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News wins top state prize

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For the second year in a row and the third time in the past five years, the Yellow Springs News was honored as the top newspaper in its size category at the annual Ohio Newspaper Association convention. The convention, which featured Vice President Joe Biden, took place last Thursday, Feb. 9 in Columbus.

The News won the 2012 General Excellence award for Division D, the highest award possible in the weekly paper contest. The News also won General Excellence in 2011, 2008 and 2006, and before that, in 1985. The General Excellence winner is the paper that receives the most points out of 13 possible categories. The News won awards in seven categories, including in-depth reporting, best features, special supplement, best photo, overall design, advertising and best Web site. Judges were professors at journalism schools at Ohio State, Ohio University and Kent State University.

The News, with a circulation of 1,700, competed in Division D, the smallest of the four size categories, representing papers with circulations from 950 to 3,199. There are 18 weeklies in Division D, and overall, about 70 weeklies took part in the contest, which covered issues from August 2010 to August 2011.

The News won first place in the category of in-depth reporting with its 2011 series on affordable housing, called “Examining Affordability.”

The judges stated, “If there could be a “best in show” for the Hooper in-depth reporting contest, this entry would be it. In an ambitious and exhaustively researched eight-part series, this team of reporters took turns telling the story of the challenging housing market in Yellow Springs, from parsing the census data and applying localized variables, to looking at the role of land use and community-planning regulations, to providing compelling stories of many different types of community members in seeking and keeping affordable housing. Each installment is rich in information, and each uses effective writing to prevent the material from becoming too dry or esoteric.”

Contributing to the series were reporter Megan Bachman, Associate Editor Lauren Heaton and Editor Diane Chiddister.

The News also won first place in the category of Best Photo for a photo by Bachman of local farmer Amy Batchman. The photo featured Batchman and a chicken on top of her motorcycle, and, according to the judge,” is a truly outstanding portrait of a woman with a wide range of interests. The subject’s smile and clothes and the hen atop the motorcycle she sits on are delightful elements in brilliant black and white composition.”

The News also took home second place in photography with “Shell Game,” a photo by Heaton of a Glen Helen naturalist with a turtle at the Glen Helen Nature Museum. “Good control of the depth of field. I like the conceptualizing that went into the shot,” the judge wrote.

In the category of design, the News took first place. The judge cited the paper’s “comfortably traditional” look, with an “easy to read format focused on content.” Graphic designers Matt Minde and Suzanne Ehalt are responsible for the paper’s design.

The News won third place in Best Local Feature for “Hello, dahlias! Looking swell, dahlias!” by Heaton, a story of local dahlia enthusiasts. According to the judges, “the depth of the reporting is impressive and the storytelling is very good.”

In the advertising category, the News took second place with an ad announcing the 90th birthday of Hardy Trolander, created by Minde. The judge cited the ad for its “hierarchy, clarity and brevity.”

The News also won third place in the Special Section category, for the 2010 “Guide to Yellow Springs” titled “Getting to Green,” which focused on local environmental sustainability efforts. “Strong local features that frequently included a “how to” component combined with listings for community organizations, businesses and spiritual organizations as well as a sustainable events calendar resulted in an inventive, news-you-can-use special section,” according to judges.

Bachman, Heaton, free-lance writer Sehvilla Mann, Chiddister, Minde, Ehalt and Village Desk Editor Lauren Shows contributed to the “Guide,” with ads sold by Robert Hasek and Kathryn Hitchcock.

In its seventh category of awards, the News received third place in the Best Web Site category. In this category, all independent papers competed together regardless of size. The judge wrote, “This site had a lot going for it. It uses video, blogs and story chat effectively.”

Bachman, Heaton, Chiddister, Minde, Ehalt and Shows all contribute to the News Web site, which was designed by native Yellow Springer Spencer Beggs, who is now a Web consultant in New York City.


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