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2nd Place Feature Photo by Lowell Anderson

Echo Press website named best in state

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The Echo Press website was once again honored by the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA).

For the third straight year, the site received a first place award in its category - weekly newspapers with more than 5,000 subscribers.

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It was one of nine honors the Echo Press earned in the MNA's 2009-2010 Better Newspaper Contest.

Open to all MNA member newspapers in the state, the contest is judged annually by award-winning newspaper professionals in another state.

The awards were presented at the MNA's annual banquet in Bloomington January 26-29.

The Echo Press website award marked the seventh time in the last eight years that the site has garnered a first or second place honor.

Here's what a judge noted about the site: "I was surprised that this is a weekly paper's website. It looks like a daily's. It offers a lot to the readers in a nice format. A colorful site with good use of photos. I love the four art slider positions on the homepage, along with the daily updates. It shows that while you're a weekly, you understand the importance of treating your website as a daily. Very impressed with all the online elements as well - mobile alerts, e-mail alerts, social media. You're well ahead of many weeklies. An obvious first place winner."

The Echo Press was honored in eight other categories as well, including photography, advertising and reporting. Here's a list of the awards:

• Use of Photography as a Whole, second place (weeklies over 5,000). "Your photographers show very strong initiative," said a judge. "They get some great shots by going up high and down low and always seem to be in the right place at the right time. Good job to entire staff!"

• Institutional Advertisement, first place (weeklies over 2,500). Graphic Designers Kelsey Langager and Karla Mikkelson and Sales Representative Izzy Rusch teamed up to produce a full-color ad, "31 Days to a Healthier You," published in October 2009. "This was a thoughtful and creative ad, getting many businesses involved," said a judge. "The topic is one no one can look past. I was impressed. Great idea."

• Innovative Online Advertising, first place (all weeklies). Graphic Designer Jenny Wagner and Sales Representative Shelly Beaulieu were honored for their online ad work for Karrow Jewelers. "Great visibility on the website," said a judge. "Eye-catching color and great use of photos to feature the product."

• Sports Photo, first place (weeklies over 5,000). Sports Editor Lori Mork's photo of Alexandria's Nick Schmidt competing in the long jump impressed the judges. "A good photo of a tough moment to catch. It is an interesting and unusual image, catching the reader's attention.

• Sports Photo, second place (weeklies over 5,000). Mork swept the category by also winning the second place award for her photo of the Alexandria volleyball team celebrating its section championship win. "Photo caught the perfect moment of five players at a peak emotional moment. There is a lot of energy in this photo."

• Feature Photo, second place (weeklies over 5,000). Photographer Lowell Anderson's photo of Good Shepherd and Zion Lutheran Church's Passion Drama struck a chord with the judges. "Really like the choice to use the couple who are facing the cross as the focal point," said a judge.

• Multimedia Special Project, first place (weeklies over 2,500). Anderson and Connor Blacksher, intern photographer, put together an online slide show with a voiceover about a mock car crash held at Jefferson High School. "I can easily see this used as a public service announcement and shown in high schools all over. It's that good," said a judge.

• Government/Public Affairs Reporting, honorable mention (all newspapers). Reporter Celeste Beam's story detailing what proposed cuts would mean to Douglas County's Sentenced to Serve program received accolades from the judges. "This is an interesting profile of a program that clearly has a broad range of benefits across the community," said a judge. "Also done with a lot of heart. The passion of the people who run the program comes across well and the last quote summed it up entirely." The quote: "The clients are very good about thanking the inmates and they really appreciate that. It makes them feel worthy."

MILLS, VANCE TROPHIES

The Mills Trophy, given to the weekly newspaper that earns the most award points in the contest was presented to the Hutchinson Leader.

This year's Vance Trophy, awarded to the daily newspaper that wins the most award points, went to the St. Cloud Times.

Website honors

The Echo Press website has earned awards in seven of the last eight years, including:

2010 - 1st place

2009 - 1st place

2008 - 1st place

2006 - 1st place

2005 - 2nd place

2004 - 1st place

2003 - 2nd place

The awards

The Echo Press won nine awards in the Minnesota Newspaper Association's 2009-2010 Better Newspaper Contest:

Website - 1st place

Use of Photography - 2nd place

Institutional Ad - 1st place

Online Advertising - 1st place

Sports Photo - 1st place

Sports Photo - 2nd place

Feature Photo - 2nd place

Multimedia Special Project - 1st place

Government Reporting - hon. mention

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Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
(320) 763-1236
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