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Journal wins awards in Better Newspaper Contest

The River Falls Journal and its sister papers in Hudons, Ellsworth and New Richmond won a slew of awards at the annual Wisconsin newspaper convention last month in Madison. (Submitted photo)

MADISON — The River Falls Journal and RiverTown Multimedia were well represented at the annual convention of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association held Thursday and Friday, Feb. 23 and 24.

In total, the Journal was presented eight awards at the annual dinner and reception held Friday, Feb. 24.

RiverTown Multimedia, which includes the Journal, along with the Hudson Star-Observer, Pierce County Herald and New Richmond News, was presented 24 awards in the 2016 Better Newspaper Contest at Friday's honors presentation.

Among some of the Journal's awards in a division of the weekly paper category:

• Editor Phil Pfuehler and the news/design staff took first place for Best Front Page.

• Former reporter Deb Eliason took first place in the Feature Story category with her domestic abuse coverage involving a young woman and her boyfriend: "Victim of beating is survivor and fearless." The judges said of Eliason's story: "Compelling and thought provocative."

• Pfuehler took second place for Reporting on Education, for several school district stories including, "Mission possible: Students Take on the World;" "Flooding won't slow school's big rebuild;" and "Whatever you call it, it's workout time." Judges said: "Good reporting with just a touch of humor."

• Pfuehler took third place in the General News category with stories on retiring Police Chief Roger Leque: "The Chief: Into the sunset..." judges said: "Really nice profile...Contained some humor and good outlook for the future of the police department...Liked that it was all on one page, and the use of the chief's photo from when he first started in law enforcement was a nice touch."

• Pfuehler and the news staff took third place for the Editorial pages. Judges said: "Variety of the complete reader interaction with the 'Letters' section, demonstrating the Journal readers feel like they are a part of this newspaper."

• Design awards: First place for Best Special Section, River Valley Weddings Magazine; designer Meg O'Keefe Andrea. Judges said: "Very well put together section with great design, lots of ads, fantastic layout." First place for Best Use of Art Service, Holiday Guide; designer Roxy Rhone. Second place for Best Use of Local Photography, Junior 3-day Golf Clinic; Andrea.

Other awards won by the Journal's sister papers, part of RiverTown Multimedia, were:

• Hudson Star-Observer: Second place for Investigative Reporting and Honorable Mention for General Excellence

• Pierce County Herald: First place for Investigative Reporting; First place for Ongoing/Extended Coverage; Second place for Best Multiple Advertiser Spread; Third place for Breaking News Coverage; Honorable Mention for Feature Photo.

• New Richmond News: Two first-place awards for Feature Photo and Photo Essay; first place for Online Advertising Single Ad Animated category; second place for Local Column, for Open Records/Freedom of Information, and for Online Advertising Single Ad Static; third place for Best Use of Color and Special Section; and Honorable Mention for Lifestyle Page.

The UW-River Falls Student Voice newspaper won four awards — third place in Sports Reporting (Zack Dwyer); honorable mention in General Reporting (Tori Schneider); second and third place for Editorial Writing (News Staff).

The 2016 Better Newspaper and Advertising Contest included 3,034 entries from 122 Wisconsin newspapers.

Eligible entries were published between Sept. 1, 2015, and Aug. 31, 2016. Entries were judged by members of the Illinois Press Association.

Top winners included Publisher Gregg Walker and The Lakeland Times in Minocqua (Weekly Newspaper of the Year) and Publisher Sidney "Skip" Bliss and The Gazette in Janesville (Daily Newspaper of the Year).