2018 Contest Winners

Congratulations to winners & finalists of Inland's Newsroom, News Photo & Print Quality contests! Complete results here.


Inland Press Association announced the winners and runners up of its annual Newsroom Contests and News Photo Contest at the awards breakfast during the 133rd Annual Meeting in Chicago Tuesday, September 11.

Each of the contests was co-sponsored and judged by a university school of journalism.

Here are the results of the 2018 contests:

Community Leadership Award

Sponsored and judged by the Missouri School of Journalism at Missouri University
The Inland Press Association Community Leadership Award was created to encourage newspapers to use their resources of news coverage, editorial support and staff involvement to make their communities better places in which to live and work.
This year all circulation categories were combined during judging.

1st: Victoria (Texas) Advocate
“Understanding Harvey”- Victoria Advocate staff
Judge’s comment: When Hurricane Harvey came to Victoria, Texas, there was an emergency plan in place. But the plan was kept secret from the public by elected officials. The Advocate staff thoroughly covered the massive impact of the storm, starting with the collapse of the water system. And then, the staff pursued independent watchdog stories that showed the unpreparedness of the Red Cross and exposed those who claimed to be doing good but were taking advantage. Powerful editorials helped the Advocate lead community conversation about the response. Mounting pressure led finally to the release of the over 900-page emergency plan, which is now being updated and improved. The Advocate staff did what journalists do best. They thoroughly covered the disaster. They exposed wrongdoing. They provided community leadership. They opened records. They helped Victoria become a better place to live.

2nd: Tulsa World Violence Forum
Judge’s comment: We often hear that crime is out of control in many cities in America. The uptick in Tulsa was frightening in key areas—murders, rapes and assaults. The Tulsa World covered the story relentlessly. But editors took an additional step. They organized a community forum on the subject, attracting over 300 citizens. The resulting conversation spurred other gatherings on the topic, and crime has started to decline. Admittedly, the Tulsa World’s Violence Forum did not solve crime, but it was a catalyst for positive change. We expect elected leaders to lead. But there’s a reason why a free press is critical to a democracy: Someone must start the conversation, and oftentimes newsrooms are the beacons in the darkness.

3rd: Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois
“The Last Kiss”
Judge’s comment: The lead story in this series is about one couple’s conversation. It is likely a conversation that’s held at many kitchen tables each day in America. It is about delaying a special moment in life—a trip, a visit to a friend, time together—until another time. And then that spouse dies and “someday” never happens. “The Last Kiss” looks at the inevitable loss of a spouse through the eyes of those who’ve experienced this tragedy. The series demonstrated—whatever our divisions—that we are all human. The pieces promoted conversations and coping, and it encouraged a new mindfulness that was seen as the series continued. The job of a journalist goes beyond murder and mayhem and crisis. This project showed community leadership in an uncommon and important way.

Digital Journalism

Sponsored and judged by Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University

General Excellence A (Under 50,000 Circulation)

1st: The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, New York (dailygazette.com)
Judge’s comment: The paper did an excellent job covering breaking news with a mix of on the ground reporting, stark photographs and mix of social media. The clean design and layout makes it easy to read. 
2nd: Farm and Dairy, Salem, Ohio (farmanddairy.com) :

General Excellence B (Over 50,000 Circulation)

1st: Tulsa World (tulsaworld.com)
Judge’s comment: This paper is a great example of how local news can serve a community. One of the top items of the home page guided readers to help them on Election Day. The package polled City Council members about where they stood on certain issues. Tulsa World focused mainly on local news but did have a mix of national issues.
2nd: LNP Media Group (lancasteronline)

Creative Use of Multimedia (All Circulation Sizes)

Winner: Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington
“A Year in the Fields”
Judge’s comment: Deliberate, detailed and relevant, The Spokesman's digital story on the challenges and accomplishments on the farms of Washington State offers a comprehensive explanation of an industry changing within its own landscape

Best Online Innovation (All Circulation Sizes)

Winner: The News-Gazette, Champaign, Illinois (news-gazette.com)
“UI at 150”
Judge’s comment: Innovative, interesting and inspired this creative multimedia project was also engaging, enlightening and fascinating. The depth in multimedia was unmatched in the category with more than 100 videos of first-person accounts and more than 1500 memories from distinguished representatives. The illustrations of famous and favorite spots added fun and dimension to an already comprehensive story. The robust and detailed reporting and data gathering in partnership with a print companions could be a model for future special projects. 

Front Page

Sponsored and judged by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University

Circulation up to 49,999

1st.The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Judge’s Comments: The layout of the four front pages is clean, making it easy to read. The paper is consistent in using headlines and decks in a font that’s also easy to read. The stories are predominantly local, with the paper clearly keeping a close on what happens in Indianapolis, the state’s capital.

