The Vilas County News-Review re­ceived 30 Better Newspaper Contest awards for writing, photography and advertising design, including first place in the Community Service category for its Warm The Children program.

Contest winners were announced last Friday via email, as the 166th annual convention of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association (WNA) was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WNA Foundation received 2,533 entries from 106 newspapers, awarding the News-Review seven firsts, nine seconds, eight thirds and six honorable mention certificates. The News-Review also publishes The Three Lakes News.

Publisher Kurt Krueger said the paper’s 30 awards reflect the excellent work being done by the entire editorial, advertising and production staff.

The News-Review competed in the large weekly division with circulation of 3,501 or more and received a first place in the coveted Community Service category for its Warm The Children program that raises funds through donations and then purchases clothing for underprivileged children in the area with the help of volunteer shoppers. The award was based on the newspaper’s coverage of the program, including stories, editorials, photos and advertisements. The program is coordinated by News-Review lead production technician Toni Ruth­ven.

“Receiving first place in the Community Service category for the Warm The Children program shows the great community support we get for this newspaper project,” said Krueger. “How inspiring it is to live and work in communities that harbor such generous and thoughtful people, both residents and seasonal visitors.”

About the winning entry, the judges wrote: “This important campaign helps almost 600 children stay warm during the winter, and is clearly the result of an amazing coordinated effort among the newspaper, many volunteers, participating stores and, of course, the many donors. The amount of administrative work undertaken by the newspaper is impressive. Articles that track the program toward the fund’s goal seem like a great way to keep awareness of the drive high.”

The News-Review also won the Bill Payne Award in the advertising category for the best single ad of the year. The ad, designed by Krueger and Assistant Production Manager Betsy Boulden, with photos by Editor Gary Ridderbusch, was for the World Championship Derby Complex thank you ad titled “56 Years.” The News-Review also received third place in the Bill Payne Award category for a second Derby ad promoting the event.

Other top awards included first-place plaques for Local Outdoor Column, General News Photo, Breaking News Coverage, Best Ad Idea (series) and Best Restaurant Ad.

Second-place certificates were presented for Special Pages, Portrait or Artistic Photo, Overall Page Design, Editorial Award, Sports Photo, Best Use of Art Service, Best Restaurant Ad, Best Use of Color and Best Small Ad. 

Third-place certificates were presented for Sports Photo, General News Photo, Feature/Lifestyle Section, Feature Photo, Photo Essay, Sports News Story, Editorial Section, Bill Payne Award and Best Large Ad.

The News-Review also received honorable mention certificates for Best Front Page, Best Special Section-Editorial, Spot News Photo, Portrait or Artistic Photo, Best Multiple Advertiser Spread and Best Real Estate Ad.

Eligible entries were published between Sept. 1, 2018, and Aug. 31, 2019. Entries were judged by members of the New York Press Association.

News categories

News-Review staffers won several first-place awards for their work.

Krueger won a first in the Local Outdoor Column category for three columns titled, “Unexpected glory from the grouse woods,” “Sometimes it’s about who’s in your boat,” and “Time to keep watchful eye for lowly turtles.”

The judges wrote: “A good mix of issues to show that outdoor doesn’t always mean either hunting or fishing, with a strong voice that tells stories both outdoorsy people and non-outdoorsy people would find useful and interesting.”

Ridderbusch received a first in the General News Photo category for his photo “Mush, Mush!” taken at the Land O’ Lakes sled dog races.

The judges commented: “There is a lot going on in this photo and it truly captures the action of this event. Even the dogs are cooperating for a great photo.”

Sports Editor Doug Etten received a first in the Breaking News Coverage category for his coverage of a fire that destroyed the landmark Oneida Village Inn in Three Lakes.

The judges wrote: “Amazing turnaround time by the sports editor of the fire that destroyed a local landmark. Dramatic photos add to the comprehensive coverage. Concise and good attention to details.”

The News-Review received a second in the Editorial Award category for three editorials: “Richie’s conflict shouldn’t erase his many victories,” “County should rethink cuts to its tourism staff,” and “ERRA’s capital campaign needs community support.” The editorial board includes Krueger, Ridderbusch, Assistant Editor Mich­elle Drew and Etten.

The News-Review also won a second-place award in the Special Pages category for its Outdoors pages by Ridderbusch, Krueger and Etten. All weekly newspapers were judged in one division. 

The judges wrote: “It’s clear that the outdoors coverage is a priority in Vilas County. Learned a lot in reading these sections and truly enjoyed Kurt Krue­ger’s columns.”

