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Echo Press honored with 30 state awards

The Echo Press won 11 first place, 10 second place awards and nine third place honors across all facets of the newspaper – news, sports, opinion, photography, advertising and design.

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Echo Press photographer Lowell Anderson won first place in the news photo category with this shot taken at the Cool School Plunge at Discovery Middle School last March.
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The Echo Press received 30 awards in the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s 2019-2020 Better Newspapers Contest – tying the most awards it has ever received.

Results were revealed at the MNA’s annual award ceremony through a recorded YouTube video on Thursday, Jan. 28.

The Echo Press won 11 first place, 10 second place awards and nine third place honors across all facets of the newspaper – news, sports, opinion, photography, advertising and design.

For the first time, the Echo Press received first place honors for the “Dave Pyle New Journalist Award,” which was given to Jared Rubado, sports and news reporter, who began working for the newspaper in December 2018.

After looking over Rubado’s work and reading the application letter for the special award, submitted by Jeff Beach, editorial director for the Forum Communications Lakes Group, a judge from the Michigan Newspaper Association commented, “This reporter is truly a jack-of-all trades. He not only can handle any assignment thrown his way, but he does it with style. It’s hard not to be impressed with the depth and range this reporter is able to bring to the job. I wouldn’t be afraid to put this guy on any beat. It looks like he could handle anything from courts and cops to high school gymnastics.”


The Echo Press also received the coveted first place award for “General Excellence,” which recognizes all sections of the newspaper. A judge noted, “The layout was very clean throughout with a good variety of stories and topics found in a good community newspaper. The Opinion page had local columns and letters, and its own editorial helped to set it apart. The photos weren’t overdone, and they clearly complimented the stories and were packaged well on the page. The classifieds were easy to navigate and the larger ads look great.”

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The Echo Press won first place in the General Excellence category. The judges said the layout of the paper was very clean and had a good variety of stories and topics. They also said the newspaper's own editorials helped set them apart.

The Echo Press, which last year earned the “Mills Trophy” for winning 30 awards and collecting the most points in the contest for weekly or twice-weekly newspapers, just missed repeating the feat. The honor went to the Pine Knot News of Cloquet.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead was presented with the “Vance Trophy” for receiving the most points among daily publications. Both The Forum and the Echo Press are owned by Forum Communications.

Here’s a look at the other honors the Echo Press received:

First place awards

Use of photography as a whole. “Some nice work here all around. Photos with moments and clearly thought-out compositions. Good use of size and variety,” said a judge.

Headline writing. A judge listed some notable headlines: A Monarch Miracle, Smiling in Peru, Pocket gophers lining pockets, A big one brewing, People helping people, Plug pulled on Tow Truck Pull.


Sports feature story. Rubado was honored for his story, Trend Setters , about the 1994 Alexandria football team. “A wonderful story looking back at where it all started. Stories like this one are not just sitting there waiting to be written. Instead, you have to go out, find it, contact people from 30 years ago and give it that special touch to make it a great read. That is what happened here,” a judge noted.

Also, sports editor Eric Morken picked up a second place award for his story, Dylan’s winding road to the finals , which focused on wrestler Dylan Jergenson’s recovery from a traumatic brain injury. “A difficult story not when it comes to writing it but when it comes to making it stand out. This young man had a tough road, and his parents were very concerned, but he made it work and so did the writer,” noted a judge.

News photo. Reporter Lowell Anderson was honored for his photo, “A cool fundraiser,” from the Polar Plunge. “Facial expressions are great, made me cold,” said a judge.

Reporter Celeste Edenloff received the third place award in the same category, for her photo of the downtown fire in Alexandria. “Nice job getting the sign, smoke, firemen all in one shot,” said a judge.

Advertising campaign, presented to Sales Representative Randy Jansen and Designer Mollie Burlingame for Culver’s. “Very professional quality ads! I would definitely want to go to Culver’s after seeing these ads,” a judge said.

