Echo Press brings home 34 awards from Minnesota Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Contest

The newspaper sweeps two categories – columnist and self-promotion/house ad.

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Echo Press staff members, from left, Al Edenloff, Amy Skarka, Michelle Weller, Diann Drew and Celeste Edenloff, picked up the newspapers 34 awards at the Minnesota Newspaper Association's conference, which took place Thursday and Friday, Jan. 26 and 27, in Brooklyn Park.
Contributed photo

ALEXANDRIA — The Echo Press was honored to win 34 awards in this year's Minnesota Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Contest. This is the most awards the newspaper has ever won. The awards were announced at the 156th annual convention in Brooklyn Park Jan. 26-27.

At the awards banquet Thursday, Jan. 26, staff members from the newspaper were on hand to pick up the awards, which were won in several different categories including news reporting, general excellence, headline writing, human interest story, columnist, classified adverting section, best use of social media and many more.

"We feel very honored to have received these awards at the Minnesota Newspaper Contest," said Echo Press Publisher Diann Drew. "These awards truly reflect how committed the entire Echo Press team is to providing excellent local news coverage and top-notch marketing."

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The Echo Press was honored with 34 awards from the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Better Newspaper Contest.
Michelle Weller / Alexandria Echo Press

Contest winners in the MNA's Better Newspaper Contest are determined by judges from award-winning newspapers in other states. This year's judges were members of the Kansas Press Association and included newspaper professionals, journalists and journalism instructors.

Here are the awards the Echo Press received (some include comments from the judges):


Advertising Campaign
Second place – Carlson Music
Winners: Michelle Weller, Russel Zinke, Alexis Dietz and Rachel Poser
Judge comment: Ads were well organized for the information they needed to give. Ads were colorful and conveyed the information well.

Third place – Downtown Liquor
Winners: Andrew Kromrey, Brenda Lawrence, Rebekah Ness and Luanna Lake

Best Advertisement
Third place – Elden's Fresh Foods
Winners: Diann Drew and Brenda Lawrence
Judge Comment: Less white outer glow would be helpful. But it's a fun, clever and bright ad.

Best Magazine
Second place

Best Use of Multimedia
First place – Alexandria woman spent 18 months in a Russian concentration camp w/video
Judge comment: Very good.

Second place – Police podcast
Judge comment: Very informative.

Best Use of Social Media
Second place – Cutest Couple Contest
Judge comment: Great idea. Stealing this.

Best Use of Video
First place – Douglas County Fair video
Judge comment: Nice quick couple of clips. Good use of background music, B-roll


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This screenshot shows a video from the Douglas County Fair.

Classified Advertising Section
Third place

First place – Karen Tolkkinen
Judge comment: Well done. Addresses very serious topics empathetically and eloquently.

Second place – Al Edenloff
Judge comment: Good commentary on aspects of daily/local life.

Third place – Thalen Zimmerman
Judge comment: Very readable commentaries on states/events of his life.

The Echo Press swept the columnist category in the Better Newspaper Contest. Reporter Karen Tolkkinen won first place, while Editor Al Edenloff took second and Reporte Thalen Zimmerman won third.

Design Portfolio
Third place – Marcy Nickel
Judge comment: I loved the way you gave good photos the play they deserved.

Editorial Page as a Whole
First place

Editorial Portfolio
Second place
Judge comment: Interesting "In the Know" columns from public servants about their jobs. Travis Gulbrandson writes an entertaining column — nice work. Thumbs up/Thumbs down is a good idea for audience interaction.

General Excellence
Third place
Judge comment: Very nice design, easy to read and nice variety of coverage.


General Reporting
First place
Judge comment: Good job. Clearly, the best in category.

Hard News
First place – Coverage of tornado that hit Forada and Maple Lake on May 30
Winners: Al Edenloff, Celeste Edenloff, Thalen Zimmerman and Lowell Anderson
Judge comment: Very comprehensive.

Second place – Coverage of May 12 tornado
Winners: Al Edenloff and Celeste Edenloff

The Echo Press won awards for its coverage of two tornadoes that hit the area last year. The first touched down on May 12, while the other hit on May 30.

Headline Writing
First place
Judge comment: The Echo was the clear winner. Headlines were accurate to the story and some had some flair to them. Good job.

Herman Roe Editorial Writing Award
Second place
Winner: Al Edenloff

Human Interest Story
Second place – Rosary in her pocket and Love across the pond (two-part series)
Winner: Thalen Zimmerman
Judge comment: Those of us blessed to be born in the USA take so many things for granted. We complain about the smallest things, and fail to respect and appreciate what we have. Those mentioned in this story know how blessed they are to be here, having gone through a literal hell. It made me want to be a better citizen, stop complaining about insignificant things, and be much more understanding and kinder to those who are seeking a safe and kinder life here.

Third place – Nobody's darling but mine
Winner: Celeste Edenloff

Judge comment: In a world where more than 50% of marriages end in divorce, this couple serves as a shining example of what true love is, and what it takes to keep a relationship alive and growing. Being married for that many years, they have no doubt faced every sort of struggle imaginable, but worked through it, because they wanted to and because they loved each other. It made me want to work even harder on my own marriage, and see that relationship and my wife of 25 years as my greatest and most important treasure.


Local Breaking News Coverage
Second place – Coverage of tornado that hit Forada and Maple Lake on May 30
Winners: Al Edenloff, Celeste Edenloff , Thalen Zimmerman and Lowell Anderson
Judge comment: This is a fantastic scope of coverage. The reporters do a great job showing and telling about the devastation surrounding this tornado.

Photography Feature Photo
Second place – Fair riders - Dragon wagon
Winner: Lowell Anderson
Judge comment: Great facial expressions. Nice action with the waving hands. Good composition.

Ride at fair
Fairgoers enjoy an exciting ride on the Dragon Wagon roller coaster at the Douglas County Fair in Alexandria Thursday.
Lowell Anderson / Alexandria Echo Press

Self-promotion or House Ad
First place – Miss you ad
Winners: Lynn Mounsdon and Brenda Lawrence

Second place – Spring savings ad
Winners: Kate Henderson and Rebekah Ness

Third place – Now hiring ad
Winners: Kate Henderson and Josie Gereszek

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These ads won first, second and third place in the self-promotion/house ad category of the Better Newspaper Contest.

Special Section
Third place – Tribute to 20th anniversary of 9/11

Sports Feature Story
First place – Love for Jack comes from near and far
Winner: Eric Morken

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Former Echo Press Sports Editor Eric Morken won first place in two categories, Sports Feature Story and Sports Story, in the Better Newspaper Contest for his stories titled, "Love for Jack comes from near and Far" and "Turning dreams into reality."

Sports Reporting
First place


Sports Story
First place – Turning dreams to reality
Winner: Eric Morken
Judge comment: This story is very inspiring and shows the payoff of hard work. Very entertaining and well written.

Use of Photography as a Whole
Second place
Judge comment: I really like the front page photos.

Second place
Judge comment: Clean, good on mobile.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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