Performing at a high level—again
As I accepted seven journalistic awards of excellence on behalf of this newspaper last week during the Minnesota Newspaper Convention in the Twin Cities, I couldn’t help but get excited for our readers.
When I took over this newspaper nearly four years ago, my goal was to provide one of the best small town publications in the state. While we still have lots of work ahead of us to achieve that status, we are building upon it little by little. And our peers in the newspaper industry are taking notice.
Since 2017, the first year we entered in the contest, we have captured 15 state awards, including several first place honors. I feel this brings me just a little closer to delivering on my promise, which has nothing but the readers in mind. Our readers deserve a quality product that they can count on for local community news and sports.
I’ve often described putting together a newspaper as working on one big jigsaw puzzle. There are many moving parts to figuring out what goes where. Sometimes it’s a big challenge to get all the pieces to fit together in a way that makes the most sense and engaging for readers.
Producing a quality newspaper means many things. It means covering good stories that are going to develop a high interest with our readers. It means taking quality photographs that show passion and emotion. It means selling quality advertisements to businesses and organizations in an effort to make the paper even possible. It means coming up with a catchy enough headline to capture the interest of the readers to even want to read the story. It means writing columns, opinions and editorials relevant to local issues. It means writing solid stories that tell readers what’s happening in their communities. It means developing solid layout and design that will want to make people pick up the paper to read. And perhaps most importantly it means producing a newspaper that readers take pride in picking up every week.
The newspaper contest that we enter every year pulls all of those things together and allows us to get a good reading on how we’re doing in a multitude of categories. And if last week’s contest was any indication, we seem to be doing a pretty darn good job.
Of the seven awards we received, they came in a cross section of categories. We won some for photography, one for story writing, one for headline writing, one for advertising and yet another one for our website.
Our sister newspaper, the Steele County Times, which we competed against in the same category, also picked up some awards for writing, photography, editorial page, general reporting, typography and design and website.
Even though it can be a little frustrating to compete against one of your own, I feel it truly shows a healthy balance of what we’re doing between both of our newspapers. We do it in a way that benefits the readers.
I want to thank our readers for their tremendous support over the years. There certainly have been times when perhaps we haven’t gotten something 100 percent right, but when we fall short, it gives us even more desire to do better the next time.
It’s inspiring to see our readers engage themselves in the newspaper whether it’s calling us with a tip, sending us a heads up on something going on, writing a letter to the editor or just simply stopping us on the streets to express their opinion about how we’re doing—good or bad. We always appreciate feedback. It’s what fuels our passion and motivation to keep providing you with a quality newspaper each and every week.
It’s time to get down to business and go in hot pursuit of planning yet another weekly edition to satisfy the hunger of our readers for hometown community news.