Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Staff from the Steele County Times and Dodge County Independent attended the 2016 Minnesota Newspaper Association Convention. Pictured above from left to right are a MNA representative, Rick Bussler, Laura Berndt, Ann Anderson, Karen Jorgensen, Shannon Granholm and Alan Van Ormer at the convention. Submitted photo.

More hardware for local paper

For the fifth year in a row, the Steele County Times came away a big winner after capturing several journalistic awards of excellence from the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA). 

The Times earned eight awards at the MNA Banquet Thursday night in Bloomington. Of those honors, the local newspaper captured one first place, five second place and a pair of third place awards. 

Publisher Rick Bussler garnered the paper’s only first place award in investigative reporting. Bussler wrote an in-depth story, “A Harrowing Ordeal,” featuring a Medford man who was badly burned from a heated car seat. The judges commented, “This was an interesting, well written piece about a problem. It brought to light a real concern that could have been easily overlooked in a daily story. Good story.”

The newspaper won second place in advertising excellence. In presenting the award, judges remarked: “This publication receives my second place vote is because they are experimenting with full page special section themed layouts. One was a garage sale page with the map. Great idea! Continue to work with it and make it even better next year! Another similar full page layout I enjoyed was the home improvement section. Great idea with home layout numbering and referencing to each specific advertiser. Big graphics, full page layouts really make it interesting for the reader.”

Another second place honor came in the special section category for the paper’s Steele County Fair tab. The judges said, “This county fair guide is a cut above the usual. Its size is imposing, but the airy layout and use of white space is easy on the eye. Excellent use of photographs. Good value for advertisers; advertising well-related to content. Stories well written and to-the-point. Well designed, providing useful content.”

The Times’ on-going coverage of the Dodge County feedlot controversy earned a second place award for government/public affairs reporting. Judges said, “The newspaper did a very thorough job of following the feedlot issue locally and expressing information locals needed to know. I liked the use of a feedlot logo to tie the stories together.”

Bussler received a second place honor for human interest story featuring Lowell Trom, a Blooming Prairie farmer who is 86 years old and still farms. The judges wrote, “Gives a good look at the subject’s thoughts and passions about his career. Quotes from others help tell the man’s story, too. That’s a must for feature writing. Design and art package made the story appealing, as well. Very readable.”

The final second place award was given to former county sports editor James Knoop  for a sports story he wrote. Judges commented, “Great insight into this family’s motivation for running—something I’ve personally never been able to understand. Well done.”

Headline writing captured the Times a third place award. The judges remarked, “You did a good job using fewer words to make for bigger, better headlines. These give an idea of what’s coming but just enough to take a reader to the next level—reading the story! Nice job.”

Bussler won a third place award in the social issues story category for a story he wrote about Brad Trom’s connection to Brokeback Mountain. The judges said, “The story behind ‘Brokeback Mountain’ was very interesting.”

“We’re excited to continue our award-winning tradition,” said Bussler, noting the Times has won 27 state awards and 13 national honors since 2011. “I want our readers to know that we are committed to delivering journalistic excellence,” he added. 

The Times competes with other weeklies in the circulation category of 1,501-2,500. There were more than 4,300 entries in this year’s contest, which recognizes outstanding work by both weeklies and dailies throughout the state. 

The former News Enterprise of West Concord won five awards in the contest. The paper was a sister publication of the Times before it merged with the Dodge County Independent, which Bussler also owns, last fall. Awards given to the News Enterprise included recognition for the website, which is shared with the Times. 

Journalists from Wisconsin newspapers judged the Minnesota contest this year. 

Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent / ADvantage
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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