With two first-place awards and a pair of third-place honors, ABC Newspapers showcased its expertise and demonstrated dedication to its readers at the 146th annual Minnesota Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest last week.
Awards were presented during the Jan. 24 banquet celebration at the DoubleTree Hilton hotel in Bloomington.
Taking home top honors were the Blaine/Spring Lake Park Life (winning first place in the general excellence category for weeklies with circulation up to 1,500) and the ABC Newspapers website (winning first place in the website category for weeklies with circulation of 2,501-5,000).
The Anoka County Union took home third place in the typography and design category for weeklies with circulation of 2,501-5,000.
And Elyse Kaner, reporter/photographer for the Blaine/Spring Lake Park Life, won third place in the business category for weeklies with a circulation of up to 1,500.
Elyse Kaner, third place business story
Kaner’s story, headlined “Blaine man’s audio restoration business is taking off,” appeared in the July 13, 2012, edition of the Life.
Commenting on her story, judges said, “Nice story about a unique business as well as a unique individual.”
As for winning the award and being recognized by colleagues in the newspaper industry, Kaner said, “It’s always an honor to be recognized by our peers. I am honored to work for ABC Newspapers and thankful for people allowing me glimpses and insight into their lives and their organizations.”
Kaner said working on the story had its own reward.
“I had such fun interviewing Nathan Clark, owner of Immure Records of Blaine, for the story. If he tires of his work, he could easily become a comedian,” she said. “He was the one who really brought the story to life with all of the obstacles he had to overcome to open his business.”
Anoka County Union, third place typography and design
Mandy Froemming, editor of the Anoka County Union, said the newspaper’s award for typography and design reflects the thoughtful process that goes into designing each page of the newspaper each week.
“How we present the work of our reporters and photographers is a huge priority for me,” Froemming said. “I think it should be treated with the same kind of care they put into crafting their stories and photos. Having a paper with a clean design that is easy to read is essential.”
The award also recognizes the talent and hard work of graphic artist Donna Lefebvre, who does the page design of the Union every week, according to Froemming.
Blaine/Spring Lake Park Life, first place general excellence
As for the Life’s first-place finish in general excellence, one judge commented, “This entry stood out from the get go… I like the range of local stories from government to local happenings with excellent photos included. I like the sectioning including the sports coverage and pictures and the entertainment and arts sections. The newspaper’s overall look is appealing to the eye.”
While Tim Hennagir served as editor of the Blaine/Spring Lake Park Life during the time period in which the entries were taken, Froemming took on the editorship when Hennagir became managing editor of the Monticello Times back in September 2012.
“I am fortunate to step into editing a paper that has a great foundation of covering community news,” Froemming said.
Hennagir said the award means a great deal “because general excellence is really a staff award.”
“It takes a great newsroom to produce consistent work of this quality,” Hennagir said. “I hope the readers of the Life realize that community newspapers perform an important service. We perform a timely and breaking news reporting, but do so with great empathy and understanding. That isn’t the case with other types of media.”
Editors also credited graphic artist April Conforti for her consistently detailed work devoted to designing the pages of the Life week after week.
ABC Newspapers, first place website
In taking home the first place award for websites, ABC Newspapers website coordinator Tammy Sakry said, “It was a great surprise to learn our website had won first place. We have a great group of dedicated team members who design our website, the website ads and created the online content. We try our best to keep the community informed with a website that is easy to use.”
Judges seem to agree, saying, “Outstanding use of photos and great overall design. Site is packed with content and is very eye catching.”
Froemming believes daily updates to abcnewspapers.com content and a user-friendly design set the website apart from the others in the category.
“Times have changed in the way that our readers want news and our staff works hard to keep up with those demands,” she said.
“Abcnewspapers.com allows us to be a daily resource for community news and we have put our talents and experience putting out a weekly newspaper to do that.”
ABC Newspapers General Manager Tom Murray expressed his pride and appreciation to the staff saying, “It is a great sign that all the hard work that our editors, reporters and staff put in every week to produce our newspapers is not only appreciated by our readers but also by our peers. I am very proud of the three newspapers that this crew publishes and to be recognized among the thousands of entries from around the state is quite an honor.”
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org