Wednesday Journal Inc. cleans up at Illinois Press Association

Independent newspaper company takes 24 awards, 2 honorable mentions

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Wednesday Journal Inc., which publishes the weekly newspapers Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark took numerous top honors at the 2017 Illinois Press Association Best of Press awards.

Wednesday Journal newspaper took home eight awards and one honorable mention; Austin Weekly News won six awards and an honorable mention; and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark walked away with six awards.

"We won some awards, that's good," publisher Dan Haley said. "These awards are sort of fickle. But if year-by-year you come in at or near the top of your field, and we've done that over many years, then we know we're doing strong community journalism and benefitting these towns we cover. That's gratifying. Thanks to our many talented and hard-working reporters, designers, editors." 

Without further ado, here are the winners (with judges' comments in quotes):

General Excellence

DIVISION A -- 3rd Place: Forest Park Review, Staff. "Great layout. Lots of good images. Interesting front page picture choices! I especially liked the pig, but the old man was a cute pick too. Good story variety."

DIVISION B -- 3rd Place: Riverside-Brookfield Landmark, Bob Uphues. Sept. 13, 2017 and Oct. 4, 2017.

News Reporting – Single Story

DIVISION B -- 3rd Place: Riverside-Brookfield Landmark, Bob Uphues. Brookfield gas stations duke it out, again, at the pump. "Lighthearted take on an interesting news moment in the community. Well written and appropriately toned."

DIVISION C -- 1st Place: Austin Weekly News, Chicago, Timothy Inklebarger. On the frontlines of the opioid crisis. "This goes beyond officials talking about the drug crisis. It explores life among the users. Good color, great quotes."

DIVISION C -- 3rd Place: Austin Weekly News, Chicago, Michael Romain. Justice Department - CPD violates Constitution. "A lot of research. Good job."

 

News Reporting - Series

DIVISION B -- 1st Place: Riverside-Brookfield Landmark, Brett McNeil and Bob Uphues. A street paved with gold. "This was a tight competition among the three entries I liked the best. This story was the most enterprising and had a statewide impact. It also included impressive data that was presented to let readers form their own opinions."

DIVISION C -- 2nd Place: Austin Weekly News, Chicago, Michael Romain, Tim Inklebarger. The anatomy of murder in broad daylight. "Michael is to be complimented on his personalized storytelling, weaving into the factual accounts of a shooting the visceral reactions of neighbors, bystanders and citizens living in the area who are fearful, but resolved, every day. The sidebar use of 'A brief history of violence' is an excellent overview of the problem that would have been lost had it been simply included in the story. In his funeral story, he captures the frustration of parents, relatives who tried to help this young man and the absolute helplessness they are facing in a community filled with senseless crime. His final story relates the community efforts of a small group to bring attention to the problems. What's missing is the next step: How is the community taking the issue 'upstairs' to the city's leadership to get help? This is a great start for a bigger campaign. Rallying on the streets alone won't solve the problem. Michael has given strong personal context to this issue. Hopefully he will now be reporting on the efforts, or lack thereof, of officials to 'do something.'"

 

Business/Economic Reporting

DIVISION B -- 1st Place: Riverside-Brookfield Landmark, Bob Uphues. Brookfield gas stations duke it out, again, at the pump. "The kind of (business) story that you can't stop reading."

DIVISION C -- 3rd Place: Austin Weekly News, Chicago, Igor Studenkov. Pop-up retail spaces coming to Austin. "Solid explainer on retail spaces coming to the community. Good reporting on the topic."

DIVISION C -- Honorable Mention: Austin Weekly News, Chicago, Igor Studenkov. Movie theater could open in North Lawndale this summer. "Good work on an entertainment option available to the community."

 

Investigative/Enterprise Reporting

DIVISION B -- 1st Place: Riverside-Brookfield Landmark, Brett McNeil and Bob Uphues. A street paved with gold/Easy money. "Terrific local reporting on red-light camera citations with independent data work led the way on how municipalities and a corporation were profiting off of questionable traffic tickets."

 

Feature Writing

DIVISION B -- 1st Place: Riverside-Brookfield Landmark, Bob Uphues. More than just fun and games. "The hook with the inventor of Pac-Man coming into the arcade just pulled me in as a reader. Just a great overall story."

 

Original Column  

DIVISION C -- 2nd Place: Austin Weekly News, Chicago, Arlene Jones. "The calls to action in the columns were supported by the facts. Her opinions were well explained."

 

Editorial Page

DIVISION B -- 1st Place: Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest, Ken Trainor. Editorial Pages, April 12 and Oct. 25. "The section covers a lot of interesting topics and includes a lot of community voices. Well-done and reflects a commitment by this newspaper to be a big part of the community dialogue on issues."

 

General News Photo

Division A -- 1st Place: Forest Park Review, Alexa Rogals. Seniors New Year's Eve. "The more you look at this photo, the more you see. Soft lighting helps convey the emotion evident between these dancers. This entry covers all contest criteria: subject, composition, originality, technical skill."

DIVISION C -- 2nd Place: Austin Weekly News, Chicago, Alexa Rogals. 200 Fathers. "A nice moment with the nonchalant kid in the midst of excited parents."

DIVISION C -- 2nd Place: Austin Weekly News, Chicago, Alexa Rogals. Stella Johnson. "A well-composed image that's both simple and quite effective."

 

Sports Feature

DIVISION B -- Honorable Mention: Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest, Marty Farmer. Living the life of Lillig. "This was an interesting story and was written well, but I would have liked to hear more of these details from his friends and teammates. Oftentimes it's awkward for high school kids to talk about themselves; but when you get their friends and family on the record, you can learn a lot about them. Digging a little deeper is always worth the effort in a feature."

 

Editorial Cartoon

DIVISION B -- 1st Place: Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest, Marc Stopeck. D97 Tax Hike. "That's always the way of tax increases. Great imagery!"

DIVISION B -- 3rd Place: Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest, Marc Stopeck. Community Rec Center. "Too often editorial cartoons that are extremely wordy miss making their point. The incantation in this one, however, is just too enjoyable."

 

Single Page Design

DIVISION C -- 1st Place: Wednesday Journal Group, Oak Park, Javier Govea. Maywood's Role in the Great Wars. "Great layout and seamless transition between pages. Really nice work."

 

Informational Graphic

DIVISION A -- 2nd Place: Forest Park Review, Jacquinete Baldwin, Jill Wagner. Which is a sandwich? "Made me hungry for lunch!"

 

Newspaper Design

DIVISION A -- 2nd Place: Forest Park Review, Staff. "Well organized with good use of typography. Loved the 'Design an ad' section."

DIVISION B -- 3rd Place: Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest, Claire Innes. Wednesday Journal Newspaper Design. "Easy-to-navigate, engaging layout."

 

Sports Section

DIVISION B -- 3rd Place: Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest, Marty Farmer. Mistake-prone Friars lose to Montini. "Good photography. This also includes the Year In Review."

Special Section

DIVISION B -- 1st Place: Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest, Staff. Community of Caring. "Good coverage of topics that are not easy to cover, combined with resources to help those specific issues. Good layout; ad placement corresponded with the topic features as well."

DIVISION C -- 2nd Place: Wednesday Journal Group, Oak Park, Michael Romain, Javier Govea. Maywood Community Guide. "Nice graphics."

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