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The YS News was awarded the Osman C. Hooper Award for Newspaper of the Year in its division at the annual Ohio News Media Association Fellowship Day. Standing, left to right: Matt Minde, Truth Garrett, Reilly Dixon, Cheryl Durgans and Jeff Vawter. In front: Lynda Highlander, Lauren “Chuck” Shows. (Photo by Otto Timer)

Yellow Springs News wins ‘Newspaper of the Year’

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The Yellow Springs News won the top prize at an annual state competition for weekly newspapers earlier this month — an award the local paper last took home in 2022.

The News was named “Newspaper of the Year” in its division at the Osman C. Hooper Non-Daily Newspaper Competition, presented by the Ohio News Media Association, or ONMA. The award was presented Thursday, April 4, during the ONMA’s Fellowship Day.

In addition to earlier wins in 2006 and 2008, the News was awarded the Hooper honor each year from 2011 through 2022. Last year represented a break in a 12-year streak of wins, when the award went to the Archbold Buckeye. This year, the Buckeye took home the second-place award — a new honor introduced this year.

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The News won “Newspaper of the Year” in Division C — the largest division in the competition — which comprises weekly papers with a circulation of 2,000 or fewer. Other competitors who won awards in Division C included People’s Defender (Highland County), Archbold Buckeye, Ripley Bee, Lake County Tribune, The Courier (Jefferson), The News (Ashtabula County), Logan Daily News, Shelby Daily Globe, The Village Reporter (Montpelier) and Pike County News Watchman.

Contest entries were independently judged by an anonymous “blue ribbon panel of experts in the fields of design, photography, advertising and journalism,” according to the ONMA.

In addition to the Hooper Award, the News was also honored with 11 individual category awards in both Division C and all-division categories.

The staff won first place in its division for “News Coverage.” Judges wrote: “So many great columns that supplement the community content in the [News]. Very clear headlines. … Love the added local business (liner directory) in addition to the display advertising. So many wonderful photos. Very extensive community calendar — coverage of events as well as news and local government.”

The entire staff also won first place in the “Best Special Edition or Section” category for its “Guide to Yellow Springs.”

“This is how you create a guide that local residents will hold onto all year long,” judges wrote. “Essential reading for anyone living in or visiting Yellow Springs.”

Associate Editor Lauren “Chuck” Shows took home two reporting awards, including first place for “Best Local Feature” for the January 2023 story “Anthrotech takes expertise to courtroom.” Judges lauded the “winning tale” of local anthropometry research company Anthrotech, which consulted with the FBI to provide research for a criminal case, and former owner Bruce Bradtmiller’s first time acting as an expert testimony witness in a criminal trial.

“Who knew a Yellow Springs man had the expertise needed to help convict a big game hunter of killing his wife in Zambia?” judges wrote. “The Yellow Springs News knew — and now their readers do, too!”

Shows won second place in the “Best News Story” category for her November 2023 story, “Little Art receives $100,000 grant,” with judges noting: “It’s clear why this theater matters to the village.”

Shows also won first place in the all-division “Best Editorial” category for September 2023’s “Public officials are still official in streets, on pages,” which ruminated on when and how public officials should be identified by their official roles in reporting, even when they’ve acted in nonofficial capacities. Judges called the piece a “thoughtful explanation of one of the ways journalism works.”

Columnist Chris Wyatt, who writes “The Patterdale Hall Diaries,” was awarded second place in the “Original Columns” category. Judges extolled Wyatt’s strong, clear voice, with one writing: “I feel like I know Chris Wyatt. I know where he lives, his wife and where he works. There’s a strong connection to the community and he is super witty.”

The News’ production and advertising duo, Reilly Dixon and Matt Minde, won second place in the “Best Newspaper Design,” with judges praising the designers’ “nice, clean style guide.”

“The layout and fonts are consistent and easy to read — when necessary, a ‘special font’ is used to highlight a feature article,” judges wrote. “Illustrations, creative use of text and dividing elements break up the ‘gray’ of the page to make it very easy to navigate. Photo placement in the center of columns and articles adds to the ease of readability — very classic, clean design.”

Dixon and Minde also won third place in the “Advertising” category and fourth place in the “House Advertising” category, with judges writing that their ads “easily share what you need to know.”

Shows, Minde and freelance sports photographer Michael Knemeyer also won awards for photography. Shows won first place in the “Best News Photo” category for a photo of YS High School students engaged in a February rehearsal for the 2023 spring musical, “Mamma Mia!” Minde won third place in the same category for a photo of marchers in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march.

Knemeyer won first place in the “Best Sports Photo” category for “Tiger Lands in First Place,” a photo that dramatically captured track and field athlete Tiger Collins landing a championship-winning high jump.

Judges wrote: “Photography is more than just being in the right spot with the right shot. There was an amazing sense of timing that was reinforced by a good caption to tell the story for the audience. Also, there is a reason to note the sand kicking up and the perfect look of concentration on Tiger Collins’ face when she lands.”

The current full- and part-time staff of the News is Cheryl Durgans, editor; Lauren “Chuck” Shows, associate editor and reporter; Reilly Dixon, reporter and layout/design; Truth Garrett, reporter; Matt Minde, advertising manager; Lynda Highlander, office/classifieds/circulation manager; Carol Simmons, village desk editor and proofreader; Kitty Jensen, proofreader; and Jeff Vawter, distribution. The News is owned by Durgans, Minde and Shows.

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