Strongest showing yet for Times
It was the strongest showing ever for the Steele County Times on the national level as the local newspaper captured six national journalistic awards of excellence last week in Tennessee.
The Times received the honors at a breakfast banquet for the National Newspaper Association Saturday morning in Franklin, Tenn. Publisher Rick Bussler accepted the awards on behalf of the local paper.
The newspaper earned a second place award, a trio of third place awards and a pair of honorable mentions in the contest. The Times is one of seven publications in Minnesota, and the only in southern Minnesota, to win awards in the competition.
The second place award came in the community service category for last fall’s month-long in-depth coverage of domestic violence in Steele County. During the campaign, the Times partnered up with Steele County District Courts in sponsoring a Promoting Peace awareness conference aimed at drawing attention to domestic violence in the community.
In making the honor to the Times, judges commented: “Good coverage series of a sensitive and deep problem facing all communities. Well-written and prominent display in newspaper. Raises public awareness and that can lead to action.”
The Times devoted extensive resources last fall to producing several weeks of stories relating to domestic violence.
“It especially humbling for us to receive the community service award because service to the community is the exact essence of why a community newspaper exists,” Bussler said. “This also shows that we’re not afraid to take on tough issues facing our community.”
The Times won three third place awards for best editorial, best feature story and best column, all written by Publisher Bussler. The editorial, which appeared in March 2015, tackled the issue of police body cameras. Judges remarked, “Good argument for body cams and the editorial presents a logical structure in telling its readers why body cams are a good idea.”
Besides winning for an editorial piece, Bussler also was honored for having the best serious column. He wrote a column about suffering an emotional ambush with his son going off to college in September 2015. Judges said, “Wistful piece about dad sending his only son off to college.”
The other third place award came in the best feature category for a story Bussler wrote in February 2015 about an Ellendale girl who lost her arm in a farming accident.
A story about a Hope man who lost his house to a fire and a feature about a man who plays his harmonica earned a pair of honorable mentions. Staff writer Howard Lestrud wrote the harmonica story on Kenny Trom in September 2015.
“These awards reflect the true commitment we have in providing our readers with strong journalism,” Bussler said. “It’s also gratifying to be recognized by your peers for outstanding journalistic excellence,” he added.
With the latest awards, the Times has now won 19 national awards over the past six years. Last year, the paper earned four awards.
In addition to national awards, the paper has also won 27 state awards since 2010.