2nd: Santa Fe New Mexican

3rd: The News-Gazette, Champaign, Illinois

Circulation of 50,000 or more

1st: LNP: Always Lancaster Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Judge’s comment: The four front pages have clean designs, making stories easy and desirable to read, and the paper makes a good use of color whether in the banner or telling readers the deadline for voter registration.

2nd: Tulsa World

News Photo Contest

Sponsored and judged by The Media School at Indiana University

Class A Photography: Portrait

1st: Dan Markschka, “Teen Suicide,” LPN
Judges’ comment: The environmental portrait ties the grief and loneliness on Rachael Benson’s face with the room where her daughter shot herself. The caption notes that the mark on the wall is actually a pockmark from a bullet she fired. This is good reporting about the lingering pain a mother has over her daughter’s suicide.

2nd: John Starks, “Mustangs Rescuer,” Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois
3rd: John Starks, “Needle Exchange,” Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois

 Class A Photography: Feature

1st: Cindy Skop, “Special Olympics,” The Villages (Florida) Daily Sun
Judges’ comment: Special Olympics equestrian rider Becky Richter gets a kiss from her horse Tex after a gold medal-winning ride during the state championship. Better than a ribbon presentation, the photo tells a story of love between a horse and its rider.

2nd: Dave Kettering, “Morning Fog,” Telegraph Herald, Dubuque, Iowa

3rd: Kelly Lafferty Gerber, “Homestead Heritage,” Kokomo (Indiana) Tribune

Class A Photography: News

1st: Amy J. Correnti, “Clayton Funeral,” The Villages (Florida) Daily Sun
Judges’ comment: This sensitive photo of police officers in Orlando uses complex layering and shadow to evoke feelings of respect, sadness and tribute. The complex composition represents the complex range of emotions during a year when eight officers were killed in the line of duty.

2nd: Erin Williams, “Bridge’s Funeral,” The Villages (Florida) Daily Sun

3rd: Butch Comegys, “A Tragic End to a Young Life,” The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pennsylvania

 Class A Photography: Sports

1st: Jacob Byk, “Muddy Mess,” Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Cheyenne
Judges’ comment: Josh Clark of Warner, Okla. brings down his steer in the Cheyenne Frontier Days’ steer wrestling event. The mud-filled action is stopped cleanly to reveal the dramatic action and expression on both human and animal faces.

2nd: John Starks, “Not This Time,” Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois

3rd: Kelly Lafferty Gerber, “Happy Tigers,” Kokomo (Indiana) Tribune
Class A Photography: Picture Story

1st: Chris Howell, “A Cross Between Love and Science,” The Herald-Times, Bloomington, Indiana
Judges’ comment: The photographer devoted multiple visits to several locations over months of reporting to report this intimate story about a young couple being helped to give birth to two babies by staff at Community Hospital in Indianapolis. The personal access provided to the photographer allowed him to sensitively describe the couple's struggle with infertility and the joy of making a family.

2nd: Gabriela Campos, “A Dream Quinceaeñera,” Santa Fe New Mexican

3rd: Max Gersh, “Memorial Day,” The Villages (Florida) Daily Sun
Class B Picture Use: Feature

1st: “Duty and Dignity,” The Villages (Florida) Daily Sun
Judges’ comment: A clever layout and strong dominant image presents the monotony of the twice-hourly routine as well as the unwavering respect for those represented by the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington.

2nd: “Healthy Kids Day,” Buffalo (Wyoming) Bulletin

3rd: “Earth Day, Every Day,” The Villages (Florida) Daily Sun

 Class B Picture Use: News

1st: “Anguish.,” Index-Journal, Greenwood, South Carolina
Greenwood, South Carolina 
Judge’s comments: Small portraits and a large overall image of a funeral taking from an unusual angle make for a powerful page about the anguish experienced in the wake of a series of shootings in South Carolina.

2nd: “Airman Meets Daughter,’” The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana

3rd: “Rescue,” LNP and LancasterOnline, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Class B Picture Use: Sports

1st: “The Komets Players Celebrate,” The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Judge’s comments: The photographer’s 
attention to dental detail and 
celebration allowed editors to create 
an attractive page featuring Fort Wayne’s hockey team. 

Class B Multiple Pages

1st: “A Cross Between Love and Science,” The Herald-Times, Bloomington, Indiana
Judges’ comment: Editors provided appropriately strong play to an intimate photo essay and textual account of a young couple’s struggle with infertility. The story was displayed over four nearly full pages in a design that emphasized the powerful photography.

