Yellow Springs News wins top state honor
- Published: February 20, 2014
The Yellow Springs News was honored as the best paper in Ohio in its size category at the annual convention of the Ohio Newspaper Association last week. The event, at which Gov. John Kasich was a featured speaker, took place at the Hilton Downtown in Columbus. The News has now won the top award four years in a row, during the annual Osman Hooper contest for weekly papers.
The News, which has a circulation of about 1,700, won “Paper of the Year” (formerly General Excellence) in the class of papers with circulations of up to 2,954. The award goes to the paper with the most individual awards, and the News received 14 awards out of 15 award categories. Judges were journalism professors from Ohio universities.
In the categories of In-Depth Reporting and Best Feature, the News won two out of the possible three honors in each category.
In In-Depth Reporting, the News received first place for “Guns and the Village,” a seven-part series on issues around gun rights and gun control. According to judges Dan Caterinicchia and Tom Schwartz of Ohio State University, the News “thoroughly and systematically explores the debates about the issues at the local level and the context of national events and initiatives. The four writers provided their readers with thoughtful and balanced presentations of the conflicting views. Truly excellent journalism.” Contributing to the series were Reporter Megan Bachman, Editor Diane Chiddister, Associate Editor Lauren Heaton and Freelancer Chad Stiles.
Also in In-Depth Reporting, the News received second place for “Comparing Two Waters,” by Megan Bachman. The two-part series compared water quality of the local water system with that of Springfield, in the ongoing local question regarding the best option for water sourcing. The articles were “well-written and well-researched,” according to the judges.
In Best Local Feature, the News received second place for “Native Son: Talented, Caring, Addicted,” by Megan Bachman. The article, a profile of villager Oliver Simons, who was in jail for a string of local burglaries “took an emotionally difficult topic in the community and explored multiple sides of it. Most stories would have chosen the burglar or his victims to focus on, but this one does both, with respect and sympathy. And well-written.”
In Best Local Feature, the News won third place for “What’s the Buzz About the Bugs?” by Lauren Heaton, an article about Glen Courtwright and his company, EnviroFlight. “Science stories can be difficult to write for a general audience but this reporter does it well and uses multiple sources,” the judges said. “The explanations are clear and the article pulls you along.”
The News also won second place for overall News Coverage.
In the category of Editorial Writing, in which papers of all the size classes competed together, the News won fourth place for “Women’s Voices, Subdued,” by Chiddister, which looked at the aftermath of a controversy around the annual Women’s Voices Out Loud event. According to the judges, the winning entries “did a good job of advocating for the community and keeping an eye on those in power, often bringing to light important issues that officials might rather have seen go away.”
The paper also won second place in the Original Columns category for three “Middle Ground” columns by Lauren Heaton. The judges commented, “Very solid ‘community issues’ columns. Opinions are thoughtful without being judgmental or ‘holier than thou.’”
In the category of Community Awareness, in which all the size categories competed together, the News received fourth place for a two-part series by Bachman that looked at Council’s decision regarding whether to refurbish or replace the Village water plant.
The News also received first place for Sports Coverage, for articles by Bachman. “It is a strength that writers for this paper seek to provide meaningful details about athletic events in a person context. Good writing goes a long way,” according to the judges.
In the overall Design category, the News received second place. Overseeing the paper’s look are designers Matt Minde and Suzanne Szempruch.
The News also received several photo awards. Heaton received third place in Best News Photo category for the photo of Glen Courtright holding a black soldier fly from the feature story, “What’s the Buzz about the Bugs?” According to the judges, “this has a nice feeling and texture — the photographer created some visual drama by putting the hands with the bugs in the foreground.” In Best Feature Photo, Minde received second place for a photo of Antioch College students releasing “sky lanterns” at night. “Love the lighting and the intent looks on the faces. A bold black and white photo can still grab our attention in ways color cannot. Photographer is not afraid to get close in and to shoot without a flash.”
And in Best Sports Photo, Bachman won first place for a photo of the Yellow Springs High School boys cross country team running beside a cornfield. “Well focused and expressions help make image,” the judges commented.
The News also won third place in Best Website in a competition of all independent weeklies. According to the judges, the site has “a good use of color and font to help the links and headlines pop on the page. The classified section was well organized.” Contributing to the website are designers Minde and Szempruch, along with consultant Bryan Cady.
Other News staff members who contributed to the awards were Village Desk Editor Lauren Shows; Classifieds Manager Kathryn Hitchcock, Advertising Manager Robert Hasek and proofreaders Kitty Jensen and Suzanne Patterson. The News is co-owned by Chiddister, Hasek and Minde.