Evidence of solid journalism for readers
Despite the obstacles we have faced with the challenges of running a small newspaper, there has been a bit of sunshine at the end of the storm for us. This past weekend our newspaper was recognized with a pair of national journalism awards.
One of the hurdles we have faced over the past couple years was a botched bookkeeping system switchover that resulted in the installer dying mid-way through the installation, creating a bookkeeping nightmare for us. Legal action commenced with the situation and still is not resolved. That event, along with some other things, caused great heartache and strain for our newspaper.
But though the trials and tribulations, we have remained strong in providing solid journalism for our readers. That’s why this year’s national awards come with even greater pride and joy for us. Outside forces tried to pull us down, but we didn’t allow them to snuff out our appetite for journalistic excellence.
The DCI captured two national awards for best photo essay and best breaking news coverage.
In February 2017, I had the privilege of covering a tribute to honor fallen Hayfield police chief Doug Claassen. While I never knew Claassen, I have been honored to get to know some of his family members. One of them is Kathy Claassen, Doug’s widow. She endured years of taking care of a husband with a life altering spinal cord injury. I recently ran into some family members who told me since the tribute was published in a Land of Dodge feature, Kathy has forever treasured the piece from our newspaper. She was even more thrilled to find out it had won a national award.
Another first place award was given out to our sister publication, the Steele County Times of Blooming Prairie. Though it was given to the Times, it could just as well have the DCI’s name on it because the special section featured as part of the award was also published in the DCI. The section published in August 2017 featured multiple stories about DWI victims, offenders, law enforcement personnel committed to DWI enforcement and other efforts to curb the age-old dilemma of motorists jumping behind the wheel after having one too many. This section culminated a year-long project in which we tackled the DWI problem.
Awards are certainly only a small measure of success, but they are certainly gratifying to receive from your peers in the business. Active community newspaper editors and publishers, as well as retired university journalism professors and retired or former newspaper professionals judge the contest each year.
From the time I took over the paper three years ago, I made the commitment that I would produce a quality newspaper that’s journalistically sound. During those years, we have achieved awards either on the state or national levels in nearly every possible major category. I hope readers take pride in the product we are producing each and every week. We may not always get everything right, but we are committed to doing the best possible job.
Awards or no awards, we remain committed to our readers. We will never lose the zest and zeal to go in hot pursuit of fulfilling that commitment.