald’s graphic that covers the Blackhawks’ trail to the Stanley Cup provided readers with multidimensional information: stats, player strengths, championship droughts, game coverage, team records in the series. Clean layout, nice use of shapes and lines. Very informative and thorough. Excellent work in a highly competitive category.


3. Headline Writing

3rd place: Victoria Scott, Evanston RoundTable

2nd place: Shawn Jones, Evanston RoundTable

1st place: Kathy Gresey, Lake County Journal [ 123 ]

Judge’s comments: Fun wordplay without being overly “punny.”



3rd place: Valerie Katzenstein, Northwest Herald

2nd place: Julie Stroebel, The Times

1st place: Jana Thompson, Northwest Herald [ 123 ]

Judge’s comment: The best feature headlines make readers smile and draw them into the story. These succeed with wit and charm.


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

3rd: Amanda Hudson, The Observer, “Wrapped in Prayer”

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”

1st: Heather Pfundstein, The Naperville Sun, “I woke up” [ 123 ]

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”

1st place: P. Carter Newton, Galena Gazette, “Mica’s Mantra: Family First” [ 12 ]

Judge’s comments: “Mica’s Mantra” is a heartbreaking and heartwarming story of a 35-year-old husband and father who’s battling ALS. P. Carter Newton’s use of the present tense brings readers in Mica’s world: it’s all about today, about the present. The future is coming, of course, but it’s one without Mica. That doesn’t mean Mica isn’t thinking about the future; he tells Newton about what he hopes for his two young daughters. Eventually, Carter lets readers into a secret: his own father died from muscular dystrophy. Both men cry. Truly, it’s hard for anyone to not shed tears as Newton converses with a dying man who not only reminds him of his own father but provides him a glimpse into what it feels like to confront death and leave loved ones behind.


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.


3rd place:  Robert Themer, The Daily Journal, “Seed Expansion”

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”

1st place: Jenette Sturges, The Naperville Sun, “How Clean is City’s Renewable Energy?” [12 ]

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

3rd place: Jane Holland and Staff, Galena Gazette

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.

3rd place: Rachael Reynolds-Soucie and Staff, The Daily Journal

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
Because of a low number of entries, dailies and non-dailies were combined in this category.


3rd place: Sharon Boehlefeld, The Observer, “Young Observer”


2nd place: Laura Fraembs and staff, The Dispatch, “South of 20” section

1st place: Julie Stroebel, The Times, “SpeakEasy” [ 1234 ]

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

1st place – Tim Froehlig, Lake County Journal [ 123 ]

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

1st place – J.T. Pedelty, The Times [ 123 ]

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

3rd place: Mike Slodki and staff, Elburn Herald

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.


15. Columnist


3rd place: Amanda Hudson, The Observer

2nd place: P. Carter Newton, The Galena Gazette

1st place: Jerry Moore, Suburban Life Publications [ 123 ]

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 [ 123 ]

Judge’s comments: Crosby’s columns were not only outstanding columns, they were outstanding journalism. More than a personal rant, she demonstrated outstanding research which was fascinating to read. Well done!



16. Editorial

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”

Judge’s comments: A nimble, creative and thoughtful take on a ritual that seems sweet, but can have serious consequences.



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.

2nd place: P. Carter Newton, The Galena Gazette.

1st place: Nina D’Agostino, The Evanston RoundTable [ 12 ]

Judge’s comments: Though this was not the best-designed entry in this category, the RoundTable gets the nod for its consistency in tackling tough local issues, for its strong editorial voice on those issues and for inspiring meaningful debate among readers via letters to the editor.



3rd place: Staff, The Daily Journal.

2nd place: Kenda Burrows and staff, The Dispatch.

1st place: Staff, The Times. [ 1 23 ]

Judge’s comments: In a close competition, The Times is favored for its consistency and creativity in getting community members involved in the page; and for its clean, easy-to-follow design and brevity of elements. Clearly, The Times values its readers and considers its Opinion page a true community forum.


18. Spot News Photo


3rd: Jane Rickard, Welles Park Bulldog, “Cappleman celebration.”

2nd: Jay Dickerson, The Galena Gazette, “Firefighter laid to rest.”

1st: Amanda Hudson, The Observer, “Move that church!”

Judge’s comment: A fun shot that captures the public spectacle of a church rolling down the street.


3rd place: Steve Stout, The Times, “Streator tornado.”

2nd place: Rob Winner, Daily Chronicle, “Chemical fire.”

1st place: Paul Colletti, The Dispatch, “Blizzard aftermath.”

