For the fourth consecutive year, the Northwest Herald has been named the best mid-size newspaper in Illinois, winning the sweepstakes award in the Illinois Press Association's annual Excellence in News contest.
The Northwest Herald was awarded the Mabel Shaw Trophy on Friday at the IPA's awards luncheon in Springfield. The newspaper competes in Division E, which is for newspapers with a daily circulation of 10,001 to 40,000.
In all, the Northwest Herald placed in 33 categories, including 10 first-place awards.
Features Editor Scott Helmchen won four first-place awards and two second-place awards.
The newspaper's series "Confronting the Bully," led by reporter Chelsea McDougall, Assistant News Editor Joan Oliver, and Kane County Chronicle News Editor Al Lagattolla, won two first-place awards: one for community service and one for news reporting series.
Judges called the series an "excellent example of how a news organization can use its journalistic resources to call attention to a problem and also offer solutions."
Former reporter Katie Anderson won a first-place award for enterprise/feature writing for her piece "Imprisoned hearts."
Columnist Michael Penkava won first place in the original column category.
The Northwest Herald's Election Central 2012 project took first place in the Best Web Project category.
"This is exactly why websites are good for journalism," judges wrote. "[It was] easy for readers to find out useful, pertinent information ... in one spot."
Photo Editor H.Rick Bamman won a first-place award in the sports photo category.
PlanitNorthwest.com, designed by Helmchen, former senior web producer Adam Nekola, and Ryan Glab won a first-place award for most innovative project.
The newspaper's special section Everyday Heroes received second- and third-place awards. The associated video profiles received a second-place award.
Second-place awards also were awarded to former Night News Editor Dave Lemery, reporter Kevin Craver, Assistant Business Editor Brett Rowland, photographer Sarah Nader, former photographer Josh Peckler, web producer Erick Ward, videographer Les Johnson and the Northwest Herald sports section.
Craver and reporter Jami Kunzer received third-place awards.
Honorable mentions went to Shaw Group Editor Dan McCaleb, former reporter Sarah Sutschek, Craver, News Editor Kevin Lyons, columnist Dick Peterson, Lifestyle Editor Valerie Katzenstein, reporter Stephen Di Benedetto and the newspaper's website nwherald.com
"It's always great to be recognized for the work we do to make our communities better," Northwest Herald Editor Jason Schaumburg said. "The newspaper's success is a tribute to the many talented journalists we have on staff who are dedicated to serving our readers in McHenry County."
Reporters Emily Coleman and Jeff Engelhardt also received awards for work they did with other newspapers before joining the Northwest Herald.
Engelhardt won a first-place award for a single news story while with the DeKalb Daily Chronicle.
Coleman won a third-place award and an honorable mention for her work at Sauk Valley Media.