Ridderbusch and Production Manager Jean Drew received a second for Overall Page Design.

News correspondent Kerry Griebenow of Three Lakes received a second in the Portrait or Artistic Photo category for his photo titled, “Morning Fog.” 

The judges wrote: “The fog makes for an absolutely breathtaking morning view.”

News-Review freelance writer and photographer Dean Acheson of Minocqua received a second in the Sports Photo category for his photo of dragon boat competitors racing in Minocqua.

Michelle Drew and Ridderbusch received a third-place award in the Feature/Lifestyle Section category.

The judges wrote: “I found this series of Lifestyle section pages to be everything an old-fashioned — in the good sense of the word, a local — paper  should be: something to pour over, see what’s going on in the community and have a pleasant, relaxing read. Glad you’re still putting this paper out!”

Ridderbusch received third-place awards in the General News Photo and Feature Photo categories for his Northland Pines tug of war photo during Homecoming Week. 

The judges wrote: “Faces on this photo tell the story of the fun and competition going on,” and “Fun photo. What put it over the top was seeing it on the entire printed page, great layout.”

Krueger won a third in the Photo Essay category for his essay titled, “Spring show.”

The judges wrote: “Just gorgeous wildlife shots. You could print these and sell them as posters.”

Ridderbusch received a third place in the Sports News Story category for his Derby article, “Stephenson beats the reds to grab second World title.” 

The judges wrote: “Well written with great detail.”

The News-Review Editorial pages received a third place in the weekly division, with Krueger, Ridderbusch, Etten and Michelle Drew receiving the award. 

Honorable mention certificates were presented to the staff in the Best Special Section-Editorial category for the Senior Focus summer fall 2019 edition.

The judges wrote: “This helpful senior special section surely was received and read with interest. Our seniors should be informed on community levels and this is a great example of how to lead.”

The News-Review received an honorable mention in the Best Front Page category, with credit going to Ridderbusch, Jean Drew, Michelle Drew and Etten.

Etten received an honorable mention for a Spot News photo of a St. Germain car accident just before the newspaper deadline.

The judges wrote: “The clothes strewn across the ground adds so much here.”

Ridderbusch received an honorable mention for his Portrait or Artistic Photo of a sunset over North Twin Lake.

The judges wrote: “The rich colors make for a stunning sunset.”

Advertising categories

In addition to the first-place Bill Payne Award, the News-Review received first and second places in the Best Restaurant Ad, recognizing Boulden and advertising consultant Jo Daniel. First went to an ad for New Year’s Eve at Gateway Lodge, with the judges saying, “This says it all. Information is easy to follow. Well done.” Second place was for an ad for the Golden Pines restaurant’s corned beef and cabbage buffet, with the judges saying, “Tons of info, but laid out well.”

The News-Review got a first for Best Ad Idea (series) for the World Championship Derby Complex, with credit going to Boulden, Daniel, Krueger and Ridderbusch. 

The News-Review got a second for Best Use of Art Service in an ad for Courage Under Fire by Boulden. 

Boulden also received another second for Best Small Ad to promote the News-Review photo gallery.

The Derby “56 Years” ad also received a second place in the Best Use of Color category, with credit going to Boulden, Krueger and Ridderbusch, and a third place in the Best Large Ad category. 

An honorable mention for the Real Estate Ad category went to Boulden and Daniel for an ad designed and placed for Century 21 Burkett & Associates. 

The News-Review also received an honorable mention for Best Multiple Advertiser Spread for the pond hockey national championships ad, with credit going to Boulden. 

Meet the team

Other staff at the News-Review office in Eagle River include photo technician David Werner, production technicians Rebecca McDowell and David Heuss, advertising consultants Mary Jo Adamovich and Chris Boone, Circulation Manager Elizabeth Schmidt and accounting manager Terry Posto. Other personnel in the office include Angie Morrill and Amber Arndt Johnson.

Ridderbusch said producing a quality large weekly newspaper wouldn’t be possible without the assistance of freelance writers, including news correspondent Ken Anderson, who provides coverage of the Eagle River City Council, Northland Pines School Board and Vilas County Board, and Dean Acheson, covering Minocqua and Rhinelander.

The newspaper also has community correspondents vital to gathering local news and photos, including Kerry Griebenow in Three Lakes, Wally Geist in St. Germain, Sharon Gifford in Phelps, and Bob Hughes in Land O’ Lakes.