Vilas County News-Review staffers holding Wisconsin Newspaper Association awards included, front row from left, Betsy Bleicher, Sharina Adams and Jean Drew; back row, Anthony Drew, Kurt Krueger and Gary Ridderbusch. —Contributed Photo
By News-Review Staff
among 12 WNA awards
MADISON — The Vilas County News-Review won 12 Better Newspaper Contest awards last week, including the coveted first-place General Excellence honor.
Contest winners were honored last Friday night at the annual convention of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association (WNA), staged at the Madison Marriott West in Middleton.
The WNA Foundation received 3,003 entries from 126 newspapers, awarding the News-Review four firsts, five seconds and three thirds for writing, photography, ad design and page layout.
The biggest award came at the end of the awards ceremony when News-Review Editor Gary Ridderbusch was presented the plaque for first-place General Excellence in Division D.
The News-Review garnered third-place General Excellence in both 2010 and ’11. The last time the News-Review won first place in the coveted category was in 2001. The newspaper also won first-place General Excellence in 1998.
“Receiving the first-place General Excellence award following back-to-back third- place finishes in the category against the largest weekly newspapers in the state is a real honor for our staff,” said Ridderbusch. “It really shows the quality and consistency from week to week of the Vilas County News-Review and The Three Lakes News because the judges consider all facets of the newspaper.”
Joining Ridderbusch at the awards ceremony were Publisher Kurt Krueger, Assistant Editor Anthony Drew, Production Manager Jean Drew, Assistant Production Manager Betsy Bleicher and Photo Technician Sharina Adams.
On the first-place General Excellence award, the judges wrote: “This paper has it all. Tons of local coverage, columns and commentary. The best outdoors/sports section in the class. A terrific paper.”
The other top awards included first-place plaques for Special Projects, General News Photo and Best Use of Local Photography in the advertising category. Second-place awards were presented for Local Outdoor Column, All-Around Newspaper Photography, General News Photo, Photo Essay and the Bill Payne Award in the advertising category. Third-place awards were presented for Editorial Award, General News Photo and Overall Page Design.
“The News-Review has won first or second place in the All-Around Newspaper Photography category five out of the last seven years and we swept the General News Photo category this year,” said Ridderbusch.
The News-Review won a first-place award for its coverage of the 2012 AMSOIL World Championship Snowmobile Derby in the Special Projects category, which seeks to recognize the paper that best uses all facets of newspapering to cover and promote an event. The newspaper has won an award for Derby coverage in 11 of the last 12 years. Ridderbusch, Krueger and Anthony Drew teamed up for this year’s coverage.
On the Derby coverage entry, the judges said “Great job. Good stories. Terrific art. Editorials backed the project. Clearly the winner.”
Anthony Drew, Ridderbusch and Krueger also swept the General News Photo category.
General comments from the judges included, “This category had clear winners that stood apart from the pack with good content in the images that were nicely composed and shot during the peak action.”
Drew took top honors for his photo of excited students holding a fire hose and spraying water during Fire Prevention Week.
On his entry, the judges wrote, “Great expressions on the kids’ faces. Nice clean composition.”
Ridderbusch won the second-place award in the category for his photo during the Eagle River Memorial Day service.
The judges wrote, “Nice variety of photos and a nice moment with vet holding little girl’s hand.”
Krueger made it a clean sweep in the category with a third place for his photo of intense Sno-Cross snowmobile racing at the AMSOIL Derby.
The judges wrote, “Great peak action with snowmobiles in air.”
On the advertising side of the annual contest, the News-Review was awarded a first-place plaque along with a second-place certificate.
Bleicher, Krueger and Ridderbusch teamed up to win a first-place award for Best Use of Local Photography in an ad called “Best Photos in the Nation” highlighting the News-Review’s photography.
About the ad, the judges wrote, “Showed the variety of events and topics they report on.”
The News-Review also received a second-place award in the Bill Payne Award category. Bleicher and Krueger teamed up for a Northernaire Villas ad.
The judges said, “Very attractively designed for real estate ad. Did a good job of using pictures of the property.”
The remaining editorial awards included a second place for All-Around Newspaper Photography.
On the photography entry, the judges wrote, “Great job of shooting nature scenes and hunting essays by your photojournalists. Nice use of color on inside pages and great ‘hometown’ feel for what interests the community.”
Krueger won two second-place awards, one for Local Outdoor Column and another for Photo Essay on wildlife called “Spring Show.”
On the outdoor column, the judges wrote, “You really gave the reader a feel for that day and who your father is — a story many of us sportsmen can relate to.”
The News-Review won a third-place award for editorials written by Krueger on handgun training following concealed-carry legislation, national forest managers facing obstacles and the Olson library project.
The judges wrote, “Well-written and topical. Good focus on local issues.”
The final third-place award went to Jean Drew and Ridderbusch for Overall Page Design.
Krueger, who became the News-Review publisher Jan. 1, 2011, said the awards place the News-Review as one of the top large weekly newspapers in the state, proven by the first-place General Excellence award.
“Though we’ve been consistently near the top in many categories for years, it’s an honor to win a General Excellence award in the large weekly category,” said Krueger. “It means we are one of the best weekly newspapers in the state.”
Krueger said the paper’s 12 awards reflect the excellent work being done by the entire staff, including the printing staff at Wisconsin-Michigan Publishers in Eagle River.
“It is the staff’s commitment to excellence that maintains the quality and consistency needed week after week,” said Krueger. “I truly believe we’ve got one of the best newspaper staffs in the state. Most of the papers we compete with in the large weekly category have more than twice the editorial staff.”
The Vilas County News-Review competes in the large weekly category for newspapers with circulation of 3,501 and more. Krueger said the newspaper appreciates the support of its subscribers and the business community.
“The area business owners who use our publications to promote their products and services share in this honor, for their support of a community newspaper enables us to do our job to the fullest,” said Krueger. “It is only with that support and success that a newspaper can be effective in all of its roles, which include but aren’t limited to airing projects and ideas that are in the community’s best interest, being a watchdog of local and state government, and providing a forum for the exchange of ideas. We owe those business owners a debt of gratitude. Thanks for being our partners.”
Other staff at the News-Review office in Eagle River include Lifestyle Editor Kathlyn Ogden, Production Technician Carly Ratliff, Circulation Manager Elizabeth Schmidt, Accounting Manager Terry Posto, and advertising consultants Mary Jo Adamovich, Tammy Klein, Denise Rimmer and Marcia Heyer.