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Echo Press wins 8 state awards

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The Echo Press was honored with eight awards in the Minnesota Newspaper Association's "Better Newspaper Contest."

Echo Press employees picked up the awards and attended seminars at the MNA's annual convention in Bloomington January 27-29. Jody Hanson, MNA president and publisher of the Echo Press, handed out the awards during the awards banquet.

Newspapers from across the state entered the contest, submitting their best work in advertising, writing, Internet, photography and other categories. In all, the contest generated more than 3,000 entries.

Here are the Echo Press awards:

•First place, Best Website, weeklies with more than 5,000 circulation.

"The site was very pleasing to view and navigation was intuitive," said the judges. "Content was informative and updated throughout the day, giving users a reason to return and keeping their subscribers updated throughout the week. Users were given opportunities to interact with the site. Registration was simple enough that most people would not be turned off...Advertising in general was interesting and multiple options were available. Liked the very creative marketplace ad."

Web Developer Richard Aber accepted the award on behalf of the newspaper and all the employees who contribute to the quality of the website,

•First place, Multimedia Special Project, all newspapers.

The newspaper put together a slideshow on its website about a mock car accident near Jefferson High School that showed the dangers of distracted driving. It combined photographs taken by Reporter Celeste Beam with audio of the student actors leading up to the crash, police and rescue personnel being paged to the scene, and ultimately, a police officer breaking the news of the fatal crash to a parent.

Special Projects Coordinator Lowell Anderson put the slideshow together, with help from the school district and local law enforcement.

"A poignant slideshow, masterfully assembled and edited," commented the judges. "This slideshow illustrates the power of multimedia by taking what would be a routine story for print and creating a much stronger presentation for online. It should be required viewing for drivers' education classes."

The slideshow can be viewed at

•First place, News Photo, weeklies with more than 5,000 circulation. Lowell Anderson's photo of work being done on County Road 42 last summer earned praise from the judges.

"A different approach to a typical road construction photo," they commented. "Kudos to the photographer for coming up with a unique angle, shooting through road barriers to get the construction equipment.

•First place, Use of Color in Advertising, weeklies with more than 2,500 circulation. Graphics Designer Karla Mikkelson's "Think Pink" ad about breast cancer awareness caught the judges' attention.

"Very creative and unique choice of ad size, color splash and art," they noted. "Draws you in with an easy flow to capture the information quickly. Readers will remember this ad!"

•Second place, Advertising Campaign, all newspapers. Sales Representative Dawn Reed and Mikkelson were honored for their series of ads for Amdahl Hearing that showed how someone who is hard of hearing may misinterpret a sentence like "Please pass the gravy, Grandpa" as "Peas pass the Navy, Grandpa."

"Humor in advertising. Readers will remember this campaign and Amdahl Hearing," the judges said. "Can't wait to see the next ad."

•Second place, Self-Promotion or House Ad, weeklies with more than 2,500 circulation.

Graphics Designer Jenny Wagner's newspaper promotional ad showing a baby reading the newspaper was praised by the judges.

"The message is the newspaper is a growing and important part of the community," they said.

•Second place, Editorial Page as a Whole, weeklies with more than 5,000 circulation.

"I like the 'thumbs up/thumbs down' feature - very eye-catching and easy to read," said the judges. "Nice local columns and letters."

Editor Al Edenloff accepted the award on behalf of the newspaper.

•Second place, Innovative Online Advertising, all weeklies.

The judges liked Graphics Designer Kelsey Langager's and Reed's online ad for All-State Satellite.

"Vivid colors in a large format Web advertising series brought viewers to the client," noted the judges.

Osakis Review wins

The Osakis Review, which is also produced by the Echo Press, received two awards at the MNA convention.

It received second place honors for General Reporting, weeklies up to 1,500 circulation.

The judges noted that the paper showed good news judgment for determining which stories should be tackled by staff versus submitted material. "Stories were well written and concise," the judges added.

Review Editor Greta Petrich accepted the award on behalf of the newspaper.

Petrich also won an individual award for her photo showing a jaguar getting very close to a frightened girl at the zoo - only the glass walls of the cage separated them. The caption read, "Thank goodness for the glass."

"Great photo!" said the judges. "Photo is funny and the caption helps tell the story. Great live action shot."

Big winners

The coveted "Vance Trophy" - awarded to the best non-metro daily newspaper in the state that earns the most points in the contest - was given to The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which owns the Echo Press, the Osakis Review and 33 other newspapers in the Midwest.

The Forum earned 33 awards, including top honors for General Excellence.

The "Mills Trophy," which is awarded to the top weekly newspaper in the state, went to the Ely Timberjay.

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.  
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