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The current staff of the Yellow Springs News gathered this week for a photo in front of the News building, which currently features local artist Pierre Nagley’s work-in-progress honoring Viriginia Hamilton and sponsored by H.U.M.A.N. Holding recent plaques honoring the paper as Newspaper of the Year are, from left, back row, Matt Minde, Cheryl Durgans, Jeanna GunderKline, Carol Simmons and Suzanne Szempruch; front row, Reilly Dixon, Lauren “Chuck” Shows and Megan Bachman. (Photo by Kim Plinovich)

For the 11th straight year— News wins top prize again

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The Yellow Springs News has once again been recognized by its peers for excellence in journalism, advertising and design.

The News was awarded the top prize — Newspaper of the Year — in the 2021 Ohio News Media Association weekly newspaper contest.

The honor marks the 11th straight year the News won the competition among similarly sized weekly papers across the state.

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The awards ceremony was held virtually on Friday, Feb. 26. This year’s ONMA convention was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.

The News came away with 12 first-place finishes in this year’s contest, in addition to four second places and two third places.

The Yellow Springs News won Newspaper of the Year in Division C, papers with circulations of less than 2,500. The News’ circulation is 1,610.

In most categories, the News competed against the People’s Defender (Highland County), Archbold Buckeye, News Democrat (Georgetown), Ripley Bee, Solon Times, Lake County Tribune, The Courier (Jefferson), The News (Ashtabula County) and the Morrow County Sentinel.

The contest covered the period of Aug. 1, 2019, to July 31, 2020.

The entire staff was recognized for finishing first in Coronavirus Coverage — a new category — as well as the Best Special Section category for the 2019–20 Guide to Yellow Springs, “A Legacy of Activism,” and the Best Website.

“The Yellow Springs News is known for its intense coverage of big issues, and its coverage of the local impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was no exception,” a judge wrote about the paper’s coronavirus coverage. “From big, intensive looks at serious issues such as mental health, public education, and small-business survival, to little details (such as adding a mask to the front-page flag), the YSN has once again provided tremendous service to its community.”

The reporting staff of Megan Bachman, Audrey Hackett, Carol Simmons and Lauren “Chuck” Shows won first place for News Coverage. A judge wrote that the submission was an “excellent mix of stories and coverage that provide updates and ways for people to get involved. Intensely local without being boosterish, and clearly valued by the community.”

Advertising manager Suzanne Szempruch, Matt Minde, who oversees design and production, and designer Reilly Dixon won first place in the Advertising category. Judges noted the ads were, “simple, clean and easy to read.”

Minde and Dixon also won second place in page design for a photo and story spread about the Yellow Springs High School Athletic Hall of Fame inductees.

News reporters were honored for their coverage of three important local issues in the category of In-depth Reporting.

Hackett won first place for her series on the Greene County Jail ahead of a ballot tax measure to build a new, larger facility. A judge wrote: “The Yellow Springs News provides a comprehensive, deeply sourced, timely and relevant examination of its jail and jail trends elsewhere in Ohio and the country. Impressive and readable body of work — with all the right angles about incarceration.”

Simmons and Bachman, who is also the editor, won second in the same category for a series of articles on the detention of a village resident by Immigrations and Custom Enforcement in 2019. Bachman, Simmons and Hacket also won third place in the same category for the ongoing Facing Race series.

Simmons additionally won first place in all three categories honoring standalone stories: Best News Story, Best Feature Story and Best Sports Feature.

Simmon’s story “After ICE detention — YS seeks local’s release” was selected Best News Story. “This was a well-written story connecting a big national issue — immigration — with the reality of local community life,” a judge commented.

In the category of Best Local Feature, Simmons won first for a piece on Dave Chappelle being awarded the Mark Twain prize, with a judge calling it a “masterfully constructed article” on the ceremony and Chappelle’s “rise to fame.” Simmons traveled to Washington, D.C. for the ceremony using a grant from ONMA.

Simmons picked up her final win for Best Sports Feature with a story about a local cheerleading camp, “Learning to cheer, loud and proud.” “What a fun article,” a judge commented. “It held my attention to the end. The sources, quotes and dialogue made it come to life and provide ‘cheer’ for the reader from start to finish.”

Hackett won first in the Original Column category for her poetry column, First Lines, which ran for three years. “Audrey Hackett hits all the right notes by painting her community with the vivid colors of evocative prose,” a judge wrote. “Sometimes the poetry is beautiful; sometimes whimsical. But with it, she captures the essence of her unique hometown, its fascinating residents and one unique canine whisperer.”

In addition, Hackett’s series on invasive species, “Invasive of the Month,” won first in the category of Community Awareness. A judge commented on how the piece was a “fine example of good explanatory journalism.”

In the field of editorial writing, Hackett won second place for her piece, “No to 500 county jail beds,” in March 2020 and Bachman got third for “A knee on the neck,” written in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020.

News freelance photographer Kathleen Galarza won two photo awards: first place in Best Feature Photo for a shot of the 2020 Pride parade, held by vehicle last year, and second place in Best Sports Photo for a January 2020 shot of YSHS basketball player DeAndre Cowen going up for a slam dunk.

The News has won Newspaper of the Year each year since 2011, in addition to earlier wins in 2008 and 2006.

The current staff of the News also includes new reporter and associate editor, Cheryl Durgans, bookkeeper Jeanna GunderKline and proofreaders Kitty Jensen and Karen Gardner. The News is owned by Minde, Szempruch and Bachman.

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One Response to “For the 11th straight year— News wins top prize again”

  1. Foos Banterin says:

    Congrats! Here’s the web link if any other small media outlets want to pay the membership dues to join up; I’m sure YS News would welcome more competition in a diminishing industry! Great Work Guys!


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