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Sales Representative Randy Jansen and Designer Mollie Burlingame won first place for a Culver’s ad.

The Echo Press also received a third place award in the same category, which was presented to Sales Manager Shelly Beaulieu and Designer Deb Zens for Colorful Seasons. “Great use of color, ad types and design. Very attractive,” said a judge.


Institutional advertisement, presented to the Echo Press sales team and Designer Luanna Lake for a 4-H ad. The Echo Press also received a third place award in the same category for an Alexandria Golf Club ad that was given to Jansen and Lake.

Self-promotion or house ad, presented to Publisher Diann Drew. Lakes Group Publisher Jody Hanson received a second place award in the same category.

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Diann Drew, Echo Press publisher, won a first place award for this self-promotion/house ad.

Use of color in advertising. The Echo Press swept this category. The first place award went to Jansen and Designer Katie Hastings for the Corral Saloon and Eatery. “Very visually appealing ad,” a judge said. “The colors used throughout are appropriate to the Thanksgiving ad subject/theme, as well as the advertiser’s logo/brand, and are cohesive, but are also used in creative ways to highlight the advertiser’s messages throughout the ad space. Very well done.”

Beaulieu and Zens won second place for an ad for Anderson Florist. “Overall appearance of the ad is very visually pleasing. The colors used throughout are appropriate to the ad subject/theme. The colors are used cohesively throughout the ad, but in a creative and unique way via the different call-out boxes with key messages from the advertiser. Very well done.”

Also, Beaulieu and Designer Peg Day received third place honors for a Bon Jos ad. “Overall, the colors are very visually appealing, especially when used in the creative, contrasting ways that they are here.”

Special section. The Echo Press staff was honored for the publication, 101 Fun Things to Do.

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The Echo Press' 101 fun things to do took first place in the Special Section category.

Second place awards

Local breaking news coverage. Reporter Celeste Edenloff, News Editor Al Edenloff, Reporter Karen Tolkkinen and Anderson were honored for their stories about the downtown Alexandria fire . “Extensive, enterprising coverage of a major incident. Good use of photos and first-person accounts,” said a judge.

In the same category, Celeste Edenloff picked up a third place award for her stories about two brothers and a young boy dying from silo fumes. “These stories showed sensitivity to a very tragic situation while, at the same time, keeping the community informed,” said a judge.

Editorial page as a whole. Commenting on the Opinion page, a judge noted, “Healthy communities and readers are a common thread throughout pages. Local history adds variety.”

General reporting. “Reporting showed a high level of civic engagement. Excellent local sports

reporting, too. Loved the feature on father-daughter scorekeepers,” said a judge.

Social issues story. Rubado was honored for his story about a peaceful event that promoted equality in Alexandria, organized by the Inclusion Network. “Great lede, strong narrative writing on a controversial subject. You’re immediately drawn in and stay there,” said a judge.

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Echo Press reporter Jared Rubado took home second place in the Social Issues category for his piece on the Time for Change event hosted by the Inclusion Network.

Also, Celeste Edenloff received a third place in the same category for her series on child abuse . “Powerful writing; exhaustive research; difficult topic. Very impressed with the thoroughness and how the project was organized,” said a judge.

Sports story. Morken’s story, Winning one for Brady, about the Osakis baseball team’s support of Brady Berberich , who died from an inoperable brain tumor. “Nice job. A mix of feature as well as game story weaved throughout. Nice job of setting visuals at the beginning of story,” said a judge.

Best Advertisement. The Echo Press sales team and Designer Rachel Poser were honored for their work, receiving second and third place awards in the category.

Design portfolio. Designer Marcy Nickel was honored for her work. “A designer who knows how to get the most out of a photo. Clean and thoughtful, these are very solid pages,” said a judge.

Third place awards

Advertising excellence. “Well laid out with good use of color. Well laid out boxed classified ads with effective use of white space reduces clutter and makes more eye appealing, even in black and white,” a judge noted.

Classified ad section.

Related Topics: DOUGLAS COUNTY
Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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