Newspaper named second best in state

Newspaper named second best in state

Rick Wade and Daniel Winningham

Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat reporters Rick Wade, left, and Daniel Winningham display some of the 19 awards they received June 14 during the Illinois Press Association’s Excellence in News Contest in Springfield’s Crowne Plaza.

By Rick Wade
The Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat, for the second year in a row, was honored June 15 as the second-best weekly newspaper in the state of Illinois during the Excellence in News Contest at the Illinois Press Association’s 2013 Convention in Springfield.

The Enquirer-Democrat was a “razor-close second” to the Bureau County Republican of Princeton for the Harold and Eva White Trophy in the Sweepstakes for large weekly newspapers.

In third place was The Journal-News, Hillsboro.

The Sweepstakes trophies are given to the best newspapers in six different circulation divisions that earn the most points in a variety of categories.

Points are awarded for first place through honorable mention in most contest categories, including general excellence, photography, news writing, opinion writing, design, community service and editorial page.

The Enquirer-Democrat took home 21 news awards for individuals and staff. In the IPA’s Illinois Newspaper Advertising Contest, the newspaper took home 11 awards.

Besides the second-place ranking, the Enquirer-Democrat broke another record: for the third year in a row, the newspaper earned more awards than the year before. In 2012, it earned 15 news awards; in 2011, it earned 10 news awards.
“Once again, a jury of our peers has honored us by recognizing the hard work that our staff puts in day after day, week after week, month after month,” said MCED editor and publisher, J. Endress. “Especially gratifying is being named the second best weekly newspaper in the state. That really validates what we see as our commitment to bringing the best news and other information to the community.”

Endress also pointed to the different categories in which the newspaper placed.

“Best Legal Media Coverage, Best Coverage of Taxation, Best Promotion of the Public’s Right to Know — all topics of vital importance to the citizens of Carlinville and the culmination of our efforts to give the community the news coverage it deserves,” he said.

Endress noted that the Enquirer-Democrat faces stiff competition from strong newspapers from Chicago and its suburbs.

“To think that the Enquirer-Democrat in Carlinville bested all of those weeklies –  except for one — that is quite an achievement,” he said.

Legal coverage
MCED earned First Place in the Illinois State Bar Association’s Lincoln Media Award for Best Legal Media Coverage for its coverage of the city’s redistricting of voter wards.

Following the story from the beginning, when a local citizen challenged the city council to downsize in order to meet Illinois state law and the council opted not to reduce the number of wards and aldermen, a lawsuit resulted after the citizen was challenged to sue the city over the issue. The court ruled against the city, and a process was created to reduce the number of wards.

Of the coverage, judges wrote, “Goes beyond standard meeting coverage. Good follow through over time. Nice use of graphics. Well done.”

J. Endress

MCED publisher and editor, J. Endress.

This is the fourth year in a row MCED has received the Lincoln Media Award. “We pride ourselves on our coverage of local legal issues,” said Endress.

Another first place was Best Editorial Page.

The judges wrote, “An editorial page that’s not afraid to do things a bit differently. Good editorials placed at the top of the page, nice ‘Talk to Us’ feature that gives readers more of a chance to share their opinions along with letters, and a guest column that uses the writer’s signature. Nice cartoon selection. Good job.”
“A newspaper’s editorial page should be a lively place,” said Endress. “Our page is, with each week’s editorial taking on local issues of importance, a local commentary and, perhaps most importantly, letters to the editor. We see the editorial page as a platform for dialog between the paper and the community.”

The newspaper’s other first place awards — Best Newspaper Design, Best Feature Photo and Best Illustration — focus on the newspaper’s appearance.

“Words are important, of course, but images and the way they are put together with text are vital to our mission to deliver information to our readers,” said Endress. “Awards like these showcase other staff members who may not get a byline.”

Another strong category for the MCED news staff was Illinois Taxpayers Federation’s Maurice Scott Award Best Coverage of Taxation.

Although the newspaper did not earn a First Place, it did dominate the rest of the places, with reporter Rick Wade placing Second and Third for commentaries he wrote about the pros and cons of the sales tax referendum.

