April 23, 2004

Four newspapers win General Excellence awards

by Paula M. Davenport

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Four newspapers won prestigious General Excellence awards in the Southern Illinois Editorial Association's (SIEA) 2004 Better Newspaper Contest today (April 23). About 100 member newspapers belong to the more than 100-year-old SIEA.

The Belleville News-Democrat and the Mattoon Journal Gazette took top honors in best large and small daily divisions, respectively. The Courier of Carterville, now in its second year, won best large weekly. The (West Salem) Edwards County Times Advocate took best small weekly.

General Excellence prizes recognize newspapers in four circulation divisions for work published on two randomly selected dates. All but large dailies compete for awards in six additional categories -- from best local news to advertising excellence. Large dailies vie only for General Excellence citations.

Honors came at the SIEA's spring meeting at Giant City State Park Lodge near Makanda.

In addition to its award for overall excellence, the Mattoon Journal Gazette snared five blue ribbons -- more than any other publication. It took firsts in local news, newspaper design, best use of photography, best editorial page and best local sports coverage.

Newspapers also compete in eight open categories. First-place finishers in the open categories:

  • Best Community Service, The Belleville News-Democrat, "Going for broke," Mike Fitzgerald.

  • Best Education Story, (Tie) (Mattoon) Journal Gazette, "Singing their praises," Nathaniel West and (Carbondale) The Southern Illinoisan, "No child left behind," Caleb Hale.

  • Best Editorial, Gillespie Area News, "It takes two to have dialogue," Dave Ambrose.

  • Best Feature Story, (Tie) (Carbondale) The Southern Illinoisan, "Package of hope," Jim Muir and (Robinson) Daily News, "Luck and love," Randy Harrison.

  • Best News Photo, Steve Nagy, Belleville News-Democrat, "Granite City fire."

  • Best Sports Photo, Max Bittle, (Carterville) The Courier, "You're out."

  • Best Photo Feature, Brian Baca, Belleville News-Democrat, "A push for Jacob."

  • Charlie Feirich Original Column Competition, (Tie) Sullivan News-Progress, "History will judge us," Dan Hagen and Centralia Morning Sentinel, "Dumping incumbents would send message to CHS board," Ted Saylor.