REGIONAL—The Timberjay continued its award-winning tradition in the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest, winning 14 awards, including five first place awards, …
REGIONAL—The Timberjay continued its award-winning tradition in the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest, winning 14 awards, including five first place awards, across a wide range of categories, including reporting, photography, editorials, and advertising. The awards were presented during the MNA’s 157th annual convention, held in Brooklyn Park late last week. The MNA received 4,095 entries in this year’s contest.
David Colburn and Marshall Helmberger won first place for investigative reporting among all weeklies, for its reporting on the questionable tasing by Voyageurs National Park officials of the operator of a local houseboat business. The business owner was attempting to rescue two customers who had run into difficulties due to windy weather on Lake Kabetogama when he was confronted by park law enforcement officials, who boarded his boat, tased him, and placed him under arrest.
Jodi Summit won first place for Government/Public Affairs Reporting for her continued reporting on the Greenwood Town Board’s firing of its fire department leadership. “Good continuing coverage of a clearly controversial issue in the community,” wrote the judges.
The Timberjay dominated in the category of Best Photo Story, with Marshall Helmberger, Jodi Summit, and Victoria Ranua winning first place for the outdoors feature: Fabulous Fungi. David Colburn won second place in the category for his photo story on Crane Lake’s Community Night Out. Colburn also received second-place honors among all weeklies for his Press Photographer’s Portfolio. “High-quality images in this entry, which I felt was top-notch on several levels,” commented the judges.
The Timberjay was also recognized for Best Use of Photography as a Whole. “I really got a sense of the community through the photography in this paper. Excellent,” wrote the judges.
The Timberjay also won a first-place award among all weeklies for Best Use of Photography in a Magazine for its annual visitors guide, GO Lake Country.
The Timberjay won first place for Advertising Excellence, the second time that the paper’s graphic designer, Scarlet Stone, has taken the top award in that category. Stone also took home a second-place award for Best Advertising Campaign in the large weekly category for a series of ads she created for The Floor to Ceiling Store in Virginia.
The paper’s staff received second place for its overall sports reporting. “Compelling photos and stories make this section a must-read and see for readers,” wrote the judges.
The paper’s business reporting was recognized in two categories. Marshall Helmberger’s story about experiments to reduce wolf predation of livestock, “Ranch Resolution,” won second place in the business story category. “An important issue is explored through a well-told story here. A heavy topic, and yet it was a fun read,” commented the judges.
Helmberger’s profile of the new owners of the Tower Café was recognized in the business profile category. “I don’t even live in this town, but I found myself so curious about what the new owners had in mind for the store! Good job pulling readers in,” the judges said.
The paper was also recognized for its Editorial Pages as a Whole. “Good editorials that are sure to generate discussion. Letters to editor show readers are engaged. Lighter columns an enjoyable read. Nice job.”
The paper’s editorials, written by publisher Marshall Helmberger, won a third-place award among all weeklies for Best Editorial Portfolio, a coveted category in which Helmberger has won multiple times. “Great way to hold government officials accountable and still provide facts and news to readers. Well written,” wrote the judges.
This year’s newspaper contest was judged by other award-winning journalists from South Dakota, North Carolina, and New Jersey.
Other convention news
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Gov. Tim Walz both spoke to the convention. Klobuchar, whose father was a well-known Star Tribune columnist, was a guest speaker at the convention. Klobuchar has been a leader in the Senate on many issues that affect newspapers, especially smaller papers.
“You are telling the stories that maybe not everyone knows about, that they don’t read on Facebook,” Klobuchar told the attendees. “Many of your stories uncover what happened at the city council meeting and tell people which business is opening and closing. There are a lot of stories of joy, positive stories of our communities – whether they’re big or small…” said Klobuchar. “So, I just want you to remember that piece of it, of telling the stories of regular citizens in your communities. That brings strength and brings people together in a big way, just as much as your role of uncovering the truth for us. So don’t let us forget that piece that we’re losing right now in our nation and the role you play in finding that thread that brings people together.”
Sen.Klobuchar, Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights, has spearheaded the bipartisan Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to address the power of dominant online platforms over news organizations. In June 2023, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill by a vote of 14-7.
Timberjay staffers Summit, Helmberger, and Colburn attended a number of sessions on issues affecting newspapers, including newly emerging issues related to artificial intelligence and the changing business models facing traditional papers in the age of the internet.