Led by in depth coverage of a tragic extended living facility fire, the historic Berrien County floods of last spring, strong design elements and stellar photography from Don Campbell, The Herald-Palladium newspaper has won the honor of being Daily Newspaper of the Year in its circulation category for 2018 in statewide competition through the Michigan Press Association.
That was just one of the 17 trophies the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor daily brought home from ceremonies in Grand Rapids last night. The Niles Daily Star newspaper also grabbed seven awards including a 1,2,3 sweep in the Best Page or Pages Design category for Ambrosia Neldon, Kelsey Hammon and Emily Sobecki.
The 2018 Michigan Press Association Better Newspaper Contest was wrapped up with the award ceremonies at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel Thursday night. In the weekly category, the Edwardsburg Argus garnered a 1st place trophy in the category of Government/Education coverage.
Herald Palladium Publisher David Holgate's team won recognition on multiple fronts in the competition which was judged by members of the New York Press Association from more than 3,000 entries submitted by 99 newspapers and journalists in the Great Lakes State. The H-P falls in Class C, publications with circulation in the range from 5,001 to 11,000. The Detroit Free Press and Ann Arbor News took Newspaper of the Year honors in their circulation range categories of Class A and B, respectively, while the Greenville Daily News won for Class D.
It was the Spot News Story coverage category that grabbed the attention of the New York judges, they gave 1st Place honors in that category to the work of Louise Wrege, Jim Dalgleish and Tony Wittkowski in the wake of the Cosmo Hotel fire and its aftermath. Judges said, "Wow! What a fantastic job by everyone involved."
Wittkowski garnered a 3rd Place trophy in the Spot News Story category for his work, "Flooded in Berrien/At the Mercy of Nature." Judges called the coverage of the historic St. Joe River flooding last spring, "Great work."
In their circulation category, the Niles Daily Star also took 1st Place for Spot News Story for their flood coverage by multiple staff members at the newspaper, with judges commenting, "Amazing job explaining the issues at hand. It's clear a lot of work went into getting all the information."
The Herald-Palladium's top notch photographer Don Campbell earned 1st Place honors for Photo Story for his series of photos called "Summer: A Second Look," as judges said, "Awesome photos...tells the story of a fun summer." He also picked up a 2nd Place trophy in the Sports Photo category for a photo called "Uplifting Play," as the judges told him, "You captured the play at its peak of impact."
Other awards picked up by the local papers included:
- 3rd Place for Best Editorial by Dale Brewer on Auto Insurance Reform Proposal, with judges saying, "Well researched, well argued, well presented. Lots of data, but it never overwhelms. The point is made throughout in a nicely done editorial."
- 2nd Place for Best Newspaper Design by the H-P Staff
- 3rd Place for Business/Agriculture News for "Chain Reactions" by Tony Wittkowski, about the lack of major chain restaurants in the community, with judges saying, "Interesting phenomenon that can only be told by a small town newspaper. Great take, good study."
- 2nd Place for Feature Story, "A Healthy Dose of Harmony" by Jeremy Bonfiglio, a story about the Lakeland Health Choir, as judges said, "I loved the story-telling in this article. Great use of quotes. I love that you used research to back the claims of the organization. It really brought credibility to the cause and promotes a call to action - volunteering! The article stood out because of that."
- 3rd Place for Feature Story by Sarah Culton of the Niles Daily Star, "A Good Listener."
- 1st Place for Government/Education News for "Help Wanted," by Julie Swidwa, regarding the lack of skilled workers in the region, with judges saying, "Well done. Covers all the bases, well-organized and explained with concrete examples of the issues and what various departments are doing about it."
- 3rd Place for Government/Education News for "Chartering Troubled Waters," by Louise Wrege, about Benton Harbor's Dream Academy, with judges saying, "A nicely done package with a solid example in Mildred C. Wells School. It left me with the question, can anyone in Michigan just start a private school? Any requirements?"
- Honorable Mention for Government/Education News for "A Dreamer's Nightmare," by Tony Wittkowski, about the immigration battle and DACA children. Judges said, "I am sure it was a challenge to find an undocumented immigrant who would talk about his or her experience but a benefit to readers to hear this perspective."
- 3rd Place for News Enterprise Reporting for "Preparing for the Worst," by Sarah Culton & Kelsey Hammon at the Niles Daily Star, about school safety issues. Judges said, "Excellent all around -- from the writing, compelling package, side bars, graphics, headline, interviews...won't forget this story for a long, long time."
- 3rd Place for Special Section for "Senior PGA Championship" by the H-P Staff. The judges said, "This is the kind of piece that can be too formulaic to be very interesting, but this group overcame that challenge completely. Very good profiles, and lots of useful information for the day of the event. Well organized and designed. A keeper for anyone who is involved in this championship, surely, with all the reference material, yet still has much of general interest."
- 3rd Place for Special Section for "Horizons 2018," a community yearbook, by Niles Daily Star Staff. Judges said, "Nice layout and photography. Great profiles and informative articles."
- 3rd Place for Sports Feature, "Still the Best Ever," by Ben Sanders
- Honorable Mention for Sports Feature, "The Hole Story," an oral history of Jack Nicklaus' famous 100-foot putt at Harbor Shores, by Tony Wittkowski.
- 1st Place for Sports Writing for "A Shot of History," the story of Carlos Johnson's game-winning 3-pt shot for the state basketball championship of the BH Tigers, by Ben Sanders. Judges said, "Story perfectly captured the gravity of the moment and succinctly tells the story of the game in an attention-grabbing manner."
David Green, Chairman of the Better Newspaper Contest by the Michigan Press Association says the contest resulted in nearly a hundred more entries than the previous year.