The Vilas County News-Review has won six awards in the National Newspaper Association’s (NNA) 2018 Better Newspaper Contest and Better Newspaper Advertising Contest, including a second-place General Excellence award.

The awards were presented to the winners at the NNA’s 132nd annual Convention & Trade Show at Norfolk Waterside Marriott in Norfolk, Va., last week.

The News-Review also won two second-place awards for Best Local News Coverage and Best Use of Photographs; a third-place award for Best Single Ad Idea, Black and White; and two honorable mention awards for Best Editorial Pages and Best Photo Essay.

The General Excellence award came in the nondaily division for newspapers with a circulation of 6,000 to 9,999. The News-Review, which also publishes The Three Lakes News, previously won NNA General Excellence awards in 2013 with an honorable mention and in 2001 with a second place.

Earlier this year, the News-Review was presented a Wisconsin Newspaper Association (WNA) first-place General Excellence award and received the 2017 Best of Division award from the WNA for large weeklies.

Judging for the NNA contest was performed primarily by active community newspaper editors and publishers, as well as retired university journalism professors and retired or former newspaper professionals.

On the News-Review’s second-place General Excellence entry, the judges commented: “Outstanding photography and reproduction. Headlines are smart and inviting. Editorial page, as evidenced by letters and local opinion, reflects an active and engaged citizenry as well as an active newspaper. Strong features. Nothing negative about this newspaper at all. If I had to nitpick, the leads of news stories could use a little imagination at times. But not anything bad at all.”

The Taos News in Taos, N.M., was judged first with 92 total points. The News-Review was second with 89 points and The Suffolk Times in Mattituck, N.Y., placed third  with 82 points. 

The News-Review was the only newspaper in Wisconsin, weekly or daily, to win an NNA General Excellence award.

Publisher Kurt Krueger said winning on the national level validates the paper’s numerous recognitions on the state level.

“When a panel of judges of peers meet and look to newspaper packages from around the country, and in the end they think the News-Review is one of the two best, that’s quite an accomplishment,” said Krueger.

Editor Gary Ridderbusch said the newspaper’s entire staff takes pride in its work, producing a complete package in a team effort.

“That the News-Review accomplished this feat with one of the smallest editorial staffs among the competition says something for the excellence of our staff members,” said Ridderbusch. “In addition, we have an excellent production department, a professional sales staff and freelance writers and correspondents who keep readers informed about our communities.”

Other NNA awards

The News-Review  staff received two second-place awards from the NNA.

The first one was for Best Local News Coverage in a combined daily and nondaily division for newspapers with a circulation of 6,000 or more. Entries were judged on the overall depth of local news coverage in the community.

The judges wrote: “The News-Review is yet another classic local outlet that focuses on what matters most for local readers, with strong and well-rounded, in-depth reporting and great blend of news, sports, excellent photos and graphics. Not to mention, again, strong writing, good headline use and editorial content. It’s my honor to award them second place.”

The other second-place award was for Best Use of Photographs in an open daily and nondaily division. Entries were judged on best use of local photos, reader interest in illustration and relevancy to news stories.

The judges wrote: “Loved the variety of top-quality photos in these issues. I would have liked to see Jennifer West’s and Kailyn Hogenmiller’s feature photos in color. Nice wildlife shots too.”

The News-Review received a third-place award for Best Single Ad Idea, Black and White in the nondaily division for newspapers with a circulation of more than 5,000. The ad featured Gateway Lodge and was designed by Assistant Production Manager Betsy Boulden and Advertising Consultant Jo Daniel.

The judges said: “Creative effective use of art. The ribbon as wine works well.”

The News-Review captured two honorable mention awards.

One honorable mention was for Best Editorial Pages in the daily and nondaily divisions for newspapers with a circulation of 6,000 or more. Entries were judged on the content of the editorials and other articles on the page, appearance, readability, variety and general appeal to reader interest.

The News-Review editorial board includes Krueger,  Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Doug Etten.

The judges wrote: “These pages have a great sense of place. Intensely local content, clear viewpoints expressed simply and well. Excellent work in a very competitive category.”

The second honorable mention was for Best Photo Essay in the daily and non-daily division for newspapers with a circulation of 6,000 to 12,000. The front page wildlife photo essay by Krueger was titled “Spring Show.”

The judges wrote: “Beautiful wildlife photography — which isn’t that easy to do.”

Other staff at the News-Review office in Eagle River include Production Manager Jean Drew, Lifestyle Editor Michelle Drew, Photo Technician Jacki Risjord, Lead Production Technician Toni Ruth­ven, advertising consultants Mary Jo Adamovich, Collette Sorgel and Chris Boone, Accounting Manager Terry Posto, Circulation Manager Elizabeth Schmidt and production technicians Rebecca McDowell and Marcy Karianjahi.

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. The newspaper also has community correspondents, including Nancy DeYoung in Three Lakes, Wally Geist in St. Germain, Sharon Gifford in Phelps  and Bob Hughes in Land O’ Lakes.

Over 1,400 entries

There were 1,405 entries in the Better Newspaper Contest and 202 entries in the Better Newspaper Advertising Contest for a total of 1,607 entries. A total of 478 awards were won by 115 member newspapers in 38 states. 

Iowa had the most combined wins with 59, followed by California with 45 and Wyoming at 38.

Established in 1885, the National Newspaper Association is the voice of America’s community newspapers and is one of the largest newspaper associations in the country.