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Forum staff reports, Published January 31 2014

The Forum wins 33 awards, best non-metro daily paper in Minn. honors

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead took home the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Vance Trophy after winning 33 awards, including 17 first- places, in the group’s 2012-2013 Better Newspaper Contest.

The Vance Trophy is a traveling award given to the best non-metro daily newspaper in the state each year.

The Forum also was awarded the Lynn Smith Community Leadership Award for “Deadly Decisions,” a series that shed light on the dangers of drunken driving in the state.

The Forum also won the following awards for dailies of more than 10,000 circulation:

First-place awards:

• Freedom of Information Award, for coverage of the North Dakota University System.

“FOIA requests yield information about multiple open meetings act violations by the higher education system of North Dakota and its top official. Energetic and effective campaign by the newspaper to uncover information that education officials fought to keep from the public. Newspaper kept readers informed of developments. Excellent job.”

• Category X, which this year recognized excellence in coverage of military veterans.

“The Forum engages in strong, continuing coverage of veterans, male and female, from yesterday and today. … This newspaper gives veterans their due.”

• General Excellence:

“Lots of entry points in the design. Lots of local news items. Good art used big on section fronts. Good local editorial pages and solid run of well-designed ads, Photo/ heads/ decks/ info boxes work well together on section fronts to pull readers in. Some good reader-oriented writing too.”

• Typography and design:

“The Forum isn’t afraid to experiment and its readers are rewarded for it. Design is bold and connects with solid typography and big art. The Forum doesn’t just present and grade the news, it tries to engage its readers.”

• Sports reporting:

“Section fronts are best in class – give big play to the unique local story of the day with eye-catching design. Section offers a comprehensive regional sports report that crosses state lines.”

• Website:

“Clean and well organized. Easy to navigate. Good headlines and effective summaries. Very locally focused and up-to-date. Strong video element and timeliness of news sets this one apart.”

• Editorial portfolio:

“A good set of local editorials. It’s clear where the paper stands on the issues.”

• Best use of video: “Kayaking brings new appreciation for Red River.”

“This had the best production value of any in the group. I liked the mix of camera angles and the use of go pro type of camera on the front of the kayak. The audio was well done and I felt I learned something about the river.”

• Best use of social media for Bison football Cover It Live use.

“A very strong entry that showed a real commitment to covering a sporting event live. Use of Cover It Live was particularly effective. A lot of good interplay with fans. Traffic numbers looked impressive. Overall, an excellent effort.”

• Social issues story: Robin Huebner for “A 31-year struggle.”

• Government and public affairs reporting: Helmut Schmidt for “Fargo Schools long-range planning.”

• Arts and entertainment story: John Lamb for “Natural surroundings.”

• Design portfolio: Bill Wambeke.

• Feature photo: Dave Wallis for “Light from above.”

• Photo story: David Samson for “Bison win in Frisco.”

• News Photo: Michael Vosburg for “Grain elevator fire.”

Second-place awards:

• Best magazine for “Diva Connection.”

• Design portfolio: Heidi Tetzman Roepke.

• Classified ad section.

• General reporting.

• Use of photography as a whole.

• Business story: Dave Olson for “Teamster plotted bogus benefit for fake baby.”

• Human interest story: Tracy Briggs for “The beauty of life.”

Third-place awards:

• Advertising excellence.

• Explanation of news operations or newspaper ethics.

• Use of information graphics and graphic illustrations: Bill Wambeke for “Ad spending in ND draws record tab.”

• Social issues story: Patrick Springer for “The History of the Klan in the Red River Valley.”

• Investigative reporting: Mike Nowatzki for “Who’s picking you up?”

• News photo for Dave Wallis for “New Senator and her mom.”

• Feature photo: David Samson for “Cooling-off period.”

• Press photographer’s portfolio: David Samson.

• Self-promotion or house ad: Mindy Wirtzfeld for a SheSays ad.