Published January 31 2010
Forum named Minnesota's best newspaper in state newspaper contestThe Forum received the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Vance Trophy after receiving 33 awards, including 18 first-places, during the group’s 2009-2010 Better Newspaper Contest.
The Vance Trophy is a traveling award given to the best non-metro daily newspaper in the state each year. This is the second time The Forum has won the award.
The Forum also received top honors for general excellence.
As an overall product, judges commented that The Forum has “great use of graphics and maps, in-depth and interesting package pieces, (a) balanced combination of world and local news,” and a sports section “packed with local coverage.”
Judges also noted that the newspaper excelled in investigative reporting: “The Forum had a great deal of quality entries in this category,” they wrote. “Their readers should be proud to have such a diligent watchdog in their community.”
Lynn Smith Community Leadership Award for its coverage of the spring 2009 flood.
“When the Fargo community was facing a literal life and death event, The Forum became a lifeline for information, activism and inspiration,” judges wrote. “What is evident … is The Forum’s importance and value to its community and readers as a resource for information and a source of leadership.”
Forum reporter Kelly Smith, who covers North Dakota K-12 education, was honored as the outstanding new journalist of the year among Minnesota, non-metro dailies.
Judges called Smith “the clear winner” in the category. “It’s hard to believe this reporter has less than two years of experience,” they wrote. “Her writing and interviewing skills are exceptional. It appears she can write almost any type of story. This is a very talented journalist with a bright future.”
The Forum also won the following awards for dailies of more than 10,000 circulation:
- Freedom of information, for the paper’s investigation into public resources being used to support the privately owned Urban Plains Center.
- General reporting: “This is a newspaper consisting of well-written stories and content presented in multiple formats – a perfect formula for capturing readers and digesting information. What pushes The Forum to the top of this category is the emphasis on local and localized reporting.”
- Sports reporting: “The sections do an excellent job of off-the-field news, even in the middle of summer, which isn’t easy to do in local sports.”
- Web site: “A deep news site offering a clean, easy-to-navigate design, frequently updated content and strong multimedia. Among the site’s strengths: News updates flow into the site at a fast clip … and articles are tagged giving readers convenient access to related content.”
- Editorial page: “Nice, straightforward design. Plenty of letters. Nice informational boxes accompany editorial. Local columnists.”
- Investigative reporting: Helmut Schmidt, “Power Play,” an investigation into the Urban Plains Center.
- News photos: Dave Wallis for a photo of a suspect falling to the ground after being tased following a nine-hour standoff. “Head and shoulders above the other entries, this dramatic photo captures the decisive moment,” judges wrote.
- Sports photo: Carrie Snyder for a Bison football shot titled “Outrunning the defense.” Said judges: “Football action photos are usually a dime a dozen. This one stands out for its action and symmetry. Technically great also.”
- Use of information graphics and graphic illustrations: Troy Becker for graphics on Urban Plains Center, Cash for Clunkers program, Art in a Can and Politics and Protection: “A very nice mix of information graphics and illustrations.”
- Headline writing: “The Forum was a clear winner because of its emphasis of getting the best headlines on the front page, above the fold. The newspaper also had strong headlines throughout its news, features and sports pages.”
- Social issues: Teri Finneman for package on underage drinking epidemic.
- Photo story: Ann Arbor Miller for “The Poster Guy.”
- Advertising excellence.
- Self-promotion or house ad: Paula Pandey Chhetri for “Shucks! We love farmers!”
- Best circulation promotion.
- Local spot-news story: Mike Nowatzki for “3 Days, 3 Crashes, 1 Death.”
- Human-interest story: Tammy Swift for “A weight off her shoulders.”
- Government, public affairs reporting: Schmidt for “Rut complaints date back to October.”
- Sports story: Kevin Schnepf for “Town ball tradition.”
- Photo story: Jay Pickthorn for “Seeing red.”
- Graphic illustrations: Miller for Life cover illustrations.
- Multimedia special project: “Valley flooding: an in-depth look.”
- Explanation of news operations or newspaper ethics.
- Newspapers in Education.
- Advertisement: Pandey Chhetri for “Homes HQ.”
- Classified ad section, second place.
- Sports photo: Michael Vosburg for runners photo.
- Sports photo: David Samson for “Psychedelic strongman.”
- Feature photo: Samson for “Blur of activity.”
- Photo story: Snyder for “A weight off her shoulders.”