ABC Newspapers wins national awards for sports reporting

Sports Editor Jason Olson and the ABC Newspapers sports section won a pair of national Local Media Association editorial contest awards for the year 2012.

Jason Olson, ABC Newspapers sports editor, recently won two Local Media Association awards. Photo by Sue Austreng
Jason Olson, ABC Newspapers sports editor, recently won two Local Media Association awards. Photo by Sue Austreng

The awards – Best Sports Section first-place award (for non-dailies with a circulation of 16,001-36,000) and Best Sports Writer honorable mention (for the same circulation category) – share Olson’s trophy case with earlier awards presented over the years by ECM Publishers and by the Minnesota Newspaper Association.

“Being trusted to tell the story of others is a huge inspiration for me and being able to shape that is a tremendous honor,” Olson said, expressing his reaction to winning the national Local Media Association awards.

From an early age, life for the ABC Newspapers’ sports editor has been immersed in all things sports-related.

Olson grew up playing sports of all sorts. He played baseball and soccer, tried a little basketball, then took up slalom skiing. He’s also a big hockey fan and even tried for a job as Nordy, the mascot for the Minnesota Wild hockey team.

Olson’s always been a big fan of the pros, too, watching games on television or live from the bleacher seats. When he was a little boy, he even got to sit in the press box at Minnesota North Star hockey games a couple of times, sharing the box with his godfather, Gary Olson, St. Paul Pioneer Press sportswriter for some three decades.

“He had the best view in the place and always seemed to love what he did,” Olson said.

His godfather had a big influence on him, he said. “This has been the only thing I really had a passion for in terms of a career,” Olson said.

Olson talked about what makes ABC Newspapers’ sports section so valuable to its readers and gave it the winning edge in the eyes of Local Media Association editorial contest judges.

“I try to offer content that reflects readers’ diverse interest in sports beyond the major four sports,” he said.

“We’ve featured everything from a Gray Ghost 5K group that runs the race in a different-themed costume every year to demolition derby competitors. Variety in the amount of communities we cover also helps create a diverse section and also lends well to create compelling story content.”

Olson believes ABC Newspapers’ sports section is so valuable to its readers because coverage goes beyond the box score and offers context on a deeper level.

“What inspires me as a sports editor/reporter is when I see that next edition of the paper hit the news stands or see someone in the community with the paper open, reading the latest and greatest news from our community,” he said.

“Of course, hearing the compliments about a recent story or coverage is always a great feeling, but I love to watch a game then chat with the coaches and a few players about what just transpired, good or bad. Seeing that raw emotion, happy or sad, is something few have a chance to experience.”

Olson is quick to share the Best Sports Section honors with photographer Bill Jones, sports writer Samantha Lefebvre, graphic artists Lynne Kasper and Donna Lefebvre, and editors Peter Bodley and Mandy Froemming.

And while he enjoys his work and acknowledges that news organizations recognize his excellence, Olson is not about to rest on his laurels and has already set some goals for the future.

“I want to include more useful information like a calendar of upcoming events like 5K runs, league openings or fund-raising opportunities.”

“I’d like to help find the next generation of reporters and help light that fire in some young fans to continue our craft,” he said.

Local Media Association

Local Media Association (formerly Suburban News of America) is the United States’ only non-profit, professional trade association specifically serving the suburban and community newspaper industry.

The association lists as members more than 2,000 newspapers with more than 22 million in circulation and more than 100 industry vendors.

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Sue Austreng is at [email protected]