The Daily News was honored with 37 awards for news, sports, design and advertising in the Michigan Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest, the results of which were was announced on Thursday.
The Daily News received 21 awards for advertising and 16 awards for editorial work from 2021 and 2022, including second place for Class D Newspaper of the Year (the Daily News took first place in this category for seven years prior) and second place statewide for Daily Newspaper Excellence in Advertising.
“If you look at the number of first, second, third and honorable mention awards we received, you know our team has incredible talent and skill,” said Daily News publisher Julie Stafford. “Most of us are competitive by nature so, of course, it stung a bit not bringing the Newspaper of the Year award home again this year. But if you read our paper and look at the design of our ads, you know we are among the best in the business.
“At last count, there were 1,230 daily newspapers in the country,” Stafford noted. “Our team does not take lightly the fact that we are one of them and that we serve as the primary source of local news for readers and followers in Ionia and Montcalm counties. The fact that we do it every day and we are acknowledged by our peers, speaks volumes.”
The Daily News was awarded the statewide open class MPA Public Service Award for the second year in a row recognizing “meritorious public service by a newspaper or newspaper individual that has made a significant contribution to the betterment of their community,” for News Editor Elisabeth Waldon’s Sept. 30, 2021 story “Folks Believe What They Want To Believe,” a summary of the wind energy debate in Montcalm County (Waldon also won this same statewide award last year for her reporting on wind energy).
The Daily News was also awarded the statewide open class MPA Public Notice Journalism award recognizing “stories that exemplify the importance of public notice in newspapers” for Waldon’s coverage in February and March 2022 detailing how the Douglass Township Board incorrectly published public notices or didn’t publish them at all, and was again related to the wind energy debate (Waldon also won this same statewide award in 2021).
“The statewide recognition for my stories is appreciated as it helps shine a light on the importance of a local newspaper working to hold government officials accountable and to make government functions more transparent for our citizens,” Waldon said.
“I utilized the Freedom Of Information Act for ‘Folks Believe What They Want To Believe’ to gather correspondence between township officials, Apex Clean Energy and supporters and opponents of a proposed wind turbine project for Montcalm County,” Waldon noted. “We have a small newsroom and so it was a lengthy process — I chipped away at that story for several months until it all came together. For the Douglass Township public notices story, I dove into the Daily News archives to look back at how that township has handled public notices over the years. That story was a good example of why public notices should continue to be published in newspapers so the public can stay informed about their local government and also have a research tool at their fingertips if they need to go back and search local history.”
“I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving or works harder to make sure residents know what their governments are doing than Elisabeth Waldon,” Stafford said. “Landing in first place in a field that includes writers from some of the biggest newspaper groups in the country is really something. I am especially proud of the work Elisabeth has done over the past handful of years and admire her tenacity for getting to the bottom of an issue. The Daily News and our readers are really lucky to have her on our team.”
Overall, View Newspaper Group, which owns the Daily News, received more than 100 awards and honorable mentions for its newspapers, including the weekly Huron County View which was named the Class A Newspaper of the Year for the third year in a row.
“We are very proud of our group’s overall showing in the annual MPA contest, especially our Huron County View team in Bad Axe for winning Newspaper of the Year for the third year in a row and Elisabeth Waldon at the Daily News for her Public Notice and Public Service awards ” said Group Publisher Wes Smith. “We have an incredibly talented and dedicated team of journalists, editors, designers, sales professionals and support staff working at our community newspapers across Michigan. It is truly an honor that our team members are recognized by our peers in the newspaper business for their efforts and achievements.”
Daily News editorial staff members received the following MPA awards:
• Best Newspaper Design: Managing Editor Darrin Clark
• Best Page or Pages Design: Clark
• Best Digital Presentation: Daily News staff
• Public Service Award: “Folks Believe What They Want To Believe,” by News Editor Elisabeth Waldon
• Public Notices Award: Douglass Township public notice coverage by Waldon
• Best Sports Photo: “Ionia defeats Kelloggsville 55-8, in sixth annual Patriot Game” by Senior Staff Writer Cory Smith, a Sept. 3, 2021 photo of Ionia football players running onto the field while carrying American flags (Smith won this category over 17 other entries).
