DFJ shines in state newspaper contest

The Daily Freeman-Journal staff brought home five first place awards and multiple second and third place awards presented Friday night at the Iowa Newspaper Association annual banquet and awards ceremony at the Marriott Hotel in Des Moines.

The Iowa Better Newspaper Contest was adjudicated by newspaper professionals in New York state.

The Daily Freeman-Journal website was named the top website for daily papers with less than 10,000 in circulation.

“Easy. Easy. Easy. All information is right in front of the reader in a clear, clean, inviting manner. Nicely presented,” according to the judge’s comments. “Easy to navigate. Nice to see a

‘births’ section. Flip version is a plus.”

Sports Editor Troy Banning was named the top sports columnist for daily papers with less than 10,000 in circulation.

“Troy does a nice job telling other people’s stories in his columns, not just his own. The local knowledge he’s gained from 16 years covering sports in this community jumps off the page. The paper is lucky to have him,” according to the judge’s comments.

Banning also brought home a first place plaque for best sports story for “Good Golly Miss Molly”, a story from October 2014 about then-senior volleyball player Molly Gilbert. He also took second place in that category for his story “A Beautiful Day to Fly,” about Cal Zahn’s 3A state high jump title.

Banning also took third place for best sports section.

Other editorial awards included Excellence in Editorial Writing with a third place finish for Anne Blankenship and a second place for Best Headline Writing.

The DFJ advertising staff brought home two first place plaques. An ad for St. Thomas Aquinas Kindergarten Round-up took first place in the best ad featuring financial, insurance and other services division for daily papers with less than 10,000 in circulation. The other win was for best ad series or campaign for the Ugly Grill Contest.

The advertising staff also brought home second and third place honors for Best of Class advertising, and received a second place finish for best special section – The Fan; a second place for best miscellaneous ad for Seneca Foundry and a second place for best ad featuring furniture, furnishings, appliances or hardware for Stein Heating and AC. The DFJ also received a third place finish for best community promotion for its Junquefest edition.

Overall, the DFJ was awarded second place for General Excellence in its division.

“It is impressive that our people continue to be recognized as one of the best newspapers in our class, throughout the entire state of Iowa,” said DFJ General Manager Terry Christensen. “This is even more impressive when you consider we are competing with newspapers from larger markets such as Iowa City, Ames and Marshalltown.

“I think this speaks highly of our commitment to bring the best coverage of news and sports to the people of Hamilton County by utilizing all of our platforms such as print, online and social media,” he said. “This statewide recognition would not happen without the continued support of our loyal readers and advertisers and we thank you all.”