Of Wade’s commentaries, the judges said, “Rick Wade does a nice job informing readers about both sides of a ‘tough sell,’ a proposed one percent sales tax. The benefits and concerns are clearly spelled out. Strong commentary about a council that’s floating a tax hike while not doing much to gain the public’s trust.”

Daniel Winningham took an Honorable Mention in the category for his coverage of the lawsuit between the local school district and the city.

In other coverage of local government, Wade earned an Honorable Mention for Illinois Public Policy Institute Award’s for Best Promotion of the Public’s Right to Know for commentary about city council secrecy. Judges wrote, “If newspapers don’t hold elected officials accountable for complying with open meeting laws, who will? This editorial does a nice job in keeping readers informed of violations by city council.”

Winningham earned an Honorable Mention in the Illinois Association of School Board’s Robert M. Cole Award for Best School Board Coverage for his coverage of the Carlinville School Board.
MCED entries that got a nod for Second Place include Best Coverage of Taxation, Wade; Best Illustration, Staff; and Best General News Photo, Winningham.

Third Place awards were given in the Best Coverage of Taxation, Wade; Best Personality Portrait, Winningham; Best Illustration, Staff; and Best Government Beat Reporting, Wade.

Honorable Mentions included Best Personality Portrait, Winningham; Best Coverage of Taxation, Winningham; Best School Board Coverage, Winningham; Best Public’s Right to Know, Winningham; Best Feature Photo, Winningham; Best Illustration, Staff; and Best Community Service, Staff.

In the news contest, more than 100 daily and non-daily newspapers competed in 36 editorial categories. The Pennsylvania News Media Association judged the more than 3,500 editorial entries.

Advertising awards

The Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat received 10 awards from the Illinois Press Association during its annual Illinois Newspaper Advertising Contest June 13 in Springfield.

More than 70 newspapers participated with more than 1,100 contest entries.

The newspaper competed against Illinois daily and non-daily newspapers with circulations between 4,001 and 8,000. Division trophies were presented to the newspaper in each division that accumulated the highest number of points. Divisions include daily and weekly newspapers from smallest to largest.

“I am very pleased with our performance in the advertising contest, taking home four more awards than we did last year,” said MCED publisher J. Endress. “Although the number of entries statewide were down a bit this year, the competition was every bit as  fierce.”

Taking First Place in Best Ad Series was a series of ads for Market on the Square.

Of the entry, judges wrote that, “These speak to the audience they were intended to reach. With an artistic touch, the ads speak volumes with few words. Great Style! Great Series!

The newspaper also took home the First Place Award for Best Small Ad for Market on the Square Mother’s Day advertisement.

The judges wrote, “With limited space, this ad covers everything. Good layout, graphics and copy. Overall, proof that small ads can pack a punch. Ka-Powie-Wowie!”

For Best Holiday Ad, the newspaper got Second Place for a Carlinville Area Christmas advertisement. It also received Second Place in Best Ad Less Than A Full Page for an ad featuring the Macoupin County Courthouse. Judges wrote, “The use of color on black and white is a great design feature of this ad. It brings emotion to the topic and sets the stage perfectly for the message. A great ad all around.”

Third Place awards included Best Designer, awarded to MCED graphic artist Danielle Seago. Other Third Place awards included Best Spot Color Ad.

The newspaper also received Honorable Mention for Best Ad Series, Best One-Time Special Section, Best Niche Publication and General Advertising Excellence.

IPA Awards List
First Place
Best Legal Media Coverage
Best Newspaper Design
Best Editorial Page
Best Feature Photo
Best Illustration

Second Place
Best Coverage of Taxation
Best Illustration
Best General News Photo

Third Place
Best Coverage of Taxation
Best Legal Media Coverage
Best Personality Portrait
Best Government Beat Reporting
Best Informational Graphic
Best Feature Photo

Honorable Mention
Best Coverage of Taxation
Best School Board Coverage
Best Public’s Right to Know
Best Personality Portrait
Best Community Service
Best Informational Graphic