Recognition for quality community journalism
As a 15 year old, I remember being humbled in receiving a couple of state awards for photos I took for my hometown newspaper where I worked throughout high school, and being in awe of the professional journalists who captured many of the big awards. They seemed like giants in the newspaper industry.
Last week marked 35 years since I won my first awards at the Minnesota Newspaper Association. Not much has changed over that time. I’m still humbled by winning awards and still have great admiration for all the top-notch journalists who produce amazing stories and photos throughout the year.
The only difference is now, I guess, I’m leading a couple of those state award-winning newspapers.
The Independent captured five awards of journalistic excellence for photos, the overall newspaper and a special section. In addition, our sister publication over in Blooming Prairie earned another five awards.
I realize winning awards isn’t everything, but boy, I’ll be the first to admit it sure is nice to be recognized for your hard work.
I don’t think many people have any clue what’s involved in putting together a newspaper each week. There are so many different moving parts to it that it’s nearly impossible to describe.
I guess the best I could in describing how a newspaper falls together is that it’s like a 5,000 or more piece jigsaw puzzle. What’s funny is that I’m not real fond of puzzles to begin with, unless they’re easy and fall together quickly. I often don’t have the patience for puzzles.
But when it comes to putting together a newspaper, I’m right there in the trenches pulling it all together. From the planning to going out and covering events and interviewing newsmakers to writing and piecing it all together on pages.
All the while you have to remember to be ethical in what you do, fair and balanced in your reporting, shoot great photos, creative in your design and find ways to make it all interesting for readers. And if you’re the owner, you also get the luxury of running the business, paying the bills and coordinating everything.
After I purchased the DCI in 2015, I made a commitment to producing a quality newspaper that would stand out in many ways. I’ve been able to accomplish this thanks to great mentoring I received as a teenager working at my first newspaper from Chuck Warner, who was a true community newspaper publisher. In 1989, he won the Al McIntosh Distinguished Service to Journalism Award.
I’ll never forget when Warner’s newspaper, the Brownton Bulletin, won the Mills Trophy, the top award given to weekly newspapers, in 1984. I was thrilled to have been a part of winning that honor. It definitely has inspired me during my career to provide strong journalism to readers.
Warner, by the way, missed his first newspaper convention in 62 years last week, and, of course, that means it was the first one I attended where he hasn’t been there. It just wasn’t the same without my mentor keeping me on task.
While I know we’re far from perfect, I hope you realize that we are truly on the right road to providing a quality newspaper that features strong photography, stories, advertising, graphic design and layout and special sections. We have incredible pride in the work we do in providing Dodge County and the surrounding area with a newspaper that readers can be proud of week after week.
It’s time for me to go in hot pursuit of chasing down yet another edition packed with strong community news.