2nd: “Memorial Day,” The Villages (Florida) Daily Sun

3rd: “This is Opioid Addiction,” The Herald-Times, Bloomington, Indiana

Editorial Excellence

Sponsored and judged by the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications, University of Kansas

Under 10,000 Circulation

1st: Brian Martin, Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Cheyenne
Judge’s comment: The Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s editorials provided concrete research — whether through quotes, financials or context — to support bold and unrelenting arguments about statewide or local issues.

2nd: Douglas Burns, Carroll (Iowa) Daily Times Herald

3rd: Dena Sattler, The Garden City (Kansas) Telegram

10,000 to 49,999 Circulation

1st: Corey Friedman, The Wilson (North Carolina) Times
Judge’s comment: The Wilson Times stood out here for unearthing conflicts seldom (perhaps never?) covered elsewhere — while also leading the community towards solutions.

2nd: Santa Fe New Mexican

3rd: Mark Mahoney, The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, New York

50,000 Circulation and Above

1st: Wayne Greene and Ginnie Graham, Tulsa World
Judge’s comment: The Tulsa World’s editorials showed fluency with federal, state and local political issues by knowing the specifics of the issue and not relying on conventional wisdom.

2nd: LNP, Lancaster, Pennslyvania

3rd: Diane Dungey, Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois

Local News Writing Awards

Sponsored and judged by the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky

Explanatory Reporting

Less than 10,000 Circulation

1st. Beloit (Wisconsin) Daily News
“Classrooms at a Crossroads”
Hillary Gavan, Senior staff writer

2nd: Index-Journal, Greenwood, South Carolina
“Oakland to Parkland”
Adam Benson

3rd: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Cheyenne
“Wyoming Boot Camp: A path to success or a pipeline to prison?”
Sarah Zoellick

10,000 to 49,999 Circulation

1st: Farm and Dairy
“Addiction: A Rural Reality”
Chris Kick and staff

2nd: The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pennslyvania
“Outlook 2018: Change in store”
Joe Healey, Outlook editor

3rd: The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana
“Special Education”
Ashley Sloboda and staff

50,000 Circulation and Above

1st: The Villages (Florida) Daily Sun
“Brothers' Keepers”
Leah Schwarting, Daily Sun senior writer, and staff

2nd: LNP and LancasterOnline
“Suicide and Social Media: Teens Bullied into Killing Themselves”
Alex Geli and Susan Baldrige

3rd: Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois
“Perilous Paths”
Marni Pyke and staff

Investigative Reporting

Under 10,000 Circulation
1st: Southeast Missourian, Cape Girardeau, Missouri
“Life Without”
Bob Miller

2nd: Southeast Missourian, Cape Girardeau, Missouri
“Pursuit of Proof: The Mischelle Lawless Murder”
Mark Bliss and Bob Miller

3rd: Index-Journal, Greenwood, South Carolina
“'This chapter is closed'”
Damian Dominguez

10,000 to 49,999 Circulation

1st: The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pennslyvania
“Sign here”
Terrie Morgan-Besecker

2nd: Victoria (Texas) Advocate
“Left out to dry”
Marina Starleaf Riker

3rd: Telegraph Herald, Dubuque, Iowa
“East Dubuque investigation”
John Kruse and Ben Jacobson

50,000 Circulation and Above

1st: Omaha World-Herald
“In-Flight Emergency series”
Steve Liewer

2nd : Tulsa World
“High-speed pursuits”
Corey Jones

3rd: Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois
“On Your Dime”
Jake Griffin

Personality/ Individual Profile Stories

Under 10,000 Circulation

1st: Stillwater (Oklahoma) News Press
“The Biggest Birthday Party Ever:
Myda Lewis Celebrates 107 years with a parade”
David Bitton and Michelle Charles

2nd: Index-Journal, Greenwood, South Carolina
“17 basketballs”
Greg K. Deal

3rd: Herald-Banner, Greenville, Texas
“The Worthiest Citizen of all”
Kristal Kuykendall

10,000 to 49,999 Circulation

1st: The Daily Gazette, Schenectady, New York
“A masochist's dream vacation on the Appalachian Trail”
Cady Kuzmich

2nd: Santa Fe New Mexican
“Meet 'Officer Smiley'”
Daniel J. Chacón

3rd: Northwest Herald, Crystal Lake, Illinois
“Braun, dog owner”
Ed Komenda

50,000 Circulation and Above

1st: Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois
“Who Killed Tim McNamee?”
Burt Constable

2nd: Tulsa World
“Family first for Mayfield”
Eric Bailey

3rd: Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Illinois
“Last Kiss - Patty and Corey”
John Lampinen