Judge’s comment: Great composition from an unusual and creative vantage point. The photo still evokes a chuckle because this event touched us all.


19. Feature Photo

3rd place: Joanne Pleskovich, Ledger Sentinel, “Hurry before it all melts”

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.


3rd place: Sandy Bressner, Kane County Chronicle, St. Charles, “Remembering Andrea”

2nd place: Rob Winner, Daily Chronicle, DeKalb, “Slide”

1st place: Beck Diefenbach, Daily Chronicle, DeKalb, “Sparks”

Judge’s comments: This magazine cover quality image of welder gives a close and personal feel for this race car driver as he works on his car before the race. Nice tight shot with sparks flying is a phenomenal image and the focal length used stresses the intensity of the work being done.



20. Sports Photo


3rd place: Steve Stearns, Welles Park Bulldog, “Fury vs. Hell’s Belles.”

2nd place: Ben Draper, Elburn Herald, “It Boils Down to First Place.”

1st place: Andrew Brunner, The Galena Gazette, “Just Out of Reach.”

Judge’s comments: Not only a terrific sports action shot, but this also was the key moment in the state championship match. The photo tells the story immediately.


3rd place: Rob Winner, Daily Chronicle, “Touchdown.”

2nd place: Doug Larson, The Times, “Frustrated Batter.”

1st place: Beck Diefenbach, Daily Chronicle, “Collision.”

Judge’s comments: Wow. A very scary baseball moment, brought to life in a photo that tells the whole story.


21. Online Photo Gallery / Slideshow


3rd place: Jane Rickard, Welles Park Bulldog, Chicago, “Pet Blessing at All Saints Episcopal”

2nd place: Ben Draper, Elburn Herald, Elburn, “Sweatt brothers take on Chicago Wolves”

1st place: Ben Draper, Elburn Herald, Elburn, “2010 Madrigal Dinner”

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”

1st place: Staff, The Daily Journal, Kankakee, “Kankakee Fire Lt. Frank Fouts”

Judge’s comments: Very tasteful and well documented ritual of the funeral of fallen firefighter Lt. Frank Fouts of Kankakee. Anyone who has never attended a fireman’s funeral will be able to understand the camaraderie of this fraternity by viewing this photo gallery. Narrative and slide show is synchronized very well. Composition and images used are excellent earning this photo story top honors.

22. Video


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.



23. Website


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”

2nd place: Andrew Brunner, The Galena Gazette, “Storms Hammer County”

1st Place: Kathy Farren, John Ethredge, Matt Schurry, Ledger-Sentinel, “Blizzard strands over 100 motorists”

Judge’s comments: Weather stories. Reporters might dread them, but readers still want them. This effort stands out because it goes beyond the man-on-the-street and moves past clichés to deliver information people can immediately put to use. Separate entries in this category were purposefully combined because they were part of the same news package.


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”

Judge’s comments: The Disptach edges competitors in a very strong category. Although words, design and other visual elements are represented in the finalists, the Dispatch excels in quickly explaining to readers what the news event means for them.


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”

1st place: Diana Sroka, Northwest Herald, “The New Aristocracy” [ 1234 ]

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”

1st place: Penny Wiegert, The Observer, “Pieces of peace in the Middle East” [ 12345 ]

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 [ 123 ]

Judge’s comments: The Ledger Sentinel’s coverage offers a wide variety of stories for its audience. A story about the students, the proposed new high school, and a year-long overview of the challenges of the district give readers a multifaceted perspective of the educational system in Oswego. The writing is personable and easy to follow. Many perspectives are included in reporting. Nice work!


3rd place: Nicole Lauer, The Dispatch

2nd Place:  Melissa Garzanelli, The Times

1st place:  Ashley Rhodebeck, Kane County Chronicle [ 123 ]

Judge’s comments: In a very competitive category, Ashley Rhodebeck’s coverage of education included nice variety of newsworthy issues–a cut program, teaching candidates, and the superintendent vote. The reporter took complex information and made it easy to read and understand. Nice depth of coverage, strong leads. Inclusion of people’s stories, not just a focus on the topic. Great job!


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.

Sweepstakes Results

Non-dailies: Donald R. Grubb Trophy
3rd place: (33 points) Ledger-Sentinel
1st place tie: (43 points) Evanston RoundTable
1st place tie:  (43 points) Galena Gazette


Dailies: James Copley Trophy
3rd place:  (30 points) The Times
2nd place:  (35 points) Daily Chronicle
1st place:  (72 points) Argus/Dispatch