DCN earns eighth straight 'General Excellence' designation

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Dickinson County News received 30 awards and once again secured the top spot among the state’s midsized weekly newspapers Friday at the Iowa Newspaper Association 2018 Convention and Trade Show.

The event was held Feb. 1-2 at the Des Moines Marriott Hotel. The DCN's eight-consecutive "General Excellence" awards includes five first-place trophies in the past six years. The 2018 contest entires were judged by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

The “General Excellence” designation takes writing, photography, advertising, page design, website elements and community involvement into account. The newspaper earned 78 points based on scoring of first, second and third place awards.

The total placed the Dickinson County News fifth in the INA’s "Newspaper of the Year" standings. The Des Moines Register was named “Newspaper of the Year” with 126 points. Newspapers from Sheldon, Carroll and Cedar Rapids joined the DCN in the top 5.

Publisher Paula Buenger and General Manager Dave Stanley were on hand in Des Moines to collect first place honors in "Community Leadership," "Best Newspaper Website" and "Best Use of Social Media."


Design Editor Christina Sorenson's contributions earned four first-place advertising awards, including "Best Newspaper Marketing" and "Best Web Advertisement." Her ads won a second-place award and three third-place awards, including one for "Best of Class Advertising."

Sorenson and advertising representative Deb Grubich worked together on behalf of Walker Insurance for the "Best of Class" advertising honors. The award means Sorenson designed one of the three best ads among midsized weekly newspapers in the state.

The Design Editor's newsroom work was honored by judges with a first-place award for "Best Use of Graphics," a second-place award for "Best Feature Pages" and a second-place award for "Total Newspaper Design."

"The bold headline typeface is used well, which augments the paper's clean design, giving it a flow that's easy for readers to follow. Nice use of color in the overall design," judges said.


The Dickinson County News received eight photography and video awards at the 2018 convention. Sports Editor Matt Heinrichs placed first and second in the "Best Video" category. Coverage of Harris-Lake Park's run to the 2016 state championship football game took top honors. Highlights from Spirit Lake's football season finished second.

Heinrichs earned four photography awards including second place in the "Best Slideshow" and "Best Sports Photo" categories. A University of Winter Games slideshow earned recognition from the Wisconsin judges. The sports photo captured Okoboji shortstop Matt Eckard mid-air as he dove for a catch.

He won a third-place award in the "Best News Feature Photo" category for the 2017 University of Okoboji polar plunge. Heinrichs earned a third-place "Best Photo Story" award for Winter Games coverage as well.

Staff writer Seth Boyes won 2 of 3 "Best Breaking News Photo" awards, including a first-place image captured less than a week after he arrived at the Dickinson County News. He went to the rural Graettinger area after learning a train derailment caused a fire and fuel spill on Friday, March 10. His work capturing the Zippers Gentleman's Club fire on a Sunday night in April earned a third-place "Breaking News Photo" award.


All three year-round writers in the Dickinson County News office received multiple writing awards from the Wisconsin judges. Commentary pieces from Boyes earned a first-place award in the "Best Blog" category and second place in the "Master Columnist" category. A set of three opinion pieces earned Heinrichs a first-place award in the "Best Sports Columnist" category as well.

Managing Editor Russ Mitchell received four writing awards at the Iowa Newspaper Association trade show and convention. He earned first-place honors in the "Best News Story" category for a story that focused on federal asset forfeiture policies and how it impacted the former owner of Mrs. Lady's Mexican Food restaurant. He received a first-place "Best Breaking News Story" award for coverage of a standoff and exchange of gunfire April 30 in a Milford neighborhood. He won first place in the "Best Sports Feature Story" category for a retrospective on University of Iowa basketball player Chris Street through the eyes of two northwest Iowa athletes. Mitchell earned a second-place "Best News Feature Story" award for another look back — his University of Okoboji retrospective appeared in the March 2017 "Progress" edition of the Dickinson County News.

Approximately 4,378 entries in dozens of categories were judged by class, based on circulation, according to the Iowa Newspaper Association.


All three papers, operating under Northwest Iowa Publishing and Publisher Paula Buenger, combined to win 49 awards in different categories, including advertising, design, websites, writing and photography.

• The Daily Reporter took first-place honors in the "Best Special Section — Advertising" category, second place in the "Best of Class Advertising" category and third place in the "Best Special Section — Editorial" category among small dailies for its Clay County Fair preview edition.

It was also recognized with second-place award among small daily newspapers for "Coverage of Agriculture." The Spencer newspaper received third-place honors for "Best Feature Page," "Master Columnist" (Paula Buenger), "Best Photo Story" (Nate Shaughnessy) and "Best Ad Featuring Automotive Boats Aircraft Tires or Gasoline."

• The Storm Lake Pilot-Tribune finished third in point totals among midsized weekly newspapers to earn a "General Excellence" designation. The Pilot-Tribune won the Harrison "Skip" Weber award for investigative reporting. Editor Dana Larsen earned second-place awards in the "Best Sports Columnist" and "Best News Story" categories.

The Storm Lake newspaper received first-place honors in "Coverage of Government and Politics," "Coverage of Education" and "Coverage of Business" categories. It received third-place awards for "Best Editorial Pages" and "Best Feature Page" as well.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: