2012 NINA contest results

Awarded Oct. 18, 2012, during the NINA Fall Conference at NIU-DeKalb.

1.Best Design


Second Place: The Times

First Place: The Dispatch
Judge’s comments: “The best test of good newspaper design is the ease with which readers can navigate content. The Dispatch does an excellent job.  The design of each page is clean and uncluttered, yet contains many entry points for readers such as its web-link boxes and sidebars. The newspaper banner and its section headers are clean and elegant.”



Third Place: Evanston Roundtable

Second Place: Record Newspapers

First Place: Elburn Herald
Judge’s comments: “What carries the successful design of this paper is its consistent use of a sans serif type as the main typographical driver and a liberal amount of white space which sets off the type and keeps the pages from appearing gray. Nice use of headline/subhed combination”.


2. Best informational Graphic


Third Place: The Daily Journal, “Things that go vroom in the night” – Evan Hill, Dennis Yohnka

Second Place: The Daily Journal, “Will the lockout knock out Bears camp?” – Kim Carpenter

First Place” The Daily Journal, “Two tales of corruption”  – Terry Yohnka, Evan Hill
Judge’s comments: “This is an excellent example of how to shed new light on an exhaustively covered news story in a creative way. By using a side-by-side graphic comparison to examine the life and pecadilloes of two convicted Illinois governors, as opposed to a narrative, readers can easily evaluate the two individuals from many angles at a glance.


Third Place: Evanston Round Table, “Dead or alive, rats merit a call to 311”– Natalie Wainwright

Second Place: Evanston Round Table, “District 5 achievement report..” – Larry Gavin

First Place: Record Newspapers – Ledger-Sentinel, “Cost for county board salaries..” – Candy Johnson

Judge’s comments: “The infographic is presented definitively and clearly, drawing readers into the story, which contains more details. For any reader wondering how their tax dollars are spent, the answer is all in this story.”


3.Best Headline


First Place: The Times  – Julie Stroebel
Judge’s comments: “Snappy, eye-catching and fund for the reader! These headlines are strengthened by creative use of graphics and box sidebars”


Third Place: Evanston Round Table – Shawn Jones

Second Place: Evanston Round Table – Charles Wilkinson

First Place: Record Newspapers – John Etheredge
Judge’s comments: “Drop-heads add meaning to readers, but the major headlines are enough to get the job done”


4.Best Special Section


Third Place: The Times – “Starved Rock: Celebrating 100 years.”

Second Place: Kane Counting Chronicle “Fighting the good fight”

First Place: The Dispatch – “Working the Dream”
Judge’s comments: “The entire news staff seemed to be involved in this project to interview dozens Quad-Citians about the jobs they love.  24 Pages of personality sketches provide a clear picture of what Quad-Citians were up to in their interesting daily lives”


Third Place: Lake County Journal – “People who make Lake County Great”

Second Place: Galena Gazette – “Honoring Veterans”

First Place: Record Newspapers – “Decision 2012”
Judge’s comments: “An 18-page special section featuring news stories on whether to vacate the county record position, followed by staff interviews with almost every candidate running in the county. Credit goes to news staffers who wrote standard questions, convinced politicians to answer them, and designed layouts to keep readers moving along through the section”


5.Best General Feature


Third Place: The Times, “The breast choice,” – Julie Stroebel

Second Place: The Courier-News, “Secrets of Munger Road,” – Emily McFarland

First Place:  The Beacon News, “Return to the scene of the crime,”  – Dave Gathman, Matt Hanley, Bill Bird
Judge’s comments: “Interesting, attractive feature ties local acts of thievery in Du Page and Kane Counties. Good use of old newspaper layouts and pictures strengthen the authenticity.”


