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Journal earns state awards

The Journal's news staff was recognized last month at the state's newspaper convention: Sports editor Bob Burrows; publisher Steve Dzubay; creative designer Shelly Hansen; reporter Debbie Griffin; news clerk/reporter Vera Roy-Stoeberl; receptionist/archivist Pat Hunter; regional editor Judy Wiff and editor Phil Pfuehler.

GREEN BAY -- The River Falls Journal was among several dozen state newspapers honored last month for editorial and advertising content at the Wisconsin Newspaper Association's annual Better Newspaper Contest.

Awards were presented near the end of the press association's annual 155th annual convention held at the Radisson Conference Center near the Oneida Casino.

The conference was entitled "Wisconsin Newspapers: Our Great Story," and brought together presenters to provide professional development to weekly, daily and college newspaper reporters, editors, ad directors and publishers.

Judging for the various awards was done by Texas Press Association members. In the large weekly division, the Journal was recognized in the following categories:

n First place to Editor Phil Pfuehler and the news staff for Editorial Pages: "Good variety of coverage, clean layout, like the vertical staggering of headlines with art, nice presentation of feature material."

The Journal's sister publications, the Hudson Star-Observer and the New Richmond News, finished two and three in this category.

n First place to Editor Phil Pfuehler and Designer Shelly Hansen for Front Pages: "Very clean layout with excellent use of white space -- not too much but just enough to make it pleasing to the eye. Good, concise, well-written copy supported by very good photographs."

n First place to Sports Editor Bob Burrows for a Sports Photo that showed a celebrating high school football player holding the Little Brown Jug after a 2007 homecoming win against Hudson: "Great cropping and angle of photo to capture fans' hands, helmet and player and, of course, the fireworks makes the photo explode."

The Hudson Star-Observer finished second in that category.

n Second place to Sports Editor Bob Burrows for Local Sports Column: "All three columns about 'bare-chested fans,' 'the NFL Network at no extra cost' and 'I expect it to be cold in Wisconsin' were very funny and informative."

n Third place to the Journal's news staff for General Overall Excellence: "Nice descriptive writing pushed this entry up. Designs are clean and airy...(All three top papers, first-place Medford Star News, second-place Hartland Lake County Reporter and the Journal) give an ample and prominent play to public notices, as it should be. Great job!"

n Third place to Sports Editor Bob Burrows for Spot News Photo showing the backside of a young man streaking across Ramer Field during a football game between the UW-River Falls Falcons and Eau Claire: "Good job not being distracted by the event and then getting a photo from the right angle that allows this unique event to be shown in a community newspaper."

n Third place to Editor Phil Pfuehler for Headlines: "Playing at Lake George: 'Looney Tunes' (about loons appearing locally); "The Big Sting: No warning, relentless attack" (about Lee Hills' harrowing attack by hornets); "Field of Energies: Local healer gets people in touch with messages circulating in their bodies" (about local energy therapist Melissa Shelton-Davies).

New Richmond News Editor Jeff Holmquist finished second in this category.

Also at the WNA Convention, Cathy Williquette, Brown County Register of Deeds, received WNA's Freedom of Information Badger Award for her commitment to helping citizens access public records through her office.

Further, Williquette played an important role in helping state newspapers obtain real estate transfer records for publication.

Last year's recipient of this "traveling award" was Roger Leque, River Falls police chief.

Tom Schultz, editor of the Watertown Daily Times, was installed as WNA's new president. Steve Dzubay, publisher of the Hudson Star-Observer and River Falls Journal, moved from board secretary to third vice-president.

Gary Rawn, former publisher of the Prescott Journal, was among six newspaper people inducted as a "golden member." Rawn recently sold the newspaper and resigned from WNA's board.

Wally Smetana, long time editor of the Dunn County News and a graduate of then-River Falls State Teachers College, was inducted into WNA's Hall of Fame, along with Marie F. Berner, 97, current publisher of the Antigo Daily Journal.

Smetana retired as editor in 1992 but continues to work part-time, penning a weekly column and covering the local political scene.

The gathering culminated with an award presentation a Friday evening banquet. This year's Better Newspaper Contest drew 2,9073 entries from about half of the state's roughly 300 weekly and daily newspapers.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette was named daily newspaper of the year, while the Coulee News of West Salem earned Newspaper of the Year honors among weeklies.