• Best Feature Photo: “Exceeded expectations” by Smith, an August 23, 2021 photo of fireworks over Frugthaven Farm in Eureka Township as part of that year’s Greenville Danish Festival (Smith won this category over 12 other entries).
• Best Sports Column: “Undefeated in Stanton: Josiah Magley” by Sports Editor Alex Freeman, a Sept. 14, 2021 column about a Central Montcalm senior runner (Freeman won this category over 10 other entries).
• Business/Agriculture News: Solar farm coverage by Waldon, a series of stories throughout 2022 about how local townships were dealing with possible solar energy projects (Waldon won this category over 15 other entries).
Smith also received an honorable mention in the Business/Agriculture News category for “The birds are back,” a June 22, 2022 story about Montcalm County 4-H’ers excited to show off live birds again after avian flu restrictions were lifted.
• Government/Education News: Montcalm County Board of Commissioners ARPA money coverage by Waldon, a series of stories throughout 2022 about how county commissioners debated how to spend federal American Rescue Plan Act funds (Waldon won this category over 22 other entries).
• Class D Newspaper of the Year
• Best News Photo: “5 fire departments tackle large barn fire near Greenville” by Smith, a May 1, 2022 breaking news story.
• Best Sports Feature: “I don’t want to be average” by Freeman, a Feb. 14, 2022 story about Belding sophomore and basketball standout Brook Simpson.
• Best Sports Writing: “Forist’s final foray” by Freeman, a June 6, 2022 story about Carson City-Crystal senior and standout athlete Zane Forist.
• Best Feature Story: “Good and faithful soldier, your job is not yet finished” by Smith, a Feb. 5, 2022 story about a Greenville man who received the Purple Heart.
• Best News Photo: “That’s a win” by Smith, a Dec. 14, 2021 photo from a house fire on Perch Lake.
“I am extremely proud of the design team for all of their accomplishments this past year,” said Daily News Director of Sales and Marketing Amber Antcliff-Rood. “We pride ourselves on professional workmanship, and it shows every day in the newspaper we deliver to our subscribers. I am also appreciative of our many advertising clients who trust us to replicate their vision into a print or digital ad, helping promote their businesses and organizations on a daily basis.”
Daily News advertising staff members received the following MPA awards:
• Second place statewide for Daily Newspaper Excellence in Advertising.
• Best Community Cause Marketing: Sheena Hawn won first and second place for her Healthy Heart Tips ad and her Halloween Safety ad, respectively.
• Best In-House Circulation Ad: The Daily News took third place for “Sign up for digital,” a team effort.
• Best Digital Ad: The Daily News took second place for “Weather widget with Russells,” a team effort.
• Best Health/Fitness Ad: Hawn won first place for “Celebrating 5 Stars.”
• Best In-House Ad Contest Promotion: Hawn won first place for “Gridiron Picks Daily News Contest.”
Dave Hayden also received an honorable mention in this category for “Upcoming features promotions.”
• Best Special Section: The Daily News took second place for “Readers Choice Ballot,” a team effort.
• Best Use of Color: Hayden took second place for “Going for a chocolate stroll.”
• Community Business Promotions: Hayden won first place for “Greenville Area Community Foundation Supporting Local” and Hawn took second place for “Lucky in Lowell.”
• Entertaining Services: The Daily News ad team won first place for “Entertainment” and third place for “Hark up.”
• General Retail: Hawn took third place for Jorgi’s end of summer sale.”
• Home Furnishings: Hayden won first place for “All clear, no smear” and Hawn took third place for “Crosswords with Larry.”
• Home Services: The Daily News ad team won first place for “Dog Days.”
• New and Used Autos, RVS and Boats: Hayden won first place for “Ed Kohen.”
• Restaurants: Hayden won first place for “Murder Mystery Dinner” while Hawn took third place for “Flat River Brewing.”
• Small Ads: Hayden took second and third places for “Matthew’s House Punch Card” and “Funeral page sponsor ad,” respectively.
Hayden also received an honorable mention for Best Ad Grouping for his job fair ad creation.