SPRINGFIELD — Ford County residents can proudly say they still have the best small, weekly newspaper in Illinois.
For the second straight year, the Ford County Record claimed the top prize in the Illinois Press Association’s annual Excellence in News Contest, returning from Friday’s annual IPA convention in Springfield with the coveted David B. Kramer Memorial Trophy.
“Bringing home the David B. Kramer trophy — not once, but twice now — exemplifies the fact that we continue to provide an outstanding newspaper to the citizens of Ford County,” said John Reed, chief executive officer and publisher of News-Gazette Media, which owns the Ford County Record.
The trophy — established in 2014 by the Kramer family in memory of the late publisher of the Gibson City Courier and other Kramer weekly newspapers — goes to the state’s best small, non-daily newspaper, as determined by points awarded in the contest’s 44 categories.
For the past year, the trophy has been prominently displayed in the front window of the Record’s office at 208 N. Market St. in downtown Paxton. It will continue to be for the next year, too — if not longer.
Editor Will Brumleve, sports editor Andrew Rosten, correspondent Ross Brown and photographers Ryan Minion and Amy Workman combined to win 24 awards for editorial excellence in the contest, winning their division ahead of a perennial contender, The Woodstock Independent, which had won the division three out of the past five years. Finishing in third place was the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark, and in fourth was the Oakland Independent.
“Will Brumleve and Andrew Rosten are a superb team. I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts to publish a great paper for Ford County,” Reed said. “These two gentlemen care deeply about the quality of their work, and it shows.”
In this year’s contest — which was for work completed in 2018 — Brumleve led the Record with 14 awards, marking the second year in a row he has won that number. Brumleve’s awards included four first-place awards, three second-place honors, four third-place awards and three honorable mention honors.
Rosten won six awards — including four first-place honors, one second-place finish and one honorable mention award — while Brown and the Record’s photography staff each won two awards — one second- and one third-place award apiece.
Also at Friday’s Illinois Press Association convention, The News-Gazette in Champaign was named the state’s best medium-sized newspaper for the fifth consecutive year. The reward: retaining the hefty Mabel S. Shaw Memorial Trophy.
Brumleve’s awards included first-place finishes in government beat reporting (for coverage of the court cases involving terrorism suspects from Clarence); business/economic reporting (for coverage of Paxton businesses); an agricultural story (for coverage of a zoning board of appeals hearing on proposed changes to Ford County’s wind-farm ordinance); and best coverage of taxation (for coverage of the improper reassessment of properties in Ford County last year).
Brumleve’s second-place awards were in government beat reporting (for coverage of wind-farm issues) and news reporting-single story (for coverage of the terrorism case in Clarence). Brumleve also received second place in the public notice journalism award category for a story about the Ford County Public Building Commission considering a policy to ensure competitive bidding.
Brumleve won third place in four categories: news reporting-single story (for a story he wrote on the lack of deer signs in Ford County); business/economic reporting (for coverage of wind-farm issues); single page design (for the front page of the Dec. 26 edition); and the Knight Chair Award for Best Investigative/Enterprise Reporting (for his coverage of the terrorism case in Clarence).
Brumleve’s honorable mention honors were for news reporting-series (for coverage of the long-delayed passage of a resolution honoring the victims of the infamous Interstate 57 shootout south of Paxton); single page design (for the front page of the Dec. 5 edition); and the Robert M. Cole Award for Best School Board Coverage (for coverage of the Paxton-Buckley-Loda school board).
Rosten won first place in four categories: best sports section; sports news; online photo series/gallery (GCMS baseball vs. Blue Ridge); and obituary tribute (for a “life remembered” story about former PBL teacher and coach George Robert Young).
Rosten won a second-place honor in headline writing (“Third is the Word,” “Solid Flights” and “Sweet Six-cess”).
Rosten won honorable mention in headline writing, as well (“Two-riffic!”, “Ms. 1,000” and “Soaring On”).
Brown won both second and third place in the obituary tribute category (second place for a story about the lives of Kelsey Bridgwater-Fottler and Charly Jesse and third place for a story about the life of Josh Hohulin).
Rosten, Minion and Workman combined to win both second and third place in the online photo series/gallery category (second place for the gallery ‘GCMS football at IHSA Class 2A state championship game’ and third place for the gallery ‘GCMS football at Eastland-Pearl City’).
Rest of the best
Brumleve and Rosten picked up the awards Friday at the IPA’s annual convention at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in downtown Springfield.
More than 100 daily and non-daily newspapers competed in 44 editorial categories in six circulation divisions, submitting more than 2,400 contest entries. The Alabama Press Association judged the entries.
Sweepstakes trophies were awarded to the newspapers earning the most points in the six circulation divisions. The Ford County Record competed in Division A, which is for non-daily papers with a circulation under 3,000.
The News-Gazette was awarded the Mabel S. Shaw Memorial Sweepstakes Trophy, which is awarded to the best medium-sized daily newspaper. The Journal Star in Peoria claimed second place, and The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale placed third.
In the large, non-daily newspaper category, the Pioneer Press Media Group claimed the Will Loomis Memorial Trophy. The Austin Weekly News in Chicago received second place, and the Wednesday Journal Group in Oak Park received third place.
In the small, daily newspaper category, The Register-Mail in Galesburg claimed top honors. The newspaper was awarded the Patrick Coburn Award of Excellence. Coming in second was The Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, followed in third by The Telegraph in Alton.
Winning the Harold and Eva White Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to a medium-sized non-daily newspaper — was The Galena Gazette. Second place went to the Bureau County Republican in Princeton, and in third place was The Journal-News in Hillsboro.
The Daily Herald Group in Arlington Heights won the Stuart R. Paddock Memorial Sweepstakes Trophy for large dailies. Runner-up for the Paddock Trophy was The Chicago Sun-Times. In third place was the Chicago Tribune Media Group.
The Illinois Press Association, located in Springfield, represents approximately 440 daily and weekly newspapers.