Third Place: Record Newspapers, “When Bonnie & Clyde hit Plattville,” – Tony Scott

Second Place: Galena Gazette, “She’s never coming back,” – Hillary Dickerson

First Place: The Observer, “God & country: retired and active diocesan priests serve in the military.” – Amanda Hudson
Judge’s comments: “Well-researched and well-written, this feature uses pictures and several sidebars to reveal a wealth of priests involved in military chaplaincy. Excellent piece!”

6. Best Personality Profile


Third Place: Kane County Chronicle, “Geneva Alderman Ralph Dantino return home for the holidays after a battle with cancer,” – Brenda Schory

Second Place: Chicago Tribune, “High School recognizes (Gene) Melchiorre,” – Sue Ter Maat

First Place: The Dispatch, “Former police officer looks back on ’08 shooting.” – John Marx
Judge’s comments: “Poignant, well presented story”


Third Place: Record Newspapers, “Career in computers started at East View Elementary School,” – Lyle E. Rolfe

Second Place: Lake County Journal, “{Ora] Abrams (80 years old) on health: “You’ve got to use it or lose it,” – Cassandra Dowell

First Place: Galena Gazette, “The story of “Grandpa’s Notebook.” – Hillary Dickerson


7. Best Religion Story / Owen Phelps Award


Third Place: The Times, “What’s next for your parish?” – Derek Barichello

Second Place: Kane County Chronicle, “This is what we believe” – Brenda Schory

First Place: The Dispatch, “Examining Bible’s DNA” – Leon Lagerstam
Judge’s comments: “Fascinating look at how local pastors view and use a new versions of the Bible. Nice job of explaining that process.”


Third Place: Evanston Round Table, “Ghanian visitors join First Methodist Evanston with ASP project” – Mary Mumbrae

Second Place: The Observer, “Who will it be? Important info while we wait” – Penny Wiegert

First Place: Record Newspapers, “Yorkville school hosts Islamic academy students” – Matt Schury
Judge’s comments: “Good job of being a fly on the wall as kids ask and answer interesting questions of each other.”


8. Best Business/Financial / Consumer Story


Third Place: Kane County Chronicle, “No nursing shortage in the Tri-Cities area” – Jonathan Bilyk

Second Place: Kane County Chronicle, “Never seen this before” – Jonathan Bilyk

First Place: The Times, “Does new child labor proposal go too far?” – Julie Stroebel
Judge’s comments: “The story explores in-depth the new Child Labor proposal and its pros and cons. Easy reading, nice graphics, very informative.”



Third Place: Evanston Round Table, “Bag talk” – Mary Helt Gavin

Second Place: Elburn Herald, “Come fly with me” – Lynn Meredith

First Place:  Record Newspapers, “Where does all that corn go?” – Lisa Welz
Judge’s comments: “The story fully explains the crop cycle, from planting to its utilization. Well presented, clear, comprehensive. The story has the ability to make a ‘city person’ well versed in anything pertaining to corn”


9. Best technology / Medical Story


Third Place: Kane County Chronicle, “Is there an APP for that?” – Jonathan Bilyk

Second Place: The Times, “Area students ride wave; County will see nurse shortage,” Julie Stroebel

First Place: Kane County Chronicle, “Leak brings some concerns,” – Ashley Rhodebeck
Judge’s comments: “This story is a good solid job of reporting on a complex subject. It clearly addresses the problem of methane outgassing from Kane County landfills.”



Third Place: Record Newspapers, “YHS students, mentors building another robot” – Lyle Rolfe

Second Place: Record Nespapers, “Heroin: No longer just an inner city problem,” – Tony Scott

First Place: Evanston Round Table, “Polio haunted Evanston yearly until Salk vaccine introduced,” – Janet Messenger
Judge’s comments: “An excellent medical feature, this story goes back in history to when polio was a dreaded disease, feared by many. The story is filled with compelling interviews. Good use of statistics.”


10. Best Sports Story


Third Place: The Times, “We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969” – J.T. Pedelty

Second Place: The Dispatch, “His will wears off on kids” – Dan Makarewicz

First Place: The Times, “Do or die-T” – Andy Tavegia
Judge’s comments: “Meaty, poignant, well-crafted feature story that transcends average sports genre.  Outstanding use of quotes, plus astute observation. Classic underdog story written with larger perspective and compassion.”



