DCN brings home baker’s dozen in awards from hard-fought state newspaper competition

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Journalists from across the state gathered in Des Moines on Thursday for the Iowa Newspaper Association’s annual awards banquet. The Dickinson County News won an assortment of 13 different awards.

Sports Editor Matt Heinrichs won the paper’s only first place award this year, taking top honors in the Best Photographer category for the state’s largest class of weekly publications. Heinrichs’ portfolio this year topped entries from photographers at the Kalona News and the Iowa Falls Times Citizen. A contest judge called Heinrichs’ work fantastic and said his “ability to freeze the action at the perfect moment is almost uncanny.”

Photo by Matt Heinrichs

“The INA awards have become increasingly competitive over the last few years, and we’re proud our writing, photography and design choices continue to earn us a number of the top-three slots among Iowa’s journalists,” DCN News Editor Seth Boyes said. “The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a number of daily newspapers to cut back on publication days — moving some of the state’s larger publications into the same weekly competition class as our small, two-man newsroom. So that makes us even more proud to have kept pace this year.”

The Dickinson County News earned second and third-place finishes behind one such paper — the Daily Iowan — in four different weekly competition categories. The DCN took second place behind the Iowa City paper in Best Use of Graphics and Best Website, and it took third place behind a pair of Daily Iowan entries in both the Best Feature Photo and Best Slideshow categories.

“Regardless of what the results table says, we are proud of the product we provide for the Lakes Area community, and we’re always thankful for the support of our readers each and every week,” Boyes said.

Second-place awards

Photo by Seth Boyes

Boyes was the runner-up in the annual competition’s Harrison “Skip” Weber Investigative Reporting Award.

The then-staff writer had looked into reports that several stacks of the Dickinson County News had been stolen from area businesses. Boyes was able to show the owner of a major Sioux County business had been behind the local thefts — the man’s name had appeared in that week’s police blotter, noting he was charged with stealing a campaign yard sign from a Lakes Area home. Boyes’ article was picked up by numerous news outlets across the country, including the New York Post, and at least two Canadian radio programs.

The category judge called Boyes’ piece “a great in-depth story about a breaking news story with lots of pictures and quotes,” and added journalists “don't get a chance to cover a story like this often.”

The story also earned Boyes a third-place win in the Breaking News Story category. The Carroll Daily Times Herald took the large weekly class’ top slot for both the investigative award and best breaking news story. Boyes came in behind the Carroll newspaper again in the Best Breaking News Photo category. Both entries featured structure fires — Boyes’ entry was from the DCN’s coverage of a residential shop fire southeast of Spirit Lake Schools in December of 2020.

Photo by Seth Boyes

“The depth of color and detail is amazing,” the contest judge said of Boyes’ entry.

Boyes took second place in the DCN’s competition class for Best News Photo — ranking between a third-place entry from former Spencer Daily Reporter staff writer Joe Hopper and a first-place entry from the Iowa Falls Times Citizen. Boyes submitted several of his best images taken during the 2021 Dickinson County Fair.

“Great variety of activities and the adorable goats to boot, good balance and well-chosen photos,” the judge’s comments said.

The DCN’s annual Farmers Appreciation section was awarded second place for best special section advertising. The category’s judge complimented its color and design, calling the annual publication creative. The DCN also earned second-place recognition for Best Use of Graphics, Best Website and Best Headline Writing.

Third-place awards

Photo by Matt Heinrichs

The Dickinson County News won five third-place awards — several of them in photo categories and one for the staff’s community leadership efforts, such as its involvement with the Dickinson County Museum's Stroll Back in Time and the multiple student job-shadows hosted by the newspaper each year.

Heinrichs’ annual coverage of the Polar Plunge during the University of Okoboji Winter Games captured one entrant in viking attire, leaping into the lake, sword drawn, seemingly ready to stab the water. The shot earned a third-place award for Best Feature Photo.

“The perspective, here, is excellent,” the judge said of the photo. “You've captured the figure's facial expression - midair - and with perfect body position. Good work.”

Boyes’ slideshow of the multiple attempts to place the re-gilded cross on top of the bell tower at St. Joesph Catholic Church in Milford also won a third-place award for Best Slideshow.

“I enjoyed the heights in which were taken to cover the restoration project,” the judge wrote. “I found hidden stories in these photos that gained my interest in the project.”

Photo by Matt Heinrichs

Spirit Lake photographer Dave Petrick, who freelances for the Dickinson County News, also received state recognition Thursday. Petrick’s photos of the 2021 University of Okoboji Oktoberfest were awarded third place in the Best Photo Story category. The contest judge complemented the feature page’s composition, cropping choices and overall layout.

Spencer sees success

The Spencer Daily Reporter also competed in the largest class of weekly newspapers this year.

The Daily Reporter’s Managing Editor Randy Cauthron received a first-place award for Excellence in Editorial Writing and a second-place award in the Master Columnist competition. Judge’s said Cauthron’s real-life examples made for compelling narratives and raw insights into some taboo topics.

The Daily Reporter also earned a second-place award for Best Advertisement Featuring Food, and a third-place win for Best Newspaper Marketing. The newspaper’s SDR Triple Option Podcast took third-place Thursday, and its annual preview of the Clay County Fair took the top slot in the Best Special Section - Editorial category.

“I wasn't expecting an award-winning entry when I saw county fair preview. Boy, was I wrong,” the category judge wrote. “The writing was vivid, the photos large and dominant and all areas of the fair were covered from the entertainment to the agriculture. This was a well done piece. I felt like I didn't even need to go to the fair after seeing it, but wanted to go because the stories and photos made it feel like an event I shouldn't miss.”

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