Publication earns eight awards
The Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation named the New London/Hortonville Press Star the state’s best weekly newspaper with a circulation up to 2,000.
The Press Star, published by Multi Media Channels, was honored at the 2016 Better Newspaper and Advertising Contest in Middleton held Friday, Feb. 24.
To land the General Excellence award, the Press Star submitted three issues printed between Sept. 1, 2015, and Aug. 31, 2016 to the WNA Foundation. Judges from the Illinois Press Association rated submissions based on criteria including quality of writing, headline language, use of photos, and advertising design and layout.
“I knew I was looking at the first place winner after going through the three submissions,” a judge wrote. “Great writing and photos … A great variety of story content, and everything was well written.”
The award-winning issues of the Press Star were overseen by then-editor Bert Lehman, with news coverage produced by staff writers Scott Bellile, John Faucher and Waupaca County Post editor Robert Cloud. Sue Schroeder and Rhonda Graverson designed the papers.
The Press Star took home seven more awards in Division F, the circulation group of 2,000 or fewer:
• First Place, Reporting on Local Education: Bellile produced three stories detailing conflicts within Hortonville Area School District: disagreements between the Hortonville Federation of Teachers and the HASD Personnel Committee over how teachers handled negotiations for raises, bullying accusations directed at Hortonville Middle School administration, and the discontinuation of daily extracurricular bus routes.
“Good, in-depth and balanced coverage of contentious meetings and other goings on at the schools,” a judge stated.
• Second Place, All-Around Newspaper Photography: Photographs were primarily captured by Faucher, Bellile and Waupaca County Post sports editor Greg Seubert. A judge called the photography “very compelling.”
• Third Place, Breaking News Coverage: Faucher and Cloud were awarded for their teamwork after the fatal officer-involved police shooting in New London on Aug. 19. A judge commended Faucher’s newsgathering from neighbors living near the scene.
• Third Place, Business Coverage: Bellile earned this award for his coverage of three New London area businesses: now-defunct bar Sociables and its conflict with city council over an erotic dancer’s performance, McDonald’s demolishing and rebuilding its restaurant, and Wolf River Trips pulling through a summer 2015 blastomycosis outbreak.
“Mr. Bellile didn’t sensationalize an issue, and instead provided solid, smart reporting that explored each side of the issue,” a judge stated.
• Third Place, Spot News Photo: Bellile captured a photo of a firefighter extinguishing a burning barn in the town of Mukwa during a late-night thunderstorm last March.
• Honorable Mention, Sports Feature: Bellile’s story explained the Hortonville High School football team’s decision to purchase helmets that monitor athletes for concussion symptoms.
• Honorable Mention, Feature Photo: Bellile photographed a dog greeting a toddler at a National Dog Day celebration in New London in summer 2015.
Two other local newspapers that collaborate with the Press Star and share staff won awards. The Clintonville Tribune-Gazette pulled in 14 awards in Division F while the Waupaca County Post earned one award in Division D, a larger circulation group.
For the Tribune-Gazette, Bellile won a second-place award for a portrait of a Clintonville family dressed as characters at the premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the New London Grand Theatre. This photo also appeared in the Press Star.
Bellile also won a third-place award in the Ongoing Coverage category for reporting on a fall 2015 arson that destroyed a Clintonville home.
Additionally, current Press Star sports reporter Erik Buchinger took home a First Place Sports Reporting Award in the Group B category of the 2016 Collegiate Contest. His award-winning story appeared in the UW-Oshkosh Advance-Titan student newspaper before he graduated from college and joined the Press Star. His article focused on a UW-Oshkosh quarterback who underwent a bone marrow transplant to save the life of a young Indiana girl with leukemia.