Third Place: Elburn Herald, “Oh Kaneland” – Mike Slodki

Second Place: Elburn Herald, “Just barely” – Mike Slodki

First Place: Record Newspapers, “New chapters begin” – Kristin Sharpe
Judge’s comments: “Credit Kristin Sharpe for putting together a solid, detailed, and readable “coaching hire”story with more-than obligatory quotes from all parties involved. Kudos for linking the new hires to Aurora University in the lead paragraph which broadens the potential readership.”


11. Best Sports Columnist


Third Place:  Jay Schwab, Kane County Chronicle

Second Place: J.T. Pedelty, The Times

Frist Place: Marc Nessler,  The Dispatch
Judge’s comments: “Marc Nessler has been around the sports-writing block and it shows. His experience, sports acumen, journalistic instincts, and verbal gamesmanship made all three contest entries enjoyable.   His unique enterprise turned a mundane 7:20 a.m. tee time into a fascinating insider’s angle. Both his Ron Santo and Albert Pujols columns were written-by-the-heart missives.”



First Pace:  Dick Peach,  Evanston Round Table
Judge’s comments: “Columnist Dick Peach writes effectively with a witty, chatty, yet newsy style to engage any reader. While his writing style is low-key, there is an economy of words dealing with educational topics and points of whimsy.”

12. Best Columnist


Third Place: Roger Ruthhart – The Dispatch

Second Place: Scott T. Holland – The Times

First Place: Julie Stroebel – The Times
Judge’s comments: “Julie Stroebel columns are very well written in an approachable voice that makes it seem like she’s sitting across from you talking at the kitchen table. But, in addition her columns offer thoughtful perspectives on timely and important topics.”



Third Place: Penny Wiegert – The Observer

Second Place: Judi Veroukas – Lake County Journal

First Place: Owen Phelps – The Observer
Judge’s comments: “Owen Phelps’ columns offer thought-provoking analysis on important issues. In particular, after reading one of his submitted columns I found myself (the judge) considering his perspectives long after I had finished reading. That’s the hallmark of an excellent columnist.”


13. Best Editorial


Third Place: The Times – Lonny Cain – “Is it time to take the issue to the top?”

Second Place: Kane County Chronicle Editorial Board – Kane County Chronicle – “The problem with crime-free housing”

First Place: Kane County Chronicle Editorial Board – Kane County Chronicle – “ Real risks associated with synthetic drugs”
Judge’s comments: “The editorial does everything an editorial should do. It is clearly written, well organized, gets to the point quickly and offers a solid balance of opinion backed up by facts and statistics.”



Third Place: Larry Gavin – Evanston Round Table –“We support district 54’s $48.2 million referendum..”

Second Place: Jerry Moore – Suburban Life Publications – “Another fiasco shows Ricker must leave now”

First Place: Kathy Farren – Record Newspapers – “Time to end city-paid insurance for officials”
Judge’s comments: “This is an excellent editorial.  It covers a timely topic, inform readers of the main point very quickly, and mentions the perspective of the other side while offering strong evidence supporting the editorial board’s opinion.”


14. Best Spot News Photo


Third Place: Mike Voss, “Criminal cornered in cornfield” – The Daily Journal

Second Place: Paul Colletti, “Jumper” – The Dispatch

First Place: Scott Anderson, “Dumpster fire” – The  Daily Journal
Judge’s comments: “This attention grabbing shot through the heat of the flames causing distortion has made an otherwise ordinary dumpster fire into a work of art.”



Third Place: Sharon Boehlefeld, “Diocesan students back to school” – The Observer

Second Place: Jeff Farren, “Couple rescued from canoe chute” – Record Newspapers

First Place: Jay Dickerson, “Porta-potty arson?” – Galena Gazette
Judge’s comments: “This shot has all the elements of good composition, rule of thirds, and the exposure and color are outstanding. Content is well balanced within the frame.”


