N-G again named state's top newspaper, innovator

N-G again named state's top newspaper, innovator

NORMAL — The News-Gazette extended its streak as Illinois' best newspaper in its class while being named Innovator of the Year in a pair of statewide editorial contests held last weekend in Normal.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Illinois Press Association awarded The News-Gazette the Mabel S. Shaw Memorial Trophy as the sweepstakes winner among medium-sized newspapers. It is the longest ongoing first-place run by any newspaper in the six circulation divisions.

"Keeping that trophy in our newsroom is a reminder to our staff and our readers that we're performing at a very high level," News-Gazette Media Vice President of News Jim Rossow said. "No reason to think we can't keep getting better at what we do. We have an incredibly talented team that cares deeply about its mission in the community."

The News Innovator of the Year award headlined the annual Illinois Associated Press Media Editors contest. Competing against newspapers of all circulations, The News-Gazette was honored for its "UI at 150" project pioneered by Editor Jeff D'Alessio. It is the fourth consecutive year The News-Gazette has finished first or second in Innovator of the Year voting.

"For my money, nothing beats a great story, and I've gotten to hear 1,274 of them — from former students and faculty in 50 states, on six continents, in every field imaginable, about a toga-wearing professor, meeting their future spouse on dollar beer night and becoming the first in their family to earn a college diploma," D'Alessio said.

"And the best part? The UI's 150th birthday may be over, but the memories keep flooding in. We'll be adding to the website every day till kingdom come — or the Chief debate is settled, whichever comes sooner."

News-Gazette Media's Ford County Record was the sweepstakes winner in the small, nondaily division, in which The Mahomet-Citizen finished second.

The News-Gazette won 26 awards in the IPA competition, including 10 first-place finishes highlighted by general excellence and, for the fourth consecutive year, best website (news-gazette.com). Other winners: community service (Noelle McGee, Ben Zigterman, Deb Pressey, Marcus Jackson), news reporting (McGee), editorial cartoon (Lyncoln Delporte, Dan Corkery), illustration (Mike Goebel), sports section (Matt Daniels and staff), lifestyle section (Paul Wood, Melissa Merli, Frank Pieper), innovative project (D'Alessio) and school board coverage (Nicole Lafond).

Second-place finishes included feature photo (Stephen Haas), editorial cartoon (Delporte, Corkery) and innovative project (Rossow).

Third-place finishes included community service (Pressey, Tracy Crane, McGee, Zigterman, Mary Schenk, Natalie Wickman), government beat writing (Schenk), illustration (Delporte) and web project (D'Alessio).

Honorable mention selections included news reporting (Julie Wurth, Pressey, Schenk, Zigterman, Wickman), business/economic reporting (Wurth, Jackson), sports column (Loren Tate), photo series (Rick Danzl), special section (Goebel and staff), innovative project (staff), school board coverage (Pressey) and coverage of taxation (Pressey).

In the IPA advertising contest, News-Gazette Media won 15 awards, including firsts in spot color ad (Lisa Lotz), full-color ad (staff), classified promotion (staff), holiday ad (Sue Smith) and marketing campaign (staff).

Second-place awards included classified section (staff) and community focus special section (staff).

Third-place awards included full-page ad (Angela Brown), marketing campaign (staff), niche publication (staff), ongoing special section (staff) and full-color ad (Janlynn Long).

Honorable mention selections included full-color ad (Janlynn Long), shared/signature page (Marsha Hilligoss) and annual special section (staff).

In the IAPME contest, The News-Gazette won eight other awards, including first place in sports breaking news for coverage of Brad Underwood's hiring as UI basketball coach.

Second-place finishes included sports column (Jackson), best use of social media by an individual (Haas) and spot video (John Dixon).

Third-place finishes included headlines (Goebel), enterprise story (McGee), general news photo (Holly Hart) and picture story (Danzl).

The Ford County Record won 25 awards in claiming the David B. Kramer Memorial Trophy, including 14 by Editor Will Brumleve.

First-place awards included investigative/enterprise reporting (Brumleve), public notice journalism (Brumleve), business/economic reporting (Brumleve), government beat reporting (Brumleve, Ross Brown, Jean Noellsch), sports section (Andrew Rosten), sports feature (Brown) and headline writing (Rosten).

Second-place finishes included school board coverage (Brumleve), government beat reporting (Brumleve), news reporting (Brumleve), editorial page (staff), headline writing (Rosten), sports feature (Rosten) and sports news (Rosten).

Third-place finishes included investigative/enterprise reporting (Brumleve), public's right to know (Brumleve), spot news photo (Brumleve) and business/economic reporting (Brumleve).

Honorable mention selections included investigative/enterprise reporting (Brumleve), coverage of taxation (Brumleve), government beat reporting (Brumleve), business/economic reporting (Brumleve), special Section (Rosten), sports column (Rosten) and sports news (Rosten and Ryan Ferguson).

The Mahomet Citizen won 12 awards, including firsts in editorial page (George Dobrik, Fred Kroner) and sports column (Kroner)

Second-place finishes included general excellence (staff), sports section (staff), lifestyle section (staff) and investigative/enterprise reporting (Kroner).

Third-place finishes included feature writing (Kroner), newspaper design (Dobrik, J.J. Lockwood, Dave Burleson), headline writing (Burleson) and special sections (staff).

Honorable mention selections included: personality portrait (Kroner) and school board coverage (Kroner).

Also in the small, nondaily division:

— The Leader was first in special sections (staff) and second in feature writing (Nora Maberry-Daniels).

— The Piatt County Journal-Republican received first place in feature photo (Mike Heiniger) and honorable mention in news reporting (Steve Hoffman).

Competing in the medium-sized nondaily division, the Rantoul Press finished third in sports feature (Zack Carpenter) and honorable mention in sports column and sports section (Carpenter).

Full results from the Illinois Press Association's statewide contest are here; results from the IAPME contest are here.

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