The Southern Illinois LOCAL Media Group, publishers of the Marion Republican, Harrisburg Register/Eldorado Journal and Du Quoin Call, among other newspapers, collected four first place awards, four second place awards, one third place and a fourth place award at the Illinois Press Association's annual convention in Springfield late last week.
The awards came in both the Illinois Press Association and Associated Press contests for content published in 2018.
Reporter Holly Key and Managing Editor John Homan won first place for Breaking News in the AP's small newspaper category, with the first day story of the Rend Lake water line break last May that effectively shut off water to 60 southern Illinois communities.
Michael "Spyder" Dann, the Harrisburg Register/Eldorado Journal sports editor, won two first place awards from the Illinois Press Association -- one for his news feature on the shrinking number of freshman football teams at southern Illinois high schools; and a second for single page design.
Justin Walker, the former sports editor for the Marion Republican, took home an IPA first place award for a Sports photo, "Wildcats rally to shock Rochelle."
All IPA awards were also judged in the smallest newspaper category.
• Holly Kee, Marion Republican, second place AP feature award for "The Story Never Told," about Vietnam veteran Edwin Vega.
• Michael "Spyder" Dann, Harrisburg Register, second place AP Sports Action Photo, "Catcher Hangs On."
• Justin Walker, Marion Republican, second place in AP Sports Breaking News, for "Champions."
• Justin Walker, Marion Republican, second place in IPA single page design, for "Champions."
• Travis DeNeal, Harrisburg Register, third place in AP Breaking News, for "Saline County Cleans Up After Tornado."
• Travis DeNeal, Harrisburg Register, fourth place for IPA feature writing, for "Not just a simple wool coat."
Southern Illinois LOCAL Media Group General Manager Stefanie Anderson said while no one works just to win awards, they are proof of the talent and dedication displayed by the editorial staff.
"Our mission is to give southern Illinoisans the kind of newspapers they deserve, with good news coverage, features and sports, and with excellent photos and page design," she said. "I am gratified that The Associated Press and Illinois Press Association recognize that."
The parent company of the SILMG is Paddock Publications, publishers of the Daily Herald, which won the Stuart R. Paddock Memorial Sweepstakes Trophy for large dailies at the IPA convention.
The Sweepstakes Trophies are awarded to newspapers earning the most points in six different circulation divisions. Points are awarded for first place through honorable mention in most contest categories, including general excellence, photography, news writing, opinion writing, design, community service and editorial page.
Meanwhile, Anderson was introduced at the convention as the newest member of the Illinois Press Association board of directors. She has worked for Paddock Publications since 1992 and as general manager of SILMG she oversees 17 publications in Marion, Du Quoin, Harrisburg, Carbondale, Gallatin County, Benton, Chester, Virden, Girard, Farmersville, Palmyra, Pana, Nokomis, Assumption and Blue Mound, including a printing facility in Virden and digital printing shops in Carbondale and Pana.