April 22, 2005

Southern Illinois Editorial Association annual contest General Excellence awards go to 4 newspapers

by Paula Davenport

Four newspapers won prestigious General Excellence awards in the Southern Illinois Editorial Association's (SIEA) 2005 Better Newspaper Contest today (April 22). About 100 member newspapers belong to the more than 100-year-old SIEA.

The State Journal-Register of Springfield and The Register-News of Mount Vernon took top honors in best large and small daily divisions, respectively. The Woodford County Journal of Eureka won best large weekly. The Courier of Carterville 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 Carterville Courier 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, (Tie) The Leader Union of Vandalia, "Vandalia Correctional Center," Mike Fitzgerald and Kate Thaman; and The Daily Republican-Register of Mount Carmel for "Power Plant Pollution," by Phil Gower and Laura Easter.

  • Best Education Story, The O'Fallon Progress, "Syllabus for Success," Mark Raeber.
  • Best Editorial, (Tie) Mattoon Journal Gazette, "Assigning blame only continues suicide tragedy," Journal Gazette/Times-Courier Editorial Board; and (Albion) The Navigator & Journal-Register, "‘State using a Howitzer to wipe out a water bug," Patrick Seil.
  • Best Feature Story, (Tie) (Mount Vernon) The Register-News, "1954's best team," Walter Grable; and (Mattoon) Journal Gazette, "Entering the Rita Zone," Bonnie Clark
  • Best News Photo, John Badman, (Alton) The Telegraph, "Firefighter dives in."
  • Best Sports Photo, Steve Jahnke, (Carbondale) The Southern Illinoisan, "Tie for title."
  • Best Photo Feature, Max Bittle, (Carterville) The Courier, "Smelling the roses."
  • Charlie Feirich Original Column Competition, (Hillsboro) The Journal News, "When a village hurts," Nancy Slepicka.