15. Best Feature Photo


Third Place: Paul Colletti, “Buffalo Bills” – The Dispatch

Second Place: Paul Colletti, “Undocumented and unpaid” – The Dispatch

First Place: Todd Mizener, “Beam me up, Kone” – The Dispatch
Judge’s comments: “The angles of the iron structure, the crane, the cars, and the tiny spectators add to the intensity of the subject standing on the edge awaiting placement of the final beam. The photographer had more courage than most to cover this shot in a fantastic way.”



Third Place: Eric Miller, “Yorkville celebrates the Fourth” – Record Newspapers

Second Place: Andrew Brunner, “Hummingbird survives flood” – Galena Gazette

First Place: Candace H. Johnson, “Traditions help keep fair alive” – Lake County Journal
Judge’s comments: “This photo exudes a very sweet and quiet feeling. The use of a wide angle accentuates the size between the cow and the child and draws you in. Well balanced.”


16. Best Sports  Photo


Third Place: John Greenwood, “Soccer shower” – The Dispatch

Second Place: Doug Larson, “Reach for home” – The Times

First Place: Tom Sistak, “Failed rodeo grab” – The Times
Judge’s comments: “Nice tightly framed composition, very well balanced and plays against the colors of the background. This photographer put himself in the perfect position for this shot with all three subjects coming toward the camera.”


Third Place: Larry Gavin, “Grand Prix of Evanston” – Evanston Round Table

Second Place: Mary Mumbrue, “In the canal” – Evanston Round Table

First Place: Eric Miller, “Yorkville senior Josh Williams” – Record Newspapers
Judge’s comments: “This photographer captured the act of this dunk at just the right moment to portray the determination and strength of this athlete. The inclusion of the spectators in the background reinforces the tension of this game.”


17. Best Online Photo Gallery


Third Place: The Dispatch, “Fall colors”

Second Place:  Kane County Chronicle – Sandy Bressner, “The Nutcracker Suite”

First Place: The Dispatch, “A Year in pictures”
Judge’s comments: “This is a wonderful collection of a year in photographs. They are well-edited and present some very powerful images. They are thoughtfully and sensitively ordered  and well-paced to reflect the emotional valence of each image.”



Third Place: The Welles Park Bulldog – Jane Rickard, “Station of the Cross”

Second Place: The Welles Park Bulldog – Jane Rickard, “March to mayor’s home”

First Place: The Welles Park Bulldog – Jack Lydon, “Gordon Tech vs Rowe-Clark HS girls basketball.”
Judge’s comments: “These are  excellent action shots and include what might be called “personality” shots of the event. The photographer has a strong sense of visual composition and created a well-chosen photo gallery.”


18. Best Video


Third Place: The Dispatch, “Obama at Ross” – by Todd Mizener

Second Place: The Dispatch, “Slush pit fun at Snowstar” By Paul Colletti

First Place: The Dispatch, “Bird’s eye view of Kone Centre Topping Off” – Todd Mizener and Aaron Facemire
Judge’s comments: “This video has very impressive footage with appropriate music. The video had very unusual shots and was exciting to watch. Imagining how people work at those heights was very daunting.”


No entries


19. Best Websites


First Place: Kane County Chronicle
Judge’s comments: “The site is very easy to navigate and the news is not overwhelmed by the ads. The job videos are unique and appealing and are certainly a way to attract people to the site. The face time section is a very nice way to highlight ordinary people in the community.”



First Place: Welles Park Bulldog
Judge’s comments: “This website  is attractive and easy to explore. The links are logically arranged and the pages are well configured. The ads are not overwhelming and yet they are present. The photo galleries allow to see the images first as thumbnails, thus allowing  to choose how to navigate through them.”


