The Vilas County News-Review won a record-tying 32 awards in the 2018 Better Newspaper Contest conducted by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association (WNA) Foundation, the most significant of which was second place for General Excellence.

The foundation and the newspaper industry have always recognized the General Excellence category as the most coveted award in community newspapering, for it is based on quality in all areas — concise reporting, photography, columns, editorials, sports coverage, page layout, headlines, general content and advertising design.

This year’s second-place honor comes on the heels of last year’s first-place honor in that all-encompassing category, an unprecedented feat for a News-Review team that has won five General Excellence honors in the state contest the past nine years, since 2010.

Judges from the Washington Press Association gave these comments on the second- place selection: “Strong visuals and comprehensive, informative reporting. All-around excellent journalism.”

The honors were received last Thursday night at the WNA’s annual convention and awards banquet in Madison, most of them won in competition with the state’s 45 largest weekly newspapers. They included 10 firsts, 12 seconds, eight thirds and two honorable mentions — one for Community Service for the newspaper’s Warm The Children program.

For the second year in a row, the first-place finishes included Best Special Section for our comprehensive Salute to Emergency Personnel edition that honors firefighters, EMS personnel and police officers during Fire Prevention Week.

Other highlights included first-place plaques for our lifestyle section, editorial writing, in-depth news coverage, spot news photo, feature photo, best real estate ad, best restaurant ad, best use of color and the coveted Bill Payne Award for the best ad of the year — featuring the World Championship Snowmobile Derby Complex. We also took second place for a Northern Lakes Landscaping ad.

Among other things, the awards show that the News-Review and its sister publication in Oneida County, The Three Lakes News, contain some of the best articles, photographs, page layout, locally designed ads, special sections, editorials, columns, features and special pages in Wisconsin.

Though honored to be recognized and extremely proud of our small but talented staff, the credit is not all ours to take. There are those who came before us and left a legacy of quality journalism. There are real people in all sorts of places who trust us with their news tips, story comments and photos. 

Loyal subscribers and advertisers make it all possible. A newspaper staff cannot fulfill the responsibilities of a free press for very long without economic success. Our readers and business partners make that possible. 

This is a community newspaper — your newspaper — which is why we devote so much time and space to events put on mostly by volunteers and nonprofit organizations. It is why we strive to be one of the best weekly newspapers in Wisconsin year after year.

Behind the editorial ‘we’

       Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Michelle Drew.