Pictured is Heather Kantrud at the MNA Awards Banquet.

Pictured is Heather Kantrud at the MNA Awards Banquet.

Daily Journal Media and staff were recognized for multiple accomplishments with 17 awards at the 2021-22 Minnesota Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest Awards, on Jan. 26, at the 2023 MNA Convention & Trade Show in Brooklyn Park.

“What an honor for the Daily Journal to receive so many awards from the Minnesota Newspaper Association,” expressed publisher, Ken Harty. “I am very impressed with our staff and these awards are proof of the quality of work being produced here on a daily basis.”

Of the 17 awards received, eight were individual awards.

James Allen, staff reporter, garnered a first place award in the “Hard News” category for his article, “What’s happening in Henning?”

Judge’s notes on the entry stated: “An impressive piece that sets out to document the free-fall of a town and the pressure not to report on important issues affecting a community.”

Allen achieved another first-place award for “Government/Public Affairs Reporting” for his knowledge and use of public records.

Allen reacted to the awards, expressing, “I feel privileged to serve the citizens of Otter Tail County … I am grateful and humbled to accept this award on behalf of those who have so graciously told me their stories.”

Heather Kantrud, general manager and managing editor, also brought home a first place award, the Dave Pyle New Journalist award. An award for journalists in their first two years in the industry.

“When I jumped into the newspaper industry late in 2020, I never would’ve anticipated receiving such a prestigious award!” Kantrud expressed. “I have a great work family at Daily Journal Media, who continually encourage and challenge me to do my best. I also have a fantastic community of individuals full of stories, who I get to work with day-in and day-out — without them, this never would’ve been possible; so, thank you!”

Kantrud also won two third place awards. One was for her article, “Things we don’t talk about — suicide and youth,” in the “Social Issues” category of the contest, with judges citing the importance of drawing attention to difficult topics. The second was in the “Best Advertisement” category, for an ad designed for the Rusty Nail — a patriotic ad for the Flag Day flag stated to have a “small but powerful message.”

Deanna Forkey, assistant ad manager, claimed a first place award for “Advertising Campaign” for her summer series of Service Food Market ads, with judges emphasizing that “less is more” and that Forkey’s consistent, yet distinctly different designs were impressive.

Forkey also secured a second place award for her design efforts in the “Self-promotion or House Ad” category for her 2022 Progress advertisement, with retired Daily Journal Media designer Deb Erickson taking third place for her 2021 advertisement for the Season’s Greeting and Letters to Santa ad.

Forkey shared that she was “tickled pink to be recognized for the work I love doing for the paper.”

Daily Journal Media also brought home nine organizational awards.

Newsroom staffs’ efforts earned first place in “Editorial Page as a Whole” due to a pleasing visual esthetic in conjunction with a wide variety of quality content.

The NABUR platform also earned a first place distinction in “Best Use of Social Media,” as a cutting edge forum for community discussion; and has garnered interest and attention across the newspaper community.

Carl Hauser, assistant managing editor and sports editor, secured a first place win for “Best Use of Multimedia” for his weekly sports podcast, “Carl’s Corner,” which streams on multiple platforms.

“It is an honor to share this with our community — bringing another angle to sports coverage at Daily Journal Media,” Hauser stated of his podcast work.

Coming in behind Hauser’s first place in “Best Use of Multimedia” was a second place win for Daily Journal Media, for their live-streamed forum focusing on economic development, featuring local experts in the industry and work by Kantrud, Harty and Wick Communications digital staff, Sean Fitzpatrick and journalistic product manager, Katie Schroeder. The forum also generated a third place win in for the Lynn Smith Community Leadership award.

Headline writing earned second place honors, as well.

Third place awards were assigned for “Photography as a Whole,” Kantrud’s article, “When will it print?” in the “Explanation of News Operations/Ethics” category and the collective efforts utilizing the Freedom of Information Act in Allen’s “What’s happening in Henning?” article.

Since Wick Communication acquired Daily Journal in 2019, MNA Better Newspaper Awards Contest recognition has grown, receiving three awards in 2020, seven in both 2021 and 2022 and, now, 17 in 2023.

“I cannot express how proud I am of the Daily Journal Media team,” Kantrud said in closing. “They work hard across all of Otter Tail County, diving into our community and collecting accurate and relevant information and telling the stories that make our part of rural Minnesota exactly what it is. I am grateful to them and their hard work and to MNA for taking the time to recognize our efforts.”

1st place:

  • Carl Hauser — Multimedia (Podcast)
  • James Allen Hard News — (What is happening in Henning?)
  • Heather Kantrud — Dave Pyle New Journalist Award
  • Best Use of Social Media — NABUR (HK, KS)
  • Editorial Page as a Whole (Newsroom)

2nd place:

  • Dee Forkey — Self Promotion (Progress)
  • Multimedia — NABUR (Digital, HK, KS)
  • Headline Writing (HK & CH)

3rd place:

  • Heather Kantrud — Social issues (Youth & Suicide)
  • Lynn Smith Community Leadership Award — NABUR Town Hall (HK & KS)
  • Explanation of News Operations and Ethics (HK)
  • Photography as a Whole (Newsroom)
  • Freedom of Information (JA, HK, KH)
  • Deb Erickson — Self Promotion (Christmas Greetings)