MANITOWOC - Manitowoc's daily newspaper, the Herald Times Reporter, won two first-place awards, two second-place awards, three third-place awards and two honorable mention awards in the 2021 Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation Better Newspaper Contest.
“These awards are one representation of the hard work and dedication our journalists put in every day, including the sacrifices made amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” HTR Editor Brandon Reid said. “We set out each day with the mission of having an impact on our community, and these awards are a product of that work.”
The awards were given Friday during the WNA's awards ceremony. The HTR competes in Division B, which includes newspapers with daily print circulation of less than 9,999. The WNA Foundation is a not-for-profit created in 1980 that works to improve Wisconsin’s newspaper enterprises.
The 2021 contest had 2,117 entries from 98 newspapers. Eligible entries were published between Sept. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021, and were judged by members of the West Virginia Press Association.
Here's what to know about the HTR's 2021 awards.
Firsts for Sports Feature Story and Reporting on Local Government
Sports reporter Tom Dombeck won first place in the Sports Feature Story category for his article "'I know it's going to hurt': Two Rivers' Gallagher battles asthma with help of running mate.'"
The judge wrote of his work, "Great information and gives readers insight on how runner deals with asthma."
Reporter Alisa Schafer won first place in the Reporting on Local Government category for three stories: "Manitowoc’s first Black alderman ‘felt bullied’ after city probe into his residence," "LUV condemns Facebook post by Manitowoc County supervisor for using ‘outdated, offensive, and inflammatory language'" and "Manitowoc is represented by mostly white men."
"Covert racism is unacceptable," the judge wrote of Schafer's articles on local government. "Racism is racism and as journalists we must hold a light to the fire to hold racists accountable. Schafer does this well in her continued coverage over Manitowoc’s first Black alderman, who has been mistreated. It’s an easy topic to ignore or gloss over, but she took a subject and has explored it in depth with follow-ups turning the mirror to the mostly white representatives of Manitowoc. These stories are important in such a trying time for the Black community."
Seconds for Reporting on Local Education and Local Column
Schafer and fellow reporter Patti Zarling combined for a second place in the Reporting on Local Education category. They won for their stories "Manitowoc schools are working toward a culture of diversity and inclusivity. Here’s how."; "Manitowoc schools aren’t teaching critical race theory, but a ‘very vocal minority’ say otherwise"; and "Dozens join rally at Manitowoc Lincoln High in support of diversity."
The judge wrote of this coverage: "These stories hit on some tough issues and grappled with one of the toughest aspects of education: parents. Specifically, the CRT story was what stuck out as a wonderful piece of news. Well done."
Contributor Bob Fay, who writes for the every-other-week column series from the Manitowoc County Historical Society, won second place in the Local Column category for three columns: "Trapp Family Singers entertained in Manitowoc 67 years ago," "Manitowoc icon Ruth West was an avid gardener, patron of the arts and beloved humanitarian" and "Amelia Earhart visited Manitowoc the year before she disappeared. Here’s what happened."
"The submission focusing on Amelia Earhart’s visit was an exceptional topic for a local history column," the judge wrote. "It was well researched and had just the right presentation. Great work!"
Third places for Community Engagement Award, Localized National Story and Business Coverage
HTR staff took third place in the Community Engagement Award category for its People of the Year project, "Manitowoc County’s 2020 People of the Year helped us through COVID-19, unrest."
"Overall, it’s clear the authors know their subjects and their accomplishments," the judge wrote.
Schafer also won a third place in the Localized National Story category for her story, "With UFO report making headlines, Wisconsin has its own history with the paranormal."
"When I saw the subject matter of this, I knew it’d be an awesome read and I was not disappointed," the judge wrote of Schafer's article. "A breath of fresh air amid the stories of COVID, elections and protests. This piece not only stuck out because of its topic, but also because of the great reporting and composition."
Zarling won a third place in the Business Coverage category for her articles "Location, location, location: Why places like Two Creeks could see more solar farms," "As more pets become members of the family, one Lakeshore company aims to keep them well fed" and "Manitowoc game shop owner on why Pokemon and other games are in such short supply."
"Each article in this entry is tightly written and edited, but still able to provide crucial and in-depth context for the complicated issues at hand," the judge wrote. "No matter the subject — renewable energy to games — the author seems an expert, and made me consider aspects and topics I had never thought about before."
Honorable mentions for coronavirus coverage and Best Video
Zarling also earned an honorable mention for her coronavirus coverage with the story "Manitowoc addiction recovery: Coronavirus isolation has ‘been pretty brutal.'"
HTR's rich history dates to 1898
Dating to its first issue published Oct. 19, 1898, the HTR is one of Manitowoc County's oldest businesses.
Today, the newspaper is part of USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, which also includes daily newsrooms in Appleton, Fond du Lac, Green Bay, Marshfield, Oshkosh, Sheboygan, Stevens Point, Wausau and Wisconsin Rapids. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is also part of the news group.
USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin wins six statewide awards
In addition to the local awards collected by the HTR, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin won six statewide awards, including three firsts. Here's more about those awards:
• Network staff, as a group, claimed first place in the Community Engagement Award Daily Division category for its school COVID-19 crowdsourcing. The judge wrote of the project: “This is a clear example of the good newspapers are capable of fighting for on behalf of their communities. The easy-to-navigate database, accompanied by an explanatory, detailed story on the situation, certainly gave parents and community members tools they were missing to make the best decisions for their health and safety. I have no doubt this project was successful in building community trust.”
• Reporters Natalie Brophy and Nusaiba Mizan won first place in the Ongoing/Extended Coverage category for their article series “Businesses say finding employees is their top headache. This series explores the trends behind Wisconsin’s workforce woes.” The judge wrote: “Such a timely series. Many have hear about the worker shortage, but this gives an easy-to-understand look into the intricacies of what is actually happening and what some of the proposed solutions might entail. Wonderful work.”
• Reporter Madeline Heim won first place in the Coronavirus Coverage category for her articles “As Wisconsin hospitals fill up with COVID patients, front-line workers sound the alarm” and “Contact tracers were supposed to be key players in fighting COVID-19. But as Wisconsin’s cases surge, they’re overwhelmed.” The judge wrote: “Madeline Heim takes a deep dive into pandemic coverage, providing readers of USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin with in-depth coverage and personal stories of the public health emergency. The quality of her work, and obvious time and energy invested into her articles, shows. Congrats.”
• Reporter AnnMarie Hilton took third place in the Feature Story (Non-profile) category for her story “Everything you need to know about Wisconsin’s water towers: The good, the ‘evil,’ and the people who swim in your drinking water.” The judge wrote: “Through superb story-telling and fun anecdotes, this piece made waters towers — water towers! — one of the most interesting things in your town.”
• Reporters Jeff Bollier, Brophy and Mizan won third place in the Enterprise/Interpretive Reporting category for their series “Unaffordable: No place to call home.” The judge wrote of the series: “Ambitious project that used situations of a cast of characters as the vehicle to tell a story about the cost of housing. Those voices and their individual set of circumstances made the entire series of stories approachable and relatable. Nice concept, excellent execution.”
• Reporter Frank Vaisvilas, a Report For America corps member who covers Indigenous affairs for the network, was awarded honorable mention in the Investigative Reporting category for his story “American Indians incarcerated at among highest rates in Wisconsin, as many as half the inmates in some jails.” The judge wrote: “Excellent piece which illustrates the difficulties experienced by an often under-represented group of people. Author demonstrates strong research and storytelling skills. Solid piece.”
This article originally appeared on Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter: Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter wins 9 Wisconsin journalism awards