Newspaper receives second place in General Excellence
By Chad Koenen
The Citizen’s Advocate received 11 awards, including first place in Use of Photography as a Whole, during the annual Minnesota Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest. Award winners from across the state were honored during the 155th annual Minnesota Newspaper Association Convention, which was held at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest Hotel from Jan. 27-28.
There were over 3,200 entries in the contest from newspapers of all sizes in the state. The newspaper contest is held annually for both college and professional newspapers.
The awards handed out on Thursday, Jan. 30 was for work performed between September 2020 and August 2021. The Citizen’s Advocate competes in the category of non-multi day newspapers with a circulation under 1,000 and non-multi day newspapers with a circulation under 1,500.
The Citizen’s Advocate received first place in the category of Use of Photography as a Whole, edging out the New York Mills Dispatch, which finished in second place, and the Press Tribune of Balaton, which finished in third place. The newspapers competed in the circulation class of non-multi day publication with a circulation under 1,000.
“It was very close between first and second I love both cover pages, however once inside of both papers, the Citizen’s Advocate did a better job of having pictures with the stories. Great action photography as well,” judges wrote.
In the prestigious category of General Excellence, the Citizen’s Advocate took second place for non-multi day publications with a circulation under 1,000. First place went to the Henderson Independent and third place went to the New York Mills Dispatch.
In the category of Typography and Design, the Citizen’s Advocate was awarded third place for non-multi day publications with a circulation under 1,500.
“Good variance of photo sizes to create hierarchy. Cutouts in nameplate are ambitious, but be careful not to obscure readability of the text. I’d increase the leading in multi-deck headlines and add white space between main heads and subheads. Citizen’s Advocate is in the same ‘family’ as some other entries but had the cleanest overall design among them,” judges wrote.
First place in the category went to the Pine Knot News in Cloquet and second place went to the Jackson County Pilot in Jackson.
In the category of General Reporting, the Citizen’s Advocate received third place for non-multi day publications with a circulation under 1,000.
“Great connection of surrounding areas with local content along with a good balance of news,” judges wrote.
First place in the category went to the Henderson Independent and second place went to the Lafayette-Nicollet Ledger.
Individually, Citizen’s Advocate Publisher Chad Koenen received five awards including three first place finishes and designer Carly Johnson received two.
In the category of sports feature story, Koenen received first and third place for non-multi day publications with a circulation under 1,000.
He received first place for a story entitled “A fishing tale for the ages” about Jim Dilly and his grandson Carter Dilly catching a large fish while ice fishing on a local lake. He received third place for a sports feature he wrote entitled “Dague scores 2,000th career point” about former Henning basketball player Ellie Dague becoming the first person in school history to score 2,000 points.
Koenen also received first place in the category of Local Breaking News Coverage for a story he wrote entitled “Christmas Eve fire destroys barn, kills 1,000 goats,” about the fire at the Springer farm in rural Henning.
“Quotes from those involved bring this story to life,” judges wrote.
Koenen was also honored with a first place finish as Best Columnist for non-multi day publications with a circulation under 1,000.
“In one of his columns, Chad Koenen uses his own failures as a young cook in a class to advocate for teaching real life survival skills in schools,” judges wrote. “How does messing up a cookie baking assignment in school inspire one columnist to encourage the teaching of life survival skills in school. It tops a category that includes a senior citizen dealing with the annoyances of aging complicated by masks and another that points out how some seniors could lose Social Security benefits by working.”
Koenen received third place in the category of Social Issues Story for an article entitled “Making a trip of a lifetime—twice.” The story was about Hank Kohler, who began a canoe trip this summer on East Leaf Lake to the mouth of the Mississippi River.
“A fun little story,” judges wrote.
Graphic artist Carly Johnson received a pair of awards, including first place in the category of Best Advertisement for her Santa Day Parade ad.
Johnson also took third place in the category of self-promotion or house ad for an ad she made entitled “Subscribing means more.” She took third place in the circulation category of non-multi day with a circulation under 3,000.
“Promoting print and digital, a must,” judges wrote.
The Citizen’s Advocate and NY Mills Dispatch’s sister publication, the Frazee-Vergas Forum, captured first place in the category of Use of Photography as a Whole with a circulation between 1,001-1,500.