Finley, Tioga, Grafton, Dickinson and Bismarck papers take top honors

5/09/22 (Mon)

Finley, Tioga, Grafton, Dickinson and Bismarck papers take top honors

Photo: Photo by Mike McCleary: North Dakota Newspaper Association members gathered May 5-7 in Bismarck to mark the 136th annual NDNA convention. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Steele County Press, Tioga Tribune, Walsh County Record, Dickinson Press, and Bismarck Tribune netted first-place honors in the general excellence category of the 2022 North Dakota Newspaper Association (NDNA) Better Newspaper Contest for work done in 2021.

The general excellence category evaluates newspapers on everything from news writing to photography and layout and ad design, and judges from Montana praised the work of the winning newspapers. “One of the best newspapers I have ever seen,” judges wrote of the Tioga Tribune.

For the sweepstakes contest, in which each paper receives points for individual awards in all contest categories and those who received the most awards are recognized in five circulation classes, top winners included the News Monitor in Hankinson, Hillsboro Banner, Walsh County Record, Daily News in Wahpeton, and The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.

The Photo of the Year award, which recognizes the best photo among all winning photography categories, went to Larry Biri of the Walsh County Press in the weekly division. “A clear winner and captivating photo,” judges wrote. “The image itself tells a story, the composition is incredibly dynamic, and the light and contrast make it sing. This is fantastic work.” In the multi-day division, the Photo of the Year award went to David Samson of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. “This shot is just a fraction of a second that can’t be repeated, showing the joy and pride and raw emotion of the players and their clear victory. The expressions are priceless – it’s so difficult to snap a moment when every single face is lit with such energy,” judges wrote. “It’s hard not to feel like you’re right there at the game with an image like this one. Well done.”

“This was a banner year for North Dakota Newspapers,” NDNA Executive Director Sarah Elmquist Squires stated. “Our judges repeatedly remarked at the quality and professionalism of the work of our state’s journalists, and the stories, ads, photos and work submitted showed that readers are lucky to have top-notch, stellar journalists at work for them in every corner of the state.”

Bismarck Tribune Editor Amy Dalrymple passed the NDNA president torch to new president Amy Wobbema of New Rockford Transcript and Foster County Independent during the NDNA’s 136th annual convention, held in Bismarck May 5-7. The membership also elected Hillsboro Banner’s Cole Short to the position of first vice president and Allison Olimb of the Walsh County Press as second vice president. Terry Schwartzenberger of the Napoleon Homestead was elected to serve a director position, as well.

Steve Andrist was inducted into the NDNA Hall of Fame during the convention, marking the first time three generations of a family have been given such an honor. His father, John Andrist, and grandfather, Calvin Andrist, were inducted in 2000 and 1978, respectively. Steve, former owner of Journal Publishing, has served on many NDNA boards and committees, and has been incredibly active in the journalism industry, including holding the position of NDNA executive director for seven years. He is currently retired, and serves as co-chair of the North Dakota News Cooperative, a new nonprofit journalism entity.

Jack McDonald, longtime NDNA legal counsel, received the first ever Jack McDonald Freedom Award during the convention, an award named after him that honors a person or organization that demonstrates extraordinary efforts to preserve or enhance government transparency in North Dakota.

Barry Amundson of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, was inducted into the NDNA 50-Year Club. He bagan working for newspapers at 16, and has worked for The Forum for 15 years. He’s currently the city and night editor and plans to retire this summer.

Other special accolades

  • Robert Wanek Jr., Daily News, Wahpeton, received the Rookie Reporter of the Year award. “There’s nothing boring or boilerplate about Robert’s writing – he draws you in and keeps you there,” judges wrote. “This writer has a great future ahead of him, and readers are lucky to have such talent.”
  • Brad Nygaard, The Journal, Crosby, received the Public Notice Journalism award. “This is the kind of watchdog reporting that has real consequences. This is a story of government workers breaking down doors and threatening the livelihoods of community members, and then attempting to conduct those highstakes decisions behind closed doors,” judges wrote. “Kudos to The Journal for shining a light on this illegal, and dangerous, government overreach, and for explaining to citizens the situation, the law, and the actions it is taking with such clarity and brevity. One of the best entries I’ve seen all year.”
  • Mike McCleary, Bismarck Tribune, received the Community Service award. “This was a masterpiece of a series. The reporting is the kind that takes a special touch from someone willing to put in the time to really get to know the people he is covering, to see beyond the surface of an issue,” judges wrote. “The photos pull you in, the videos bring it all to life. This isn’t just a tally of the number of pounds of food that were given as a response, but the hearts and minds that were changed, the understanding that prompts empathy and paves the way for true community growth. Fantastic package and a clear winner.”
  • Sam Easter, Sydney Mook, and Korrie Wenzel, Grand Forks Herald, received the First Amendment award. “Oftentimes the most important fight for Freedom of Speech and Information comes from showing people why it matters. In the Herald’s terrific example of that, reporters and editors had to wade through hundreds of pages of documents, had to fight for those documents through red tape at every turn, and had to stand firm against bureaucrats bent on painting rosy pictures over serious problems, seemingly without concern for the truth. The reporting cut through the confusing circular rhetoric of academia and PR and presented the findings in a fair and clear way; editorials showed readers why it was important. The Herald team handled backlash with professionalism and honesty. All in all, a service to the community and taxpayers. Fantastic job.”

For further information, contact Sarah Elmquist Squires,
NDNA Executive Director,
866-685-8889 or
sarahes@ndna.com