Once again, the Newton Daily news was rewarded by its peers for exceptional community journalism.
Representatives of Iowa’s more than 300 daily and weekly newspapers gathered last week for the annual Iowa Newspaper Association Convention at the Downtown Marriott Hotel in Des Moines. The two-day event, held Thursday and Friday, concluded with the Iowa Newspaper Foundation’s Better Newspaper Contest.
Entries in this year’s contest were from newspapers published from Oct. 1, 2012, through Sept. 30, 2012. They were submitted for judging by members of the Nebraska Press Association.
The Daily News competes in Daily Class 1, which includes all daily newspapers with a circulation of 9,999 or less. Other Daily Class 1 newspapers include the Ames Tribune, reigning Iowa Newspaper of the Year Carroll Daily Times Herald, the Marshalltown Times-Republican, the Muscatine Journal, the Spencer Daily Reporter and the Webster City Daily Freeman-Journal.
More than 100 Iowa newspapers were recognized for their work in writing, reporting, photography, digital journalism and advertising. In all, 16 Daily Class 1 newspapers received awards in the contest.
The Daily News received nine awards, and a former staff member returned to receive a special award for work he did while on the newspaper’s staff.
Former staff writer Mike Mendenhall received the Harrison “Skip” Weber Award for Investigative Reporting for his reporting on the resignation of former Jasper County Sheriff’s Lt. Eric Nation. The judges reflected on Mendenhall’s “solid reporting” that uncovered details of an employment investigation that otherwise would have been “buried in records.”
“The details were clearly stated and the public’s interest was served by shining light on what made an important law enforcement officer leave the profession,” they said.
Of the other nine awards presented Friday evening, the Daily News won a third-place award for its opinion page. The judges noted there was “a lot to like” about the pages.
The staff won an award for Coverage of Business, taking third place. The judges commented on the staff’s “consistent commitment” to business news, saying “no story is too big or too small” to cover.
The Daily News also won an award for its website, taking second place. The judges noted the multi-platform approach with web, tablet and mobile versions, saying it was “easy to navigate” and contained “lot of informative content.”
Staff writer Matthew Nosco and former staff writer Dave Hon received a third-place award for a “Called to Serve” video they produced about Dave Mast. The judges reflected on the natural appeal of the video, saying it “brought the viewer closer to the story.”
Staff writer Kate Malott received a third-place award for her two-part sports feature about longtime Newton Senior High School football coach John Jenkins. The judges called it a “great tribute to a great man.”
Editor Bob Eschliman received a second-place Excellence in Editorial Writing award for a set of three Daily News editorials we authored on behalf of the Editorial Board. The judges said they were “well thought out,” and said they appreciated the newspaper’s “open letter” to ESPN following the national anthem issue at last year’s Iowa Corn Indy 250.
Former staff writer Dave Hon received a first-place Master Columnist award for a set of three columns he authored while at the Daily News. The judges did not comment on the selection, but his columns beat out those of Douglas Burns of the Carroll Daily Times Herald and Brooks Taylor of the Mount Pleasant News.
Both members of the Daily News sports team received Best Sports Columnist awards. Sports editor Jocelyn Sheets took second place, while sports writer Dustin Turner took third.
The judges said Sheets’ columns were easy to read and informative and it was “just plain fun to follow her.” Of Turner’s columns, they said he selected good subjects and covered a variety of topics.
Two other Jasper County newspapers won awards during the contest in their respective circulation classes.
Sports writer Dustin Turner won a first-place Best Sports Story award on behalf of the Daily News’ sister paper, the Jasper County Tribune. The Tribune was among 31 Weekly Class 2 newspapers to win an award this year.
Another Weekly Class 2 paper in Jasper County, the Hometown Press in Sully, won five awards this year. It received a first-place award for its sports section, a first-place award for an advertisement in the community event promotion category, a second-place award for its feature page, a second-place award for an advertisement in the miscellaneous category and a third-place award for an advertisement in the grocery, food or entertainment category.