The Platteville Journal won seven Wisconsin Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest awards at the annual WNA convention in Waukesha Friday.
The Journal received three first-place awards — page design–feature, page design–sports, and for best circulation promotion.
The feature page award submission came from The Journal’s SouthWest section, including a story about photographer Mark Hirsch’s “That Tree” project, a story about the overnight shift of Platteville police, and a story about the replanting of three UW–Platteville memorial trees in memory of three UWP students who died in, or training for, World War I.
“Organized designs were easy to follow and pleasing to the eye,” said the judges from the Missouri Press Association, which judged the Better Newspaper Contest.
Sports page design is by Sports Editor Jason Nihles. The judges praised the “good use of sidebar [the first column of the first sports page] and photos.”
The circulation promotion made donations to Neal Wilkins Early Learning Center’s playground project for renewed Journal subscriptions.
The Journal received two second-place awards. One was in the Open Records/Freedom of Information category for the second consecutive year, for editor Steve Prestegard’s Etc. column about the Grant and Lafayette county boards’ flouting of the state Open Meetings Law.
Judges called the column “well-written and hard-hitting. Closed meetings violate public trust.”
The other third-place award was in overall page design. The submission included three front pages, from the Nov. 7, 2012 and Jan. 23 and March 12, 2013 issues of The Journal. The 2012 issue featured a story about Hurricane Sandy from the perspective of a Platteville resident, along with photos from Halloween. The January issue featured a crash between a vehicle and the Platteville Cleaners building. The March issue featured a photo of a rollover crash, a National Guard soldier being reunited with his daughters, and coverage of a Platteville Common Council race.
The Journal received two third-place awards. One was in editorial pages. The pages included Prestegard’s “Etc.” column, Community Corner columns by Platteville police chief Doug McKinley and UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields, cartoons by freelance cartoonist Joe Heller, and letters to the editor.
Another third-place award was in breaking news, for The Journal’s coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing April 15. “Well written; you could feel the anxiety,” the judges wrote.
The Journal has won 36 WNA awards since Morris Newspapers Corporation of Wisconsin purchased The Journal in 2003. Sports Editor Jason Nihles has won eight awards, including three first-place awards. The Journal’s advertising staff, account representative Ann Rupp and ad designer Carol Tyson, has won seven awards.
The Journal competes in the Better Newspaper Contest among weekly newspapers of 4,000 or more circulation, the contest’s largest weekly category.
Prestegard and Tyson were part of another award, won by the Grant County Herald Independent for the 2013 She section, which also was in The Journal. Also contributing to the section were Tallitha Harris of the Darlington Republican Journal, Dena Harris of the Tri-County Press in Cuba City, and David Timmerman, Jane Lewis and Jessica Brownell of the Herald Independent.
The Herald Independent won four first-place and two other second-place awards. The Crawford County Independent and Kickapoo Scout in Gays Mills won two first-place awards, three second-place awards and two third-place awards. The Richland Observer in Richland Center won one first-place award, for breaking news. The Fennimore Times won one second-place award, for Spot News Photo.
• The UW–Platteville Exponent received a first-place award in its category (once-per-week or less publication) for General Reporting.
• John Ingebritsen, publisher of The Journal and other Southwest Wisconsin Morris newspapers, was elected secretary of the WNA Board of Directors at the convention.