DCI earns 4 national awards
For the first time, the Dodge County Independent has captured four national awards for journalistic excellence.
The newspaper picked up the top honors last week at the National Newspaper Association’s annual convention in Tulsa, Okla. The DCI was one of six publications in Minnesota to win awards in the competition.
Publisher Rick Bussler captured a first-place award in best feature-writing for a piece he wrote on the Plein family of Kasson and their donut stand at the Dodge County Fair in July 2016.
In making the first place honor, judges commented about the story: “Any story about donuts has my vote! This was fun and almost engaging through the words of the journalist. The direct quotations made this story! I especially loved: ‘There’s no calories in them on Fridays.’ That is classic! Great job. The photos added to the story, so much that it made me hungry for some of the mini-donuts.’”
The DCI also won a first-place award for best serious column.
The newspaper picked up a second-place award for best overall local news coverage throughout the newspaper.
Judges commented about the DCI’s local news: “Good, newsy coverage and definitely use of photography. Strong police blotter.”
The other second-place honor came in the Freedom of Information category for the ongoing coverage of the controversy surrounding Kasson’s mayor with the park shelter throughout 2016.
Judges commented, “Way to go to take on the mayor for acting on his own and outside the law, or at least the spirit of the law. Good to stand behind your reporter, too.”
Bussler’s other newspaper, the Steele County Times in Blooming Prairie, won three awards in the contest, one of which also involved the DCI.
The Times received a third-place award for community service of a drunk driving series that ran in both newspapers throughout 2016.
Both the Times and DCI devoted extensive resources to producing several stories relating to the overall impact of drunk driving.
Of the drunk-driving series, judges commented: “It’s disheartening that we still have to focus on this issue, but since we do, the approach you used is impressive because it shows that even decades later a drunk driver’s actions still affect the world. It also highlights the effect drunk driving has from the family to law enforcement, plus the costs emotionally and economically on the community.”
While this is the first time the DCI has won national awards, the Times has picked up 22 national awards since 2011 under Bussler’s leadership.
“We are committed to providing our readers with strong journalism,” he said. “Some think it can’t happen with small town newspapers, but I’m here to show people differently.”
There were 1,433 entries in the Better Newspaper Editorial Contest. In the competition, 117 newspapers in 33 states won a total of 475 awards.
Established in 1885, the NNA is the voice of America’s community newspapers and is one of the largest newspaper associations in the country.