20. Best Spot News Story


Third Place: The Daily Journal, “Family dead” – John Krenek

Second Place: Kane County Chronicle, “Boy saved, but man dies, after falling into Fox River in Geneva” – Jonathan Bilyk

First Place: The Dispatch, “Made in America” – Brandy Donaldson, Anthony Watt, Erica Chalus, John Marx
Judge’s comments: “Comprehensive coverage of a presidential visit to the Quad Cities. Reporters did a nice job of telling a broad story in smaller pieces through the eyes of local residents.”



Third Place: Record Newspapers, “It sounded strange and then I didn’t hear it” – John Etheredge

Second Place: Record Newspapers, “ Candidate’s town hall meeting turns into debate” – Tony Scott

First Place: The Galena Gazette, “Deluge and destruction” – Jay Dickerson
Judge’s comments: “Wide-ranging information about flood that impacted the whole area. This story quickly answered lots of questions for residents”


21. Best In-Depth News Story


Third Place: The Dispatch, “A system overwhelmed” – Stephen Elliott, Dawn Neuses

Second Place: The Times, “Who is responsible for Smith-Douglass site?” – Derek Barichello

First Place: The Beacon-News, “Forum to get the conversation started about the resurgence of a powerful and deadly drug” – Denise Crosby (lead writer), Susan Carlman, Erika Wurst
Judge’s comments: “A carefully researched and poignantly written package about the horrifying resurgence and explosion of heroin abuse. Although all entries for this category were very solid, what captivated me most about the Beacon-News work is how data and humanity were blended so well together.”


Third Place: Evanston Round Table, “Council investigates possible dissolution of ‘Archaic’ township” – Shawn Jones

Second Place: The Observer, “Healing the hurt” – Amanda Hudson

First Place: Galena Gazette, “Deluge and destruction; flood wreaks havoc” – Jay Dickerson, Andrew Brunner
Judge’s comments: “The Galena Gazette’s reporting on the July 27 storm that flooded parts of Jo Daviess Co. – and also damaged the Gazette, which was reporting the story – was first rate. Excellent writing full of good details, good photos, and multiple local perspectives on the storm all worked together.”


22. Best News Story Series


Third Place: Kane County Chronicle, “Shining star among assets” – Jonathan Bilyk

Second Place: The Dispatch, “Undocumented / unpaid” – Dawn Neuses

First Place: The Beacon-News, “Waiting Game: Jericho Circle” – Stephanie Lulay
Judge’s comments: “In a very strong category, this entry stands out for the writer’s use of dialogue and sensory detail in deeply reporting the plight of people trying to escape a troubled housing complex”



Third Place: Elburn Herald, “All about AYP / No Child Left Behind” – Keith Beebe

Second Place: Record Newspapers, “Heroin, painkillers gain popularity in Kendall case” – Tony Scott, Matt Schury

First Place: “The Galena gazette, “Honor Flight Series” – Hillary Dickerson,  Andrew Brunner
Judge’s comments: “A wonderful series about local American heroes. The Gazette is chronicling important local history. Good job by writers of getting out of the way and letting these guys tell  their stories”

23. Best education Reporting


First Place: Kane County Chronicle,  Ashley Rhodebeck
Judge’s comments: “Stories show a good grasp of the local education landscape. Well-researched, with good quotes.”



Third Place: Evanston Round Table,  Larry Gavin

Second Place:  Record Newspapers, Lyle R. Rolfe

First Place: Galena Gazette, Jane Holland
Judge’s comments: “Excellent, almost exhaustive look at Galena’s plan for a new school. Use of graphics and pictures make this an outstanding example of community journalism”


Sweepstakes winners

Dailies: James Copley Trophy

Third place: Kane County Chronicle

Second place: The Times (Ottawa)

First place: The Dispatch (Moline)


Non-dailies: Donald R. Grubb Trophy

Third place: Evanston RoundTable

Second place: Galena Gazette

First place: Record Newspapers (Kendall County)


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