SPRINGFIELD – Sauk Valley Media was cited for a front page that “consistently contained nothing but well-written local stories” by judges who, for the second year in a row, gave the newspaper the General Excellence award as best mid-size daily in the state.
The award was among 18 honors the Telegraph and Daily Gazette received Thursday during the annual awards luncheon of the Illinois Associated Press Media Editors. Those included seven awards for first place.
Judges lauded three newspapers in the General Excellence competition for their emphasis on local news.
“These three newspapers fulfill the most important mission of a community newspaper, which is to focus on the community they are in and put their emphasis on local people and issues,” judges said. “The Telegraph did this a little better than the others.”
It was the third time in the past 5 years that Sauk Valley Media has won the General Excellence award in the statewide competition among newspapers with a circulation of 15,000 to 40,000. Judging for General Excellence is based on an evaluation of the entire newspaper on dates randomly selected by contest organizers.
Other first-place awards (with judges’ comments) were won by:
• Matt Mencarini for investigative reporting, for his examination of spending practices in the Ogle County sheriff’s office. The reporting also won second place in editorial sweepstakes, which judges all first-place winners in the contest. An excellent job of holding the sheriff accountable on questionable expenses. Multi-story installments and breakout boxes detailing the expenses especially gave this one the edge.
• Christopher Heimerman for public service, for his series “The Naturals,” about improving personal nutrition. The most readable and engaging entry in this category, I admire the open dialogue Christopher Heimerman shared with his readers and his willingness to get personal with them. Clearly written and informative, this is a nice collection of first person columns and stories about community residents struggling with the same fitness issues. Informative without getting preachy.
• Angel Sierra for the newspaper’s website, saukvalley.com. Compelling photos, lots of local stories, site updated frequently.
• Jeff Rogers for headline writing, a category in which the newspaper swept the top three awards. Tops in a tough internal competition for Sauk Valley!
• Brian Weidman for sports feature writing, “Long way to the top.” Excellent article about hard work, dedication and the commitment to be the best.
• Alex Paschal for photo illustration, “Wasted.” Nice job! Good use of photo illustration to draw interest to a numbers-heavy, but important, story.
Other winners were:
• David Giuliani and Derek Barichello for breaking news, for their report on the $40 million settlement the city of Dixon received in the wake of the Rita Crundwell scandal.
• Christopher Heimerman and Dan Woessner for sports breaking news, for their coverage of the state basketball tournament.
• Dan Woessner for sports feature, for sports column, and for headline writing.
• Tara Becker and Derek Barichello for enterprise reporting, for their preview of Rita Crundwell’s sentencing.
• David Giuliani for business reporting, for his comparison of jobless rates in Illinois and Iowa.
• Alex Paschal for pictorial photo.
• Christopher Heimerman for headline writing.
• Alex Paschal for photo illustration.
Sauk Valley Media is scheduled to pick up an additional 17 statewide awards today at the annual luncheon of the Illinois Press Association in Springfield.