April 21, 2006

Four newspapers win top honors in annual contest

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Four Southern Illinois newspapers took top honors in the Southern Illinois Editorial Association 2006 Better Newspaper Contest during an awards luncheon today (April 21) at Giant City Lodge near Makanda.

The News-Gazette in Champaign took the General Excellence award for large daily newspapers while the Journal Gazette of Mattoon won for small dailies. The Pike Press of Pittsfield won for large weekly newspapers while The Independent in Herrin won in the small weeklies division.

General Excellence prizes acknowledge newspapers in four circulation categories for work published on two randomly selected dates. All except the large dailies category compete for awards in six additional areas, including such categories as Best Local News, Best Local Sports Coverage and Advertising Excellence.

The SIEA, headquartered at the offices of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Media & Communication Resources, is more than 100 years old and has about 100 members. Professional journalists from papers in northern Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin judged this year's competition.

The Independent, in addition to its General Excellence nod in the small weekly category, also won three first-place awards in the other categories including Best Use of Photography, Best Editorial Page and Advertising Excellence (tie). The Journal Gazette, small dailies General

Excellence winner, also won three blue ribbons for Newspaper Design, Best Editorial Page and Advertising Excellence.

Newspapers also compete in eight open categories. First-place winners in these include:

• Community Service: Belleville News Democrat, "Identity theft," by George Pawlaczyk.

• Best Education Story: Highland News Leader, "Two sixth-graders save their teacher's life," by Rebekah Hoffman.

• Best Feature Story: The Independent (Herrin), "'Round town round-up," by Geoffrey Ritter.

• Best Editorial: Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale), "Public deserves to know presidential finalists," by James Bennett and Dennis DeRossett.

• Best News Photo: The Jersey County Star (Jerseyville), "Overheated," by James B. Ritter.

• Best Sports Photo: Southern Illinoisan, "Rough Pass," by Ceasar Maragni.

• Best Photo Feature: The Leader Union (Vandalia), "Harvesting Memories," by Rich Bauer.

• Charlie Feirich Original Column Competition: The Courier (Carterville), "The womanly art of war," by Trish Wright.

Serving others is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.